The old saying about being busier than a one-armed paper hanger would have been funny; if it hadn’t been so true. Alas the cast is gone and bruising is starting to fade and typing is again possible with only some pain. Today I finally have a few minutes and topic to motivate me to blog.
There has been a lot of talk in the media of late regarding Ed Stelmach’s leadership review. Even Ralph Klein has come out saying he must attain at least 70% to be safe. I am going to go out a limb and make a prediction. (Something I rarely do)
Based on his performance (IMHO) I think he “deserves” a 50% approval rating at best. However, there are two key reasons why the number will be higher than what he deserves.
First, a lot of the people who would have voted against him have moved on and joined the Wildrose. Our membership numbers will be released tomorrow and while we are nowhere near the level of the PC’s; we have made huge strides. Generally it is a very small percentage of the public who join political parties and those who do tend to be politically aware and politically active. I have lost count of how many people I have spoken to over the last few months who have said; “I used to be the President (or CFO or director) of … (insert any constituency name) and I am fed up with Stelmach.”
They are upset for many reasons. Most stem from overall direction and governance of our province. Some cite the internal changes to the fundraising structure. Previously if a constituency hosted a Premiers dinner (as one example), they would receive full benefit of this; now the Premier gets a 50% cut or in the case of cabinet ministers they take a 25% slice. Looks like the provincial arm wants their "fair share".
As a side note: This confirms what we already knew, that their party fundraising is suffering. Actually in my opinion it is more likely that their spending at the party level is the problem. It has been interesting watching their party finances mirror what is happening to the provincial budget. Interesting, but sad.
These are the very people who had voting rights as delegates; for most of them, they have given up those voting privileges. The ones who remain are either Stelmach supporters or still holding out hope for “change from within”.
Which brings me to my second reason for my prediction; who will be the delegates? As I understand it all sitting MLAs and former MLAs can vote. Each constituency can send 15; three of which must be youth.
I have had the unique opportunity to speak with a few sitting and retired MLAs over the past month and they have all shared similar stories. They are receiving emails and personal contact from the Premiers office pressuring them to put in place delegates who will vote in favor of Stelmach. In each of their cases they have lost so many from their core constituency boards that they cannot even come up with 15 delegates!!!
As I understand it in these cases the Premier has the option to appoint delegates to fill in the spaces. Mind you these are for the most part southern MLAs so this may not be the case across the province, but all the same you can see he has the ability to stack the process, ensuring a favorable outcome.
Ironically today their Executive Director is quoted as saying;
Jim Campbell, executive director of the Tory party, insists there's no way anyone can corrupt the voting process. He concedes, however, that people can get emotional as delegates are chosen in each riding by the constituency association executive.
"Sure there's disputes over who's on the (voting) list," says Campbell. "But we don't interfere in constituency delegate selection processes."
Why would MLAs be saying something completely different? Who is not telling the full story here, the MLAs speaking in confidence to the WAP Executive Director? Or the Executive Director of the PC’s trying to dance around the real issue in the media?
At this point I can see Eddy still having enough influence and enough people wanting to “stay at the trough” for him to get somewhere between a 72 to 76% approval rating.