Now is the time for all good Liberals to come to the aid of their party.

Important note: The following blog is intended only for people who usually vote Liberal, but who are thinking of switching their vote to either the PCs (to stop the Wildrose) or to the Wildrose (to defeat the PCs). Unwavering PC supporters, bedrock Wildrose supporters and compulsive NDP backers, please leave the virtual room. This blog is only for members of the immediate family, however distant they may be. Thank you.

Dear Friends:

There are dark clouds on the horizon for the Alberta Liberal party. I am afraid that your party is headed for the perfect electoral storm.

If you’ve voted Liberal in the past (and consistently there are about 250,000 to 270,000 of you), you’ve no doubt done so for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you like the party, or the platform, or the leader. Maybe you just hate the PCs, or you’ve always voted Liberal. Or, most likely, you like the candidate. For a variety of reasons, the Liberals have enjoyed the second-highest vote total in every election since 1989. It’s a sign that the Liberals, despite the widespread view that the Liberal name is “toxic”, have a solid core of support.

But going into this pivotal election, the polls show the Liberal vote is collapsing. From a traditional base of support of anywhere from 25-30 per cent, Liberal support is now in the low 10s. This is potentially catastrophic.

Why has it fallen so low? The party policies are sound, the leader is dynamic (yes, he carries some baggage, but you can’t deny the guy has charisma), and many of the candidates are outstanding. So, why is the party that you’ve supported in the past teetering on the brink?

Clearly, the Liberals are caught in a squeeze. The Wildrose has staked out the right, and the New Democrats are in their customary slot on the soft-left.  But now, in the customary Liberal position in the progressive middle, along come the PCs, trying hard to reinvent themselves as truly ‘progressive’ Conservatives.  The Liberals find themselves vying for the affections of the electorate against an old trollop who thinks plastic surgery and implants have made her more appealing. And it seems to be working.

But that’s only half the problem. Clearly, thousands of traditional Liberal voters are taking the “strategic voting” route.  Eager to finally end the PC reign of error, some Liberal faithful are parking their votes — just this once — with the Wildrose. And with the Wildrose surging in the polls, thousands of traditional Liberal voters are voting — just this once — for the PCs to stop our slide into the 19th century.

Well, if you are one of those people, let me just say … DON’T DO IT.

This is NOT the time to abandon ship. If anything, the Liberals need your vote now more than ever.

In several Edmonton and Calgary ridings, the Liberals are still in a position to win. For years, Liberals have dreamt of the day when a vote split on the right would allow Liberals to sneak up the middle. Well, despite the poll numbers, that possibility still exists in several ridings — but only if the traditional Liberal vote holds. If thousands of Liberal voters decide to vote for a party they fundamentally disagree with, in an attempt to stop another party they fundamentally disagree with, then thousands of Liberal votes will be lost. And with it, some very fine public servants may be sent to the sidelines.

Now some of you are certainly saying, “Maurice, you’re too personally invested in this.” I don’t deny this. I was a Liberal MLA, and I got to know a lot of outstanding people in the political field. So, yes, it’s personal. But I wouldn’t urge you to vote for a candidate I know to be a dud. You’ll just have to trust me on this.

So, Liberal voters, stay the course and please vote for the following:

• Raj Sherman, Edmonton-Meadowlark. I don’t know Raj very well, but it is vital that the leader of the party, the strongest voice for health care in the Legislature, be returned to the Legislature.

Weslyn Mather, Edmonton-Mill Woods. A genuinely inspiring person, and as dedicated a public servant as you will ever find.

Mo Elsalhy, Edmonton-McClung. Tremendous work ethic and a guy who genuinely cares about his constituents.

Rick Miller, Edmonton-Rutherford. Just the kind of person you want representing you in the legislature and in your neighbourhood.

Bruce Miller, Edmonton-Glenora. Another former MLA of unfailing integrity, and an all-round great guy.

Laurie Blakeman, Edmonton-Centre. Relentless thorn in the side of whatever party that will be in power, Blakeman is also the ultimate constituency person. A champion of the arts community as well.

David Swann, Calgary-Mountain View.  I doubt if I’ve ever met a man who cares more deeply for humanity than David Swann. A legislature without him would be badly diminished.

Kent Hehr, Calgary-Buffalo. Again I only know Kent fleetingly, but he is an extraordinary person and an excellent representative.

