Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Alberta Alliance's Sugar Daddy

I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that Randy Thorsteinson is the most notable personage in the brief history of the Alberta Alliance Party. He was the first leader, and the main party builder. He got the party registration done - which in and of itself was a massive undertaking.

However, until I reviewed the financial statements filed in the offices of the Chief Electoral Officer for the Province of Alberta, I did not realize that Mr. Thorsteinson deserves another title as well.

He is the AAP's official "Sugar Daddy".

Check out this screencap from the final page of the Alberta Alliance's 2004 Financial Statement:

Click for complete document

In 2004, the Alberta Alliance received a total of $121,300.00 in cash contributions from individuals who contributed more than $375.00, and from corporations (evidently, these two types of donations must be reported individually). Of that, $85,000.00 (or 70% of the total) came from individuals with the surname "Thorsteinson". An additional $15,000.00 (or 12% of the total) came from Randy Thorsteinson's company, Cascadia Motivation.

So, a total of $100,000.00 (or 82%) of individually reportable cash contributions essentially came directly from Randy Thorsteinson, or persons he is related to.

A measly 18% of contributions in this category came from all other party members and contributors.

Now look at the 2005 Statement:

Click for complete document

The cash contributions from the Thorsteinson clan dropped to $2,000.00. Furthermore, the total value of individually reportable contributions plummetted from $121,300.00, to $32,689.12, and of the $32,689.12, only $17,045.00 was cash (the remaining $15,644.12 was comprised of "valued contributions"). Given that there were no valued contributions in the 2004 Statement, the Alliance actually realized a total drop in reportable cash contributions of 86% between 2004 and 2005.


The Alberta Alliance is clearly having financial problems, and it looks like their main rainmaker has decided to cut his losses. As such, the financial problems will continue to grow and multiply, and will persist in causing stresses inside the party.

And you can read about it all right here, at Alberta Alliance Watch.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Santa comes early for Alberta Alliance members

Great news AAP members! Ipsos Reid has released a new poll, and it shows that support for the Alberta Alliance has increased by a whopping 50% - rising from 2% to 3%:

Click for original

Now, for the bad news (I always have some). This result is within the margin of error of the Leger Marketing poll I blogged about here, so this Ipsos Reid poll in fact confirms, beyond all doubt, that the Alliance is at historic, pitiful lows in public opinion.

Any argument that the 2% finding of Leger Marketing was an outlier is now difficult to maintain.

I look forward to blogging about how you Alberta Alliance members deal with this issue during 2007. The ball is clearly in your court now.

Source: Ipsos-Reid
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 800 adult Albertans, conducted from Dec. 13 to Dec. 19, 2006. Margin of error is 3.5 per cent.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Alberta Alliance runs another deficit in 2005

Regular readers of this blog may recall that I previously broke the story of the incredible debt burden being carried by the Alberta Alliance at the end of the 2004 election. Well, I have just reviewed the Financial Statement for 2005, and the river of red ink continues to flow unabated.

Here is a summary of the salient points from the filed statement:

  • on Dec. 31, 2005, the AAP had total cash assets of $18,185.00, and total debts of $402,518.00, for a net debt of $384,333.00;
  • during the year ending Dec. 31, 2005, the AAP had incoming revenues of $108,578.99, and expenses of $112,810.00, for a net deficit of $4,232.00;
  • the AAP revenues included $20,000.00 for leadership candidate fees (4 candidates at $5,000.00 each);
  • the AAP had no income from fund-raising functions whatsoever.

There is an additional observation from this filing that strikes me as particularly important:

When one looks at the liabilities of the Alberta Alliance listed on their Financial Statement for 2004, there are two line items: a loan of $115,000.00, and accounts payable of $280,432.00. In 2005, the liabilities are almost identical - a loan of $115,000.00, and accounts payable of $287,518.00.


If you look at note 6 to the draft 2004 statement, it would appear that the $115,000.00 loan is non-interest bearing, so that would explain why that figure isn't changing - the Alliance has decided not to make a payment on it. But how does one explain the high accounts payable figures? Usually accounts payable are interest bearing after 30 days, and the interest rates are usually pretty high. Why is the Alliance carrying such high accounts payable?

Keep in mind that the Alberta Alliance recently changed (i) the location of its office, (ii) the hosting of its website, and (iii) the job description of their Office Administrator.

Were these changes made in order to cut costs?

Are creditors being paid?

I don't know the answers to these questions ... yet. But, I do think there is a story here, and I will be pursuing it.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006


I hate to be the one to deliver a lump of coal to the stockings of Alberta Alliance members, but I really must make mention of the results of the latest Leger Marketing poll published by Angus Reid Global Monitor on November 9, 2006, in an article entitled Alberta Tories Remain Well Ahead.

If you scroll down the page half way, you will see this table:

Click for original

The Alberta Alliance polled at 2% amongst Albertans in October, 2006.

Two percent.

This number is obviously unacceptable, even by rump party standards. The Alberta Allance received 9% of the vote in the provincial general election in November, 2004. The party has lost over 75% of the support earned under the leadership of Randy Thorsteinson.

Paul Hinman has cratered the party. When will you Alberta Alliance members stop living in denial and face up to this self-evident truth?

Source: Leger Marketing
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 900 Albertan adults, conducted from Oct. 23 to Oct. 30, 2006. Margin of error is 3.3 per cent.

Migration completed

The migration to the new version of blogger has been completed. It should be noted that:

  • the permalinks for all posts are now different;
  • the comments feature, which was not heavily used, has been turned off by default. There were some anonymous personal attacks against Craig Chandler on one post, that I could not delete. It is my intention in future to allow moderated comments on a post by post basis;
  • a new "Labels" feature has been added so that you can search by name or by topic.
I will be putting up a couple of new posts on the Alberta Alliance in the next day or so.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

New slogan for the Alberta Alliance: "The party with a death wish"

Given the press coverage the Alberta Alliance has received this past week, I'm sure you AAP members must be longing for the days of political obscurity.

Doug Firby of the Calgary Herald wrote an op-ed piece on Friday in which he expressed bewilderment over Paul Hinman's bizarre decision to urge his party members to join another political party:

Citizens need more than one option

Doug Firby
Calgary Herald

Friday, October 13, 2006

OK, folks, it's time to raise the white flag. There's no sense resisting the inevitable any longer. Alberta is finally, officially a one-party state.

The final nail in the coffin came this week, thanks to the leader of one of those "other" parties, which on the basis of its leader's statement clearly is not a party at all.

Paul Hinman, leader of the Alberta Alliance, confirmed he is urging party members to buy memberships in the PC party so they can have a say in who becomes the next premier.

You read that right. The leader of one party is urging his followers to join another party. In the words of a notorious federal Liberal campaign ad, "We're not making this up."

The editorial is behind the subscriber wall, but you can read it here.

The coverage on the op-ed page of the Edmonton Journal was even worse:

Click to see original web page

I agree with the points raised here. Paul Hinman's weird twists and turns will ultimately lead to the Alliance becoming further marginalized in the minds of Albertans.

