Alberta campaign ends with all-party disobedience of Fourth Commandment

Just stepped off an interstellar Greyhound from Alpha Centauri, AB? Alberta Diary is here to help. Toronto media here to cover the campaign may not be exactly as illustrated. Below: Tom Flanagan.

As the 2012 Alberta election campaign moves through its final 24 hours this Sabbath day, all party leaders are hard at work, a stoning offence in Old Testament times but apparently not even a political molehill to be climbed here in Bible Belt Alberta, notwithstanding the fundamentalist frothing on certain other Biblical commands that have rattled this short and nasty campaign.

Unsurprisingly, media reports last night tended to focus less on today’s violations of the Fourth Commandment and more on the final moments of each major party’s campaign. This is an inevitable if not very informative journalistic tradition, since, like hockey players before a big game, politicians all tend to say the same things before a big election.

Here were the Postmedia News campaign-closer offerings yesterday: “Smith visits crucial ridings to drum up support,” “Chow revs up Mason’s campaign,” “Sherman capitalizes on Tory Broken Promises,” and, I’m not making this up, “Redford having fun in final stretch.”

As to that last point, I don’t think so!

In case you’ve just stepped off an interstellar Greyhound from Alpha Centauri, AB, and are wondering which Smith is visiting those crucial ridings (Joseph?) and what kind of chow was revving up the NDP’s campaign, the traditional journalistic parenthetical explanations would be as follows: (Wildrose Party Leader Danielle), (Trinity-Spadina NDP MP Olivia) and (NDP Leader Brian), (Liberal Leader Raj), and (faltering Progressive Conservative Premier Alison).

Sorry about that, but if you were trained as I was, back in the days when newspapers still offered a viable career, you just have to do that!

The “upstart Wildrose party,” as the new journalistic cliché goes, continued its persecution narrative to the campaign’s very end, issuing a press release yesterday whining that “Wildrose Voters Subjected to Dirty Tricks By Opponents” and complaining about “unethical behaviour on the part of our opponents” including push polls by Ms. Redford’s PC Party and the Alberta Federation of Labour.

The former, complained the Wildrose release, gave “false and misleading statements about the Wildrose,” while the latter was “designed to mischaracterize Wildrose positions.”

Well, far be it from me to defend push polling or for that matter the preposterous suggestion the lavishly funded and Harper-Conservative-advised Wildrose Party is some mere upstart, but the sheer brass of this organization surely deserves our admiration.

After all, it was the Wildrose Party that started off this campaign back in early February with a push poll containing false and misleading statements about the government designed to mischaracterize its positions and attack its key players.

But then, as Wildrose campaign manager Tom Flanagan well knows, 80 days may be long enough to imagine racing around the world in 1872 but it’s too darn long to expect Alberta’s voters, particularly those ones who are paid to report on the campaign for the media, to remember that the accusers were just up to the same tricks as the folks they are now accusing.

On the other hand, there was very little speculation about what ought to be the elephant in the room of this particular Alberta election: What happens if there’s a minority tomorrow and the No. 2 party tries to form a coalition with one of more of the other parties in the Legislature?

This is fair play within our Parliamentary system, although that fact is not well understood by an electorate raised on American TV and more than four decades of elections that were nothing more than pro forma coronations of serial PC governments.

Presumably, given this, the outrage would be palpable, if not hysterical. Should something as exciting as this possibility unfold, we will all need to leave our unregistered firearms locked in our Quonset huts and remember that what happens tomorrow is not a great big American-style presidential election in which we all participate, but 87 individual, separate and distinct constituency elections.

After the dust has settled tomorrow night, it’s up to those 87 victors to get together and figure out what to do next. Are you ready for that?

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9 Comments on "Alberta campaign ends with all-party disobedience of Fourth Commandment"

  1. Sam, Gunsch says:

    re: "The “upstart Wildrose party,” as the new journalistic cliché goes, continued its persecution narrative to the campaign’s very end, issuing a press release yesterday whining that “Wildrose Voters Subjected to Dirty Tricks By Opponents”… "

    memo: to tom and danielle…

    Real cowboys don't cry.


    All hat, no cattle. ( i.e. suck it up you Wildrose girlie-man neocons )

    And BTW, compared to the cowboys I know… tom and dani Wildrose leaders and their policies are wanna'be frauds that have appropriated the Cowboy Individualistic Hero myth in service of a multinational corporate agenda that continues to destroy AB native grasslands and it has for decades.

    P.S. to Dani: Mountain, Broke-back


    Whereas the cowboy archetype transcends ethnicity, gender, geographic boundaries, and political affiliation;

  2. Keith says:

    I might be ready, but they sure aren't. Given the Harper shenanigans about minority government, we can expect the same here, should it happen.

