Stephen Harper

Who Would Canadians Turn to in the Event of a Cylon Attack?

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Humour | 3 Comments

As this picture shows, Justin Trudeau is NOT Canada’s best hope to lead the Rebel Alliance. However, in the event of a cylon attack, Justin is the man.

Last week, Postmedia ran the most awesome headline ever:

Conservative government’s order of succession shows Canada isn’t ready for a Cylon attack

The article itself isn’t earth shattering, but it does raise an important, albeit often overlooked, question. Earlier this summer, a poll showed Americans trusted Obama over Romney to deal with an alien invasion, but there’s sadly no quantitative evidence as to who Canadians would turn to if faced with a similar crisis. To bring clarity to this issue, I have therefore looked at how the different party leaders stack up in the key aspects of surviving a cylon invasion, using President Laura Roslin as the gold standard.

(NOTE: While a case could be made that Marc Garneau’s experience makes him the obvious candidate, I will follow the practice of pretty much every pollster and assume Justin Trudeau is the next Liberal leader)

Key 1 – Willingness to compromise for the greater good: Despite being an idealist, Laura Roslin was often forced into unwinnable situations that required her to sacrifice her principles to ensure survival. Torture cylon agents? Airlock prisoners? Ban abortion to repopulate the human race? For Roslin, the ends justified the means.

While all politicians compromise their principles in power, no one does it as effortlessly as Harper. A flip-flop on income trusts? A climb down on Senate reform? Ignoring his fixed election date law? Frak yeah! Harper didn’t blink. And like Roslin, Harper turned a blind eye to his campaign team’s alleged use of electoral fraud to get him re-elected.

Edge: Harper

Key 2 – Embrace the prophecy: Roslin relied heavily on visions to lead her people. After all, the ancient scriptures of Kobol identified her as the spiritual leader who would find earth.

While Tom Mulcair may have a bit of a god-complex, Justin Trudeau seems the most likely to be the chosen one. Like Roslin, he comes from humble roots as a school teacher and has little experience in a position of power.

Moreover, he was born on Christmas Day and thousands of Liberals already see him as their Messiah. Maybe there’s something to it.

Edge: Trudeau

Key 3 – Able to fight: Inevitably, as the human race struggles to survive, there will be mutinies, rebellions, and hand-to-hand combat with the enemy. There’s a good chance the President will have to literally fight for their life at some point.

On this point, it’s no contest. Yes, cylons may be tougher to knock down than Conservative Senators, but Trudeau has proven his toughness.

Edge: Trudeau

Key 4 – Humanity: Of course, we still need to address the most important aspect of a cylon attack – what if they’ve already placed human look alike “skinjobs” in positions of power, waiting to activate them once the fighting begins. Above all else, it is paramount that the leader of the post-apocalyptic government be not only human, but above suspicion of being one of the final five.

While it seems unlikely the cylons would create a model so obviously robotic and devoid of emotions as Stephen Harper, there would no doubt be suspicions. And really, we must ask ourselves how much we know about the current Prime Minister. How often do you hear Harper talk about his childhood growing up in Ontario? Would it really surprise anyone if this flimsy backstory is nothing more than a cover designed to hide his mechanical roots?

Justin Trudeau, however, has been in the public eye since he was born. Criticize him all you want, but unless the cylons have developed a model that can age from fetus to adult, Justin is undeniably human.

Edge: Trudeau

So while we may not know where he stands on all the issues, on this point there is little doubt – Justin Trudeau is the leader Canada needs in the event of a cylon attack.

So say we all!