If Ted Morton wins, the Alliance is toast, given that Hinman has essentially admitted that Morton would make a good Premier.

If Ted Morton loses, the Alliance will still be toast, given that Hinman has essentially admitted that the Morton wing of the Tory party is worthy of support. One can only imagine the fun the Tories will have when Hinman attempts to rail against them in future. After all, if the Tories are so bad, why is Hinman encouraging his own members to join them?

I know what you Alliance members are thinking. You think Ted Morton will lose, and then cross the floor and join up with the AAP, and that will save your party.

He won't.

Ted Morton is running a relatively strong campaign. Even if he loses, he will (i) go into cabinet and attempt to run for the PC leadership again, or (ii) attempt to get a federal Conservative nomination, and enter federal politics. Either of these options is far more enticing than being a fart catcher for Paul Hinman.

Furthermore, Ted Morton has unequivocally stated that he is against vote-splitting, so he has essentially foreclosed on the possibility of joining your party with his own statements.

Too bad Alberta Alliance members. Maybe you should have listened to me and taken steps to jettison Paul Hinman when I first pointed out to you that he was doomed months ago.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bill 208 turd attracts Alberta Alliance flies

This was entirely predictable:

Alliance brass back Morton
Morton, Alliance share aim to unite the right in Alberta

Jason Markusoff
The Edmonton Journal
Wednesday, October 11, 2006

EDMONTON - Ted Morton's Conservative leadership bid has attracted the support of an MLA from another party.

Paul Hinman, leader of the right-leaning Alberta Alliance, confirmed Tuesday he is urging party members to buy Tory memberships and help elect Morton as PC leader and Alberta's next premier.

"I just told him that it's critical to get you in as premier and I'll see what I can do to help," Hinman said.

Hinman and Morton praised their efforts as a unite-the-right fusion of like-minded conservatives, but drew harsh words from some Progressive Conservatives and from the Alliance's former leader.

"I think it's ridiculous," said Randy Thorsteinson, who formed and led the party from 2002 until last year, when Hinman took over.

"If Ted Morton supported what the Alberta Alliance did, he'd be a member of the Alliance. Ted Morton's a Tory, and I'm not a Tory."

But Morton has won praise from Hinman and party president John Murdoch because his platform mirrors several of their views, from strident opposition to same-sex marriage and support of private health care to creating an Alberta-only police force and pension plan.

Both men have committed to supporting the rookie MLA's leadership campaign.

On Tuesday, Murdoch drafted a letter he'll send to every Alliance member -- if party council approves -- saying Alliance members should become PC members and Morton should be their choice.

"We're not campaigning for Ted Morton," Murdoch said.

"We're campaigning for the Alliance party's platform."

"The realism is that the Alliance party is here to move the province towards more traditionally conservative values. However we do that, as long as it's legal, we'd be more than happy to do it."

Morton, a former University of Calgary political scientist, has stressed throughout the campaign that the PCs must stop bleeding support on the right flank.

He notes that 210,000 fewer voters picked the Tories in the 2004 election than in 2001. At the same time, Thorsteinson's upstart Alliance picked up 77,500 votes, helping Hinman win the Cardston-Taber-Warner riding and become the party's first elected MLA.

It's time to "bring them home," Morton said, and expressed hope the Alliance's top players will help him do that.

"I think if you do a job description of what's required of the next leader of our party, it's to reunite all conservatives into one party again," Morton said.

"And if I'm the person who can do that best, I think that at least on that issue it will help me."

He warned that if the "wrong person" replaces Premier Ralph Klein the Alliance's fortunes will improve.

"Instead of one Paul Hinman, there will be five or six."


Hinman said he supported Morton in 1997 when he campaigned successfully to become a senator-in-waiting, and the two have remained friends and ideological allies since they were both elected two years ago as MLAs from opposing parties.

"Even though Ted is what I'd consider a little weak on reducing taxes and reducing the size of government, he's no question the most conservative leader out there," Hinman said.

He said he and Murdoch have vowed not to become PC members themselves, though the Alliance party council has approved dual card-holders.

Thorsteinson, who once ran against Klein as Social Credit leader, said the Alliance should not abandon its mission to replace the Tories altogether.

"It's bewildering to me. I think the Progressive Conservatives are incapable of change, and the only way you can change Alberta is for a whole new party to come in and take over," he said.

"I think it's faulty logic on John and Paul's part."

© The Edmonton Journal 2006

As the article points out, Morton has received a good deal of press coverage for his private member's bill on gay marriage - Bill 208. Bill 208 purports to provide some legislative protections to Alberta's marriage commissioners and teachers, in that they would be allowed to opt out from participation in refereeing gay marriage, or teaching about gay marriage in the classroom. Ted Morton is presently the Progressive Conservative MLA for Foothills-Rocky View, and is probably in the top three or four in terms of the current leadership race.

While Bill 208 does not purport to change the definition of marriage back to one man and one woman, social conservatives love it because it does create division and lends credence to the myth that there is a "gay agenda" to take over the schools and persecute Christians.

Morton has been quite brilliant in bringing this forward at the time he has. This issue has clearly motivated the social conservatives and ultra-religious to get active and join his campaign. His strategy here reminds me a bit of Karl Rove's cleverness in making sure some swing states had referendums on the traditional definition of marriage to coincide with the last Presidential election in the U.S. Those referenda were considered crucial in motivating the Christian conservative base to get out and vote - which naturally benefitted George W. Bush far more than John Kerry.

It is this same, hidden, underlying message of intolerance towards gays that Alberta Alliance members find so irresistible. They believe that Ted Morton is going to keep gays in their place, so they have decided to join a separate political party en masse and support it.

Make no mistake that this is the issue that is behind Paul Hinman's and John Murdoch's actions.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

An email to Paul Hinman

Paul Hinman has weighed in on the lack of disclosure rules in the Progressive Conservative leadership race. He was quoted in the October 9 issue of the Globe and Mail:

Paul Hinman, the leader of the Alberta Alliance Party, an upstart right-wing party aiming to eat into the Conservatives' support, said the Tories' flagrant lack of rules shows how “out of touch and undemocratic” the ruling party has become.

He said because the political stakes are so high, the public has the right to know who helped pay the eventual winner's bills. “But this race is all about power and control — not fairness.”

I will give credit where credit is due. Paul Hinman has commented on an important issue here. But, the question that came to my mind as I was reading this story was whether Paul Hinman or the other Alberta Alliance leadership contenders have disclosed their donations from last year's leadership contest.

I certainly can't recall reading anything about it, which causes me concern. I mean, if disclosure of leadership donations is an indicator of a party's democratic ideals and fairness, surely the AAP would have demonstrated it's own commitment to democracy during it's leadership contest last year, would it not?

