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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Different Path

Think of what might have happened if Preston Manning had worked at the provincial level back when he started the Reform Party. Sure, it may have been merely a SoCred redux, but what if the all of the policy-grist and grassroots-tapping had been in favor of a provincial government that was advancing the Alberta Agenda?

One result would be that the leadership and acumen of the Harpers and Solbergs would be applied in earnest to Alberta-First policy making.
  1. Their principled commitment to democracy would propose new mechanisms for keeping Alberta politically healthy.
  2. Their understanding of the Federales would make them hawkish for Alberta's interests, and although they would gladly remain in Canada, they would be far too Albertanist to sit passively while Canada (read GTA-Ottawa-Montreal oligarchy) sucks the province dry.
  3. They would not have expended so much wasted energy on trying to have an uncompromising 'voice' in Ontario (i.e. the West Wants In). With the reunion of the PC's and Reform, the end of Manning's experiment was signaled. Now, only Liberal Lite branded as Red Tory will win in Ontario and Quebec. As such this would be a massive roll-over for Reform -rooted movement.
  4. Mr. Klein's Ralphdom would have been challenged in a positive way, and the result would be even further growth, strength and maturity in Alberta than we have already seen.

Of course this is all wishful thinking. On top of that, maybe the great Alberta minds working at the federal level wouldn't want to stoop to the provincial arena.

But my guess is that their love for Alberta is the motivation for their service in Ottawa. And as they continue to hit the Liberal wall from Ontario East, they may start to think about coming back home, where they can do some real good.

Reading Solberg's lyric prose it makes you wonder if he is one election away from being Alberta bound...permanently.

If I was running in the Alliance leadership race, I would be hunting up every well-known former politician and power-broker who is soured on federal politics, in order to try to win them to the cause. If the Alliance started to have 2 or 3 high profile supporters (probably from former federal or provincial Tory camps), it would raise their 'legitimacy profile'. The supporters wouldn't have to be former politicians, but those who are 'influencers'. Maybe somebody should talk with Monte Solberg?

The same holds true for SPA. If they started having a couple of big names offering their support, the party's fortunes would be raised exponentially.

The fact is, there is a leadership void in Alberta politics. Mr. Klein's populism has kept him in power, but his actual
leadership is easily questioned.

Think of the crop of leaders that could be governing in Alberta right now, if only they had taken a different path.

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I was a Reform activist from the time Tom Flanagan trotted Presto out on a stage to speak as a potential candidate for leadership of a reform party. In those days the strategy of the core reformers was to first, reform the federal system to make it regionally equitable and second to reform conservative politics and regravitate them to traditional conservative values.

The debate raged as to how to accomplish this...I was in the camp that believed that we should have built a western reform block by getting 4 western provinces with reform governments and also a federal reform block from the same provinces to swing the balance of power in parliament and at the premier's meetings...this was rejected by Manning's camp as he had his eye on the PMO ring and there were some backroom deals done with provincial PC parties not to step on Reform's toes in return for staying out of the federal arena...well we can see that Manning's vision was a dream because central Canada will never elect a western reform movement.....inequitable federalism is in their best interest and they will never willing give up their power to the periphery regions.

In retrospect can you imagine if provincial reform parties had the same success in the provinces as they had federal support from these western provinces? Think of the political leverage we would have with 4 western Reform governments and 90 western Canadian reform MPs..that is bloc power and the balance of power in Canada and I will speculate that senate reform and parliamentary reform would be realities has we gone this route 14 years ago. Here we se Harper trying to fulfill Presto’s PMO dream and Ontario is still not ready and he will lose seats in western Canada because he has compromised too much Reform principle to placate Ontario.

The western reform block would have given us the power we needed for change without any compromise in core Reform policy.


Thanks for the comment, first of all.

It is amazing for me to see how past choices can have such vast implications.

Based on your insider knowledge of what went down in the early days of Reform, it seems that one of those choices was made, and the consequences today are a return to the pre-Reform era.

Such potential, such waste.

As I have posted before, only since I've lived a bit in Toronto have I realized the impossibility of Ontario electing a truly conservative party, much less a western one.

What is the way ahead for Alberta, in your opinion? Can your original vision of Reform-style power blocks at provincial levels produce enough leverage to stave off separation, while achieving Western autonomy within Confederation? And if separation is the answer, what are the steps that would change it from a marginal, to a legit option for mainstream Albertans?

Thanks again for your informed feedback.


Had to go away and think about this one and come back. It's a continuation of your last post. I'm really interested in Bill's answer to your question as well.

I think we've wasted to much time trying to make it work, and it almost seems like there are forces at work amusing themselves by keeping us their.

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  • From Foothills, Alberta Rocky Mountains
  • I wish to serve my neighbors in a democratic society by reflecting on issues related to Albertans. I speak from the viewpoint of a Confessional Evangelical. I am also promoting what I call, "the New Albertanism".
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