Alison Redford

In the Record Books

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics | 2 Comments

fathers PCThese are not happy days for the party which has ruled Alberta since before Happy Days ever aired, but the PCs had something to celebrate this weekend as they passed Ontario’s Big Blue Machine Nova Scotia’s Big Red Machine to become the longest serving government in Canadian history.

There are many reasons for their longevity. An ability to portray themselves as the true defenders of Alberta against the federal government. Leveraging the resources that come with power to their maximum advantage. Inept opposition parties, who were not helped by the actions of their federal counterparts.

But above all else, the Alberta PCs are still ticking because they have shown an uncanny ability to adapt and evolve. The party would have ended in 1993 if Ralph Klein hadn’t completely shaken up the establishment and their approach to government. It would have ended in 2012 if Alison Redford hadn’t flown in to rebrand, sucking up votes on the left of the political spectrum.

And it will end in a year or two if Jim Prentice isn’t able to adapt again.

Redford has no one to blame but herself

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics | 8 Comments
Len Weber will disagree, but Alison Redford made this guy's "nice" list.

Len Weber will disagree, but Alison Redford made this guy’s “nice” list.

No one, least of all politicians, likes to admit just how big a role outside forces play in one’s political success – and failure. Strong MPs are defeated when the national campaign goes south. Unexpected issues derail the best laid plans. Competing interests from within will undermine even the most successful leaders.

That’s largely what happened to the last two Alberta Premiers. Ralph Klein saved the PC party from certain defeat in 1993, won 4 majorities, and eliminated the debt. His party showed its gratitude with a 55% leadership review.

All his successor did was increase the size of their majority, winning 72 of 83 seats. Three years later, the party brass quietly shoved Ed Stelmach aside.

I’ve written enough about Klein and Stelmach’s shortcomings to fill the legislature library, but even I will admit they got a raw deal. I wouldn’t call either a sympathetic figure, but in their own peculiar ways, they got the job done, only to be shown the door. Redford however, left her party with little choice.

It’s true that Redford was up against a few daunting obstacles. She won the party leadership with only 2 MLAs supporting her – and one of those MLAs was named Alison Redford. Unlike past PC leaders who could brush off a largely inept Liberal opposition with a few good NEP horror stories, Redford faced a new threat in the form of the Wildrose Alliance. And, as the old adage goes, governments tend to stumble during their 12th term in office.

Faced with this, it’s tempting to cast Redford as a victim of the fates. That likely would have been a fair narrative had she been buried in 2012 under a groundswell of support for Danielle Smith. But Redford won a convincing majority, giving her a clean mandate and plenty of political capital to spend. It turns out Alison Redford spends political capital as quickly as taxpayer dollars.

Soon after the election, Redford found herself in trouble for accepting a $430,000 donation from Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz. Katz was looking for government support for a new arena, so bankrolling Redford’s re-election campaign was likely a better investment for him than giving Shawn Horcoff 5.5 million a year. But it raised serious questions about Redford’s judgment – doubts which only grew when conflict of interest allegations surfaced surrounding a contract she had given to her ex-husband’s law firm. In both instances, Redford had a remarkably difficult time providing a clear explanation, and keeping her story straight.

It was reminiscent of her first scandal – the one which nearly cost her the 2012 election. Shortly after winning the leadership, Redford found herself in dire straights over the “money for nothing” controversy, when it came to light that MLAs were receiving $1,000 a month to sit on a committee which hadn’t met in four years. Opposition members quickly did the sensible thing and returned the money. Redford called the gesture a “stunt” and said there was nothing wrong with the committee – but hung her MLAs out to dry by suggesting there would be electoral consequences if they didn’t pay back the cash. Her caucus whip said voters were too stupid to understand the issue. In the end, Redford ordered her MLAs to return the funds, but only a month later, after the polls went south.