Since I can't recall those numbers ever being published, I've decided to email Paul Hinman and get them. Here is a screencap of my email, which went out at 4:05pm today (click to enlarge):

Email to Paul Hinman (click to enlarge)

I've always wondered what kind of financial support the Alberta Alliance leadership candidates received during last year's race. Thank goodness Paul Hinman isn't a hypocrite and is principled enough to disclose this information. ;-)

Monday, October 9, 2006

Communications problems continue to plague Alberta Alliance

More evidence surfaced today of the communications problems within the Alberta Alliance Party. Angus Reid Consultants put up a story on their website wherein they discussed the Leger poll that I blogged about here:

Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research
Alberta Tories Would Get New Victory
October 9, 2006

The Progressive Conservative party holds a large lead in Alberta, according to a poll by Leger Marketing. 54 per cent of respondents in the Canadian province would vote for the Tories in the next election.

The Alberta Liberals—led by Kevin Taft—are in second place with 12 per cent, followed by Brian Mason’s New Democratic Party with nine per cent, the provincial Greens—led by George Read—with five per cent, and Randy Thorsteinson’s Alberta Alliance with four per cent.

So, let's think about this. Angus Reid managed to get the names of all the party leaders correct - including the leader of the Green Party - with one notable exception: Paul Hinman and the Alberta Alliance.

Randy Thorsteinson left the leadership almost a year and a half ago, on April 15, 2005. Since then, Eleanor Maroes served as Interim Leader, and then handed things over to Paul Hinman, who was elected leader at the convention held almost one year ago, on November 19, 2005.

Yet a major political polling firm in this country has somehow not been informed of these developments.

These kinds of mistakes make the entire party appear unprofessional.

The Alberta Alliance membership should perhaps familiarize themselves with the old adage: "a fish rots from the head down." When you are the only party whose leader isn't identifiable to a major public opinion firm, you clearly have a problem of communications rot setting in at the head of the party. I have blogged about these communications problem before.

... I anticipated a co-ordinated response involving letters to the Calgary Sun Editor from the executive of the party, as well as from party members. I expected those letters to state that the party had full confidence in the leadership of Paul Hinman, and that Paul Jackson was out to lunch for suggesting there was any need to replace him.

Given that I expected the party to rally around the leader, I must admit that I am somewhat flummoxed at what actually occurred. ...

It is time for you Alberta Alliance members to shit or get off the pot.

Read this blog.

What you are doing is clearly not working. Either you can continue on this path to your own self-destruction, or you can start acting like a political party, and change personnel and direction.

I will concede that these are tough choices to make, but politics is a tough business.

Friday, October 6, 2006

New Leger Poll: Meltdown for the Alberta Alliance

A new Leger Poll was released yesterday. The results for Paul Hinman and the Alberta Alliance Party are nothing short of disastrous. Here is a table summarizing the results:

Across the province, the AAP is at only 4%, with a minuscule 2% of the vote in the City of Edmonton. In July, 2005, the Alberta Alliance was polling at 13%.

All polls since February of this year have placed the AAP at 5% or less.
When are Alberta Alliance members going to wake up and smell the coffee?


This Leger Marketing opinion poll was conducted among 900 respondents throughout Alberta, September 20th and 30th, 2006. The maximum margin of error for a sample of this size is ± 3.3%, 19 times out of 20.

The margin of error for each area, namely Calgary, Edmonton and other areas combined is ± 5.7%, 19 times out of 20. The Margin of error for the sample of self-declared PC Party supporters is ± 4.4%, 19 times out of 20.

Using the latest data from Statistics Canada, final results were weighted according to gender and region to ensure a sample representative of the province of Alberta population.


Thursday, October 5, 2006

Paul Hinman snubbed by mainstream Albertans

A rather high profile meeting just wrapped up in the Province of Alberta. It was called the "Calgary Congress", and was put on by Link Byfield's Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy.

The Calgary Congress - Renewing the Federation

The meeting was called to consider and debate options for renewing the Canadian federation. The speakers list read like a veritable who's who of conservative politics in both Alberta and the rest of Canada as well: Preston Manning, Ralph Klein, Lorne Taylor, Bert Brown, Dr. Barry Cooper, Dr. Ted Morton, Lyle Oberg, Dr. Leon Craig, Dr. Brian Crowley, Jason Kenney, Tasha Kheiriddin, and many more.

As such, the speakers represented the Reform tradition, the Alberta Progressive Conservatives, the Conservative Party of Canada, and non-partisan conservative groups and think-tanks.

Conspicuously absent from the speakers' podium was Paul Hinman, or anybody else from the Alberta Alliance.

My sources inform me that Paul Hinman was there as a paid delegate, but really just mingled with the crowd and attempted to look important. He offered nothing to the meeting, and may as well not have been present at all.

This once again proves that the AAP is not taken seriously by mainstream Albertans. Even a group of right wingers can't be bothered with Hinman and the Alberta Alliance, and obviously could care less what the AAP has to say on the important issues of the day.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Alberta Alliance drowning in red ink

I have just finished reviewing the latest annual report from the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer for the Province of Alberta. The report deals with the 2004 Calendar Year, the 2004 Senate Election, and the 2004 General Election.

This official report shows that the Alberta Alliance ran up whopping campaign debts totalling $350,935, during the 2004 campaign!

How bad is that? Well, the next highest debt was run up by the NDP, at $95,063, followed by the Alberta Liberals, at $83,498.

The Progressive Conservatives - who Alliance members constantly blast as being fiscally irresponsible - incurred no campaign debts.

There are more interesting revelations regarding Alberta Alliance hypocrisy contained in the Chief Electoral Officer's report that I will blog about in the coming days.

Alberta Alliance "seemingly dead"

I'm sure that Alberta Alliance members would agree with me when I say that Calgary Sun columnist Paul Jackson has been the most prominent journalist in Alberta to consistently cover the Alberta Alliance in a positive way. He has in fact been pretty bullish regarding the prospects of the AAP for over a year now.

At the same time, Paul Jackson isn't one to mince words.

As such, his recent column published on August 22 entitled "Change in the Wind" is of particular significance. In that column, he discusses the pros and cons of various candidates in the PC leadership race. His central point seems to be that there is a strong desire in Alberta for change, and that Jim Dinning is simply too close to the present government to represent real change. He then drops the following bomb:

Believe me friends, there is a growing feeling in the province it's time the PCs were thrown out of office, but with the Alberta Alliance seemingly dead, and the Liberals being rightfully loathed, there seems no alternative but to re-elect what we have had since 1971.

This is getting painful to watch.

Back on April 9, Paul Jackson expressed the view that the Alliance should dump Hinman as leader.

We all know that didn't happen.

Now, he's basically saying the entire party is little more than a corpse, and who can blame him. The facts are stark:

  1. all the polls since February of this year show the Alberta Alliance at half the support it obtained in the 2004 election;
  2. high profile conservatives want nothing to do with the party;
  3. all the merger talks have failed;
  4. party members are fleeing in droves to support Ted Morton; and,
  5. the one major journalist that took the Alliance seriously is now proclaiming the party dead.

Now, this may come as a surprise to you Alliance members, but, as an experienced political observer myself, I actually disagree with Paul Jackson. While there are plenty of facts to support his position, I think he is writing you off a bit too soon.

