Sunday, June 03, 2007

End of an Era?

Back in November, when it seemed like the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership race was down to a choice between Jim Dinning or Ted Morton, I opined that the only choice the Tories really had was 'where to take the bullet, urban or rural.' When Stelmach came up the middle the PCs chose urban.

When Dinning lost, the Calgary Conservative MLAs, who had backed him to a man, showed every sign of panic. My riding's MLA, then solicitor general Harvey Cenaiko made a hasty decision to promote the new Premier's son within the Sheriff's department. It didn't go well for him and he's no longer solicitor general. With no hope of ever leaving the back-benches in a Stelmach government Cenaiko has jumped on the angry Calgary bandwagon.

Full disclosure, I ran against Harvey in the last provicial election, an election which he won by about 600 votes - I got considerably less if you're wondering.

I've lived in Calgary during boom and bust. I vastly prefer bust. Like most people who actually live here and aren't working in an executive office, my standard of living has dropped like a rock - my paycheck gets pinched by rent and other cost of living prices more and more every month and the straining infrastructure and big city population pressure in a mid sized city environment is beginning to erode the city's very real charms. No wonder that many respond to indications the boom may be slowing with a sigh of relief.

People are angry and getting angrier. The Alberta Advantage always a slightly more exclusive promise than as advertised on the bottle, is cited now with a bitter ironic undertone. People in Calgary who wonder if their landlord plans to double their rent next month listened to Premier Ed and his country bear cabinet sneering at the idea of rent control and scowled.

When the Strom - sorry the Stelmach administration - blandly broke their promise of no strings funding for the cities, they expected no fall out. They were used to mayors who knew their place in the big blue machine and when to say 'thank you sir, may I have another.' Instead Mayor Dave 'Bronco' Bronconnier publicly and repeatedly ripped into the provincial government and the media joined him. And now according to the polls, so has the urban Alberta public.

Now the PCs stare into the starkly real possibility of losing Ralph Klein's old riding in Calgary Elbow.

Strange times in the one party state.

See: Ralph Klein's old riding

1 comment:

Ken Chapman said...

It would be a good thing to end the one party state in Alberta. It would be good to end the one city- state we have had too. Calgary has come to think it is Alberta and that happened during Ralph Klein's reign.

Alberta is more than Calgary and while that city is a very important part of the province - it is only part of the province.

A fact too often lost in how the province has been run and ruled as of late.

Calgary Elbow may elect a Liberal. Good on them if that is the way they see their best interests being served. Democracy matters.

It is a by election! So it is not a safe bet to presume this vote an is an indication as to how they want to see the province governed, or if it represents a trend overall.

Calgary Elbow going Liberal is not any surprise in a by-election that is about 1 year away from the next general election. It is a low-risk way to send a message.

The real surprise of Calgary's discontent was way back when Calgary Varsity went Liberal at the 2004 provincial election. That discontent was expressed during Ralph's reign and imediately after Murray Smith went to Washington.

Question is will we PC's "get it" and realize that Alberta needs an urban agenda that deals with the growth and needs of the two big cities.

We don't need just a Calgary and a Rural Agenda...as has been the fact under Klein.

In Edmonton we have shown our discontent more dramatically when we threw out a sitting Premier in an election. That is why Don Getty had to run in a by election and represented Stettler.

Calgary is maybe just now waking up to the fact that Alberta is not now a one party state. Perhaps it is coming to realize that Alberta is about to become more than a one-city state too.

Popular Posts