This pattern repeated itself with the controversy that would ultimately be her undoing. It started with extremely poor judgment, when Redford spent $45,000 of taxpayer dollars on a flight back from Nelson Mandela’s funeral (plus $3 for headphones). As per her modus operandi, Redford defended the move, changed her story, stalled, waited for the controversy to explode – and then acted, repaying the money. By that point, other revelations of misspending had surfaced, and there was no way out of the death spiral.

All leaders face scandals. The difference for Redford was that nearly all of these were of her own making. Each time, Redford showed herself to be out of touch with taxpayers, dithered and changed her story, and failed to act until the damage had been done. While there will no doubt be a temptation to paint Redford as a tragic figure, undone by 43 years of PC baggage and a party know who pulls out the knives at the first sign of trouble, she really has no one to blame for her failure but herself.

Turbulence

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Scandals | 4 Comments

bus2.jpg

Back in 2008, myself and a couple of young Liberals launched “Edspedia.ca“, a mock website to poke fun at some eyebrow raising travel expenses by members of the Ed Stelmach cabinet. The list included Mark Norris’ $50,000 Vegas vacation, and Rod Stevens Hawaiian stop-over to “study their gambling system”.

If I hadn’t received a cheerful letter from the Expedia lawyers back in 2008, now would be a good time to launch “Redspedia.ca”, because Alison Redford is facing a barrage of criticism over her travel expenses.

The controversy started with a $45,000 flight back from Nelson Mandela’s funeral (plus $3 for headphones), and has since spread. The latest revelation is that Redford invited along a friend of her daughter’s on a few government trips. Redford has said that “upon reflection” this wasn’t an appropriate use of taxpayer funded dollars, to which taxpayers have responded with a collective “duh”. For Redford, this is yet another scandal she has no one to blame for but herself.

After what happened with online polls in Alberta last election, I feel guilty even quoting numbers here, but Leger has the PCs free falling to 25% support – 13 points back of the Wildrose Party. What’s most interesting about these numbers is not the Wildrose lead, but that the Liberals and NDP are both up substantially since the last round of polling, and since the last election. Clearly, many Alberta progressives who lent Redford their vote in 2012 are feeling burned.

Whether or not they go back to her in 2016 remains to be seen. But with each passing scandal, asking them to do just that will become a more and more daunting proposition.

Politicians in Cowboy Hats: Come Hell or High Water

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, Humour, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | 7 Comments

For a brief history of Stampede fashion, you can read the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 round-ups – or last year’s “100 Years of Bad Photo-Ops

Flood waters cannot stop the Stampede and flood waters cannot stop politicians from the annual ritual of self humiliation known as the cowboy hat photo-op. Indeed, if there’s one photo op even more irresistible than the Stampede, it’s a post-disaster zone tour.



The Flood Aftermath

Stephen Harper was the first on the scene, playing dress-up in a Canadian Forces flight jacket, complete with pilot wings. Harper defended his wardrobe choice by saying he was honouring the military – I tend to think a better way to honour them would have been allowing Afghanistan troops to keep their danger pay.

Stephen Harper, Naheed Nenshi, Alison Reford

Next up would be Thomas Mulcair, sporting the official Stampede “hell or high water” t-shirt – four words that in southern Alberta usually follow “I’m never voting NDP come…”.

Mulcair stampede

Justin Trudeau put on his coveralls, got his hands dirty, and made history becoming the first aspiring Prime Minister to ever sport a backwards baseball cap:

trudeau work

While I have no doubts the Tory war room was dreaming up attack ads to use this picture in, at least Justin didn’t ruin a perfectly good pair of jeans:

harper relief 2 - wish he'd worn coveralls



Stampede Round-Up

But we were told come hell or high water the show must go on, so it was time for the politicians to pick up a cowboy hat and flip some pancakes. Alberta Premier Alison Redford proved to be a bit over eager on this front, sending her pancake into orbit, in what I can only assume was an attempt to out-flip Danielle Smith.

