Rumours are swirling surrounding dissent amongst government members, not only in the Progressive Conservative party overall but also in the higher up levels of cabinet and even Premier Alison Redford’s own office.
A handful of the Premier’s communications staff – about half of the compliment of eight – have quit over the past month or so. This, during a public investigation into the provincial healthcare system, along with the seemingly endless list of scandals plaguing the current administration, is rumored to be taking its toll.
Through the few connections I still have to the P.C. party, I’ve heard the grumblings. One member who is what I call fairly high ranking within the party structure used the word ‘coup’.
The seeds of any current discontent were planted long ago, at the tail-end of the Ralph Klein era. Party knives coming out was the eventual downfall of one of, if not the most, popular leader the province ever had. The subsequent leadership race that followed produced a non-establishment winner in Ed Stelmach. Everyone’s ‘second choice’ victory was blamed at the party voting system.
Nevertheless, Stelmach was deemed to be a non-threatening result. Party brass assumed correctly that party legacy combined with a then-lack of credible alternative would be sufficient to keep the regime afloat. Times were good (pre 2008) and Stelmach was likable enough to carry the party to electoral victory. Besides, the Old Boys would simply have Their Guy the next time around.
The failure to significantly change the party’s voting methods allowed far-left dark horse Alison Redford to win the race to replace Stelmach. With a few well-placed ‘promises’ to special interest groups like the provincial teacher’s union, Redford made it two-for-two in the surprise winner category.
The problem is she also made the Old Boys zero-for-two in a row. Seeds planted.
Early attempts of the ‘new P.C.s’ to distance themselves from Stelmach’s record were met with mixed results. Indecision and missteps were excused by the new Premier’s allowed period of grace, but that couldn’t last forever given the avalanche of scandals. From questions regarding Alberta Health Services, possible ‘queue-jumping’ or showing of favoritism in receiving medical treatment, and possible conflictof interest issues regarding the Premier’s sister – an AHS employee, Redford’s own electoral victory of last spring now seems a distant memory.
And now this week a crowbar into the chasm: Alberta, the wealthiest province in Canada thanks to our resource-based economy, is spending its way into debt so swiftly that the government has mused about everything from getting a loan to raising taxes.
They have even danced around the idea of the unthinkable: a provincial sales tax (as I predicted here ). Alberta has long taken pride in the fact we are the only province without that shackle. We have long understood that, given a fiscally responsible government, Alberta would never have the excuse for a PST.
Albertans know that. The opposition, small-c conservative Wildrose party knows that.
The Old Boys in the P.C. party know that. And that’s why Alison Redford is in trouble.