Time for St. Albert’s MP and MLAs to get their report cards

This column appeared in yesterday’s edition of the Saint City News. Since I am a habitual early filer, as we used to say in the newspaper industry, I tend to try to write my Saint City News columns the weekend before they are to run. This one was pretty well finished on Sunday, May 23. That said, alert readers will notice a significantly different assumption between this column and yesterday’s post on the question of how soon Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives would like to see a federal election take place. This goes to the late Baron Wilson of Rievaulx’s famous observation that “a week is a long time in politics.” The passage of time is one of the perils of punditry. I stand by the grades I assigned our MLAs and our MP. DJC

Do you agree with the grades assigned in this column? Disagree? Have your own say by assigning your own grades. Your results will be reported in a later blog post. Click here to grade our St. Albert representatives.

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Forget about the smoke and lights issuing from the House of Commons in Ottawa and the Legislature just south of St. Albert. There isn’t going to be a federal or provincial election any time soon.

In Ottawa, an election would be a high-risk proposition for both the minority Conservative government and the Liberal Opposition. The other two parties don’t have enough votes to topple the government. Ergo, no federal election.

Here in Alberta, the governing Conservatives have a majority and little inclination to call an election. Anyway, all three opposition parties need more time. Therefore, no provincial vote either.

So what better time than right now to give our three senior government representatives – MLAs Ken Allred and Doug Horner, and MP Brent Rathgeber – their mid-term marks?

Ken Allred, MLA, St. Albert

Ken who? St. Albert has an MLA? … Sorry, that was mean.

Let’s start over. In fairness, Ken Allred, 69, Conservative MLA for St. Albert, does show up for community events. Plus, he dutifully attends sessions of the Alberta Legislature and sends form letters to constituents who complain about this or that. But where is he when his community needs him, say, to mediate its dispute with Sturgeon County? Somewhere else, apparently. Maybe he’s lobbying for us behind the scenes. But if so, where’s the money for Ray Gibbon Drive and for paving the 137th Avenue off-ramps?

Allred rarely takes a strong position on anything and, when he does, it’s something off in right field, like American-style fixed election dates, that appeals only to a wild-eyed fringe that has mostly abandoned the Conservative party for the Wildrose Alliance. Indeed, one wonders sometimes why Allred hasn’t taken the same route.

Allred must be one of the most disengaged politicians in Alberta. Surely St. Albert deserves better.

Allred’s mark: D

Doug Horner, MLA, Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert

Doug Horner, 49, the MLA for Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert, Minister of Advanced Education and Deputy Premier of Alberta, is the polar opposite of his counterpart on the east side of town.

Horner is energetic, plugged in to the provincial power structure and – notwithstanding that he’s not from Calgary – quite possibly the next premier of Alberta should the current one continue to stumble. Behind the scenes, Horner’s quietly getting ready to campaign for the top job. Disengaged, he’s not!

Horner is not a genial character the way some politicians are. A hard-working technocrat is more like it. But no one – even those of us who are not fans of his Conservative party – can deny he has a high profile and keeps his nose to the grindstone. He gets an A+ for ambition, but falls down a little on effectively representing St. Albertans on all their issues – no easy task for an MLA with most of his constituents in other nearby communities. In fairness, Horner has gone to bat for St. Albert on funding issues, with positive results.

Horner’s mark: A-

Brent Rathgeber, MP, Edmonton-St. Albert

Well, nobody’s going to accuse Brent Rathgeber, 45, Member of Parliament for Edmonton-St. Albert, of being absent without leave. He regularly pops up at community events, slaps backs, shakes paws and chats up the folks with a friendly, down-home style that’s hard to dislike. Plus, he’s real tall, so we can always say that our MP towers over other parliamentarians!

But while Rathgeber is friendly, active and reasonably well spoken, he’s no Parliamentary heavyweight. Mainly he issues news releases calling for tougher penalties for criminals – whether or not they make sense – and applauds the wedge issues favoured by the Prime Minister’s Office.

As such, he’s more of a cheerleader than a heavy hitter. In fairness to Rathgeber, Conservative MPs who speak up forthrightly don’t score points with Canada’s current prime minister. But despite his efforts, he’s unlikely ever to have a cabinet post.

Still, Rathgeber gives the impression of an MP who might shine in opposition. With luck, he’ll get the opportunity.

Rathgeber’s mark: C

One Comment on "Time for St. Albert’s MP and MLAs to get their report cards"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Cannot blame Allred one bit. Blame us stupid voters for nominating and then voting in such a useless MLA.

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