Thursday, February 21, 2008

post-debate comments part I

I went to CBC's studio downtown to get a better feel for the debate and crowd reaction.

I suppose my first observation is that one has to look at who "won" against a backdrop of how the parties are polling going into this. If the viewing audience sawed it off 25% each, then it is obviously pure gold for us because that means large numbers of people who have been telling pollsters they are voting for someone else before tonight decided that the Wildrose Alliance platform as articulated by Paul Hinman had more appeal to them tonight than the other parties' platforms as articulated by their leaders.

The only time I really cringed hearing Paul speak was when he spoke of the "Alberta Alliance". I was never a member of that party and had no plans to join so long as Randy Thorsteinson remained a dominant force, for various reasons. Since giving up on the big spending, unimaginative nomenklatura-like P"C"s I've only been a Wildrose guy. I'm a big fan of Rob James, our key Wildrose man, so when Rob resigned as our President I had my doubts about the merger. But I figured if we could get a couple of outside (non-Alberta Alliance) professional strategist types at party HQ we could make a go of it, albeit always with a hand and a half tied behind our back because of Ed's timing of the election call. I don't mean to offend any AA people out there, I'm just acknowledging that we came from two different parties and there was a reason why there was two parties.

I know that Paul met with this little braintrust of ours prior to this debate and now that the debate's over, I'd have to say that I'm quite impressed. The analogy to buying one's groceries from 7-11 with respect to current government procurement practices was good; Alberta taxpayers need a more efficient bidding process. Expressing agreement with Mason at one point which everyone who has pigeon-holed the WRA believes impossible, also good. The strength of the efficiency theme is that what is efficient and what is not can be proved by argument and not just appeals to values (now if I could just get the Liberal candidate in my riding to cooperate and take me on in a debate...). Economists love efficiency talk and so I'm delighted to see Hinman pushing this. The innovation theme was 24 karat and something that will get serious traction across the political spectrum if we can walk the walk with it by proving that our policies support the theme. It makes us look like we not only have ideas but are looking to listen to the go-getters in our society for yet more ideas. One positive thing I can say about Taft and the Liberals is that they have ideas as well but is the second half of the previous sentence that they fall down on. If climate change is going to hit us like a freight train then it's our innovators and entrepreneurs who are going to save us and not Kevin Taft's bureaucrats. Our boy geniuses at WA HQ "get it" and Stelmach's P"C"s, for all their resources and overpaid consultants, simply don't. The real debate about Alberta's future then comes down to us vs the Liberals and we all know the Liberals will never form the government, leaving...

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