Starting from scratch

Last August, when he was still an outsider wanting to get inside, Jim Prentice proposed a three-term limit for provincial MLAs. Now that he’s premier, that hasn’t been so much on the radar, much less the agenda. But MLAs in all three major parties in our province have been doing a lot of that work for him. In the next provincial election, not one of the current party leaders will have fought a provincial campaign before, not as leader.

Last August, when he was still an outsider wanting to get inside, Jim Prentice proposed a three-term limit for provincial MLAs. Now that he’s premier, that hasn’t been so much on the radar, much less the agenda.

But MLAs in all three major parties in our province have been doing a lot of that work for him. In the next provincial election, not one of the current party leaders will have fought a provincial campaign before, not as leader.

Rachel Notley, leader of the NDP, will be the senior statesperson in the next election — and she has only been leading the NDP since last Oct. 18.

“Officially,” Prentice has had premier-like status since winning the party leadership last Sept. 15, but he gained fully-elected status in a byelection on Oct. 27, nine days after Notley. That’s if you’re in the mood to split hairs.

Wildrose has an interim leader, Heather Forsyth, in office since just before Christmas. That Christmas horribilus saw the mass defection of Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith, along with eight other Wildrose representatives, to the Tories.

And now the Liberal Party of Alberta is also officially leaderless. Sherman could have held senior status in the next election, coming to the leadership wa-a-y back on Sept. 12, 2011.

But he announced on Monday that he was stepping down, following a decision he made “walking a beach.” The usual reasons — a new direction, spending time with family, etc. — were given.

The cumulative result is as clean a slate as this province has ever had electorally. There are fewer incumbents in high office known to be running today than I can remember in all my years of watching politics.

Last August, while Prentice was promising things that only $100 oil could provide, the Calgary Herald ran a list of 23 Alberta MLAs who would have been in their last term of office, had the three-term rule been in force then. (For the record, in case you need to know, there is no three-term limit now.)

That list included Forsyth, who was then serving her sixth term as an MLA, albeit her first term as a member of the Wildrose.

That list also included Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski, who is in her fifth term. Jablonski has also announced she would not be running in the next election — a decision that will not come as a surprise to the people who know her well.

I did not like the tone of the Herald column last August in one major regard. The headline referenced people who have passed their “best before date.” One paragraph metaphorically suggested a “severance-free ice floe.”

I’m no fan at all of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, but I am a fan of Mary Anne Jablonski. That might have caused me some major stress at the ballot box on a few occasions, but for a miracle of geography that put my home just south of the border of her riding. I was free to vote both my heart and my principles. For all the effect that it would have.

As it is, Jablonski is nowhere near her best-before date. For her, I sincerely hope (and expect) the best is yet to come. Five terms is a long time. So we will need some reminding that Jablonski replaced the Red Deer MLA who bequeathed Alberta its asinine flat income tax: Stockwell Day.

Jablonski won in a byelection to replace Day — who had definitely passed his best-before date in provincial politics, though not before saddling taxpayers with the legal expenses required to defend a defamation lawsuit for comments he made in a letter to the Red Deer Advocate.

We like to elect people who can deliver, people who can get things done.

Jablonski had shown that political ability long before being elected. She successfully lobbied the federal government for dental care for members of the armed forces and the RCMP. As well, she advocated for greater rights for military spouses. Her husband Bob Jablonski had been a member of the military and was transferred to Penhold in 1980 — to our benefit.

Successful private members bills are like hen’s teeth. Jablonski has championed two of them. One would give the parents of drug-addicted youth the right to force them into rehab. Another would increase attention for screening into Irlen Syndrome in school children, to give those children a better chance at making the most of their educations.

And that’s overlooking a lot of the rest of her accomplishments.

I don’t know about the value of any severance package for Jablonski, but I do know any reference to an ice floe is supremely disrespectful.

My line is open to suggest any number of local agencies for her attention, that could benefit from having a person on board like her. A person who can get things done.

Greg Neiman is a retired Advocate editor. Follow his blog at readersadvocate.blogspot.ca or email greg.neiman.blog@gmail.com.

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