A Tory tale of unrequited love
With his precipitous plunge in the polls, Premier Ed Stelmach must be wondering.
An Angus Reid opinion survey reveals the premier’s approval rating has sunk from 43% to 14% in less than a year. It follows another disastrous poll showing the Tories in second place behind the Wild rose Alliance and tied with the Liberals.
Just 20 months ago, Stelmach won one of the largest majorities in Alberta history. The Tories were feeling the love then and now they’re trying to get it back.
Much is being made of the need to rehabilitate Ed’s image and improve his communication skills. But maybe the Conservatives need to dig deeper for the reasons behind their astonishing decline.
Have Albertans finally decided to clean house, politically speaking?
Other provi michael kors purses nces and the nation do this every couple of elections. Here in Alberta, it happens every 35 years or so.
That would make the timing just about right.
A clue to the party’s plight might be found in its reaction to the record low voter turnout, which Stelmach shrugged off at the time.
The people who didn’t vote must be satisfied with the government’s performance, he reasoned.
The meteoric rise of the Wildrose Alliance since then reveals a serious misread of the mood of Albertans.
The Tories made the mistake of believing in their own invincibility.
Truth be told, Stelmach is doing a better job as premier than Ralph Klein in his declining years.
Stelmach has earned grief for his royalty and health care shakeups, but there was solid evidence both areas needed tackling.
Ed rolled up his sleeves and went to work on these and other issues that had been neglected during the Klein era.
But, for all his shortcomings, Ralph was blessed with a keen instinct for political survival that enabled him to revive a party on the ropes 16 years ago. His favourite phrases, “we stepped on a snake” and “getting ahead of the parade,” usually preceded a rapid switch in direction designed to curry popular support.
Stelmach, a hard working leader with good intentions who has plotted a mostly sensible course during an economic typhoon, does not possess a similar gift for reading the public mood.
Ed can’t win for losing. If he resists cutting jobs and services, he’s lambasted for wasteful spending. If he chops, he garners yet more criticism.
Wildrose Alliance MP Paul Hinman attacked Stelmach this week for cutting programs for the disabled.
He suggested the government should cut bonuses for government staff and the budget for th michael kors michael kors purses purses e premier’s office instead of eliminating services “for the most vulnerable people possible.”
A right wing party with compassion? That is the Conser michael kors purses vatives’ worst nightmare.
So spooked has he become, Ed has begun lashing out at the upstart party’s “vague” and “draconian” policies.
The premier likely recalls similar accusations were levelled against Peter Lougheed when he ushered the Conservatives into power in 1971.
Lougheed, a former football star and Harvard educated lawyer, was 36 when he parlayed the public mood for change into an election win.
Wildrose Alliance Leader Danielle Smith, 38, a former newspaper columnist, seeks to ride a similar wave.
In the two or three years before the next election, she will have to prove her party worthy of the enthusiasm Albertans have shown for a political entity they know little about.
In the same time frame, Stelmach, saddled with the baggage of a party that’s ruled 38 years, must convince voters he’s swept away the cobwebs and complacency that have dragged the Conservatives to the depths of public esteem.