Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wildrose Alliance leadership debate in Edmonton, part I

Prior to Thursday evening's leadership candidates debate in Edmonton I had an opportunity to talk with Danielle Smith. I congratulated her on signing up King Ralph's father, who, according to the Edmonton Sun, turns a "spry 92" this month, but noted that unfortunately Klein père denied that he bought the membership when CTV contacted him. After showing me Phil Klein's membership receipt, duly filled out in large block letters, Danielle speculated that although the elderly gentleman had assured her that he had no problem with her spreading the word of his recruitment, he may have assumed it would be just to acquaintances such that getting subsequently contacted by CTV News may have been too much of a unexpected surprise for him to comfortably handle. In any case, the old timer had no reservations about dumping on Stelmach for Don Braid of the Herald: "So I kind of like this Wildrose lady (Danielle Smith). She's smart and well-educated and maybe it's time for a female premier.... New brooms sweep clean." More significant may be the Chamber of Commerce types whom Braid notes as having also gone public in denouncing the "Stelmachians".

I then asked her about Jeff Willerton going after her Tuesday night in Grande Prairie. Having some presumptions with how a monopoly media outlet will cover a story (if there are two or more major papers or TV stations in a regional market, they will often have (opposing) political leans, but if there is only one, it will generally take its responsibility to be even-handed and/or understated very seriously), I read the Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune's report that "while all candidates were cordial with one another... Willerton, 45, opted to attack..." as likely meaning Jeff decided to show all the restraint of a wild dog with a bone, or shall I say a wild man with a bone, least anyone accuse me of describing a fellow Wildroser as a wild dog! Danielle confirmed this by exhibiting that plaintive look that earnest women often have when they have just encountered someone belligerent (for what it's worth, although Ms Smith strikes me as appropriately assertive, I never detected in her the slightest trace of the sneering aggression that one would find in someone who relished playing political hatchet-person). "He apologized to me after," she observed. When, after the debate, I asked Jeff about the Herald-Tribune's report, he corrected it saying, "I didn't go after my opponents. I went after Danielle." In any case, given Mr Willerton's apology and indication that he will dial it down going forward, it would be less than magnanimous to take further issue with his behaviour in Grande Prairie!

Since it makes for a relatively snappy read, I gave Danielle a copy of Tim LeRiche's "Alberta's Oil Patch".

Danielle seemed rather deflated by reports that one or more of the Eddys (longtime Alberta Alliance organizers in Edmonton) and former Alberta Alliance leader Randy Thorsteinson are more interested in creating and/or joining some fringe party than playing ball with the Wildrose Alliance. If true, these developments are sadly not much of a surprise. At the end of August Randy was on ProjectAlberta declaring that the Wildrose Alliance leadership race was rigged. To this someone asked the very good questions,
1. How exactly is this leadership race, right now, not being fair to all the candidates?
2. How exactly do you propose that it be made fair for everyone?
which prompted the former SoCred and AA leader to throw up his hands, "Can the leadership election be made fair? It is already too late so the point is moot." This evasion prompted the questioner to repeat the questions, and receive no response. Let me clear: I do not seek to engage in unseemly disputation with Mr Thorsteinson, but I must advise him, with all due humility, that the party cannot accomodate your concerns if you refuse to specifiy what it is that we could possibly do to please you. If Danielle's popularity grows with a party member's level of involvement such that her support is, indeed, overwhelming amongst the party executive, is it not possible that this reflects the fact that the better one knows her, the more obvious her appeal as a candidate is, as opposed to some menacing insider conspiracy? As for the Eddys, based on the assumption that they've left the party and I am therefore not airing an internal matter, what can I say other than that I had a lot of problems with the management, or lack thereof, of last year's Edmonton area campaign and apparently I wasn't the only one given how the membership vote for Northern Directors turned out at the AGM. If you reading this Robert, let me just say that you were a valued member and if you return hopefully we can all work together in the Edmonton area (should I remain here) under Barry Croucher's skilled and inclusive direction.


1 comment:

altapo said...

Robert Leddy has a blog post up: