By Greg Price
I know our Christmas issue is supposed to be all about loving your fellow man and good will, but sorry I’m going to play the role of Grinch because it feels like the Wildrose Party just stole Christmas, as least speaking in political terms.
The spin continues and continues from the latest nine members of the party who crossed over the floor to the Progressive Conservatives, including former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith and Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Gary Bikman. It comes on the heels of just-down-the-road Little Bow MLA Ian Donovan crossing the floor weeks earlier.
It feels like spin because the timing of these defections has about as bad timing as children sneaking into their parents’ room thinking they heard Santa, only to catch Mom and Dad in a loving adult embrace.
“He certainly was free to speak his piece within caucus and vote the way his constituents wanted him to as a Wildrose MLA, since our platform is MLAs vote the way their constituents want. It will be interesting to see if he is afforded that same opportunity to truly represent the wishes of his constituents when it comes to a vote. We’ll see,” said Bikman in the Nov. 26 issue of the Taber Times, upon learning of Donovan’s defection.
Will Bikman now be able to look in that same mirror for his constituents or simply be beaten by the PC party whip to tow the company line? If he sees the party doing something non-beneficial for his constituents (rural Alberta), will he be able to speak up like he has in the past, or simply be the cookie cutter of the Recent Ghosts of Politicians Past locally with the assembly line of press release responses to any issue even semi-controversial.
I see through the Canadian Press Danielle Smith noting last week ‘Over the course of the last several months, I’ve become more and more convinced that these are values I share with Premier Prentice when it comes to balanced budgets, elimination of wasteful spending, respect for property rights and ethics in government.”
Several months she says…hmmmmm. It seems like politicians have a different view of what several months are, considering that on Nov. 24, Smith blasted former Opposition members Kerry Towle and Ian Donovan for joining the PCs as backbenchers, condemning them for abandoning their principles to enjoy the perks of power, promising there would be no more defections from Wildrose. Perhaps there was a typo in the communications department press release where she meant to say several weeks instead of several months.
Anyone can have access to my e-mail if they wish and you will see WildroseCaucus, Wildrose Media, WildroseOfficalOpposition cluttering my inbox bashing every little thing the PC party has done on a near daily basis. But now supposedly everyone is sitting at the same table listening to ‘White Christmas’, sipping on egg nog, feasting on glazed ham in a unified vision for a better Alberta?
That egg nog has to have some extra rum in it because we would have to be drunk thinking things change this quickly. If Danielle Smith had been thinking this way for months then why did Wildrose members not cross the floor prior to the by-elections in late October? Because had the by-elections swung the other way in favour of the Wildrose, I doubt Smith’s comments would be so glowing of Prentice, and I doubt she would have resigned as leader from the party despite her claims of a unified vision.
It is no wonder people become so disillusioned. It’s a cliché, but politics in an optimist’s view are supposed to be about people, not power. If Prentice has a vision that is supposedly more aligned with Wildrose, why not admit it earlier in a sign of unison rather than coming to this sudden ‘revelation’ after disastrous by-election results and a sinking ship of Wildrose deserters (Donovan and Towle), teetering on crashing on the shore of The Island of Misfit Toys of a credible Opposition.
The timing stinks of politicians trying to save their political careers, especially given the extra perk of a guaranteed PC nomination in their respective riding in the next election, if it comes to fruition.
Barring anymore Wildrose members crossing the floor before this column goes to print, it leaves a decimated Opposition with both Wildrose and Liberals holding five seats. NDP has four seats and there is one Independent.
If people were worried about the sense of entitlement under Alison Redford’s stewardship and the scandals that broke out, they better be just as worried now that the PCs hold 83 per cent of the seats in the legislature with the other 17 per cent itself divided between the Liberals, Wildrose and NDP/Independent. An at least semi-healthy Opposition, no matter your political leaning, can serve as a watchdog when they feel the ruling party is stepping out of line. That watchdog has now been neutered for trying to pee on the company PC tree.
It comes down to those principles that Smith was oh so eager about trumpeting before she decided to resign as leader of the Wildrose Party. If the notion that the PC and Wildrose vision of a better Alberta is more aligned under Premier Prentice, why wait for this move after the poor Wildrose by-election results and the crack in the armour showing with Donovan and Towle crossing the floor? Because politicians cannot admit someone has a good idea from the other party —unless of course it serves furthering their own political careers.
There is something to be said about a captain going down with a sinking ship. There is honour in living and dying by the sword you chose to swing in the political arena.
Mixing Christmas and football metaphors, you do not all of a sudden go into the other team’s huddle after trailing by four touchdowns at half-time. It will be interesting to see what kind of cushy cabinet post Smith gets for leaving the sinking ship of the 440,000 Albertans who voted Wildrose to give her prominence in the political arena in the first place.
A unified vision for a better Alberta? Still feels like whoever voted Wildrose in their local riding didn’t just find that noise being Santa milling around their place in the innocence of their youth, but rather that uncomfortable vision of catching their parents in a loving embrace…if you catch my drift.
I’ve found Gary Bikman to be an articulate, well-spoken man with a good grasp of the political issues of the day. For the sake of the local constituents here, I hope he keeps his word that he is saying to the press and on his Web page. Those in Cardston-Taber-Warner will be watching very carefully.
Politics should not be the profession, but about the people. Politics should not be about trying to lengthen one’s own career but lengthening the peace and prosperity of the province one promised when they ran for office.
That is what every voter in Alberta wanted as a Christmas present whether they voted PC, Wildrose, Liberal, NDP or Independent.