Alberta Kremlinology bite of the week

by Colby Cosh

Preston Manning holds a two-day beauty contest for Alberta’s governing Progressive Conservatives and the surging right-wing alternative, the Wildrose Alliance. PC minister Thomas Lukaszuk agrees to attend, but suddenly discovers a “family commitment” and “other work” that make it impossible for him to show up either day. Calgary backbench MLA Kyle Fawcett is sent in his place, but is stricken with illness after the Friday session. By all accounts, the root cause of the illness may well have been the beating he received in his head-to-head debate with Wildrose leader Danielle Smith.

Alberta Kremlinology bite of the week

  1. Say Colby – perhaps as a Macleans "Colleague" you can enlighten us further on the day to day strategies of Danielle.

    She was scheduled for quite some time to appear on the Macleans gabfest in Calgary last month on the topic The west is in – now what? Then, with little or no fanfare her name was quietly dropped from the roster, and replaced by Rob Anderson who had been one of the PC floor crossers (too afraid to resign and run as an Wildrose Alliance candidate) and a member of WA for only a number of weeks.

    So, why did she withdraw at the last minute? Wells suggested he would inform us at the start of the Calgary debate, but I didn't see any explanation on the CPAC broadcast. Was she afraid of Lloyd Axworthy? What's the deal?

    • Beats me. I don't know anything about it but that sounds like a question for Wells.

      • Well, I did see her in a one-on-one with Peter van Dusen (the moderator of the debate) on CPAC filmed around the same time. Seemed like a safe environment. Couldn't quite figure out why she was making Ontario's case for the inequities of equalization, however.

        http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/02/09/alberta-kremli

        Perhaps Wells will drop by your blog and explain.

        • I finally decided this wasn't worth belabouring onstage, but Danielle Smith's staff confirmed four different times that she would attend — including when we started to hear rumours that she wouldn't — before finally "discovering" that she was "double booked," less than a week before the event. We were happy with the MLA they sent in her place, but for a while I was quite miffed. Tell us you can't come, but don't tell us you can and then change your mind.

    • Maybe it's part of a pattern? She could have run in last fall's byelection in Calgary-Glenmor and be in the legislature right now–but it seemed too risky and she played it safe.

  2. I'm an Ontarian and I'm quite pleased to see that western Canadian politics are receiving a little more attention on the Maclean's blogosphere. It's nice to know that the entire country's off its rocker, politically.

    And, I'd like to hear more about the emergence of Danielle Smith as a political contender in AB.

    • To Game Theory adherents, one might look at Smith as being the Calgary backed counterweight to pull Stelmach (and by extension Harper) rightward. Similar to how the Reform laid the groundwork for Paul Martin. The uncritical hype and message management helps (hence avoiding anything but safe friendly environments in the short term).

  3. It's pretty sad that Stelmach can't even muster up a stand-in who can stand up to Danielle Smith.

  4. Kyle Fawcett knocked on my door during the last election. I seem to recall him distancing himself from Harper and going out of his way to paint himself as a red Tory ("emphasis on 'Progressive'"). It could be that he was just feeding my (correctly) perceived leftishness, but anyway, it worked. Not to the degree that I voted for him or anything crazy like that, but in a kinda-like-the-guy, not-a-total-clown kind of way.

    This has been GeoffM reporting from Calgary North Hill.

    • If he is painting himself as a red Tory, why is he distancing himself from Harper's pro-abortion, pro-deficit government?

      • I can only imagine it's because he's been duped by Harper's nefarious spendiac Abort-o-crats, TedTylerEzro.

  5. Abort-o-crats? Boy are you dudes stuck in the 80s. Pining for Roseanne Skoke are we?

  6. Smith is being given a free ride by the media here in Alberta. Both The Calgary Herald and Global seem to be her chief cheerleaders. Could it be that her past as an editorial board member at The Herald and the fact that her current husband is an executive producer at Global have anything to do with her favourable coverage? There seems to be conflicts of interest at play here. She keeps bashing the Progressive Conservatives, but does not tell us how she would do things differently.

    • There's a lot of material on Wildrose policies around, but I would not discourage you from believing that Smith enjoys advantageous treatment because of her media background. It would be strange if it WEREN'T the case, wouldn't it?

  7. Smith is not very impressive. But if you've heard Stelmach give an interview you can understand how "not very impressive" is more than enough to take him on.

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