The Changing Face of Provincial Politics

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Ontario Politics | 3 Comments

Gary Doer, Bernard Lord, and Dalton McGuinty

With Dalton McGuinty’s abrupt resignation, Stephen Harper has now outlasted every sitting Premier in power when he took office. Hell, Alberta has seen two regicides during this period:

John Hamm (succeeded by Rodney MacDonald in 2006, who was defeated by Darrel Dexter in 2009)
Bernard Lord (defeated by Shawn Graham in 2006, in turn defeated by David Alward in 2010)
Ralph Klein (succeeded by Ed Stelmach in 2006, succeeded by Alison Redford in 2011)
Pat Binns (defeated by Robert Ghiz in 2007)
Lorne Calvert (defeated by Brad Wall in 2007)
Gary Doer (succeeded by Greg Selinger in 2009)
Danny Williams (succeeded by Kathy Dunderdale in 2010)
Gordon Campbell (succeeded by Christy Clark in 2011)
Jean Charest (defeated by Pauline Marois in 2012)
Dalton McGuinty (announced resignation in 2012)

The Premiers Harper sat down with after taking office as PM (or would have sat down with if he was into that sort of thing) is one of the most talented groups of Premiers the country has ever seen. You may not like Jean Charest, Danny Williams, or Ralph Klein, but you can’t question their political abilities. Gary Doer, Dalton McGuinty, and Gordon Campbell each lasted a decade in power. Bernard Lord is a former future Prime Minister. John Hamm is the reason Canadians tune into Mad Men every week.

But despite all that talent, they’ve fallen one by one. And the boring lobbyist from Calgary, who no one ever expected anything from, outlasted them all.

Charest’s Loss May Be Harper’s Gain

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Federal Politics, Quebec Politics | 5 Comments

It was hard for Harper to say no to “the most federalist Premier in my lifetime”…and the one man who laughed at his jokes.

Although the federal leaders executed Cirque Du Soleil worthy backflips to stay out of the Quebec election, the repercussions of this vote will be far reaching. Having a separatist attack dog in Quebec City – even one on a minority government leash – undeniably changes the dynamic in Ottawa.

So who benefits?


The Liberals

Traditionally, Canadians have tended to trust the Liberal Party on the national unity file, and this is an area where the Trudeau brand remains strong. While I’m sure Justin doesn’t want to become a shadow of his father, people will listen when he speaks out about national unity, so it’s an issue he could use to define himself.

Assuming of course, he manages to win the leadership. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But at the very least, another Liberal leader could still press the issue by sending Trudeau before the cameras or having Stephane Dion write an open letter to Pauline Marois. Hell, I think we know Stephane will be doing that, regardless of whatever the next Liberal leader wants.

And yes, no one seriously expects there to be a referendum call during Marois’ term as Premier. But what if she tries to forge ahead with some of her controversial religious and linguistic policies? That sounds to me like a great opportunity for a party looking to reclaim its position as the defender of minority rights to take a firm stand – even if it means alienating a few xenophobic pequistes.


The Conservatives

There was a time when Stephen Harper would shower Jean Charest with compliments at every press conference, but the love has faded from their relationship in recent years. Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine Stephen Harper secretly rooting for a PQ victory last week. A Marois minority was likely his best-case outcome, politically speaking.

After all, it’s not like Stephen Harper has made a name for himself building consensus between the federal government and the provinces. For a man who is rarely seen smiling with the Premiers, a good enemy is more valuable than a shaky ally. And what a foil Marois is! This isn’t a “charming separatist” in the mould of Lucien Bouchard or Gilles Duceppe – outside Quebec, she is seen as destructive, closed-minded, and hateful. It’s a lot easier to say “non” to Pauline Marois than to “Captain Canada”, Jean Charest.

Conflict with a PQ government is inevitable, and Harper can score points outside Quebec by standing up to Marois. However, unlike Trudeau or Chretien, the threat of a referendum does not hang over Harper’s head, minimizing the risk of a tough position.

And it’s not like Harper has a lot to lose. Unlike…


The NDP

Thomas Mulcair is in a delicate position. Many of the people who elected his Quebec MPs justed voted in Pauline Marois – but the people who elected his other MPs are not fans of hers. Don’t expect Mulcair to be rushing to the microphones the next time Marois says something controversial.

Further muddying the waters are Mulcair’s musings about starting a provincial NDP in Quebec. While this might help the NDP organizationally, it could box them into positions they’d rather not take. It’s one thing to go by Thomas in Quebec and Tom elsewhere – on policy, Mulcair is going to get burned on any inconsistencies.

