Facing a legitimate challenge to their grip on power for the first time in years, the election strategy for Alberta’s ruling Progressive Conservatives is becoming apparent.
Hampered by an incredible amount of baggage such as the unpopular .05% drunk driving law, land-grab bills, and their astonishing public defense of Chiquita’s boycott of our oil sands, there isn’t a whole lot of positives for them to use as a starting point for their campaign.
Citizens have grown increasingly weary of Alison Redford and her party. They have also grown increasingly suspicious and untrusting of the P.C.s, factors which have proven to be the death-knell for a government. Flip-flops, rights-infringing ‘Nanny Redford Knows Best’ laws, taxpayer-funded cabinet getaways and pre-election campaigning (and their flimsy denials that it was ‘business as usual’) on top of the impression that they have grown tired and stale are all working against the Progressives.
So what is the Redford team to do? Photo-ops and press releases are loaded with clichés and empty sound bites. The public, sold repeatedly on the concept that the Progressives could change from within (just add a new leader and voila!), isn’t buying it this time.
There are only so many times a single ruling party can reinvent itself. After more than forty years, voters see the kind of ‘change’ the Redford regime brings, and we are less than sold.
A move to the left on the political spectrum was perhaps the only change yet to be done, and from what Redford has alluded to, that’s what the PCs are counting on to replace the massive amount of conservative votes that have bled to the Wildrose party.
With virtually no new ideas or direction, and a track record that includes five consecutive deficit budgets, the Tories have entered the realm of cheap politics. They are now in ‘last resort’ territory, filling the airwaves and newspapers with personal attacks on Wildrose leader Danielle Smith.
The first was a radio ad suggesting Smith, by her opposition to the .05% law, was encouraging drinking and driving. Even the MSM laughed that one off, seeing it for the pathetic attempt it was. Now comes the unearthing of a long-ago written column by Smith in which she floated the idea of ‘red light districts’.
Shocking? Hardly. Anyone who knows Danielle Smith knows that she has described herself as a libertarian. Also known is the fact that she has committed herself to abiding by the wishes of Wildrose party members and Albertans in general. The ‘revelation’ that there is a significant segment of Wildrose members who are libertarian – myself included – will lead nowhere near the scandal Redford’s team hopes it is.
The truth is, this has been tried, and failed, before.
During the Wildrose leadership race, Yours Truly placed a ‘Free Marc Emery’ banner on my website. Emery is the Canadian who was swept up and taken to the U.S. to face charges of illegally selling marijuana seeds through the mail (he is currently serving time in the States).
Craig Chandler, a prominent member of the other leadership candidate’s team, pointed this out to the Wildrose masses in the attempt to discredit me, and by extension, Smith. Naturally, it didn’t stick. Interesting that Chandler is back under the P.C. tent.
We can expect to see more attempts to make something out of nothing from the floundering P.C. machine as the campaign unfolds, despite their leader’s vow to avoid a dirty race. Smith’s time on the Calgary School Board will be brought forth, as will other columns she wrote on issues which the P.C. dirt-diggers may believe holds a sliver of a chance to smudge Smith’s reputation.
Given the lack of real ‘new’ policies or direction, plus the sheer weight of the Ed Stelmach/Nanny Redford laundry list of mistakes, that is all Progressives have left.