. . .FOR THIS!
You will recall that on January 18, 2010 I raved about Special Ed's deft decision to appoint California-born and bred Ted Morton as Alberta Minister of Finance and Enterprise and thereby set him up as Ed's logical successor. See: REPORT FROM ALBERTA: TORIES AND WILD ROSE ALLIANCE SET FOR THE MOTHER OF ALL TORY CIVIL WARS
I predicted that Morton's pure right-wing pedigree along with his reputed oratorical skills could very well stop the hemorrhaging of Progressive Conservative support over to the upstart Wildrose Alliance party now headed by that enticing political goddess, Danielle Smith.
Much to my surprise I have discovered that my rosy view of Morton's potential is not shared by a great many Tories, whether they still hold their party memberships or whether they trashed them already to join the party of the alluring Ms. Smith.
This afternoon I happened to share a glass of wine with two men who can only be described as establishment Alberta Tories. They were in the innermost sanctum of the Ralph Klein organization throughout his whole sorry tenure during Alberta's dark ages between 1992 to 2006. Over those dreary and unimaginative years whenever anything of consequence was going on these affable and erudite gentlemen (remember, they bought me the glass of wine) were at the very apex of power. They kept both the keys to, and the secrets of, the kingdom. They were among the strongest voices in the Premier's cheering section, and advanced and strategized many of the thin gruel of ideas that found their way into the half-baked policies of his misguided regime. In other words, they were Tories of influence.
Alas, these former movers and shakers have concluded at the same time as countless other Albertans, that the Morton appointment is simply too little too late to save the Tories. They are underwhelmed and unimpressed with Morton. They say his oratorical skills are overblown and his leadership skills wholly absent during his whole three-year tenure as a Stelmach minister.
Most surprising of all, they are convinced that Stelmach has no intention of setting Morton nor anybody else up as his successor and still harbours the delusion that he will survive and lead the Tories to victory in the next provincial election! As to anybody else in the wings who can save the PCs from oblivion, forget it, they say. It ain't gonna happen. With Jim Dinning happily ensconced in the cozy comfort of oak-paneled walls and expensive scotch in the private sector, the cupboard is bare for leadership candidates. Empty. Kaput. Finito. One of my hosts (remember, they bought the wine) has even bought his Wildrose Alliance membership.
If these men are right - and their survival instincts have served them well after more than a generation in PC politics - this is bad news for the Tories. The party will have to fight tooth and nail to remain in contention, and with Stelmach at the helm and in la-la land about his own abilities and future, that will be like fighting with one hand tied behind one's back.
These are dark days indeed for the once proud party of Peter Lougheed.