Tuesday, March 4, 2008

the high water mark

Debate night, Thursday Feb 21, looks like it will stand as the high water mark for some time to come.

Participating in a leaders' debate by virtue of what was accomplished in 2004, Paul Hinman spoke about what I'd been waiting to hear for so long: free markets, free people, efficiency, innovation. Hinman was certainly not perfect and I thought he stumbled on the childcare issue, but here was someone who was actually campaigning for free markets and free people and not just campaigning on populism until he became premier at which time public policy experts in the civil service would tell him that populist policies won't create efficiency, stimulate innovation, or keep growing the economy well after the royalties are gone.

[Faron Ellis, a political science professor at Lethbridge College] said Hinman won a lot of respect when he locked horns with the leaders of the Tories, Liberals and the NDP in the recent televised leaders debate. "He was spectacular," said Ellis.

I know you have an image of Alberta as an island of fiscal conservatism, but it's just not true. It's been taken over by red Tories who are spending like mad. In that context, the interesting performance of [debate] night was by Paul Hinman, who spoke directly to the fiscal conservatives and said 'Your [PC] party has abandoned you.' [Hinman] did very, very well
- Paul McLaughlin, political analyst for CBC News

With only the P"C"s, Liberals, and NDP winning seats in this election, there will be only 3 participants in the next TV debate. Given the strength of Stelmach's mandate, it is very difficult to see how any significant resistance to Ed's agenda (or, more precisely, lack thereof) could be mounted within the P"C" party. Unfortunately, it is also very difficult to see where the Wildrose Alliance goes from here.

When Hinman was asked what was in his future politically, he answered: "Probably not much." ... Ellis ... said before the results came in that if Hinman were to lose his seat, the party was dead. "That would clearly be the immediate and irrevocable demise of the Wildrose Alliance."

I am not quite so ready to just give up. If we get another yet another boondoggle budget, and no reform of the P"C" nomenklatura culture, maybe Albertans will say enough is enough. But we've had several in a row now so what's one more? For today it is rather more pleasant to think of that not-so-long-ago moment where the voice of fiscal conservatism, of democratic reform, of entrepreneurialsm, innovation and "can do" self starting, spoke out and several people listened. I'm glad to have been a part of that team.

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