Sunday 4 October 2009

Prediction on Ed Stelmach's leadership review

A lot has happened since I last posted. Late on by-election day I fell, resulting in two cracks to my elbow and a sprained wrist. During the healing process it was in a cast and my typing ability very limited. The timing could not have been worse due the influx of new members to the Wildrose Alliance Party.

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.


  1. Although I live in Ontario I hope you're wrong about the 72 to 76% approval rating. Stelmach has to be the most incompetent premier in the country and must be replaced. However, I wonder which following scenario would be better for the Wildrose Alliance which I would like to see form government. First scenario Stelmach gets approval rating you expect. Next scenario Stelmach is soundly trounced and only gets 50% approval. I would be interested in your opinion to my hypothetical.

  2. "Alas the cast is gone and bruising is starting to fade"

    I think that sums up the Ed Stelmach tenure as Premier, actually.

  3. Anon,

    That question would be good for a follow up post; which I will probably do at a later date.

    Part of the answer I think hinges on who we elect as our new leader.

  4. How does it hinge on who is the new WAP leader? I thought the party was happy about attracting such high quality candidates.

  5. Exactly and they each bring unique skill sets to the table.

    The additional factor is that I am not at liberty to discuss the candidates until after the 17th.

  6. Ed Stelmach is the best thing that ever happened for all the opposition parties...unfortunately not the best thing for Albertans!
    The fact is very few people wanted Ed for leader? He came up the middle when the Dinning and Morton people fought it out?
    The man is not a good leader and the Tories should probably turf him...but then the question is who would replace him? Maybe Mel Knight? LOL

  7. Jane, this was a great ( and fair) analysis. I am curious to see how the vote will go, but I beleive that he will have the support he needs.


  8. Jane, I think you're pretty much right on. If you haven't already seen it, you should check out

  9. Hi Anon 4:55,

    Sorry for delay in publishing, things have been swamped at the office.

    Thanks for the link. I will check it out.


  10. Hello Jane,
    I read your prediction very near to the time you posted it and even though I personally don't mind Stelmach I think another reason he will get the approval you predict is because no one else would want to be him right at the moment.

    If I was him and the party slammed me I would resign immediately. Stick around for what ever time it takes for a leadership race and let some one else do better.

  11. I believe Mr. Stelmach will do much better than your prediction - because he has serious Parliamentary power as a Canadian premier, because he has means-business allies within the Tory party and because Conservatives will stick together "for the good of the party." Most of all, though, I think this is so because he is consistently underestimated by his foes - including the Wildrose Alliance, by the sound of it! You can read my argument in more detail at .