Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Keeping Busy?

Jim Dinning has been in the blog a lot lately. I know this may sound strange, but it is not favouritism that drives my hand.

It's the fact that none of the other candidates have done anything noteworthy - at least not vis a vis the fight to succeed our Lord and Master, Ralph Klein.

Sure, Ted Morton appeared in an article in media watch blog The Tyee, in which Morton and Rainer Knopff "went to the University of Calgary where they specialize in attacking the Charter of Rights and Freedoms." (sic) (It should also be noted that we are currently investigating the reliability of this assertion).

And Dave Hancock, Iris Evans, and Lyle Oberg appeared infrequently, but only in articles related to their positions in the Tory cabinet.

This is at once frustrating and gratifying.

On the one hand, Dinning is cranking out enough material to keep this blog publishing regularly, and our other candidates are keeping busy doing their jobs - making certain there's still a province here when Klein finally steps down.

On the other, it gets tiresome reporting on the same guy day after day. So, candidates, here is an open letter to all of you: Please, let me know just what it is you're doing. That is, if you know the answer to that, yourselves.

The "Amazing Race" - internet style

A November 14th article in the Globe and Mail indicated that Alberta Premier Ralph Klein showed no signs of stepping down, and the current state of affairs in this province suggests that this is still the case.

So what does this mean for our plucky cadre of hopefuls? More time to blast around the province, currying favour wherever possible.

Only a couple of our political gladiators actually have websites devoted to their intentions to lead the province, and their takes on the "Alberta Advantage" - a difficult proposition for your intrepid blogger. This, of course, begs an important question: Why haven't all the candidates hopped on the blogging bandwagon?

Let's take a look at the websites (helpfully provided in the sidebar to the right of the entries):

First, front-runner Jim Dinning's site. Nicely put-together, and laden with on-message statements. The most interesting feature of this site: Dinning's social calendar. This man is a dynamo, with 18 events in November alone. From keynote speeches to fundraisers, Dinning seems to have the most time on his hands.

This may be because Dinning, unlike many other candidates who also hold positions in the Tory cabinet, is a private citizen.

This begs an important question: if Dinning is such a busy guy, will he be willing and/or able to snub these commitments? Will he have the focus to rule the province Klein-style?

Next, Ted "Number Two" Morton. Morton's site is clean, on-message, and laden with info. The downside? If we take the information on his site as accurate, he hasn't made a speech or appeared in print since last June.

Is this because he is too busy with his duties as MLA for Foothills-Rocky View, or did he simply forget about the website? Either way, getting one's message out there is key, but so is keeping that message fresh.

Dave Hancock's website has been under construction for months, Oberg's has no information about his intentions to lead the Alberta PCs, and Iris Evans hardly appears at all on Google.

It's important to remember that there is still time - Klein has "much more to do," before he steps down. The Globe and Mail, in the aforementioned article, says that Klein set himself a deadline of Fall, 2007 to step down. This leaves roughly 20 months of campaigning for our hopefuls.

So, with Dinning's already-frenetic buzzing around the province, and the others apparently stuck in their government duties, do we already have a clear winner?

Perhaps it's too early to say, but my guess is that Dinning will burn out before long - it's tough to campaign like a monster for any extended period of time. Though, after 25 years of Albertans voting the same way every election, who knows what they'll do when faced to make a choice with no "safe bet."

Monday, November 21, 2005

What's so great about Jim Dinning, anyway?

Things have cooled off a bit in the race to succeed Ralph Klein as leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party. Given this province's voting record lo these past millennia, that probably means the race is also on to lead this province a little further into the 21st century.

Of the aforementioned scrapping mad dogs, Jim Dinning is allegedly the favourite to win the coveted post.

On his admittedly impressive website, Dinning lists the highlights of his political and private careers.

First elected in 1986 in the Calgary Shaw riding, Edmonton-born Dinning went on eventually to become Klein's Minister of Community and Occupational Health, then Minister of Education, and finally Provincial Treasurer.

After his retirement (read: his terms were up), Dinning served on numerous "public, private, and not-for-profit boards," ending up this year as Chairman of High River-based Western Financial Group Inc.

Dinning links to a Nov. 14 article in Western Standard magazine entitled "Can this man defend Alberta?"

In the article, writer Kevin Steele lauds Dinning as a safe choice, but notes that, should Dinning win, the victory will be hard-fought.

The most interesting point I found was Steele's labelling of Dinning as a "Red Tory" - indicative of Dinning's somewhat pro-environment stance. Should front-runner Dinning pull off a victory - a tough proposition given rural Alberta's far-right stance, this could mean a kinder, gentler school of Alberta conservatism.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The king is dead. Long live the king(s)?

The site now has a new drive and sense of purpose.

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein is nearing the end of his long tenure as leader of this province, and already members of his party are climbing over each other to take his place.

I'll get this out of the way right now - I vote NDP. So what right do I have to play favourites in the race to lead the Progressive Conservatives? Maybe none. On the other hand, an observer from the opposite end of Alberta's political spectrum may be a mitigating force.

The simple matter is that, over the next four weeks, I will be examining the race and the merits of each contender, as well as Alberta's political history. Maybe, just maybe, we'll stumble across a recipe for Alberta's continuted success - whatever that means.

Darcy Henton's article in Alberta Venture magazine is a far better overview than I can provide in this short space. And, it comes with betting odds. Step right up, people.

To start, let's take a superficial look at the candidates. We'll flesh them out later.

According to the article, Dinning, Evans, and Norris sing a familiar litany - business needs government to let slip the reins that they may play free in the flowing black-and-green rivers of oil money flowing out of the province. To be honest, one can't complain. Less government = more money is a formula that has apparently worked for the province so far - the oil surplus speaks to that.

On the other hand, Morton believes that "sticking with the status quo" is exactly NOT what the province needs to do. He doesn't go into any more detail, so he will be one to watch in the coming weeks.

Finally, Oberg, Stelmach, and Hancock tout a more touchy-feely style of conservatism. Listen to the people, protect the environment, take care of quality of life as well as the bottom line, they say.

To be honest, I like what Hancock has to say. If he sticks with this short blurb, he just might steal what little Liberal vote this province has.

With seven hardy contenders with views that are just different enough to be interesting, this should be a heck of a race.

Stay tuned, gentle reader.


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