redford flips pancake

Although Chris Hadfield was the Stampede grand marshal this year, it appears that Justin Trudeau once again managed to overshadow an astronaut. Because everywhere you looked this weekend, there was Justin. At one point yesterday the Calgary Herald had three separate Trudeau stories on their website – this likely isn’t the first time that’s ever happened, but I suspect it’s the first time none of the stories involved effigies.

trudeau stampede headlines

Mercifully, Justin decided to forego cargo shorts in favour of jeans and belt buckle. It remains to be seen if he’s a big thinker, but the “XL” tag on his hat at least shows he’s got a big head.

trudeau stampede

And here’s Justin – again – with Calgary’s mayor and international Twitter superstar Naheed Nenshi. I’m not sure I agree with the FastForward survey which named Nenshi the “sexiest Calgarian“, but he’s certainly the most huggable.

trudeau nenshi hug



Also Pictured

Devinder Shory, Joe Oliver, Michelle Rempel, and Danielle Smith. (Thanks to MC for the photo)

Devinder Shory, Joe Oliver, Michelle Rempel, and Danielle Smith. (Thanks to MC for the tip on this one)

If recent scandals take down Alison Redford, she will at least have a fruitful career as a children's entertainer.

If recent scandals take down Alison Redford, she will at least have a fruitful career as a children’s entertainer.

Kidding aside, Redford actually gets my vote for "Best Dressed" this year. Not only did she cycle through a series of outfits, she is the first politician I've seen pull off a "Stampede skirt".

Kidding aside, Redford actually gets my vote for “Best Dressed” this year. Not only did she cycle through a series of outfits, she is the first politician I’ve seen pull off a “Stampede skirt”.

There were no disasters this year, but Jean Charest take home the "Worst Dressed" honours - it's a nice hat, but he looks completely out of place in the suit jacket.

There were no disasters this year, but Jean Charest take home the “Worst Dressed” honours – it’s a nice hat, but he looks completely out of place in the suit jacket.

Provincial Unrest

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, BC Politics, New Brunswick Politics, Newfoundland Politics, Nova Scotia Politics, Ontario Politics | 11 Comments
Alison Redford, after seeing her latest poll numbers.

Alison Redford’s approval ratings have fallen to “Stelmachian” levels

Angus Reid has released their quarterly Premier approval ratings. As per usual, Brad Wall is more popular than God, and everyone else is a little more human:

Wall (SK): 64% approve, 28% disapprove
Alward (NB): 41% approve, 50% disapprove
Selinger (MB): 38% approve, 49% disapprove
Wynne (ON): 36% approve, 37% disapprove
Marois (QC): 33% approve, 62% disapprove
Dexter (NS): 30% approve, 62% disapprove
Redford (AB): 29% approve, 66% disapprove
Clark (BC): 25% approve, 67% disapprove
Dunderdale (NL): 25% approve, 73% disapprove

While Wall’s number sticks out, there are a few other interesting tid-bits from this poll:

1. Obviously enough, these numbers spell bad news for Darrell Dexter and Christy Clark, who are both heading into elections considerably less popular than the opposition leaders trying to defeat them. Still, it’s worth recalling that this same poll found just 19% of Ontarians approving of McGuinty a mere 10 weeks before re-electing him in 2011. Sometimes you can win without being loved.

2. The danger may be less imminent in Newfoundland and Alberta, but the Tory dynasties in both provinces must be feeling a bit like the New York Yankees this season – it’s far too early to count them out, but you have to wonder if this is the begining of the end.

Redford’s numbers are right around where Ed Stelmach’s were when the Tory establishment mounted a putsch 2 years ago. Like Stelmach, Redford won with little caucus or establishment support, and has struggled to keep up with the Wildrose fundraising machine.

I don’t think the Tories will or should force her out, but when your approval rating is below Raj Sherman’s, you need to at least watch your back.

