Harsh spotlight shines on Tories

The spring Alberta election caught me completely off guard when a sizable Wildrose Party lead evaporated in a late-game “lakes of fire” and “Caucasian” spin move by the Progressive Conservatives.

The spring Alberta election caught me completely off guard when a sizable Wildrose Party lead evaporated in a late-game “lakes of fire” and “Caucasian” spin move by the Progressive Conservatives.

The tactic was very effective because it diverted attention away from the PCs’ actual track record of bullying, cronyism and incompetence.

It is astounding to me that the public and particularly the media failed to see the larger and more important ethical issue in this kind of activity, but it is an indicator that a party with 41 straight years of governance is probably bullet-proof with electors. Last spring proved that point because we are once again a Tory-blue province with no end in sight.

The spring election was lost because too many Alberta voters were more than willing to hang the Wildrose Party from the highest tree after the Tories were able to dig deep enough to find skeletons in the Wildrose closet and categorize the entire party by the antics of two highly un-electable candidates. The press ate it up and condemned the Wildrose as the northern branch of the Tea Party, complete with exactly the same ideology as the American right wingers.

The media people also ignored the fiscal platform of the Wildrose and their plan to investigate why the provincial civil service has so many layers of management and too few front-liners. The financial side of the Wildrose election equation was drowned in a lake of fire and few people heeded the warning that the Tory budget was at best a pipe dream. Danielle Smith called it the “Alison in Wonderland” budget and was even criticized for use of that moniker.

The inexplicable reality with the PCs’ diversionary tactics was that their game plan really worked very well. The PC party had to wear a long history of ethically challenged practices and behaviour as they went to battle an election, yet they were able to put the negative spotlight on their upstart rivals in the 11th hour.

It was a masterful stroke that sowed the seeds of doubt into a skittish Alberta electorate that was willing to accept the status quo instead of a new governing party.

Recent events have produced more allegations of wrongdoings against the Tory government and lately the legislature has become a battleground that has made the apprenticeship of Premier Alison Redford a very unpleasant occupation for the beleaguered politician. She has answered the personal attacks by appointing human shields/senior cabinet members to field most of the daily interrogations in the legislature. She has avoided contact with the same press that she welcomed with open arms when the guns were trained on red herring Wildrose issues during the spring election.

Suddenly the spotlight is directly on a party that ruthlessly underestimated the deficit to win an election and now has to borrow money to fund capital projects, despite the vast wealth produced by an oil rich province that should have been able to write a check for all of them.

Most of the Tories’ spin is now directed at damage control for a government that has spent its way to a financial crisis in a way that does not even come close to making sense.

Redford’s sister’s involvement in a Tory fundraiser while she was on company time as a well-paid senior member of a Calgary hospital board got even more complicated when the public learned that she was appointed to a new role with her next job at AHS after her sister’s PC leadership victory.

The tobacco lawsuit contract awarded to Redford’s former husband’s law firm is the latest crisis served up on her political plate. The practice is not illegal, but it once again puts the rookie premier into a questionable ethical position as she attempts to steer away from a direct link to the decision.

The post-election mood has been very ugly because the Tories have not exorcised the demons that plagued them prior to the election and they can no longer throw them into a convenient lake of fire. Few people are gullible enough to buy that message these days.

Jim Sutherland is a local freelance columnist.

Just Posted

Updated: Hunting Hills High School student sentenced for making online threat

16-year-old gets a conditional discharge with 12-month probation and 50 hours of community service

Butcher stabbed Johnston in self-defence, lawyer says in closing argument

HALIFAX — Nicholas Butcher was acting in self-defence when he stabbed Kristin… Continue reading

Federal government finalizes regulations to reduce methane emissions

CALGARY — The federal government said Thursday it has finalized regulations that… Continue reading

Man charged with sex offences aiming to resolve charges

Stuart Peter Hunt is facing more than dozen charges related to child sexual exploitation offences

$25-a-day child care program expanded

More affordable child care spaces in Red Deer

WATCH: Thousands of high school students visit Red Deer College for CAREERexpo

The eighth annual CAREERexpo was held at RDC Thursday

Grief over deadly Toronto van attack sinks in days after rampage

TORONTO — Grief over the deadly van attack that took place on… Continue reading

Riggers looking forward to another trip to Nationals with season on the horizon

Season opens on May 15 against the Confederation Park Cubs

Update: Pilot likely disoriented in plane crash that killed former Alberta premier

CALGARY — The Transportation Safety Board says the pilot of a plane… Continue reading

What’s new on Netflix Canada, CraveTV in May

A monthly look at what’s scheduled to be added to the catalogues… Continue reading

Air Canada offers to help passengers stranded by a possible pilot strike

MONTREAL — Air Canada has turned the tables on WestJet by taking… Continue reading

Blackfalds drops front licence plate advocacy efforts

The Town of Blackfalds is no longer pursuing mandatory dual licence plates… Continue reading

How the government hopes to strengthen intellectual property in Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government has unveiled new measures on intellectual property… Continue reading

Innisfail solar project could be powering 4,000 homes in 2019

The Town of Innisfail will soon be home to a solar farm… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month