I don’t know Josipa Petrunic in Edmonton-Gold Bar, or Arif Khan in Edmonton- Riverview, but from what I’ve heard about them, you can’t go wrong. And in Red Deer, I hope the Liberal voters in Red Deer North realize that Michael Dawe, one of Red Deer’s best-known citizens, has a chance to benefit from the Wildrose/PC vote split.

I’m not going to recommend every Liberal running, because a) I don’t know them all, and b) I honestly don’t know how many of them deserve your support. But for those of you reading in any of the above-mentioned constituencies, now is not the time to abandon the party in the faint hope of “stopping” a candidate, or trying to alter the outcome of the election. Vote for someone, not against.

Stand your ground, Liberals, or you may not have any ground left to stand on by Monday.

A blog hodgepodge, from politics to Portlandia.

It’s been a while since I last blogged, as I’m sure you’ve noticed (he said delusionally).  Maybe it’s just the January blues,  maybe it’s just that I haven’t found anything that really tickles my farcical fancy. Whatever the reason, I guess it’s time to get back on the ol’ blogging horse. And what better way to do that than with a slapped together mish-mash of random thoughts? (OK, I guess there are better ways to do this, but as I said, it’s January.)

Anyway, let’s begin with provincial politics …

Our Dear Leader, Alison Redford, dropped a major hint this week as to when the next election will be held. We already know that under her “fixed” (a-hem) election rule, it will be held sometime between March and May. But this week, she promised a speech from the throne, and the passage of a budget. Passing budgets is a lot like passing a kidney stone — it’s a long, painful process. Since the Legislature won’t reconvene until Feb. 7, and it takes some weeks to pass a budget, we can eliminate a March election. Candidates across the province are breathing a sigh of relief, since nobody likes the late winter campaign. So, the best bet appears to be sometime in April for the actual vote. Now, we’ve been promised all sorts of stuff by Alison Redford before. Remember the promise of a full judicial inquiry into the health care system? And the fixed election dates promise? (She did promise to return $100 million to the education system, but since that was the promise that got her elected, she had no choice but to make good on that one.) So, I’m not holding my breath on the promise of passing a budget. She’ll have to get the OK from Ron Liepert first.

With so many PC heavyweights (and I do mean heavy … nobody spends 20 years in politics and comes out weighing less) retiring this time, there are going to be some pitched battles for those safe Tory seats. There are even pitched battles for unsafe Tory seats, as we’ve seen when the evidence of skullduggery in Carl Benito’s PC association came to light. Benito, arguably the most disreputable MLA in the Tory ranks (and that is a hotly contested title), is toxic. He’s the Mill Woods MLA who promised to donate his salary to charity, and never did. He’s also the guy who forgot to file his city taxes, and blamed his wife. Naturally, PCs in his area are anxious to get rid of him now before the voters do. But his constituency organization tried to pull a fast one by organizing a nominating meeting during the Christmas season, and neglected to inform a couple of people who were interested in running against him. The party stepped in and nixed the meeting. Benito, of course, was unavailable for comment, but there is no doubt that he and his cronies on his board tried to pull a fast one. Frankly, I hope Benito wins the nomination, so Liberal candidate, former MLA and my friend Weslyn Mather can kick his ass.

Onto the national scene …

Something tells me the Northern Gateway pipeline is never going to be built, at least not in its current configuration. The hearings will take 18 months, followed by who knows how long to pump out the report, followed by the inevitable lawsuits, and ultimately a Supreme Court ruling. This is the way we do things in Canada. We’re looking at years and years down the road before any work can be done, if it is ever done. Since most of the pipe will run through B.C., and most British Columbians won’t see any direct benefit from it (why should they spoil their province for Alberta’s profit, they will say), I can’t see this thing ever happening. Frankly, I think the Keystone project will get the go-ahead after the November election in the U.S., which will take the pressure off the Northern Gateway project.

And speaking of the U.S….

Mitt Romney is, after one real primary victory, already being hailed as the certain Republican nominee. I may be wrong, but I think there are 49 states yet to hear from, but American talking heads say he is not the “inevitable” nominee.  They are probably right, but not because he’s such a wonderful candidate. His opponents are the weakest, weirdest, least appealing group of half-wits, nit-wits and no-wits every to be assembled by a major American party. Ron Paul may well be the nuttiest guy ever to run for the nomination of a party, and he finished SECOND in New Hampshire. And what does it say about a party when a candidate, Romney, is tarred with the epithet “moderate progressive”? Romney is the only Republican candidate who has even a remote chance of beating Barack Obama, and even then it’s a long shot.