3. A lot of Ontarians still haven’t made up their minds about Kathleen Wynne.

4. The most surprising finding, at least for me, was that the Premier of New Brunswick is named David Alward. Who knew?

You Be The Finance Minister

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Budgets | 19 Comments
If Doug Horner can't get Alberta's finances under control, he can always look forward to a long career as a Ricky Gervais impersonator.

If Doug Horner can’t get Alberta’s finances under control, he can always look forward to a long career as a Ricky Gervais impersonator.

Alberta is facing a bit of a budget crisis, with a deficit which, on a per capita basis, could be as big as Ontario’s. This has forced Alison Redford into making some tough choices…or, in the more likely event, building up debt.

To help with these decisions, Redford has launched a Your Choice website, letting average Albertans consider the same trade-offs government is facing. It’s actually a really neat form of citizen engagement, and is the ultimate “let’s see you do better” response to critics.

Since I expect to be one of the many critics on budget day, I figured I’d give the tool a shot, and spent 20 minutes painstakingly deciding where to make cuts – is $60 million on Carbon Capture a wise investment, or are a few more potholes a price worth paying to take $10 million out of the provincial highway fund? By the time I’d cut my way through 18 departments, I still found myself in debt. Maybe I could afford to go a bit easier on the Redford government.

Then I got to the revenue side of the ledger. A 1% increase in the corporate tax rate would bring in half a billion. A tax on anyone making over $250,000 a year would bring in another half a billion. A measly 2% income tax would nearly erase the entire deficit.

Alberta finds itself in a situation where they could fix their fiscal framework and still have, far and away, the lowest taxes in the entire country. I don’t expect Redford to go down that route, but after looking at the numbers being released by her own government, that appears to be the easiest way out of this hole.

2012 Woman of the Year

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2012 Alberta Election, Alberta Politics, Featured Posts, Person of the Year | 3 Comments

Every December, I like to name a “Person of the Year” – the individual who left their mark on Canadian politics over the past year. The only rules are that the PM is too obvious a choice, and that lame picks (“You!”) are strictly verboten. The Person of the Year doesn’t need to be someone who used the force for the powers of good, or someone I like – just someone who made a difference. Below is a list of recent choices:

2011: Jack Layton
2010: Rob Ford and Naheed Nenshi
2009: Jim Flaherty
2008: Stephane Dion
2007: Jean Charest
2006: Michael Ignatieff
2005: Belinda Stronach
2004: Ralph Klein

Unlike 2011, when Jack Layton’s rise and death came to define the year that was in Canadian politics, no single event or person stands out in 2012. There was no federal election, and little that happened in Ottawa resonated outside the political bubble. After being warned about Harper’s “hidden agenda” for a decade, the most newsworthy item of Flaherty’s first majority budget was the death of the penny.

The robocon scandal might eventually stick, but we have no way of knowing, so selecting Pierre Poutine, or Misters McGregor and Maher is likely premature. A few people on Twitter nominated Mark Carney, but I’m not sure his flirtation with the Liberal Party or departure to England will really change much.

Rather, the focus in Ottawa this year was largely on leadership races in the opposition ranks. Thomas Mulcair deserves consideration for Person of the Year – he won a competitive race, allowing the NDP to complete their journey from protest to pragmatism. Mulcair proved himself to be a steady opposition leader, but his polling bounce has faded due to…

Justin Trudeau. I don’t doubt that Trudeaumania II will be the “Story of the Year” on a lot of recap lists, but it’s not clear to me Justin left any lasting mark on Canadian politics (other than the ones on Patrick Brazeau’s face). And being talked about isn’t enough to make you the Person of the Year, or else I’d be handing out this award to the IKEA Monkey.

If we move outside of federal politics, a couple of past winners find themselves on the short list again in 2012. Rob Ford was a headline machine this year, culminating with a judge ordering him to be removed from office. The only problem is, if we’re going to start naming troubled Mayors, it would make for one long list of co-winners, since you’d also need to include Gerard Tremblay, Gilles Vaillancourt, and Joe Fontana, among others.

