Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My Endorsement: Ted Morton

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.


eugene plawiuk said...


K-Dough said...

It must be so hard for you guys to constantly be offered no alternative out there.

No matter what shade of blue you pick to paint your house with, it still looks cold and dark.


Cliff said...

Don't rub it in!

Kuri said...

Endorsing Morton is a pretty risky game to play. At worst, he doesn't split the party the way you think, nor lose as badly as you say.

At best, he sets off a dynamic that would make the Liberals the new caudillo as the PCs crumble and the Liberals scare everyone into voting strategically *cough* er, stupidly, continuing Alberta's pattern of one party politics.

I'd rather see Dinning. I'm guessing he'd do just the right amount of damage to the PCs to set off a dynamic where every Albertan will feel they can vote their heart (as I described here).

Cliff said...

I see your point. It assumes some things about Dinning's ability or lack thereof to juggle rural and urban, right and center.

Both our horses come with risks: Dinning that he might actually be able to pull his party together and extend this grotesque regime for a few more years - Morton that he could do a hell of a lot of damage in a very short amount of time.

Just based on demographics the conservative movement's wave is receding in Alberta as it is all over North America. The Conservatives are an endangered species. I sincerely believe Morton would push them into the tar pits sooner rather than later, as Bush has the Republicans.

Ralph Nader took a lot of flack in 2000 for suggesting that a Bush presidency might help 'highlight the contradictions'. Morton can't do nearly as much damage as Bush did - except perhaps to his party.

Chris said...

Ah but your little shell game happens to ignore the fact that in the last 4 elections in Alberta be it federal and provincal the NDP and the Liberal party combined hasn't fielded more than 400,000 votes. While there have been between 500,000 and 900,000 Conservative voters with the high end of support being for Harper's Conservative party.

You also fail to account for the fact that Morton is really nothing more than Preston Manning's ideological younger brother and Manning is viewed as the patron saint of Alberta politics. Reality happens to be different than your personal preferences.

Feynman and Coulter's Love Child said...

Yeah, under Ted Morton we can have a right-leaning PC Party (hated by Mimi Williams, VUE Weekly, and the usual suspect of socialist nutbars) losing to a Liberal machine with their new telegenic sorta-right moderate leader.

Just like what happened in 1997, remember?

Cliff said...

Yeah the Socreds dominated the ballot box completely too - until they didn't.

The Tory popular vote share dropped precipitously in the last election - I should know, I ran in it - and Calgary committed the previously inconceivable act of electing multiple Liberals. All this, with the fading warmth of Ralph's cult of personality still burning.

Demographics have changed, attitudes have changed, and now the PCs have to decide where to take the bullet: urban or rural. They lose a chunk of votes either leadership pick. Stelmach probably both.

And the PC share of the popular vote was already dropping before Ralph even left.

Feynman and Coulter's Love Child said...

Bear in mind though Cliff that when the Liberals slogan stops becoming "well Ralph is going to have a landslide anyways so you might as well toss us a few crumbs so that there can at least be the excitement of more than 3 MLAs from Opposition Parties" and starts becoming "every vote for us could conceivably put a Liberal government in Edmonton" you will see that electing multiple Liberals in Calgary starts becoming again rather inconceivable.

Cliff said...

You hope.

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