The Liberals rightly recognize that national unity is an area where they can score points vis-a-vis the Dippers. They’ve already tried to smoke the NDP out by musing about a motion re-affirming support for the Clarity Act. Expect more of that as Marois pushes national unity front and centre. The NDP may have gotten a free ride on the Sherbrooke Declaration when Jean Charest was Premier and they were the third party in the house, but the level of scrutiny will be higher for a government-in-waiting, with the separatists in power.

Mulcair is going to have to defend positions that may not be popular in the rest of Canada. Bonne chance!

Stephen Harper Finds Science on the Road to Damascus

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Federal Politics | 11 Comments

Here’s Stephen Harper doing his best to stay out of the Enbridge pipeline debate – the biggest (non-soccer) controversy in Canada these days:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is defending the independence of the environmental review process underway for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, telling reporters in Vancouver the project will be evaluated scientifically and a green light to proceed would not be based on politics.

Decisions on these kinds of projects are made through an independent evaluation conducted by scientists into the economic costs and risks that are associated with the project. And that’s how we conduct our business,” Harper said.

“The only way that governments can handle controversial projects of this manner is to ensure that things are evaluated on an independent basis scientifically and not simply on political criteria,” the prime minister added.

While this is a perfectly reasonable position for Harper to take, it’s also unexpected. After all, the Stephen Harper Amish Drinking Game has “science” in the centre square – it’s simply not a word that ever crosses his lips.

Of course, Harper’s conversion to science does seem to have more to do with convenience than faith when you consider his government came to power thanks to a GST cut economists everywhere hated. It’s the same government that killed the long-form Census over howls of protests from every single expert (other than noted censologist Lorne Gunter) – then cut Statistics Canada’s budget to rub salt in the wound. His Minister of Science doesn’t believe in evolution. Don’t even bother bringing up safe injection sites, the fisheries act, or climate change. It’s no wonder one of the world’s leading scientific journals has demanded that Harper “set scientists free“.

So while I welcome Harper’s newfound love of science, I’ll remain a skeptic until I see more supporting evidence he has changed his ways.

100 Years of Bad Photo Ops

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

As you have probably heard a hundred times over the past month, the Calgary Stampede turns 100 this year.

Calgary has changed a lot over this time. A seat at the 1912 rodeo cost 50 cents. Calgary’s population was 70,000. And, oh yeah, back then Alberta was a Liberal bastion, with the Grits holding 6 of 7 federal Alberta ridings and 36 of 41 provincial seats. Times have changed.

So maybe then-Prime Minister Robert Borden can be forgiven for not braving the hostile frontier known as Liberal Calgary to visit the first ever Stampede.

The first notable political Stampede photo-opp I could track down came from 1928, featuring soon-to-be-Prime Minister RB Bennett. Bennett, after all, was from Calgary and actually once owned what would become the Stampede land.

RB Bennett left his Bennett buggy at home to walk the grounds

It’s not clear when it became expected for Prime Ministers to “go cowboy”, but I suspect the sight of Lester B Pearson in a three-piece suit and bow-tie may have been the tipping point that made politicians realize they needed to at least try and fit in. It’s hard to look more out of place than Pearson, so this photo may well have been his “leather vest” moment.

Mike Pearson lets loose at a 1960s Hays Breakfast

Next up is one of the most bizarre sights ever witnessed in Calgary’s history: The great satan himself, Pierre Trudeau, riding a horse down 6th avenue, in suit (with his trademark lapel rose) and cowboy hat, waving to the crowd. It’s a look any other politician would have been ridiculed about for weeks, but if there’s one thing even Albertans could agree Trudeau had, it was style.

And any time you can ride a horse with confidence, you usually get passing grades on the Stampede Fashion Report.

No, that’s not an effigy. That’s Trudeau himself. (1978)

Liberal Prime Ministers since Trudeau have not fared as well. While Jean Chretien delighted in telling the same story about his great uncle visiting Alberta in 1900 on each and every trip to Calgary, he always looked out of place at Stampede.

Paul Martin meanwhile, was always Paul Martin – trying too hard to make everyone love him. Photo ops galore with the Calgary Flames is one thing – the “I love Alberta Beef” sticker and full jean outfit was likely overkill.