It’s tempting to give my 2007 Person of the Year, Jean Charest, and fellow Liberal-on-the-way out Dalton McGuinty a lifetime achievement award for the impact they’ve had on Canadian politics over the past decade. After all, this fall’s Quebec election was a thriller, and Charest surprised everyone by nearly hanging on.

However, even more exciting and unpredictable was the Alberta election. Which brings us to our 2012 Woman of the Year:

Alison Redford poses with Daryl Katz

The PCs winning elections in Alberta is hardly news. They’ve now done that a dozen times in a row, and will soon break the record as the longest-serving government in Canadian history. Alison Redford won 61 of 87 seats which, admittedly, marks a down year for the PCs – but is still considered a rout in most functioning democracies.

But, oh, what an exciting rout that was.

Redford led by 37 points in a January Leger poll, and there were actually non-satirical articles printed citing senior Tories worried they’d win “too many” seats. Luckily for those senior Conservatives, Alison Redford quickly put those fears to rest.

The issue that landed Redford in dire straits and caused her to lose complete control of the agenda was the “money for nothing” controversy. When it came to light that MLAs were receiving $1,000 a month to sit on a committee which hadn’t met in four years, the opposition members did the sensible thing and returned the money. Redford did not. She called the gesture by the opposition MLAs a “stunt” and said there was nothing wrong with the committee – but hung her MLAs out to dry by suggesting there would be electoral consequences if they didn’t return the cash. Her caucus whip said voters were too stupid to understand the issue. Redford dithered and didn’t act until the polls went south a month after the story broke. But the damage was done. She had given the Wildrose Party all the ammunition they would need to run an “entitled to their entitlements” campaign.

In most years, Redford’s stumbles wouldn’t have been fatal, but what made this a truly great election was that the PCs were facing their strongest competition in 20 years. Smith versus Redford pitted two of the country’s strongest politicians head-to-head, in what is likely to become Canada’s most interesting political rivalry over the next few years. Contrary to what anyone reading news stories in 2010 or 2011 would believe, Danielle Smith isn’t perfect – she confusingly tried to brand herself as the “anti-change” candidate and presented voters with a gimmicky platform, offering Ralph Bucks and Doris Day petitions. But Smith is a smart, articulate, and charismatic politician, so it’s no surprise her campaign strategy of “let’s do photo-ops with cute animals” was paying off. Before long, the Wildrose Party had pulled ahead. Alison Redford was sounding more and more desperate by the day, accusing the Wildrosers of being the party of “old white men” (fun fact: Alison Redford’s Cabinet was 86% male and 95% white).

By this time, Wildrose campaign manager Tom Flanagan must have been having flashbacks to the 2004 federal election – a long time government brings in a new leader with expectations of a landslide victory, only to mismanage a scandal and see a new right wing party pull ahead. Sadly for Doctor Tom, the similarities would continue down the stretch, with voters en masse having second thoughts about what this new right wing party truly stood for.

For that, Redford can thank a pair of Wildrose candidates. Allan Hunsperger blogged that gays would burn for all eternity in a lake of fire in hell, and Danielle Smith didn’t seem too troubled. Ron Leech talked about “the white advantage”, and Danielle Smith didn’t seem too troubled, saying every candidate should put forward “their best argument for why they should be the person who can best represent the community”.

For a variety of reasons, the pundits and polls were as off the mark as Smith’s candidates, setting up one of the most stunning election nights in Canadian history. Columnists across the country were forced to madly re-write their columns on the demise of the PC dynasty. Some weren’t able to, hence Andrew Coyne’s first page Post column which beganUnless something astonishing happens, the Wildrose Party will form the next government of Alberta”. Turns out astonishing things can happen in politics every now and then – even in boring, predictable Alberta.