However, I don't want to hear any complaints coming from you AAP members about his coverage. You were all real happy with the fact that he was pumping the Alliance back in the summer of 2005, so don't whine and bitch about the fact that he's now covering your demise.

You see, journalists tend to have this nasty independence streak. They can't be controlled, and they will say what they please.

If you had any real political know-how, you'd understand that, and accept it. You wanted coverage - you got it - so now you have to learn to deal with it when it turns negative. Part of dealing with it means responding to it.

Based on what I've seen from the Alberta Alliance communications staff to date, I'm not convinced that will happen.

Monday, September 4, 2006

5000 Alberta Alliance members leave party???

More bad news for the Alberta Alliance and Paul Hinman yesterday.

According to this story in the Edmonton Journal, the Alliance is hemorrhaging supporters and members to the Ted Morton campaign:

Ted Morton's campaign, for example, has actively recruited Alliance members, as well as other disillusioned former party members.

"Most of those people have a history in the (PC) party, or have at least supported the party," said Sam Armstrong, a spokesman for Morton. "A good proportion of them are disillusioned members who left for good reason."

Armstrong said Alliance members have been particularly receptive to Morton's message.

The article then goes on to quote from political scientist David Taras:

Morton's strategy could be effective, said David Taras, a political scientist at the University of Calgary.

"If even, say, 5,000 former Alliance people sign up, you've already altered the race."

The only problem with this is that there is nowhere near 5,000 "former Alliance people" in the province. According to this Wikipedia article on the 2005 Alberta Alliance leadership race, there are just over 1,000 voting members in the AAP.

Now, I'm sure nobody in the Alliance will have the integrity to call David Taras up and clue him in regarding the real numbers the Alberta Alliance has in terms of active members. After all, the Alberta Alliance likes to falsely portray itself as a large movement on the ascendancy, so they will gladly take advantage of this mistake since it works in favour of the canards they are continually trying to foist on the Alberta electorate.

Oh, and don't worry. I won't clue Taras in either.

Let's just keep this one to ourselves.


Friday, September 1, 2006

"...fringe parties such as the Alberta Alliance..."

This is funny.

Faron EllisRespected conservative political scientist Dr. Faron Ellis was interviewed by the Globe and Mail for an August 31 story on the 35 year Tory dynasty in Alberta. During the course of the interview, he made the following comment about the prospects for an Alberta Alliance government:

"We've only changed governments three times in 100 years and when we do, we looked not to the established opposition, but to a completely new party. There are no new parties ready to catch the next big wave," said Faron Ellis, a political scientist at Lethbridge Community College.

He said fringe parties such as the Alberta Alliance, which are to the right of the Conservatives, are not appealing to enough voters.

Fringe party?


I have long maintained that respectable Alberta conservatives want nothing to do with the Alberta Alliance.

I guess we can now add Dr. Faron Ellis' name to that growing list.

The more things change ... the more they stay the same

Hello again.

I would like to offer an apology of sorts to those of you who have been faithfully checking Alberta Alliance Watch throughout the course of the summer. I have no real reason for failing to update you on the latest developments and gossip coming from the armpits of Alberta's body politic. The best I can offer in terms of an excuse is that - unlike most Alberta Alliance members - I have a life. Do you honestly think I am going to give up part of my summer blogging about something like the Alberta Alliance Party?

Get frikkin' real!

Besides, what is there to say or blog about? According to the latest public opinion polls, the Alberta Alliance is still trapped at a crummy 5% support amongst Albertans:

When respondents were asked which political party they would most likely vote for, 46 per cent said they would back a Dinning Conservative party, compared with 15 per cent for Kevin Taft's Liberals and eight per cent for Brian Mason's NDP.

The Green party and Paul Hinman's Alberta Alliance rounded out the mainstream parties with five per cent each.

That exactly parallels the level of support the Alliance was attracting back on April 4. You can read about that here.

The Alliance polled 9% during the last provincial election in 2004, and managed to win one seat. With a measly 5% support, the Alliance would be goners if an election were held today.

I think it's time for the Alberta Alliance to admit that its little experiment is a bust.

Albertans just don't care about the party.

Why don't all you Alliance members just move on and do something constructive with your time and efforts?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Craig Chandler agrees to interview

I am pleased to report that Craig Chandler has apparently agreed to an exclusive interview to be conducted by yours truly. (Check the comments on this post.)

Given that news on the Alberta Alliance has been a bit slow lately, this development gives me something to do. Thanks Craig!


The comments were discontinued when I migrated this blog to the new version of blogger on December 21, 2006. A commenter identifying himself as "craig b. chandler" did indicate that he "was all for the e-mail interview" in the comments to the post.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Paul Hinman to cross floor?

The evidence of malaise and despair in the ranks of the Alberta Alliance continues to mount. I have learned that a poster on a UK discussion forum using the pseudonym "Kittysmom" may be none other than Barbie-Jo Williams, the wife of Alberta Alliance political researcher and communications guru, Jonathan Williams.

While the forum would not appear to be political in nature, Kittysmom does provide some insights into the current mindset of Alberta Alliance insiders in one of the discussion threads. The thread begins with Kittysmom describing a conversation she recently had with "Hubby" on April 23:

I think I need to start going straight from fridays to mondays Th4e last couple of weekends have been so bad.

Hubby and I have been trying to have a talk now for most of the week and finally managed to finish it Sunday Afternoon. and to make a long story short there is a good Possibility that he will be without a Job in a year ( the downside to a Job working for a politician is that Jobs change with the flux of Politics and Alberta is going through a change right now) So now we are looking at where we will be in a year.

Two posts later, a poster named "Defsmith" asks Kittysmom what her husband does, to which she answers:
Hubby Does Research and communications for the one and only elected Membee or the Legislative assembly For the Alberta Alliance Party. A Party that was Started as the Leader of the Conservitive Party (Party in Power)is a real Twit but he is retering this Autumn and then there will be a new Leader of the Conservitives and one person that is planning to run will Kill the Alberta Alliance Party And if he does decide to run it is almost a sure bet he will be elected. The MLA jon works for will likley cross the floor to the conservitives should that happen but the conservitive party has its own Research and communications People and while it is a small possibility that Jon might get a Job with them it is unlikely. (my emphasis added)


More from Kittysmom in the same thread:

The Tories here are different that the ones over there and this guy that is thinking of running is a good leader he was in federal politics before and was really well liked it is just that it is not good for hubbys job if he wins.

I had a really hard time over in the UK never could figure out who to vote for didn't like any of them.

Followed by this snippet:
Hubby and the other person who works for the same MLA have both been looking at other Jobs and sending out applications. Hubby has even been looking back in the UK not sure that I am quite ready for another over seas move.
While we must always view posts on the internet with a degree of caution, the indicia of authenticity surrounding these posts are overwhelming:
  1. The poster named Kittysmom provides personal details in her profile that matches the personal details of the real Williams family to a tee.
  2. Kittysmom refers to "hubby" as "jon".
  3. Kittysmom is obviously conversant with the Preston Manning situation, and accurately describes what many people believe his entry into the PC leadership race would mean to the Alberta Alliance.
  4. Kittysmom accurately describes the number of employees working directly for Paul Hinman.
  5. The disclosure from Kittysmom that "hubby" was looking for other work is corroborated by Jonathan Williams himself in this post on the Alliance Opposition Blog from April 5, where he states that he has started back with his column at his former paper in Cardston: "Well as of last week. I am a columnist for my former paper in Cardston again. It is nice to have a chance to air my views weekly once more."