Not only did he enjoy stealing Alberta’s money…the grinch himself stole their donuts (1995)

Paul Martin at the most important Stampede ever, in 2004

Which finally brings us to the most infamous Stampede picture of them all.

The year was 2005, long before then-leader of the opposition Stephen Harper hired a psychic/stylist. It’s too bad, because she could have cautioned him against the tight leather vest and backwards cowboy hat that made him look like one of the Village People. At the very least, she would have been able to predict the coast-to-coast ridicule his outfit prompted.

Mind you, 7 months later Harper was Prime Minister, so he got the final laugh.

Luckily, this picture doesn’t show the ass-less chaps.

Harper’s an Alberta boy, so he should have known better. But, for some reason, Albertans sometimes have great difficulty looking like Albertans.

Take Ed Stelmach who, in 2007, had one of the worst Stampedes ever. Stelmach kicked off his first Premier’s breakfast by welcoming everyone to the “Alberta Stampede“. Minutes later, he was nearly pied. To top it off, the man looked horribly out-of-place the entire time in a dark blue suit jacket and a “get me out of here” smile.

Miraculously, this picture was never used in a “flip flop” campaign commercial.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, are others who had varying degrees of success in pulling off the “cowboy look” over the years.

Mackenzie King can be forgiven for leaving his cowboy hat at home in 1939, when the King and Queen came visiting.

Carolyn Bennett finds herself at the Hays Breakfast, after getting lost en route to an “ugly Christmas sweater” party

PC leadership candidate Gary Mar poses with the winner of the Gary Mar look-alike contest, in 2011

Harry Chase always shows up to Stampede breakfasts looking like he’s ready for a gun fight at the O-K Corral.

Jim Prentice poses with the Tory caucus, in 2009

Gilles Duceppe, during a rare visit to the Stampede grounds, in 1997

Riding Talk

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Federal Politics | 13 Comments

The electoral commission could have saved us a lot of time by painting this map blue

The new riding maps are out! The new riding maps are out! It’s Christmas in July for political geeks!

As you may be aware, new riding boundaries will be in place for the 2015 election, and the commissions tasked with drawing said ridings have begun releasing them. Yesterday, the proposed Alberta maps were published, following up Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and British Columbia.

While riding changes inevitably lead to squawks of protest, my first reaction to the Alberta map is almost completely positive. Gone are Edmonton’s awkward rurban ridings, with the majority of Edmonton’s seats now purely urban. The Calgary-Edmonton corridor is more tightly contained, as is Lethbridge. Even the riding names have improved – gone are the boring compass ridings in Calgary (“Calgary North East”, “Calgary East”, “Calgary South-East”…), replaced with far cooler names like Calgary Heritage, Calgary Confederation, and Calgary Spy Hill. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to be the MP for Calgary Spy Hill?

Although there are some fairly significant changes to the rural map, the commission added new urban ridings without having to use too much white-out on the map. Edmonton Strathcona remains largely unchanged, which is good news for Alberta’s lone opposition MP. Ditto for the riding formerly known as Edmonton Centre (AKA Anne McLellan’s old seat). Without doing any kind of vote transposition, my eyeball estimate also pegs Edmonton Millwoods and Edmonton Griesback (have I mentioned how much I love the new names?) as possible pick-ups for the non-Conservative forces, if everything breaks right. (Edmonton before and after can be seen here, over at Daveberta)

In Calgary, the changes needed to be a bit more pronounced, with two new ridings added to the city. Still, the Calgary Centre that will host a by-election this fall will be largely the same Calgary Centre we’ll see in 2015. As for the other seats, I would expect Stephen Harper to claim Calgary Heritage, Jason Kenney to grab Calgary Midnapore, Rob Anders to take Calgary Signal Hill, Michelle Rempel to run in Calgary Confederation, Dianne Ablonczy to continue her reign over Calgary Nose Hill, Devinder Shory to choose Calgary McCall, and Deepak Obhrai to set up shop Calgary Forest Lawn. That would set up hotly contested Tory nominations for the new Spy Hill riding in the city’s rapidly growing north-west, and Calgary Sheppard in the city’s rapidly growing south-east.