Redford has stayed in the news post-election, thanks mainly to two more badly mismanaged scandals. However, she’s also had an impact on the national stage, being at the centre of the Enbridge pipeline feud with Christy Clark. Although Redford has only been PC leader for a little over a year, she is quickly becoming one of the most well known and respected names on the national stage – and her prominence is likely to grow with new Premiers recently elected or on the way in Quebec, Ontario, and BC (unless something astonishing happens!). With Alberta continuing to grow, and Redford showing an eagerness to expand Alberta’s influence in Canada and around the world, expect to hear more from her in 2013.

Smoking Gun

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Scandals | 5 Comments

Somewhere, Daryl Katz wonders “where’s my kickback?”

Fresh off the Daryl Katz scandal, Alison Redford is again in hot water:

The issue centres on a giant lawsuit launched by the province against the tobacco industry. The province is seeking $10 billion from tobacco manufacturers for the healthcare costs caused by smoking. The suit was announced in May, and was to be handled by a group of local legal firms that stood to gain $2 billion in contingency fees, according to Wildrose. One of the firms includes Redford’s former husband, Robert Hawkes, among its partners, a fact the opposition parties maintain is a conflict of interest. Further, they say Redford misled the legislature when she informed it the choice of law firms hadn’t been hers.


As has become typical of Alison Redford during her short time as Premier, it’s not so much the scandal but her handling of it that has landed her in trouble. The “no meet” committee would have been a non-issue had she simply apologized and ordered MLAs to return their cheques as soon as she found out they were being paid to sit on a non-existent committee. Instead, Redford defended the committee, attacked the opposition for “grandstanding”, lamented that she “couldn’t change the past”, and said voters were too stupid to understand the issue, before finally, after a month of controversy, relenting. It nearly cost her the election.

When she found herself in trouble for accepting $430,000 in donations from Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz, Redford’s response was again all over the place. She admits she talked to Katz after the election but doesn’t remember what they talked about. We still haven’t gotten a clear answer about whether or not Katz paid with a $430,000 cheque, and why this didn’t raise any eyebrows.

And now, Redford is again making life more difficult for herself than it needs to be. There’s a very valid defense to be made that every law firm in Alberta is going to have some connection to the PC Party, and that she likely wasn’t thinking about her ex-husband when she made the decision. However, Redford has again chosen the Sargent Schultz defense, claiming she had nothing to do with the decision – even though there are documents indicating she did:

Redford left cabinet to run for the party leadership in February 2011. She insists the final decision on the law firm hadn’t been made by then. But correspondence obtained under access to information laws indicate otherwise: A Dec. 14, 2010 memo signed by Redford, says: “the best choice for Alberta will be the International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers,” which included her ex-husband’s firm. A Dec. 22, 2010 email indicated that letters had gone to “unsuccessful candidates” informing them of the choice. And a January 2011 briefing note to the deputy minister says: “Shortly before Christmas, Minister Redford selected the International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers.”


The fact that she’s being forced to argue “Redford selected” didn’t actually mean “Redford selected” shows how entangled in a web of lies she has become. For all her strengths as a Premier, “scandal management” has not proven to be one of them.

Which is unfortunate for Redford, given that she’s now on her third major scandal, after just over a year in office.


Canada’s Greatest Losers

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Featured Posts, History | 7 Comments

Liberals elected this loser at their 1919 leadership convention

Last week, Martha Hall Findlay and Karen McCrimmon declared their candidacies for the Liberal leadership race. This week, George Takach has taken the plunge. I’ve posted one blog interview with David Merner, and will have others with David Bertschi and Alex Burton next week. Deborah Coyne, meanwhile, has already released more fresh ideas than we’ve seen from Stephen Harper during his entire tenure as Prime Minister.

These are seven very different candidates with seven very different messages, but the one thing they share in common is that none of them hold a seat in the House of Commons. This has prompted Warren Kinsella (and others) to gently suggest they do us all a favour and drop out, before they jump in. As the saying goes, if you can’t win your own riding, you can’t win the country.

