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Mad dogs and Tories

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall on Saturday when Premier Alison Redford met with her party’s board of directors. Or at that other private meeting of 10 Tory MLAs on Sunday evening that included Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski.

The latter meeting suggested there remained MLAs unappeased with Saturday’s results.

Those results being that after Redford was read the riot act, there is going to be a “work plan” for her, meant to see address issues that have many Progressive Conservatives upset with her.

Who can recall such public humiliation for an Alberta premier?

Out of Saturday’s meeting a brave united front was presented, but that lasted maybe a day.

When the group of 10 MLAs met on Sunday, Jablonski’s comments to the media afterwards were telling: “My thought is always to do the right thing ... a leader can only lead if people will follow.”

She was then asked what the right thing was. “I think we all know what the right thing is.”

The Tories’ problem is not Redford alone. It’s the party itself.

For a long time now, things have been not right on their ship. Their overall mentality of entitlement — not just the premier’s — was bound to catch up with them.

To Redford’s credit, she won the leadership and then pulled off a resounding election victory no one predicted was going to happen. It may be that voters weren’t quite ready to choose Wildrose over Tory. Are they now?

Last Thursday, before Saturday’s meeting, Calgary-Foothills backbencher MLA Len Webber announced he would sit as an independent, calling Redford a bully with a sense of entitlement.

The day before, Redford, who was taking continued heavy criticism for her $45,000 taxpayer-funded trip to Nelson Mandela’s funeral, decided she would personally pay for the trip after all.

On Monday, the unravelling continued. Associate Minister Donna Kennedy-Glans left the party. She will be sit as an independent. The Calgary-Varsity MLA was the government’s associate minister for electricity and renewable energy.

The fear of being re-elected is starting to get to Tories. Those who leave the Tories could join Wildrose, a party that has moved a bit left of right since the last election to make itself more palpable to Tory voters.

I am not fully confident that by the time this column appears in Tuesday’s paper, Redford won’t have thrown in the towel, or that there won’t be whole bunch of new independent MLAs.

Do Albertans really believe that Redford is the only politician who has ever taken advantage of the perks of office? Politics offer a myopic view, forever narrow, forever in the moment.

Redford is being singled out like no other Tory premier. It might simply be because of timing. There’s a mad dog biting at the Tories’ heels and they are terrified.

For the Tories to continue thinking that all will be back to normal come the next election (expected in 2016), one would have to wonder if they’ve been a bit too much into the Guinness.

Redford has made some mistakes — the worst apparently being she has alienated many in her own party. For someone who had such promise, her stage could have been much bigger.

As the hours go by, the Tories have fewer and fewer options.

They can stand by Redford, or see that she resigns.

There’s also that other option — they can call an election right now. That would put all their troubles to rest, one way or another.

Mary-Ann Barr is the Advocate’s assistant city editor. She can be reached by phone at 403-314-4332 or by email at



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