While there’s no reason to believe the Tories won’t go 10 for 10 in 2015, the new ridings do offer a glimmer of hope for the Liberals and NDP in the long run. Calgary Centre remains a progressive oasis in the city’s downtown, but the real gift from the new boundaries might be the change from Calgary North-Centre to Calgary Confederation, with the richer suburbs to the north punted in favour of the University of Calgary campus. The riding is now full of polls the Liberals carry provincially, so it’s not unfathomable to imagine it might one day turn red. The demographics of Calgary Forest Lawn should also make it a long-term target for progressives in Calgary.

The Third Way

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Boring internal Liberal Party matters, Federal Politics, Policy, Polls | Leave a comment

The latest Ipsos poll paints a rather dreary picture of Liberal fortunes, with what was once the natural governing party languishing more than 15 points behind both the NDP and the Conservatives.

Of course, the NDP are in their post-leadership honeymoon, the Liberals don’t have a permanent leader, and a horse race poll when politics is the farthest thing from the electorate’s mind won’t tell you a lot. But I think we can safely assume the Liberals are a distant third, trailing two parties who are both intent on hugging the centre of the road, making it almost impossible to pass them. So what’s a centrist party to do?

I agree with Rae’s message of staying to the middle of the spectrum, but the days of finding sunny compromises between the NDP and Conservative extremes on every single issue are numbered. When you’re the third place party you need to give people a reason to vote for you, and a milquetoast platform topped with some language about the “extremist” positions of two very non-extremist parties isn’t going to be convincing.

Faced with this new reality, the challenge is standing out and being noticed. That likely means on occasion passing the two parties ahead of you on the right, and on occasion passing them on the left. So maybe the Liberals adopt a few “right wing” economic policies even the Conservatives dare not touch, like the abolishment of supply management. Maybe it means “out-NDPing” the NDP by proposing a national pharmacare program.

Of course, the entire concept of a left-right political spectrum is somewhat arbitrary when you think about it. Is democratic reform a right wing or a left wing issue? Either way, parties talk a lot less about it the closer they get to power, so there may be an opening there for the Liberals who are decidedly nowhere near power. There’s certainly an opening on the “Quebec question”, given the PQ may be in power a year from now, and both the Tories and NDP have spent long nights flirting with the separatists in recent years.

The other thing to consider is the dirty little secret that most voters aren’t reading through party platforms and casting their vote based on policy. Did Jack Layton leap from third to second because voters found his policies that much more compelling than Ignatieff’s? Most voters would be hard pressed to identify a single area of cleavage between the two party platforms.

Now, I’m not saying the Liberals are one leadership change away from power. As I’ve written before, there’s a lot of structural work to be done, and even if voters didn’t know the intricacies of the Liberal and NDP platforms last election, they had a clear impression of party brands, and an overall sense of party values. But a party’s leader does matter, and it’s just as important to have a leader who can differentiate himself or herself from Mulcair and Harper, as it is to have policies that can be differentiated from the NDP and CPC platforms. That doesn’t mean the Liberals should search for the anti-Mulcair or shy away from an experienced and polished politician like Harper – only that there needs to be some kind of “value add” that makes their leader stand out. The brilliance of Jack was that he always smiled and could connect with voters – that’s an ability Michael Ignatieff lacked completely, and one both Harper and Mulcair struggle with.

In the past, all the Liberals needed to do to get elected was wedge themselves squarely between the extremes. There are still many issues for which that strategy makes sense from both an ideological and political perspective. But adopting that knee-jerk approach on every issue and failing to stand out is a sure fire path to irrelevance.

Happy Anniversary!

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

One year ago today, Stephen Harper turned an “unwanted election” into his first majority government, Jack Layton and the NDP soared to never before seen heights, and Liberals spent the evening curled up in a fetal position sobbing in the corner.

On political anniversaries, it’s tempting to give each party a thumbs up or thumbs down, but the past year has been less clear cut, as the major parties try to figure out where they fit in Canada’s new political dynamic.

