Do it Alberta Tories, go ahead, pick Ted Morton. Please.
Morton and his supporters have made the classic right wing mistake of overestimating the conservatism of the voting public. At least Canadians in points east have the excuse of distance for believing that Alberta is a monolithic block of right wing religious extremists. Those who actually live here mostly know that the overwhelming mainstream consensus is center right - with the emphasis on the center. Albertans are fiscal conservatives, or think they are - with pockets of class war populism in Redmonton, and an overwhelming majority of social moderates and progressives in urban areas. As one appalled Tory back-bencher said, this is Alberta not Alabama.
There's a strong strain of social conservatism in some parts of rural Alberta yes, but simple demographics are changing that inexorably and visibly. I've lived in Alberta - both rural and urban Alberta almost my entire life. I can count the number of Albertans under thirty I've encountered who give a tinkers damn about gay rights or abortion on one hand with a finger left over for Morton and his supporters - you can probably guess which one. The future of Alberta like that of the rest of Canada is young and urban.
They're largely an apathetic bunch, but crazy Ted and his focus on division, intolerance and absolutism would fire them up nicely.
Alberta's every thirty or forty years of switching the party in the one party state is a well known political phenomenon - less well known or at least less well acknowledged is that last time it happened, it was a progressive alternative trouncing an entrenched reactionary government. Lougheed's Progressive Conservatives were practically Liberals compared to the far right Social Credit government they replaced.
I support Ted Morton for leader of the Alberta PCs for the same reason I loved Stockwell Day's tenure leading the Alliance: he will kill his party stone dead. It's the first time I've ever agreed with Gary Mar about anything, but he happens to be 100% right about the damage Morton would do to the Tories.
The moderate and progressive vote would go to the Liberals and New Democrats - the corporate money would too.
Liberals and particularly New Democrats in Alberta should however, take careful note of the strong note of economic populism in Morton's campaign. The support he's garnered is as much to do with anti-elitist backlash, his angry slams against 'Calgary corporate lackeys' and Morton's one decent idea of re-addressing Alberta's resource royalty regime as his appeals to intolerance and bigotry.
New Democrats and other opponents of the Tories need to embrace the class war themselves. The success of the self described 'only conservative in the Conservative leadership race' and for that matter the economic populists among the Democrats swept into office this month south of the border have made it clear there are serious gains to be made in doing so.
And my final reason for my modest proposal of support for Snortin' Morton? Nothing spurs me to write more than intolerance, selfishness, cruelty, willful ignorance, and legislative appeals to the lowest common denominator.
With Morton in charge I'd be blogging every day.
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