    My take on it? There is a huge number of voters that are are happy to see the PC's go down big time, and many of them (admittedly there is some uncertainty about the exact size of that many) are happy to see the Wildrose take their place. Many are equally horrified at the prospect of a Wildrose government and are between a rock and a hard place.

    Personally, I'd like to see a minority government to give the MLAs more time to say enough stupid things to help voters understand exactly what they are getting into. It would also give the Alberta Party more time to get it together. But realistically I think we're going to end up with a (ack gag choke) Wildrose government that will demonstrate such brutally stupid incompetence in far less than 4 years that we'll wish for the PC's back.

  3. jerrymacgp says:

    "…What happens if there’s a minority tomorrow and the No. 2 party tries to form a coalition with one of more of the other parties in the Legislature?…" Remember that while this is technically true, Canadians in all provinces have very little experience with true coalition governments, i.e. those in which the executive (i.e. the Cabinet) includes members of more than one party. IIRC, the last true coalition government in Canada was the Borden-led pro-conscription government during the First World War. Ontario had a near-coalition in the mid-80s, with Bob Rae's NDP agreeing to support the Liberals under David Peterson after the 1985 election. However, that "accord" did not put any NDP MPPs into the Cabinet, so it was not a true coalition government.

    One possible scenario we might see is if Wildrose gains a plurality, but not a majority, with the PCs in 2nd place, the remaining Opposition parties might decide to support the Wildrose, with a view to turfing the tired PCs out of office, and using their clout as the "balance of power" to rein in the more extreme elements of the WR caucus and instead try and encourage a "good government" approach by a Smith-led gov't. This would not be a coalition, as there is not enough common ground between the WR & the Libs, NDs or AP, but one or more of the also-rans could support the wildrose on enough issues to let them govern as a minority for a couple or three years before we have to have another election (much as we saw in Ottawa when the Harperites were first elected). Who knows, maybe they could even get them to support some electoral reform.

    OTOH, in the event of a WR plurality, the remaining opposition parties might decide to hold their collective noses and support a PC attempt to hang onto power. However, that would probably require a true coalition, and Albertans' (and Canadians') unfamiliarity with that model could prove a stumbling block.

    If the PCs win a plurality, with WR in 2nd place, I don't see the remaining opposition parties being interested in creating common cause with Wildrose to topple the PC government, although a political scientist would say that is technically kosher. That after all is how the Peterson-Rae "accord" government came to power in Ontario in 1985. I think instead we would see a much-weakened, chastened PC Party holding onto government with issue-by-issue support from one or more of the opposition parties (even from Wildrose from time to time). This has been the most common model for minority government in Canada in recent memory.

  4. Filostrato says:

    Hope you get a lot of Edward R. Murrow types reporting on your election. He fought corporate sponsorship pressures and the so-far-to-the-right-he-was-almost-horizontal Joseph McCarthy to report the happenings of the day as the really occurred – no propaganda, no hype, no spin.

    Smith and her backup group scare me mightily and I don't even live there. The late lamented Tony Judt described their type of far-right tactics and individualistic amoralism.

    I also heard that she wants to break up the Alberta Health Care system into "clinics". It will be easier to destroy completely that way, I suppose. All the work of all the people who have gone before will be ruined. The safety and security of the people who are alive now and who will come after will be put at risk. Flanagan must be cackling away madly as he pulls the levers and presses the buttons.

    "The Great Oz has spoken. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

    Good night and good luck.

  5. says:

    Well, let's see. Sherman has all ready put dibs on the position of Deputy Premier and the Treasury and Health portfolios. Mason says he likes the WR as people and could work with them, Smith says the WR works well with the opposition and Redford says she could work with Mason but she'll never agree to raise royalties. How will this work if there's a minority or a plurality? It will be a gong show.

  6. Tom says:

    There are a few interesting possibilities in a minority scenario. One that is not too far fetched is that a few conservative PC MLAs will cross the floor to Wildrose rather than support some support of accommodation between the PCs, Liberals and NDP.

  7. Carlos Beca says:

    I agree with Keith. Letting the WR in with a minority would be their end. You know it does not matter how much you can hide but turds always float after a while.
    Let it all come to the surface. It will not take long. Barking is much easier than silence. There is no content whatsoever in all this idealogue garbage. Most of them do not even understand what they stand for.

  8. Nordic says:

    To Carlos Beca: Bless you my son for being hopeful, and I hope we are both forgiven for working on a Sunday, but given our experience of the Harper Klan, it seems too hopeful to think a WR government would not go from minority to majority in short order.

  9. Carlos Beca says:

    I laughed sohard because I thought I was being negative about WR. LOL
    Interesting times that is for sure. The lesson I got from all of this is that I certainly thought I knew the character of this province but at 41% WR I certainly do not.


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