The Conservatives

It feels like a “Harper majority” was hyped longer than the Phantom Menace – and the end result was just as much of a letdown. After years of being told by both the right and left that a Harper majority would mean an unrecognizable country, it turns out a Harper majority looks a lot like a Harper minority. I hardly think when people warned of his “hidden agenda”, abolishing the penny is what they had in mind.

So if the past year has proven anything, it’s that Stephen Harper has always been and always will be an incrementalist. He has made some changes – goodbye gun registry, so long Katimavik…CBC and Statscan, you can stay, but we’ll make your job a bit harder, in the hope the public begins to question your value. These are bigger changes than he made during the minority years, but the man isn’t reshaping Canada as we know it.

While none of those moves prompted a large backlash, there are storm clouds on the horizon. The F-35 fiasco could tarnish his reputation as a strong financial manager. A stagnant economy would speak directly against the ballot question he was elected on. Robocon could blow up in his face. Bev Oda is still in Cabinet, so that alone guarantees us a few hilarious screw ups.

Outlook: Harper survived year one of the majority unscathed, but he survived with Nicole Turmel as leader of the opposition. The next year will be harder than the last.

The NDP

The past 13 months have been the most turbulent in this “new” party’s long history, filled with highs, lows…and voting delays.

Jack Layton’s death was tragic, but life has gone on for the Dippers. Their leadership race may not have generated the excitement they hoped it would, but they came out of it with the only leader who has a realistic shot at ever living at 24 Sussex, so that’s a point in their column.

With the exception of a few easily forgotten floor crossings, their rookie caucus hasn’t been the embarrassment we thought it would be, so that’s another point for the boys in orange.

Outlook: Mulcair is in the midst of his leadership honeymoon, but he’s been treated to the kid gloves by the Conservatives so far. That’s going to change if Harper ever decides Mulcair is a legitimate threat.

The Liberals

On March 31st, Justin Trudeau knocked out Tory Senator Patrick Brazeau. There haven’t been many highlights over the other 365 days since election night.

That’s not to say Liberal rebuilding hasn’t gone on behind the scenes. The party picked a new president with a lot of good ideas. Today, the Liberals became Canada’s most open party by letting supporters register to vote for the leader. Liberals finally get that the party needs fixing, and I’ve been surprised at the number of new faces I’ve seen at events over the past year – people who joined the party after May 2nd, because they wanted to save it.

In front of the scenes, Rae has performed well in the interim leader’s role, but the “will he or won’t he” saga around his leadership has been a distraction.

Outlook: The next year will be all about leadership, as the Liberals pick the man or woman who will either oversee the party’s death or its return to relevance. No pressure, though.

The Bloc

Can’t say I miss them.

Worthy of Celebration

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Federal Politics | Leave a comment

April 17, 2012: Constitutional ‘divisions’ keep Harper from celebrating Charter

January 23, 2011: Harper celebrates five years as PM

Sixth Annual Politicians in Cowboy Hats

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Alberta PC Leadership Race, Alberta Politics, Featured Posts, Humour, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | Leave a comment

For a brief history of Stampede fashion, you can read the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 round-ups.

Although Rick Hansen served as Stampede Parade Grand Marshal, all eyes were on Will and Kate this year. I do find it somewhat perplexing how many of the same people who lambasted Ignatieff for his time outside of the country went absolutely ga-ga over our future head of state visiting us for the first time in years. If a 6-day cross-country tour isn’t the definition of “Just Visiting“, I don’t know what is. That said…

OH MY GOD! Will and Kate looked absolutely dashing!!! So young! So thin! So beautiful! And they pulled off Western wear more perfectly than most people who have lived in Calgary their entire lives! Their outfits were, like, so simple, and yet so perfectly perfect. I hereby crown them “best dressed” of the 2011 Stampede – the king and queen of fashion.

This was Naheed Nenshi’s first stampede as mayor, and I know many were worried how the man would look in western wear. After all, Dave Bronconnier left big cowboy boots to fill – the man looked the part of the Mayor of Calgary every Stampede, riding ‘ol leroy down 9th Avenue. Nenshi meanwhile, went to Harvard, is a University Professor, and spends his spare time blogging about population density rates in new housing developments. And let’s be honest, the man doesn’t really look like John Wayne (neither the actor nor the serial killer).