Based on the foregoing, I am convinced that these posts are genuine, and they are from the real spouse of Jonathan Williams. Her disclosure that Paul Hinman "will likley cross the floor to the conservitives" in the event of a Preston Manning victory in the PC leadership race must be viewed as insider information that came from Jonathan Williams himself.

But where did Jonathan Williams get this information?

Has Paul Hinman already discussed his plans with the Alberta Alliance staff at the legislature, and does that explain why they are already seeking alternate employment? And if Paul Hinman does cross the floor to join Preston Manning, what does that mean for the AAP?

While floor crossing is a phenomenon that is not unknown in politics, has there ever been a case where a party leader has crossed the floor?

I don't know the answers to any of these questions, but I do know this: the mere fact that these questions are being asked is the worst possible news for the Alberta Alliance.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Selective research at the Alliance Opposition Blog

Jonathan Williams did a post on April 12 that creates a false impression. He was commenting on the Premiers' equalization conference in Montreal, and was generally critical of how the Conservative premiers seemed to have their "hands out wanting more." He cited this story from Yahoo News in support of his post. In the Yahoo News story, no comments appeared from Premier Ralph Klein, so Jonathan Williams jumped on the omission and blasted the Premier:

Now interestingly this report did not included a single point from our Premier. So are you telling me we had nothing to say?

Well, there are two possible reasons why no quote from Klein appeared in the story. The first reason would be that Klein was interviewed, and "had nothing to say". The second reason is that the reporter, Joan Bryden, may have decided not to include a quote from Klein. If Jonathan Williams would have done a simple check of Google News, he would have discovered that Klein had plenty to say on equalization, and his name appeared in many articles on equalization on April 11 and 12. Here are just a few examples:

"Provinces oil revenue defended by Klein", Calgary Sun, April 12

"On natural resources, we're very concerned," Alberta Premier Ralph Klein told a news conference along with his counterparts after meeting with them to discuss the issue.

"You might say we're opposed to the inclusion of resource revenue in the report."

"No consensus from premiers on how to fix fiscal imbalance", National Post, April 12
Alberta's Ralph Klein, meanwhile, had no problem boosting equalization payments, even though his province, along with Saskatchewan and Ontario, doesn't benefit. But, while Alberta is "a sharing province,'' Klein said he's opposed to the formula recommended by the panel for calculating equalization.
"Solving fiscal imbalance won't be easy: premiers", CTV News, April 12

The proposed change would boost equalization payments to $15.1 billion a year from the current $9.4 billion.

At present, payments are based on a five-province standard, which excludes oil-rich Alberta.

The suggestion raised the hackles of Premiers Ralph Klein of Alberta and Lorne Calvert of Saskatchewan.

Klein said resource revenues are very volatile, adding, "The only thing I can tell you is what goes up, must come down," referring to when price slumps in the 1980s and 1990s hurt Alberta's economy. ...

... Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, meanwhile, said he had no problem boosting equalization payments. But he added that he's opposed to the formula recommended by the panel for calculating equalization.

Klein has also rejected the recommendation to add the province's revenue to the calculation which would add $5.3 billion to the fund.

"Premiers divided over changes to payments", CBC News, April 12
Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, who chaired Tuesday's meeting in Montreal, is concerned the report recommends including resource revenue in the calculations. "It was included at one time, it was removed in 1982," says Klein. "We're very concerned and, you might say, we're opposed to the inclusion of resource revenue in the report. But that's a matter that needs to be discussed down the road. " Currently, equalization payments are based on a five-province standard, excluding oil-rich Alberta.
"Alberta's oil riches bubble to the surface", Globe and Mail, April 12

Alberta's vast mineral riches figured prominently in the talks after a blue-chip panel's report, unveiled yesterday, recommended that the formula for calculating equalization payments to less-prosperous regions include revenue from the province's booming oil and gas industry.

The panel, headed by Janice Stein of the University of Toronto and Robert Gagné of the University of Montreal, jumped into a debate that has simmered quietly for months in provincial capitals about Alberta's emergence as a provincial superpower. Last summer, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty described it as "the elephant in the room" no one wanted to discuss.

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein made it clear that he does not support any move to include the province's resource revenues in the calculation for payments under the national equalization program -- a position that put him at odds with most recipients of the program.

"We're very concerned, and you might say we're opposed," he said at a news conference after the meeting.

Although Alberta might be reaping the benefits of high oil prices today, Mr. Klein said, the good times won't last forever.

"The only thing I can tell you is that what goes up must come down. So while the price is high now, it might come crashing down."

"No consensus from premiers on how to resolve fiscal imbalance", Macleans, April 11

Alberta's Ralph Klein, meanwhile, had no problem boosting equalization payments, even though his province, along with Saskatchewan and Ontario, doesn't benefit. But, while Alberta is "a sharing province," Klein said he's opposed to the formula recommended by the panel for calculating equalization. ...

... Currently, equalization payments are based on a five-province standard, excluding oil-rich Alberta.

Ottawa gives equalization to poorer provinces to enable them to provide services at taxation levels comparable to those of the rich provinces.

Klein likened the panel's proposal to the hated National Energy Program of the early 1980s, which siphoned off the province's oil wealth. He said it wouldn't be fair to include resource revenue in the equalization calculation since resource prices are so volatile.

"The only thing I can tell you is what goes up, must come down," he said, recalling the devastation wrought on Alberta's economy when oil prices crashed in the 1980s.

All of these stories were online prior to Jonathan Williams' post.

I am no defender of Ralph Klein, but he clearly voiced his opposition to the equalization report loudly and repeatedly. To suggest otherwise is false.

This incident brings to mind a famous quote from Hiram Johnson: "Truth is the first casualty of war". Based on the AAP's latest effort to "blame Ralph", truth is the first casualty in Alberta Alliance communications as well.

Alberta Alliance abandons Paul Hinman

It has been a week since the infamous Paul Jackson column entitled "Changing Tides" ran in last Sunday's Calgary Sun. For those of you that haven't read the column, all you really need to know is that in the column, Jackson called for Paul Hinman to "step aside" for Preston Manning. (I blogged about that column here.) After I read the Jackson column, I fully expected that the Alliance would respond with a strenuous rebuttal, given that Paul Hinman was elected leader less than 5 months ago. I anticipated a co-ordinated response involving letters to the Calgary Sun Editor from the executive of the party, as well as from party members. I expected those letters to state that the party had full confidence in the leadership of Paul Hinman, and that Paul Jackson was out to lunch for suggesting there was any need to replace him.