Now, Warren is free to support whomever he chooses using whatever criteria he chooses. And as far as criteria go, electoral track record is a pretty important one to consider. I know I’d have a difficult time supporting anyone who has never held elected office. That said, it’s likely worth looking at a few “losers” from history, before we automatically disqualify every “loser” from consideration.

John Diefenbaker: This guy could put together losing campaigns more consistently than the Toronto Maple Leafs. Before being elected, he lost twice federally, twice provincially, and once for Mayor. Despite being a five-time loser, the Tories went with Dief in ’56, and he rewarded them with the largest majority in Canadian history.

Mackenzie King: Even though he lost his seat in both the 1911 and 1917 elections, the Liberals put their faith in King at Canada’s first leadership convention in 1919. King would go on to become the longest serving PM in Commonwealth history…losing his own seat twice more along the way.

Jack Layton: Jack beat out three candidates with seats at the 2003 NDP leadership convention, even though he’d never been elected to any position higher than Councillor. He’d lost in his bid for Mayor, finished fourth in the 1993 federal election, and lost by over 7,000 votes in the 1997 federal election. Despite this track record of defeat, the Dippers went with Jack and he rewarded them by becoming the NDP’s most successful leader ever.

Brian Mulroney: Brian hadn’t even won a City Council election when he became PC leader, and had lost in his previous leadership bid. In his first ever election, he won over 200 seats.

Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, John Turner: Although they had perfect records in their own ridings, all three lost a leadership race before becoming Liberal leader. Losers.

Stephen Harper: Harper did not hold a seat when he ran for Canadian Alliance leadership in 2002. At that time, he had a rather uninspiring “1 win and 1 loss” record when it came to local elections – and remember, that’s a .500 record from a Calgary conservative.

Those are just a few of the many losers who won their party leaderships. Indeed, the only examples from the past 30 years of national parties electing “winners” who had never lost their riding or a leadership race are Stephane Dion, Audrey McLaughlin, Stockwell Day, and Peter MacKay. MacKay killed his party, and the other three almost did.

That’s not to say that all “winners” become “losers”, but you need to go all the way back to Justin Trudeau’s father in 1968 to find a successful leader who had a perfect electoral record when he first took over his party’s leadership. And while I don’t want to dismiss Pierre Trudeau’s accomplishments, I suspect most barnyard animals could have held Mount Royal for the Liberals in 1965.

The above examples come from federal politics, but we see it everywhere. Just eight years before becoming President, Barack Obama lost a primary race for a congressional seat by a 2:1 margin. Alison Redford couldn’t even beat Rob Anders in a nomination meeting.

So while I wouldn’t dismiss a candidate’s electoral record (or lack thereof), it’s important to remember that a lot of winners have quickly turned into losers, and a lot of losers have gone on to have very successful careers.

Fat Katz

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics | Leave a comment

“I’m sorry little boy. This is an Oilers-only campaign.”

It appears Daryl Katz has a thing for crumbling dynasties:

Billionaire Oilers owner Katz gave $430,000 to Alberta PCs

Billionaire entrepreneur and Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz gave Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives nearly half a million dollars – almost one-third of the party’s total fundraising in a single donation – as Premier Alison Redford’s cash-strapped campaign was staring down defeat at the ballot box in the spring election. Documents made public by Elections Alberta on Wednesday record $300,000 in donations from Mr. Katz, his company, his family and business associates.

But a source close to the campaign told The Globe and Mail that Mr. Katz provided a cheque for $430,000 to the PCs, a donation that was broken up into smaller pieces.

Although Alberta has a $30,000 individual and corporate donation limit, it appears there’s nothing to stop an individual from “drecting” their contribution through friends and family.

And who can fault Katz? He’s looking for government support for a new arena, so $430,000 to help re-elect the PCs will likely pay a bigger return than, say, paying Shawn Horcoff $5.5 million a year to consistently score a dozen goals.

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