Alberta’s electoral gales of November

November 22nd, 2006
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Our good friend F.L. (Ted) Morton must be serious indeed about his run for the leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party. The race climaxed this month, and the vote is on Saturday – all of it smack in the middle of hunting season. Morton usually spends every possible November moment roaming his beloved Foothills and ranchlands of southern Alberta in search of big game.

The political hunt, however, must have been at least as stimulating for him. In this case, the game is the broad mass of the province’s signed-up Conservative voters. My metaphor breaks down pathetically at this point, since the quarry needs to go out and vote rather than stand around waiting to be shot. Perhaps that makes Morton a big bull elk cunningly evading the long guns of his political rivals.

Regardless, clearly Morton has done far better than mainstream observers expected. Little surprise there. Come to think of it, we were rooting for Morton way before rooting for Morton was cool, so to speak, such as in this National Post article more than two years ago:

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.

At the time, we opined that Morton didn’t himself think he could win the race. More realistically, he hoped to do well enough to force the winner (expected to be Jim Dinning) to provide Morton a senior seat at the cabinet table, and with him the party’s small “c” conservative wing major influence over public policy.

But since then, Morton’s campaign has soared, while Dinning’s has encountered no end of trouble. Some exuberant commentators have even claimed to divine Morton as the front-runner.

While we wouldn’t go that far (although we’d love to), Morton himself put the coming choice in stark terms in his recent speech, A Time to Choose:

What kind of party are we going to be? Will we be a party of the status quo or a party of change? Will we be a party of the vested interests and the old guard? Or a Party of reform and renewal? Will we be a Party of Liberal-Lites, who talk  conservative but then spend and act like Liberals? Or will we stick to the tried and true conservative principles of lower taxes and smaller government?

Lorne Gunter also had some rousing tub-thumping words in this article (locked access, sadly; the link is to the log-in page if you’re a subscriber):

Which brings me back to Morton, who not only has presented the best platform, but has the sharpest mind in the bunch. Morton’s blunt talk and colourfully rough edges belie a deep intellect, and one of the keenest grasps of the Constitution in the country. He was one of the first to sound the alarm on how activists and powerful interest groups use the charter and the courts to circumvent the democratic process.

If Ottawa ever comes knocking in the next few years for our resources, or tries to rewrite the Constitution, I want Ted Morton on the other side of the door or negotiating table.

Dr. J. and I, and the Missuses, are voting on Saturday. And we all know for whom – even if it is -28° C.

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