Given that I expected the party to rally around the leader, I must admit that I am somewhat flummoxed at what actually occurred. I have just gone through the six editions of the Calgary Sun that have been published since the "Changing Tides" column ran. Not a single letter supporting Paul Hinman was to be found. In fact, the only letter on the Jackson column that I could find was published today, in the April 15 edition. That letter was written by a fellow named Jeff Willerton, and it was supportive of Paul Jackson's views:

Paul Jackson is right. ("Changing tides," April 9.) The smart money is on Preston Manning to be our next premier, regardless of whether he leads the Tories or the Alliance. It's up to him whether he wants to lend his legitimately conservative credentials to an extraordinarily liberal Tory party (as did Stockwell Day for 10 years) or wants to finish it off by breathing life into a new organization. Either way, Preston will soon be our premier, should he choose to accept the mission. If he cares about this province, he needs to do everything in his power to keep it out of liberal hands. He's in the unique position of being the one man in Alberta who can do that.

Jeff Willerton

I then checked the Alberta Alliance blogs. There was no mention of the Jackson column on any of them. Interestingly, on Exposed Agenda, I found this post in which Alberta Alliance member Aizlynne expressed a yearning to have PC leadership candidate Ted Morton join up with the Alberta Alliance if and when he loses the leadership contest:
Ted Morton has more than just a vision for Alberta, he also has a policy and plan called the Alberta Agenda. Of course, Ted is a real policy wonk so we can expect to get exceptional policy reform from Ted. Only problem? Ted won't win - especially if you add Preston Manning into the mix. I hope his exit strategy includes considering coming over to the Alberta Alliance where he belongs! After all, the Alberta Alliance is the only party utilizing his Alberta Agenda as part of it's policy platform.

Is Aizlynne suggesting that Ted Morton would join the AAP under the leadership of Paul Hinman? I can't see Morton giving up a cabinet spot in the next government in order to sit behind Hinman in the nosebleed seats. This is clearly an expression of support for the idea that new leadership is required in the Alberta Alliance - in the form of Ted Morton.

Based on the foregoing, I am convinced that there is a strong undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Paul Hinman's leadership amongst the Alberta Alliance membership. He has literally been hung out to dry, and his supporters have abandoned him.

The only questions that remain are how deep this dissatisfaction is, and when will this dissatisfaction begin manifesting itself in an overt campaign to remove Hinman from the leadership.

As Ralph Klein recently stated: politics is a blood sport. Unfortunately for Paul Hinman, all of the signs suggest he is going to be getting some firsthand experience at just how bloody it is.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Confidential tips by email

If you look at the sidebar on the right-hand side of this page, you'll notice that I have added an email link. This feature is provided as a service to you, the readers of Alberta Alliance Watch.

Information is the lifeblood of any media, and I hope some of you will provide me with information that you think is important for the public to know about. The following represents the policies I will administer with respect to any information you provide to me:

  • The information will only be published if it pertains to the Alberta Alliance Party.
  • Your complete confidentiality will be respected. No information that may serve to identify you will be published by me.
  • Your email address will be kept completely confidential. It will not be shared with anybody.
  • I will not publish anything that is defamatory.
I think that covers it, but if you have any recommendations on how this feature can be improved, I would be glad to hear from you.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Craig Chandler prophesies armageddon for the Alberta Alliance

In the April 8 edition of the Edmonton Journal, another article appeared on the Preston Manning issue. Amongst the many people interviewed for the article by Journal Staff Writer Mike Sadava was the executive director of the Progressive Group for Independent Business, Craig Chandler. The article is behind the subscriber wall, but I have managed to obtain a hard copy of it.

Craig Chandler is of course no stranger to Alberta Alliance members. He is the former campaign manager for David Crutcher, who finished third in the recent leadership race. He is also both a former candidate and campaign manager for the Reform Party of Canada. Chandler commented on what Manning's candidacy would mean to evangelical Christians, and the Alberta Alliance:

Craig Chandler, executive director of the Calgary-based Progressive Group for Independent Business who ran Manning's 1993 campaign in Ontario, said evangelical Christians like himself and groups like Alberta Pro Life will support him en masse.

"I think you'll see the entire social conservative movement in Alberta if Preston runs, and they'll deliver the vote," Chandler said. "They'll roll up their sleeves and they'll do the work ... If he wants this thing, it's his." ...

... Chandler predicted the Alberta Alliance party will die if Manning goes into the premier's office, because the people who support the provincial party will move their support to Manning.

Paul Hinman, the sole Alliance MLA, insisted there would still be a need for the Alliance party. But he was disappointed that Manning could seek the Tory leadership. They came close to begging him to run for the Alliance but he turned down the invitation.

So, according to Chandler, evangelical Christians will flock to Manning. That will have two consequences: (i) it will assure a Manning victory in the PC leadership contest, and (ii) it will result in a catastrophic collapse in Alliance support. If Chandler is correct, this proves that the Alberta Alliance voter base is comprised almost entirely of evangelical Christians.

The other noteworthy disclosure in this article is the fact that a group of Alberta Alliance members - including Hinman himself apparently - "came close to begging" Manning to run for the Alliance, and that Manning turned them down. This cursory rejection definitively shows that Preston Manning considers the Alberta Alliance to be little more than a fringe party, completely unworthy of support, and a total waste of time.

Based on the latest media coverage, it is now a question of when, not if, Manning will throw his hat into the PC leadership race. If Manning wins, the next election will feature Paul Hinman running against a party lead by the very person he was pleading with to lead the Alliance. That fact alone will allow Manning to make a total mockery out of the AAP.

It may be time for you Alberta Alliance members to make your political amends, and seek forgiveness - because according to Craig Chandler, and a lot of other credible people, your political Rapture will soon be at hand.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Paul Jackson endorses Preston Manning ... for Alberta Alliance leader

Calgary Sun pundit Paul Jackson wrote an interesting column today. He essentially called for Paul Hinman to stand aside as leader of the Alberta Alliance and make way for Preston Manning:

Yet let's throw a curve -- Preston Manning should surely be in the race, but not for the PC leadership.

He should make a pitch for the Alberta Alliance top job.

In 2004, the Alliance came from nowhere to win 9% of the vote, and had someone with a higher and more acceptable profile than Randy Thorsteinson been the leader it would have done even better.

Current leader Paul Hinman might easily be persuaded to step aside.

Right now, there are moves under way to have right-wing fringe parties such as Social Credit merge with the Alliance to have a solid and united Conservative alternative to the PCs.

With Manning at the Alliance's helm, the party would have all the legitimacy it needed and a star candidate.

Those now dissatisfied with the PCs would have a real home to go to.

Manning would surely be formidable -- and likely unbeatable. Remember, in just 10 years he built the Reform party from a kitchen-table discussion group to being the second largest political party in the country and the official Opposition in the House of Commons.

As in the past, Alberta could be in for a shattering change in its governing party.

Paul Jackson is one of the most widely read conservative columnists in Alberta. Unlike his colleagues, he actually covers the Alberta Alliance, and wrote two fawning columns about Marilyn Burns' leadership aspirations last year. I think it's fair to say that he has been more bullish on the Alberta Alliance than any other columnist in the province.

