Same old, same old Liberals’ attempt at reinvention as 'organic' as compost

Months after the provincial election, with the closure of the spring legislature session now a beacon of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel, there's still a lot of denial out there.

Apparently, what happened on March 3 when Ed Stelmach defied the wise guys and won a massive landslide victory didn't actually happen.

Or if it did, there was some kind of underlying skulduggery that tricked dopey Albertans into voting Tory for the 12th consecutive time.

They really, really wanted change, but voted against change anyway.

What a bunch of dummies.

Alberta Liberal leader Kevin Taft was warming up to the theme last week based on two inconsequential events that have been blown up into mega-proportions.

The first is a meeting that Calgary MLA David Swann held (reports put the massive crowd at "25 to 30") to discuss the need to not only unite the left, but perhaps start a brand new party.

An overwhelming majority of Albertans rejected the Liberal, NDP and Green brands in the last election - for a number of very good reasons.

The other catalyst for change is a paper that Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan sent to select members of the denial media trying to rally the troops on the left - and the loony left.

McGowan's most recent attempt to change the course of Alberta political history turned into a train wreck when his "No Plan" anti-Stelmach attack ads back-fired and building trades, AUPE and other union members saw $2.2 million in dues flushed down the toilet.

"It worked in our favour," the premier winked last week.

He talked about the cards and calls received from "upset" union members.

Now the premier wants to put a tight noose on third-party advertising as part of his proposed "full package" of election reforms.

McGowan's new plan is the same-old, same-old excuse that vote-splitting, and not offensive policies and lacklustre leaders, caused the demise of the left on March 3.

So he wants the Liberals, NDP and Greens to cut a deal and not run against each other.

But it's Swann's apparent delusion that the Liberals, NDP and Greens are fundamentally the same thing that defies all logic.

Of course, it was Swann who talked the Liberals into campaigning on shutting down oilsands expansion and winter natural-gas rebates.

That allowed Stelmach to resurrect the ghost of Pierre Trudeau's NEP. It was a landslide winner. Even Taft occasionally comes in from his space walk.

While he insisted "we should be looking at all the options," there really is only one.

"Going to a new party and trying to build a new party from the ground up doesn't make sense," he confessed.

"The Liberals have the chassis that everyone else needs to bring about political change," Taft added.

That's if you buy into Kevin and his media buddies' untested theory that change is in the air. Thousands on March 3 didn't.

"There could be a different name, could be a different leader, could be different policies," he said.

"But there is a very strong base here."

That's exactly the point that Swann clearly doesn't get.

One-in-four Alberta voters are red-scarf-wearing, big "L" Liberals. Heck, they even get misty-eyed when Pierre Trudeau's name comes up.

There's no known cure.

Among them, there's a faction that see Liberalism not as a political philosophy, but a means to an end.

As long as there are Liberal governments from time to time in Ottawa, being an outpost Alberta Liberal can become very lucrative.

That was the case for Senator Grant Mitchell and Senator Nick Taylor, who both paid their dues as Alberta Liberal leaders. They're just the tip of the iceberg.

"I've worked hard to keep our distance from the federal Liberals," insisted Taft. But now he's hinting he's as good as gone, attitudes could change.

He called Liberals' attempt to reinvent themselves "a very organic process."

But so is compost.

Edmonton Sun, Sun May 11 2008
Byline: Neil Waugh

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