When Alison Redford was chosen as the next (and, please God, last) Progressive Conservative premier of Alberta, my heart sank a bit. It seemed that the collective wisdom of the party had done the right thing and elected a bright, exciting, more centrist leader. I say my heart sank because the Tories, under any leader outside of Jesus H. Christ himself, desperately need to be deposed. Redford, in my view, gave them the best chance to continue the dynasty. Gary Mar had a bull’s eye painted on his back, and you have to know that opposition parties were salivating at the chance to go after a guy with lots of baggage. But Alison Redford was a clean slate.
Remarkably, this very smart woman has proceeded to crap all over her clean slate.
She started off by giving Gary Mar a plum patronage appointment to make him go away. She followed up that blunder by appointing an older, crankier, whiter cabinet than even Ed Stelmach had. Then she called a fall “session” of the legislature, which lasted two days, which was just long enough for her to have the opportunity to read an hour-long speech on a matter of urgency — the urgency being that she wanted to give a speech.
Now, these kinds of blunders are easily forgotten. The public has a short memory, and probably didn’t care that much about this kind of stuff in the first place. But Redford’s most recent missteps will have staying power.
She is retreating on some of her most high profile promises. First, she promised a “judicial inquiry” into the allegations of intimidation of doctors by Alberta Health Services. She has revered course on what was a very clear promise, and now says a panel might appoint a judge or two, if one is available, or maybe not. In any event, an actual judicial inquiry won’t happen. I’m sure the fact that Ron Liepert, the former health minister, didn’t want a judicial inquiry had nothing to do with her decision. Right? I said, right?
That was broken promise no. 1.
Broken promise no. 2 was her pledge to set fixed election dates. Oh, we’ll have elections every four years, but it will be up to the government if it’s sometime in March, or April, or May. Call it floating fixed. That means the government will still hold the hammer about when to start spending precious election dollars. One of the biggest expenses is setting up a campaign office, which means finding a space to rent for a month. If the election was held at a set date, arrangements could be made well ahead of time. But who’s got money to rent an office for three months?
Oh, wait …
There is no reason — no reason at all — why there should not be a fixed date, no matter what kind of half-assed, embarrassing excuse Dave Hancock tries to peddle. If the United States of America, the mightiest democracy of all, can hold a fixed election date, then the puny Republic of Albertastan should be able to as well. But Alison Redford is not committed to democratic reform.
It’s extraordinary just how badly Redford is handling almost every issue that comes across her desk. Flagrantly breaking promises labels you a flip-flopper at best, a flat out liar at worst. Suddenly, I’m feeling a little better about the future.