The fact that he is now calling for the head of Paul Hinman - who has only been leader for six months or so - is obviously bad news for the Alliance's only elected representative.

It also makes one wonder how deep the dissatisfaction is amongst the Alliance faithful over Paul Hinman's uninspiring leadership.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Paul Hinman's sinking ship

Paul Hinman attempted some humor this week in order to get the media to pay some attention to him. In an article published in the Edmonton Sun on April 4, the Alliance leader cast doubt on the navigational skills of the Alberta PC's by likening them to the crew of the B.C. ferry that sank off Vancouver Island last week:

Alliance Leader Paul Hinman said the Tories remind him of the B.C. ferry that crashed on the rocks and sank off the West Coast last week.

"Sure, they're going full steam ahead. The captain and crew is saying the ship is on autopilot, but the passengers are screaming, 'We're off course.' "

Ha Ha Ha.

I hope Hinman enjoyed his joke as much as I enjoyed reading the Leger Marketing public opinion poll published in the Calgary Herald today, because according to the poll, the only sinking ship in Alberta politics right now is the HMCS Alberta Alliance. The poll was primarily focussed on the effects of Preston Manning's probable entry into the Progressive Conservative leadership race. One of the questions asked of the 900 randomly selected Albertans who responded to the poll was what their voting preference would be if Manning was leading the PC's:

When asked which party they'd vote for with Manning at the Tory helm, 51 per cent of respondents said they'd back the Conservatives, compared to 17 per cent for Kevin Taft's Liberals and seven per cent for Brian Mason's NDP.

The Green party, with four per cent, and Paul Hinman's Alberta Alliance, with three per cent, round out the mainstream parties.

Three percent? It appears a Premier Preston Manning would be the battleship that torpedoes the creaky Alliance vessel once and for all.

Maybe it's time for Paul Hinman and the Alberta Alliance to send out an SOS.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Sun Media bursts the Alberta Alliance bubble

One of the myths perpetrated by the Alberta Alliance and its adherents is that they will do to the Progressive Conservative Party what the PC's did to Social Credit back in 1971 - totally sweep them from office. They believe that Albertans have a tradition of sweeping the governing party from power every 30 years or so, and, given that the PC's have been governing for approximately 35 years, we are overdue for one of these Alberta electoral purges. According to AAP true believers, when Albertans do oust the PC's from office, the Alberta Alliance will be the beneficiary, and form a government.

Given this, I found it interesting that two Sun Media columnists wrote columns in the past week that touched on this issue. On April 2, Licia Corbella wrote a piece discussing Preston Manning's surprise announcement that he may seek the leadership of the PC's. On April 3, Ezra Levant weighed in on the Manning controversy as well. In both articles, the prospect of Manning starting a new party was also mentioned as a secondary strategy for him in pursuing the Premier's chair, but neither Corbella nor Levant mentioned the leadership of the Alberta Alliance as an option.

Here is the text from the Corbella article:

April 2, 2006

Will he or won't he?

Manning's entry into leadership race would have a huge impact
By Licia Corbella

A Premier Manning played a large role in the past of this province and a Premier Manning just might play a large role in its future, too.

Now that Premier Ralph Klein has essentially been told by 45% of his party membership that it's time to go (though it's not clear yet whether Ralph has fully accepted that message), Premier Ernest Charles Manning's son, Ernest Preston Manning, says he just might be convinced to throw his Stetson into Alberta's Progressive Conservative Party leadership ring.

And judging from the warmth and enthusiasm with which the 62-year-old founder of the Reform Party and the Alliance Party was greeted by the more than 1,500 delegates in attendance to listen to his lunchtime speech yesterday at the party's convention, it's clear that were he to do that, his candidacy would throw the leadership race for the top provincial political job wide open.

Manning received a rousing spontaneous standing ovation in the enormous room at the convention centre -- not one of those grudging follow-the-leader types of ovations -- as he was called to the stage by Morten Paulsen and another spontaneous rousing ovation at the close of his speech -- which sounded a lot like a stump speech.

When asked during a press scrum moments later if he's considering running for the leadership, Manning essentially said "maybe."

"A number of people have spoken to me about (running for the leadership), but I would need to be convinced that was a good idea for the province, for the party and for Sandra and myself," said Manning.

"I'm open, but I would need to be convinced."

What exactly would it take to convince him?

"Is there a good receptivity from a good cross-section of Albertans to the ideas I talked about today in terms of future direction, are there people in the party willing to do the work these types of contests involve, and from Sandra's and my perspective, is there anyway that could be done without spending 200 days a year on the road apart from each other, which is what we did on our last political venture?" he said, referring to his bid for the leadership of the Alliance Party -- which he formed -- but lost resoundingly to Stockwell Day back in July 2000.

Still bearing those scars, it's clear Manning will need more than a few standing O's and questions of his intentions from his numerous admirers.

Manning added he'd need to build up "a piggy bank" for a leadership run pretty quickly too, since former provincial treasurer Jim Dinning has raised millions, Mark Norris, the 43-year-old Edmonton businessman and former Alberta economic development minister raised more than $1 million and Calgary Foothills-Rocky View MLA Ted Morton has sizable cash behind him as well.

Again, no problem on that front. Within seconds of Manning's scrum, Cliff Fryers, a former chief of staff to Preston Manning and a founding member of Reform, said it would take him "no time at all" to raise all the money needed for Manning to launch a robust race for the top.

That leaves the need for workers and membership sales, and judging from how quick and positive the buzz about Manning's musings on leadership spread around the convention floor, those would also follow quickly, be it within the Tory fold or with a new party.

But Manning's real strengths are his ideas and vision. His current endeavour, The Manning Centre for Building Democracy, is essentially an idea factory on how to build conservative political infrastructure.

In his speech, Manning spoke of the need for Alberta to look to its political history as a source of guidance and inspiration for its future recalling that "Alberta began as a frontier territory -- where those frontier conditions fostered and rewarded independence, equality, cooperation and the desire for self government."

Naturally, it was impossible to look into Alberta's past without invoking his father, who was elected seven consecutive times and retired at the top of his game in 1968 as premier and leader of the Social Credit party.

"When my father was elected to the legislature in 1935 (during the Great Depression) Alberta was $161 million in debt thanks to a railway spending spree by our one and only Liberal administration in the first part of the century. The budget of the province was $15 million, $8 million of that was pledged to debt service. That left $7 million per year on which to run the province, with cash flow insufficient to even meet the public service payroll, let alone provide services," recalled Manning.

"That dark and desperate part of our past should keep us ever mindful in our present affluence of those citizens and provinces less fortunate than ourselves, and energize us in the development of fresh policies to deal with poverty and regional disparities in our time," said Manning to loud applause.

Manning pointed out that Alberta has long periods of one-party government -- only four administrations in its first century -- including the Liberals, the United Farmers of Alberta, Social Credit and the Progressive Conservatives.

