This is what should frighten all of us about “likable” Premier Ed Stelmach in the face of a possibility of a resurgence of federal Liberal power under that party’s new leader “Pie-In-The-Sky” Stephane Dion.
Premier Peter Lougheed was sophisticated, cerebral and physically tough.
But when he came up against the forces of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Finance Minister John Turner and Energy Minister Marc Lalonde in their grab for Alberta’s energy resources, he finally had to cave in.
No one can deny—not even Liberals with hindsight—that Lougheed was right and Trudeau and his henchmen wrong.
Premier Ernest Manning was shrewd and took the high ground in all matters. He warned that Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s plan to force a national health- care system on us would bankrupt the country and cause lower medical standards.
Manning, like Lougheed, finally had to cave in.
Today, health care in Canada is a mess, costs out of control, or controlled only by taxes 20% higher than in the U.S. and take home pay 20% lower.
Premier Ralph Klein—a good scrapper—didn’t face similar onslaughts from Liberal Ottawa, but when he tried to even tinker with health-care reform, the Grit boot came crashing down on him.
Now, to today’s scenario.
Dion has already made it clear he intends to strongarm Alberta’s energy sector, bending it to his will for both economic and environmental reasons.
His opponent in this scenario is not a Lougheed, Manning or Klein or some savvy guy such as former provincial treasurer Jim Dinning, but a fellow, the aforementioned Ed Stelmach by name, who just wants to be liked.
Well, folks, the federal Liberals don’t care if you want to be liked or not, they don’t care if they are liked or not in Alberta, they simply want their own way and will do anything no matter how devious to get it.
They are a totalitarian, ruthless lot who will trample anyone under foot. If Dion actually becomes prime minister, Stelmach will be a chicken to be plucked and the rest of us victims to be … well, you can guess what.
This is the tragedy of Dinning’s failed bid for the Progressive Conservative leadership.
We need someone at the top who can take on a Liberal Ottawa on every single front.
What we don’t need is a chummy fellow who can be chewed up and spat out.
I’ve nothing at all against ‘Steady Eddie’ as an individual—simply fearful because he soon could be in something way above his head.
One hazards a guess Lougheed, Klein and Dinning know this, although they are too polite to publicly voice any apprehensions.
One smart fellow in Stelmach’s cabinet is Sustainable Resources Minister Ted Morton, and, fortunately, he has the federal Liberal plan carefully figured out.
Recall, it was Morton who helped draft the “firewall” theory along with now Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The firewall involved putting up barriers to prevent Liberal Ottawa from further intruding into the area of provincial rights and ransacking our treasury.
It was a policy of unrelenting toughness—and it had to be.
Dion has already put the writing upon the wall.
Let’s give the fellow his due there—he’s been honest about what he intends to do with us.
Just being ‘Steady’ won’t be enough for Stelmach.
So some of us, somewhere—politics, business academia—better get started on a defensive action.
Eventually, we are going to need it.