So far, the Premier has been able to capture the attention of the Alberta public once. He resorted to the trite bashing of the Federal Liberals for an innocuous statement by a neophyte Ontario MP that, according to Eddie, meant the the Fed Libs would 'take over the oilsands.' The MP, Mark Holland, from Ajax-Pickering, was merely reiterating the sane preaching of former Tory icon and Premier of Alberta Peter Lougheed about adopting a go-slower approach in the development of the oil sands, to maximize benefits to Albertans and to protect the environment. I say 'former Tory icon' Peter Lougheed because since the 'Dumb and Dumber' crowd took over the Tory Party during the Klein and now Stelmach years, Lougheed has been widely regarded by the new Tory power group as a big spender, Fed Lib appeaser, and God forbid, a liberal.
The rest of the public's attention towards the Stelmach Government has been generated by bickering Ministers (Snelgrove and Hancock, with Eddie's big stick Snelgrove saying that Hancock the Health Minister should not talk about more anti-smoking legislation without caucus approval), poor judgment calls (Eddie and the $5000 intimacy payments, and Harvey Cenaiko's feeble attempt at currying Eddie's favour), conflicted policy statements (Energy Minister Mel Knight wanting to export bitumin, and Eddie saying 'wait and see'), embarrassing actions of the deposed King Ralph (taking the cushy lobbying job with a blue-chip law firm with unseemly haste after pocketing a $600,000 severance payment).
The weekend has produced more very dark clouds on Eddie's horizon. His big-stick, big-mouth Treasury Board head, Lloyd Snelgrove wants the oilsands to go nucleur to reduce green-house gas emissions. According to Snelgrove, nuke energy was a natural fit and the only way to keep the oilsands development going and reduce CO2 emissions. Happily, he assured his audience that he wasn't an expert on the subject. Polling indicates that in Northern Alberta, more than half of the population opposes the nuke option. Bruce Cameron, the energetic and smart pollster who conducted the poll said, "This could be the hill on which the Stelmach Government is defined." That metaphor doesn't make sense. 'The hill that the Stelmach Government may die on,' I think is what Bruce - usually a fuss-pot with the English language - meant.
More stormy weather can be expected as a result of the Education Minister Ron Liepert's indefatigable promotion of the P3 policy for schools construction. P3 programs bring in developers to own the land on which new schools are built. They also build the buildings and lease them back to the school boards on long-term, sweetheart deal leases. The developers of course are croneys of the Government. They will have triple A tenants for the duration of the leases, line their pockets for years, and in the end wind up owning the very valuable land on which the schools sit. P3 can be defined as 'Pork, Pork, and More Pork.' The people are beginning to see the program for what it is.
To further complicate Eddie's future, we heard this week that long-time Calgary Herald columnist, Don Braid, is taking over the task of Alberta Legislature columnist, now that Tom Olsen is officially married to the Tory Party as a communications advisor to the Premier. Braid has been in the business for a very long time. He is no fool and will never be a fawning sycophant to any Government, including Eddie's.
And there's worse news for Notsofast. Health Care, botched by Klein time and again, has been in a crisis situation in Calgary for years. Premature babies sent to Saskatoon for treatment, patients dying for lack of fast emergency care, accident victims having to wait for hours for emergency treatment, negligence of overworked medical staffs causing unnecessary deaths, deliveries of premature babies in Calgary having to be transported to Great Falls, Montana hospitals for treatment, very ill-patients cared for in Ward hallways, and other Dickensian true stories have been growing exponentially for years. But there has always been the promise of a major new hospital to be built in the far-south of the City. Well, the Government has dawdled, delayed, obfuscated, and procrastinated to the point that, because of the boom, the costs are now $350,000,000 or so over what was originally anticipated. The 'Dumb and Dumber' crowd in the Legislature are giving pause. Reportedly, they may decide not to cover any shortfall. Defrocked Ministers and other MLA's from Calgary are starting to raise hell. City Aldermen are going ballistic. Columnists are finally coming out swinging. And in a most unnerving signal, for Eddie and his Tories, the editors of the Calgary Sun are finally lambasting the Government in lead editorials, to shape up or be shipped out.
Add to that Grit Leader Kevin Taft's newly released book 'Democracy Derailed,' a tale of the Tories' sense of entitlement and arrogance, acts of petty tyranny and their refusal to be accountable. The book is a must-read, true story. It will make you very angry. It is enjoying brisk sales in Alberta books stores.
The future looks bleak indeed for the Premier.