Edmonton Duck (Left) with Dead Duck
The honeymoon is over for Premier Stelmach's second coming.
Albertans were unimpressed with the Stelmach government's early bumbling performance prior to the last election. But on March 3rd - for want of a better alternative - they held their noses and gave the Stelmach Tories a commanding electoral victory. It could have only happened in Tory Alberta. All was forgiven - the lacklustre new Premier, his bumpkin government, and the public wreckage of years of Tory mismanagement and neglect to which the Premier himself was a major contributor.
However, the tragedy of the dead ducks in the pristine Aurora mine toxic tailings pond north of Fort McMurray has reminded Albertans of the incompetence and ineptitude of the pre-election Stelmach government. The catastrophe has shown that Eddie's team is the discredited Klein regime all over again. It is a story of government incompetence, coverup, callousness, and toadyism to their big business pals in the oil industry. And it is not likely to go away soon.
And now some lame ducks are having an impact on the government as well. Those 'lame ducks' are officials of the Calgary Health Region together with CEO and former Klein apparatchik, Jack Davis - both of which can be assumed to be on their way out.
Ever since the blowing up of the General Hospital and the sale of the Holy Cross Hospital to Klein cronys - decisions taken by the Klein government when Mr. Davis was its right hand man - Calgarians have suffered from inadequate hospital services and insufficient space for the sick. Compounding the problem is the rapid population growth in the Calgary region. The result: among many other horrors, Calgary hospitals are housing 137 patients a day in hallways and lounges with no end in sight.
Davis and his CHR are beating the drum for the government to cough up 100 million to cover the Calgary hospitals deficit plus another 25 million to open completely two new medical facilities and do away with hallway medicine. They point out - quite reasonably - that the Edmonton Capital Health Region gets 2.5 billion a year from the province to operate and the CHR gets only 2.4. In addition, in the past four years or so, the Edmonton region has received 500 million more than the Calgary region.
Stelmach and his Health Minister Ron Leipert are unmoved. They have advanced the spurious explanation that because of demographics, Edmonton has larger health care costs needs. In other words, if you don't like it, then lump it . . . . Calgary!
Could it be that Ed is once again reverting to his anti-Calgary hangups which were so evident when he decimated cabinet representation from the cowtown upon the appointment of his first cabinet? Could it be that this is a spiteful act directed against Davis and his cronys for having embarrassed his government by putting heat on Stelmach for more hospital bucks in the midst of the last election campaign? And could it be that this is Ed's retaliation against some of the Klein henchmen and hangers-on who badmouthed Stelmach at every opportunity in the wake of his win over Dinning right on through to the election? Five will get you ten that the answer to those questions are yes, yes and yes.
And so, look for more trouble from the cowtown for the Stelmach government.