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.