These past few days have been interesting in the world of Alberta politics. I don’t even know what to think about this two-day-three-week-break-sit-again-for-a-bit thing. It seems like an oddity at the very least, and of course there has to be some underlying reason that’s not being said publicly by the premier’s office. It does make me wonder if there’s credibility to the “snap-election-call” rumour. But let’s just sit on that one and wait for what lies beneath to rise to the surface.
Let’s look instead at what happened yesterday with what is being referred to as a “flip-flop”: Morton’s announcement that three of the transmission projects were to be put on hold, and the Premier’s subsequent statement that there was a miscommunication and that in fact the number was two, as the Heartland project would go ahead as planned.
Here’s my theory: I don’t think the decision was changed by Redford; I think Morton applied the change by announcing something other than what was instructed/decided. Some have suggested that someone with clout (an oil mogul, one supposes) called Alison after the first announcement and applied pressure. Though I suppose anything’s possible, my assessment of the Premier thus far is that she is not too big on acquiescence, not much inclined to bow to influence peddling and bullying. In fact, I think that’s exactly what led to the correction announcement yesterday.
Look at Morton’s history, even just the 2011 stuff:
1) One of his final acts as Finance Minister was to unilaterally chop funding to Regional Economic Development Alliances(REDAs), which he said he did because of interdepartmental redundancies and too much direct government involvement in business development. Looking at it from the receiving end of the slash, it’s hard to understand why a less chaos-inducing path was not chosen. Why didn’t he work with the other ministries doing economic development and put together a long-range plan to streamline systems and support transition to private sector or municipal economic development delivery?
2) And then there’s his rebellion over the budget, which ultimately set this whole leadership change in motion. Morton simply does not like to do as he’s told.
To me, it appears he’s simply an autocrat. The problem is the divergence between his perspective and his position. Will he EVER stop acting like he’s the boss – no matter what the voter says? I think he was clearly told the plan, but figured he’d utter HIS will publicly and hope the Premier would just go along to avoid the public embarrassment. I think she had to do what she did to show him who’s boss. It doesn’t show her poor leadership, but rather it’s a peek into the degree of dysfunction within. We thought the party couldn’t get more divided, but I think we should hold on to our hats. This is going to get very ugly and very public. Premier Redford has planted herself firmly in the anchor position on her side of the tug-of-war, wrapped that rope around her waist and yelled “PULL” with all her might. It’s going to be quite a tussle, because the folks on the other side of the rope don’t necessarily play fair.
Of course it’s all just speculation.
What I fear is that this maladaptive mentality within the party will continue to affect the ability of the PC government to make decisions and move forward. What I resent is that the people Albertans elected to REPRESENT and GOVERN are instead spending copious amounts of time and energy on internal feuds and power struggles. The transmission snafu is just an early peek into what we’re in for, at least until we can return to the polls and tell these grownups what we think of their adolescent behaviour.