Mortonian vinegar — we like it

August 31st, 2006
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Curiously, we haven’t written much about our old friend F.L. (Ted) Morton, arch-conservative political scientist, prominent member of the “Calgary School” of political thought, Senator-elect (still unappointed), Conservative MLA and candidate to replace premier Ralph Klein. Morton’s website is here.

Acquaintance and Morton activist Henry Lyatsky has circulated an excellent column on the Conservative leadership race by the Calgary Sun’s Paul Jackson. A couple of the best lines:

The provincial Progressive Conservative leadership race is starting to tear the party apart.

Various candidates now admit the party – and Premier Ralph Klein’s government – have lost touch with the people.

Some candidates confess spending is as out of control as a hurricane. (snip)

In any other province, the government would be finished, no matter who the new leader is. Klein lingers – on life support – only because he conquered the debt and balanced the budget.

Instead of Albertans electing Liberals, however, Jackson predicts another Conservative win. That means Alberta’s next premier will be chosen less through the next election than through the party’s leadership race. So the race for premier is on right now. Jackson is the first columnist we know of to peg Morton as the front-runner:

Right now, I’m told repeatedly MLA Ted Morton has nudged himself into the lead over former provincial treasurer Jim Dinning – who actually did eradicate the accumulated debt and balanced the budget – and Brooks MLA Lyle Oberg who appears to be in third place.

We previously wrote about Morton in this National Post column:

Morton promises a good dash of vinegar after years of Klein’s syrup. He’ll strengthen the case for Alberta to use its impending debt freedom to cut taxes. With some spending restraint, Alberta could even eliminate its provincial income tax. Morton’s already talking about an Alberta constitution that would enshrine balanced budgets by demanding a super-majority or referendum before any future government could run a deficit.

The fears expressed in our column, that Alberta was vulnerable to abuse at the hands of Paul Martin’s new government, which we described as “the most left-wing in 30 years”, have thankfully been superseded by happier events on the federal scene.

But all of the other provincial issues remain salient. As do the choices facing Albertans. We Albertans tend to swap out our premiers at very long intervals. So we need to make each one count. The alternatives (so far as one can tell ahead of time) range from acceptable to disastrous. Morton’s our favourite.

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