Alberta Grits are dreaming

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The Article

Liberals branded in this province

I’m beginning to wonder whether provincial Liberal Leader Kevin Taft invented Technicolor or simply dreams in it.

If so, dream on, Kevin.

The ever-optimistic Taft once again sees a breakthrough for his party following the election of Ed Stelmach as leader of the Progressive Conservatives and his soon-to-be elevation to the premiership.

Before Stelmach beat out Jim Dinning—with the help of former contenders Lyle Oberg, Mark Norris and Dave Hancock—Taft talked about a split in the PC party that looked like it would become a chasm that would tear the 35-year-long reign of the government asunder.

On one hand, Dinning was the establishment figure who supposedly infuriated the rank and file, and on the other Ted Morton was an extreme right-winger who supposedly infuriated the moderates.

The starry-eyed Taft could see his Liberals coming right up the middle come the next election.

A few months back our editor, Licia Corbella, wisely suggested Taft might want to change the name of his party to something that doesn’t leave a nasty taste in the mouth of every Alberta with an ounce of common sense and a long memory.

But Taft claimed he has a “brand name” in the word Liberal. It was instantly recognizable, he proclaimed.

Yes, but for all the wrong reasons. Three of the latest being Pierre Trudeau, Jean Chretien and Paul Martin.

Now, newly-elected federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion is about to give it some more tarnish when he gets going on his environmental hobby horse and unleashes new regulations—taxes, disincentives—against Alberta’s energy sector.

We’ll have a new National Energy Program (NEP) on our hands and the onetime unity minister will find he’s sparked a wave of separatist sentiment in Alberta that will make the Quebec problem look like child’s play.

Morton and his cohorts will see to that. What’s more, unlike Quebec, we have the money to go our own way.

As for his “brand name” product, when Albertans haven’t bought that brand in more than eight long decades, why would they buy it now?

If Proctor and Gamble had a brand that didn’t move off the shelves in eight decades, do you think they would continue to manufacture it?

Not even after one decade.

Indeed, if a P&G product didn’t sell—and sell big—in a few months it would be pulled from the shelves with alacrity.

Watch how quickly a movie is pulled from the screens after just one week when the lineups fail to materialize.

Friends, I can’t recall the number of provincial Liberal leaders who have predicted their party’s time has arrived.

Most of them were nonentities, likely hoping the federal Liberals would eventually give them a seat in the Senate or some other sinecure for their fruitless efforts.

The only one in the past 35 years who came remotely close was the late—and courageous Lawrence Decore—who looked more like a Conservative than the hapless Don Getty—but Ralph Klein did a neat end-run around him.

Peer at history. Every time Alberta voters have become disenchanted with their provincial governments, they never seek salvation with the Liberals. After the debacle of the First World War period—yes, you have to go back that far to see a Liberal government taking the reins—Alberta voters went to the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA), then to Social Credit, and then to Peter Lougheed’s Progressive Conservatives.

The Liberals were anathema—and still are.

Take my advice, Kevin, start looking for a productive job right now because your Technicolor dreams are just nightmares to an overwhelming number of Albertans.


Paul Jackson
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