All that might change, as pivotal issues almost always arise in any leadership race that seem to galvanize the masses and firmly entrench the left, right and centre wings of any party on their own particular hill to die on. That being said, a flurry of press coverage and a constant barrage of platform policy announcements from the field of candidates seemingly hasn’t yet uncovered what might be this campaign’s primary concern.
Perhaps that is asking too much, as the present campaign is serving the double duty of helping mask the failure of the present government to achieve much of what it promised to Albertans when they gave it a majority mandate in the last provincial election. Desperate to please the fickle interests of many an Albertan, those troubling failures under the Alison Redford epoch seem hardly to grace the pages of textual diarrhea issuing forth from each camp’s prospective hero.
Each new day seems to be filled with vibrant pronouncements about health, fiscal responsibility, care for the elderly, and the supernova of oil-driven prosperity that awaits Alberta just around the corner once so and so achieves the pinnacle of provincial political success — the premiership.
To be fair, that isn’t much different from how most leadership campaigns are conducted. Promises whiz and fizzle about the corridors of provincial power like fireworks on Canada Day. Hands are pumped and babies kissed, campaigns tour the province like a tent revival, and it all culminates in a leadership convention which often seems to take on an air of circus rather than charting political destinies.
And it is all about the future — the glorious future, the prosperous future — where there will always be grease for the squeeky wheel and we wallow in an idea of domestic tranquility that has more to do with visions of the last century than the reality of the present.
What might be easily pointed out is the past does not seem to factor in the present campaign, specifically the recent past, which saw the toppling of former premier Redford — once considered the white knight on charging steed that could save the party, and the province, from itself. That past contrasts sharply with the glory days of Lougheed and Klein, which serves to illustrate that the political memory can often be as short as it is long when considering the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mentality of modern life.
The Redford debacle showed how not to conduct the affairs of office. Promising the moon and the stars while vowing to clean up her own party will not be a lasting legacy of the Redford era. Utterly failing to do much of anything regarding the latter might be, with Smith’s Wildrose quietly waiting in the wings on election day.
Conservative parties make strange bedfellows in Alberta, and one suspects there will be little talk of “unite the right” in the near future, a concept which swept the federal political landscape more than a decade ago and opened the door to majority power for the Harper Conservatives. The idea of merging Smith’s Wildrose with the present PCs would be anathema for party faithful, whose disaffection with the centre-drifting policies of the PCs helped prompt the original creation of the party.
For now, the PC leadership campaign appears to be bogged down in a plethora of press releases and stump speeches punctuated by the odd turn of phrase that manages to turn a head. Considering the frequency at which the PCs now seem to be seeking a new hero to lead them on into five decades of hegemony, it is little wonder their leadership campaign is hardly registering a blip on the radars of the average voter as they take to the mountains and streams for summer vacation.