0 A by-election, and a rare return to work at the Legislature
October 22, 2012 at 10:19 pm  •  Posted in Dave's Blog by  •  0 Comments

Actually, I might go on a rant here soon about how the Kardashians symbolize the dumbing-down effect that our 30-year affair with “enlightened self-interest” has had on our entire culture. After all, when people are preoccupied with the materialistic imperative, about the only interest they can muster in anyone else is to check to see who has more bling than they do. But that’s a topic for another time….

Item one: Date set for the Calgary Centre by-election – Monday, November 26.

Is Mount Royal University political science type Duane Bratt the only pundit in Calgary who will talk to the media? I imagine he’s a learned man and all that, and I suspect he’s never met a microphone or a camera he didn’t like, but really, isn’t it a little soon to be pronouncing on who’s gonna win this thing? I mean, he’s likely right that Conservative Joan Crockatt is heavily favored to win, in the same actuarial way that the odds are greater you will be struck by lightning than win the lottery. But c’mon! That doesn’t stop a scarily large percentage of people from including winning the lottery as part of their retirement planning strategy, and it shouldn’t stop the New Democrats, Liberals, Greens and that other guy from trying to take the riding away from The Harper Gang. I assume Prof. Bratt doesn’t think the outcome is such a foregone conclusion that we should just forego the hassle of actually electingsomebody to replace Lee Richardson.

Take it from a guy who won Calgary-Currie in 2004 when the provincial PCs were heavily favored to hold onto it: Calgary-Centre voters are a pretty moderate bunch. Those same voters have had no problem electing Liberals and Red Tories provincially in Calgary-Currie, Calgary-Buffalo, and Calgary-Elbow. They haven’t been inclined to vote Hard Right federally since they turfed Eric Lowther in favor of Joe Clark in 2000.

However, Bratt is onto something. There is but one candidate representing the Hard Right, and there will be at least four in the middle and to the left thereof. 1CalgaryCentre talks about identifying a “consensus progressive candidate” through crowdsourcing, and good luck with that. What needs to happen if Duane Bratt’s early call on the outcome is to be proven wrong, however, is for one of opposition candidates to stand out in the eyes of the voters – to rise above a crowded field of opposition candidates and to rise above Crockatt.

That hasn’t happened yet, and it never does happen with real voters (as opposed to pundits, political junkies and the press) until the election campaign gets real for them. And that doesn’t start happening until a few days after the date’s been set.

Item two: Alberta Legislature actually (gasp!) sits – Tuesday, October 23.

Yes, folks, unbelievably, a mere six months to the day since the last provincial election (April 23), Alison Redford’s PC Government actually stoops to face the Legislature.

That six-day p**s-up and bake sale at the end of May doesn’t count in my opinion. That was just window-dressing around the need to make Gene Zwozdesky the Speaker before the Ghost of Ken Kowalski (actually, at his best, he’s more of poltergeist) made inevitable mischief for Redford.

Kowalski, you might remember, decided not to run again. He made his decision mere weeks after stopping me in the hall to ask if it was true, this rumor he’d heard, that I had decided to retire from politics. He seemed as baffled that I would make that choice, as I remain to this day that someone would choose tostay in elected office as long as he had. In any event, I’m pretty sure I said something about the wisdom of leaving politics before – rather than beyond – your Best Before Date. And not long after our chat, Kowalski also decided to retire.

(Look, I have no idea whether I had any influence at all on Kowalski’s decision to retire. Then again, let’s not forget that I joined the Alberta Party and Ed Stelmach announced his resignation as premier the very next day!!!! Coincidence? Or the makings of a great story to tell the grandchildren???)

Anyway, there’s an arcane little bit of parliamentary rules and proceedings that says the Speaker ceases to be an MLA on the day (s)he retires or is defeated in an election, but does not cease to be the Speaker until the Legislature convenes to elect a new one. So Citizen Kowalski actually continued as Speaker until the beginning of that six-day “session” on May 23rd.

But honestly – to go six months from Election Day without recalling the Legislature for any meaningful work…remind me again how Alison Redford is in any way different from her predecessors?

Oh, she is better at spending money she doesn’t have. In fact, the only leader I can think of who was that good at it was her old boss – Brian Mulroney.

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