However, Naheed hit it out of the park this year. His outfit is irrelevant – the man rode a horse in the parade, thereby making him a Stampede All-Star.

With Stampede a success, the big question now turns to what he’ll wear for pride.

FEDERAL POLITICIANS

Usually it’s the federal politicians who make the biggest splash at the Stampede – for better or worse. After all, Liberal academics, socialists from Toronto, and environmental crusaders don’t tend to have a large collection of denim in their closets. Heck, even the “Alberta boy” himself, Stephen Harper, committed the biggest gaffe in Stampede history.

But this year? Everyone’s tired out from the election. Jack Layton needs to spend time with Quebec. The Liberal leadership contest hasn’t reached the point where candidates need to parade in cowboy hats to court Calgary Liberals.

Stephen Harper did give a speech about how invincible he is (which always ends well in westerns...), but his stylist really earns her money come the second week of July every year, so the PM once again looked fine.

Here’s a pancake. You’ll get your eggs once Canada is out of deficit in 2015.”

PROVINCIAL POLITICS

In comparison, provincial politics are rockin’ this summer with an election on the horizon, and the PCs and Liberals both in the midst of leadership contests. As always, the media was all abuzz about the chosen one, Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith.

And 5,000 came to the Stampede breakfast, but there were only 5 pancakes and 2 sausages. So Danielle Smith said “bring them to me” and she placed her hands over them. She broke the pancakes and gave them to Prime Minister Harper, telling him to distribute them to the multitudes. Lo and behold, they were all fed, with stacks of pancakes left over. And so the legend of Danielle Smith grew.
PC LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES

The Stampede may be the most important event of the entire PC leadership race. After all, it gives candidates a dozen socials a day to press the flesh in Alberta’s largest city. As such, the contenders have all no doubt held countless strategy meetings and focus groups to find that outfit that says “I’m an Albertan, I enjoy a good rodeo, but I don’t look like a member of the Village People when wearing a cowboy hat“.

So as a public service, I’ve taken it upon myself to rank the PC leadership contenders choice of western wear.

1. Rick Orman

Winning the “Calgary Grit Best Dressed” trophy will likely be the highlight of the leadership race for Orman, so I hope he savours this. While Orman’s outfit isn’t Jim Prentice-good by any means, it’s the best of a rather uninspiring field. And he gets bonus marks for the 3 cute children in western wear. After all, in politics, nothing beats cute children.

2. Alison Redford

Redford has a bit of a “female Harry Chase” look going on. I know that doesn’t sound like a compliment, but it really is, since I consider Chase a stampede fashion superstar.

3. Ted “The Man” Morton

Here’s what I said about Ted when I voted him “worst dressed” last year:

Once again, Ted is just trying to hard. When he ran for leadership, he drafted a catchy little country music jingle. He holds “golf and gun” fundraisers. But, really, he’s just a university professor from the big city trying to pass himself off as a good ‘ol country boy. And, in this case, it shows.

Morton has improved this year, though I’d probably only give the prof a “C-” grade, and the vest above leaves a lot to be desired. However, in browsing the 7 Stampede Breakfast photo-albums on his Facebook page, I did notice he mixed it up and owns at least 2 different cowboy hats, so I’ll give him marks for effort.

4. Gary Mar

Here, PC leadership candidate Gary Mar poses with the winner of the Gary Mar lookalike contest.

While I recognize orange is a hot colour politically these days, I’m just not feeling it. I mean, seriously, have you ever seen Clint Eastwood wearing orange?

5. Doug Griffiths

Mercifully, Ed Stelmach no longer wears suit jackets to the Alberta Stampede, but his habit appears to have rubbed off on a few of his MLAs. Quite simply, it’s just something you don’t do.

6. Doug Horner

Like Griffiths, Horner dons the suit. What knocks him down to the “worst dressed” spot on this list is the cup of Starbucks in his left hand. Quite simply, cowboys do not drink Starbucks.

It appears Yvonne Fritz is equally aghast.

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