Since you became leader of the Tories in Alberta I’ve always liked you. I know, I know, I was rough on you often, calling you names like ‘Special Ed’ and all, but I want you to know that what I did was always in your interests. It was my way of spurring you on to do great things. I knew the mess you were left by Ralph’s dumb and dumber crowd. In fact, I’m sure you knew it too given that you took such a major part in it. See: http://darrylraymaker.blogspot.com/2007/01/fast-eddie-ralphs-big-stick.html
And I knew it was going to take brains and ability to clean it up. So my motive was to inspire you to do great things. After all Ed, I live here. If you succeeded so would I.
I think part of your initial problem was that you and your pals like Danyluk and Snelgrove thought governing was easy. You knew that your mentor Ralph for the most part had an easy time of it, didn’t he? Almost until the end he had all of the usual Tory political, business, and media establishment kissing his ample backside – the big daily newspapers, the fawning columnists (two of which are now working for you), neocon media barons and think tanks like Conrad Black and the Fraser Institute, etc. It seemed to me that all you guys thought about when you knocked off Dinning was that it was now your turn to divide the spoils – Calgary had its turn and now it was Northern Alberta’s turn. Governing is far more complicated than that Ed, as I’m sure you have come to realize.
And so the first thing you did was screw Southern Alberta by tossing out most of its ministers. It was your first big mistake. Oh, I know, you tried to make amends. You put Ron Stevens in as your deputy premier, and added a couple of people in junior portfolios, but it wasn’t enough. You know the Calgary Tory establishment. They think they’re pretty good. They don’t like getting pushed around. This initial action, Ed, poisoned the well for you down here for sure.
Then there was the small matter of a lot of things going to pot in the province. I mean, we had deteriorating health care, education, infrastructure, and most everything else the provincial government is supposed to be taking care of. The problem was that people began to figure out that the Alberta Advantage that Ralph talked so often about was really no advantage at all. Oh sure, the oil companies were making big bucks. Developers, too. But the sick were being treated in hospital corridors. Some had to be flown to Saskatoon or Great Falls, Montana for treatment, for God’s sakes. Seniors’ care was understaffed, overcrowded, and generally a joke. Roads were an insult to the vaunted money generating capacity of big oil. There weren’t enough places or money available for our big universities to provide for all of the young people who wished to attend.*
[*On the matter of education perhaps when you are retired you will find time to read the following piece published on October 15 by the Herald’s premier columnist Deborah Yedlin: http://www.chtv.com/ch/chcanews/story.html?id=2104358]
Geez Ed, did you know that Alberta had the highest high school drop out rate in the country? Or that Alberta had the lowest participation rate in the crucial 18 to 25 age category in post secondary education in the country? Did you? How about Snelgrove? Danyluk, even? No? I didn’t think so.
As if all of that wasn’t bad enough you then goofed up on royalty policy. First of all, by ordering the task force study and then putting the study out for public debate just gave your opponents one big fat target to shoot at. Then when you decided on royalties you failed to provide for that dark day when oil and gas prices collapse (Did you know that it is an historical fact that they always do, sooner or later? Did you know that?). The whole royalty issue has won you legions of enemies and no friends whatsoever. Look at what oil companies put into the coffers of your party in the last year and a half. Hardly anything. Small gas producers are under the gun. It’s a helluva a mess.
I’m sure you will say that you couldn’t have been that bad because you won an election in the interim. Eddie – can I call you Eddie? – Eddie you won that election for two reasons. First of all, as Muhammed Ali used to say, the other guy didn’t ‘whup’ you, and secondly because the people wanted to give you a chance. It was not because the people thought you were competent, believe me.
While all of this is brewing, then we are hit by a financial crisis. That was something you and the Tories should have been prepared for. North America had been riding high for some time. There is a thing called the business cycle and it is more than a theory. Bubbles burst. Good governments prepare for that. The financial collapse forced your government to rocket into major deficit territory at a time when people were just figuring out that the Alberta Advantage for Martha and Henry was a crock. Bad timing for you, Ed. The result of all of that was the loss of Calgary Glenmore to the Wild Rose Alliance – even though you had a high profile candidate who ran a helluva good campaign.
Okay, okay, you might say much of this is bad luck. And you might be right in saying so. But Geez Ed, you have to try to help yourself. That statement you made the other day about reducing your pay by 15% makes you look like a weasel - even more than usual. You cut it by only 5.7% and everybody figured it out in about five minutes. And many are convinced you said it was 15% to mislead the people. See: http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/Braid+Premier+falls+short+mere/2109526/story.html
And you still haven’t learned how to give a decent speech where you do not look like a dweeb, for God's sakes!
And now on top of all of this, you’re confronted by the loquacious babe who just won the Wild Rose Alliance leadership. I hear old Tory stalwarts and ministers like Doug Main and Ernie Isley joined the party and voted for her. The story is that all kinds of old Tories are signing up for her. They’ve had it with you and the old Tory party. See: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2009/10/17/edmonton-wildrose-alliance-leader.html
Well, Ed, when I started this piece I thought I could still give you some constructive advice that might pull it out of the fire for you before your moment of truth coming up in Red Deer in three weeks. But after giving due consideration to everything, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do or say to help.
Perhaps you might think of going into your den, taking out your beretta, wrapping yourself in the Alberta flag, putting on maybe some of your favorite Hank Williams or Wilf Carter records, having a couple of slugs of chokecherry wine, locking the door and then do the honorable thing. Or perhaps do what the Japanese do when things are hopeless and they have run out of options. But, Ed, I think its over for you, and it’s probably over for the Tories.