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Stifling dissent in Alberta

By: Brian McLeod

  |  Posted: Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 06:00 am

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Easter is probably not the ideal time to be discussing politics, but the man we remember at this holiday time, Jesus Christ, loved a good laugh as much as anyone. And since he remains with us to this day, I can only believe he must be rolling on the floor (I assume heaven has a floor) in laughter as he watches the recent antics of our provincial Progressive Conservative Party.

Years ago, Ralph Klein warned the PC party that their greatest threat was not from the leftist parties like the Liberals and New Democrats, rather the real threat was from a party that was even more right wing than the PCs. Ralph was right, and the strength of the Wildrose party over the last few years convinced the Tories that Premier Stelmach was leading them to electoral disaster. So Ed was tossed, and the Tories reached out for another virtual unknown. I used to wonder why the Conservatives always seemed to pick total unknowns to be their next leader until a friend pointed out that the Conservatives dare not pick an already known Conservative because the voters know these Tories, too, and wouldn’t trust them to run a dog kennel, let alone a province. As the philosopher noted: “Not all conservatives are stupid, of course, but it seems that all the conservative people I meet are stupid.”

Ms. Redford fit the bill perfectly – female, smart, and totally unknown. There couldn’t be any Albertans who disliked the new premier, because nobody knew who she was. It was a brilliant strategy, but after assuming office, Ms. Redford committed the unforgiveable sin of being exactly the same as the other “cold and timid souls” who occupy the cabinet and highest echelons of the party. This I have often called “Don Getty’s Curse”, because the problem first surfaced as soon as Peter Lougheed left office, and Don Getty became premier. Don’s leadership brought a dislike of controversy, a stifling of all dissent, and an insistence on all members thinking and acting the same. There was no debate, no alternative theories, and no disagreement on any of the issues. The people with passion, the people with ideas, and the people who understood themselves, and the people of Alberta, were either shown the door, or more usually, ran out the door in advance.

Sadly, this party has not only lost touch with the people of Alberta, they’ve lost touch with reality, and continue to pat themselves on the back for doing such a good job, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Earlier, I said that Ralph Klein was right when he warned of the dangers of a “more right” party, but perhaps I spoke too soon. Instead, the greatest danger to the Tories may have always been internal – an internal reliance on mediocrity and crushing control, and a maniacal demand that everyone be exactly the same.

Meanwhile, with the leadership contest coming up, a few friends have suggested that I should seek office. However, most friends continue to insist that I should seek help.

Brian is a long-time resident of St. Albert.


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