To prevent the PCs from going the way of the political Dodo bird, Manning said big ideas are needed.

He believes a "new and improved" Heritage Savings and Investment Strategy could re-energize the party and even protect it from a potential NEP by investing some outside of the province for the benefit of all Canadians.

His comments about reforming health care, similar to France, Sweden, Japan and Australia, which all spend less per capita than Canada does on health care but which get better health care results, was soundly cheered as was his plans to marry love of land, the environment AND economic development together.

Sounds like Manning has his platform. If, as he says, he gets enough people to do the "heavy lifting" with him, this last horse out of the leadership gate might lap the field.

And the Levant column:

April 3, 2006

Knifed in the back

Klein's circle truly believed Alberta was 'Ralph's World'
By Ezra Levant

Two months ago, the Western Standard published scathing remarks by top Alberta Tory insiders, criticizing Premier Ralph Klein.

Our report caused an uproar in the Alberta legislature, where cabinet ministers were trotted out by the premier's spin doctors to noisily pledge their undying loyalty to the premier, and denounce us for fabricating dissent against Alberta's best-loved man.

Well, on Friday night we found out just how well-loved he was by his own party -- just 55% of Tory insiders want Klein to stay on.

That's a staggering defeat, considering the 90%-plus tallies Klein used to get. It's even more dramatic given there was no official campaign to dump him.

But the only way Friday night's humiliation could be called a surprise is if one had believed the transparent spin by the five serious leadership campaigns to replace Klein. All pledged their undying loyalty to Klein in public -- then stuck a dagger in his back in the secrecy of the ballot box.

This wasn't surprising, unless one took Tory spin at face value.

Which is why Klein and his inner circle were truly surprised. During the past year, they had begun to believe their own press. They truly thought Alberta was "Ralph's World," a joke from the 2001 election campaign Klein's palace guard obviously came to believe.

They thought vacuous infomercials and meaningless throne speeches and tedious re-announcements of the same health care non-reforms made Alberta tick.

Alberta's ticking along fine on its own. Ralph and his team thought they were the indispensable authors of the province's success.

A perfect crystallization of this arrogance was Deputy Premier Shirley McClellan, who on the eve of the vote, said anyone who'd vote against Klein was a "fool."

Not only must Klein go, McClellan must, too.

She has no confidence in her own party members, 45% of whom are fools to her.

And they surely don't have confidence in her, either.

Klein won't last the year, of course. He's likely been shocked out of his self-loving trance, and will leave on his own volition as soon as possible. If he doesn't, more humiliations will be visited on him -- not exactly the legacy he craves. It's uncertain who advises Klein anymore, other than his wife. Hopefully she will help him leave with some grace, while that is still possible.

In the meantime, the leadership race to succeed Klein goes into overdrive. Jim Dinning is still the favourite, but Mark Norris in Edmonton looms as a serious challenger, both well-financed and representing the north.

Ted Morton was counting on the old federal Reform party base, numerically superior to anything the provincial Tories can muster, to put him over the top. But that strategy faces a threat from Preston Manning, who said Saturday if a sufficient team came forward to do the "heavy lifting" for him, he might take a run at the job, too. I've spent enough time with Manning to know that means "I'm in."

Will Manning run to take over the Tory party? Or will he do what he has done twice before -- start a new party, from scratch, and seek to replace the Tories altogether?

With Dinning's people controlling much of the Tory party infrastructure, a new party might be smarter.

In 1993, Klein was properly viewed as the Tory party's saviour.

In 2006, he may have become its undertaker.

A second Premier Manning? Albertans could do worse.

Alberta Alliance Party members must be crushed.

Here are two of Alberta's most prominent conservative opinion journalists, both talking about the possibility of Manning seeking the Premier's office - and possible routes to that office - and neither one mentioned the possibility that he would seek the leadership of the Alberta Alliance to assist him in his quest. According to Corbella and Levant, the only credible strategies would be (i) to seek the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, or (ii) start a new party. Neither of them lend any credence to the Alberta Alliance's self-proclaimed status as a government-in-waiting.

Perhaps it's time for Alberta Alliance members to admit that their party simply doesn't factor in to the thought processes of any serious politicial commentator.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Albertans dump on Alliance and Hinman

I just found something interesting.

According to an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between February 22 and 28, 2006, the Alberta Alliance is a distant last amongst the four main parties in Alberta. The Alliance scored a pathetic 5% amongst decided voters, compared to 58% for the Progressive Conservatives, 18% for the Liberals, and 13% for the NDP.

If that isn't bad enough, Paul Hinman also finished dead last amongst the major party leaders when Albertans were asked if they approved of the job the leaders were doing. Only 36% gave Hinman the thumbs up, compared to 72% for Ralph Klein, 54% for Kevin Taft, and 48% for Brian Mason.

Read it for yourself here.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

A blast from the past

Preston ManningIt was a grim April Fool's Day for Alberta Alliance members.

Former Reform Party leader Preston Manning dropped a bombshell yesterday when he expressed an interest in running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta.

The fact that a Reform Party icon would go to the dreaded "Red Tories", rather than to the Alberta Alliance, is proof that mainstream conservative Albertans have no real interest in the right wing rump party.

More importantly, if Manning wins the leadership, the Alberta Alliance will likely lose what little support they have, become seatless, and disappear totally from the political scene in Alberta.

I just started this blog 3 days ago. Has the final act in the decline and fall of the Alberta Alliance already been written?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Tough week for Paul Hinman

Alberta Alliance leader Paul Hinman has had a tough week. He has been participating in negotiations with the Alberta Social Credit party for months about "uniting the right". In a news release dated March 26, 2006, Social Credit leader Laverne Ahlstrom announced that the merger was dead. Ahlstrom cited concerns that the merger talks really weren't about merger, but were an attempt by the Alberta Alliance to take over a historic party that has formed government in Alberta in the past:

The Socred Leader expressed concern that the merger talks may instead lead to a "takeover" rather than a "merger of equals" that would seriously compromise Social Credit's name, principles, and policies.

Unable to take a hint, Paul Hinman and his team then went after disgraced Tory cabinet minister Lyle Oberg. According to Calgary Herald columnist Tom Olsen, Paul Hinman was actively pursuing Oberg with an offer to join the Alberta Alliance. A snippet from Olsen's March 26 column can be read at the Alliance Opposition Blog in this post (along with Jonathan Williams' usual whine about negative press coverage).

However, according to a quote from Oberg published in the Brooks Bulletin on March 28, Oberg will be sitting as an Independent PC MLA:

I am going to be running for the leadership of the PC party and I will be sitting as an Independent PC MLA,” an upbeat Oberg told The Bulletin Tuesday morning.

Struck out again, eh Hinman?

Two attempts to expand the Alliance; two firm "no's" in response. I hope Hinman had more luck with dating than he's having with party building, or did he have to take his sister to the prom?

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil ...

... is that good men do nothing. - Edmund Burke

This blog is dedicated to recording and exposing the foibles, falsehoods, and fascism of the Alberta Alliance Party.

I hope you find it informative.