And finally …

Last week I teed off on a really terrible TV show, Work It. Well, let’s end on a positive note. I’ve found a really funny show, called Portlandia, which runs on the IFC channel in the States but not, for who knows what reason, on IFC in Canada. Starring Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) and Carrie Brownstein, Portlandia pokes gentle fun at the laid-back, locked in the 90s vibe of Portland, Oregon. Fresh, original, satirical without being cruel, Portlandia is a little gem. Check it out.

And speaking of cable (which I kinda was), last month I berated Shaw cable for putting Sportsnet on a Sports 1 tier, which meant I had to pay an extra $10 a month just for one channel to watch the Oilers. Well, lo and behold, just a few days after my gripe, Shaw adds Sportsnet to its basic package, and I dropped the Sports 1 package. Good for them.  Clearly, my stinging denunciation of Shaw has made a different.

And speaking (again) of writing, your humble scribe is still seeking employment. I’m about a week away from applying for a greeter job at Walmart (“Welcome to Walmart… ask yourself why you’re here.”), I would appreciate hearing of any jobs that require a writer. Turns out this blogging thing pays very, very poorly.

When good people get fired.

As you might expect if you’ve read this blog before, I’m not too thrilled with the results of Monday’s election. Or, as I’m calling it, Our Darkest Day.

Just kidding. I find Stephen Harper fairly loathsome, and I don’t like much of what he proposes for Canada. But the people have spoken, and I’m of the opinion that in a country like Canada, nobody can push us to go somewhere we don’t want to go. In other words, if Harper goes all Republican on us, the public will punish him. I think. But what do I know? I thought the Liberals would finish second!

But you know what really bothers me? What ticks me off in an election is when good people are defeated. It bothers me when people who are good at their jobs, care about their constituents, care about the country, are, essentially fired.

Maybe this bothers me more than it bothers most people because I have personal experience with it. In the last Alberta election, a lot of excellent people — most of them friends of mine — were fired by the voters. Why? Because they ran for the wrong party.

You wouldn’t have found a  more dedicated group of MLAs than people like Weslyn Mather, Bill Bonko, Mo Elsalhy, Rick Miller, Bruce Miller and Bharat Agnihotri, all MLAs for various Edmonton ridings. I know how hard they worked, how dedicated they were to their jobs, what long (and sometimes pointless) hours they put into their jobs. And they were all turfed, for reasons that had nothing to do with their job performance.

A lot of MPs were fired on Monday. I can’t speak about any of the Bloc Quebecois MPs, or any of the few Conservatives who lost. Maybe there were a lot of loafers in that lot, I dunno.

But can anyone tell me why Michael Ignatieff would lose his seat? Say what you like about his party, but does a man of his quality and stature deserve to be defeated? Maybe I’m naive, or idealistic (I can honestly say I’ve never been described that way), but isn’t he exactly the kind of you want in Ottawa?

And what about Ken Dryden, another defeated Liberal. Here’s another quality person. I had the privilege of meeting him when he was in Edmonton during the Liberal leadership race, and I was tremendously impressed (OK, maybe a little awed, too … it was KEN DRYDEN, for God’s sake!). We should be lucky that a guy like Dryden entered politics, instead of making his money selling his autograph to suckers for $20 a pop.

Saddest of all was the defeat of Gerard Kennedy, another former leadership candidate. I had lunch with him during the Liberal leadership, and I was amazed by his breadth of knowledge, his easy rapport with people, and his genuine concern for society (he founded the Edmonton Food Bank). He was, and maybe still is, a potential leader for the party, and I hope that despite the loss, he stays in the game.

So why would Gerard Kennedy be defeated? Beats me. Only in politics do really good people lose their jobs.

The last word on this goes to an MP named Glen Pearson. I’ve never heard of him until I was directed to his blog, which tells of his shock at being defeated. Read it, and tell me if it doesn’t make you genuinely sad. I don’t know him, don’t know if he was a good MP or a dud. But read it and tell me if this guy doesn’t sound like the real deal, who was defeated thanks to some skullduggery by the Tories.

Read his blog at  http://glenpearson.wordpress.com. It will tell you, much better than I can, why so many good people never go into politics.

Maybe the people who defeated Ignatieff, Dryden, Kennedy and Pearson are quality, A-1 folks who played fair and square and won. But I doubt it.