Albertans are at the mid-point of an election campaign – a most unusual (for Alberta) campaign.
I am reminded of W.B. Yeats poem, “The Second Coming”, in which is written:
”… the center cannot hold… the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
As a long time P.C. (a former P.C. since the days of Mr. Klein), the thing I know about the current P.C. party is that it is bigger than any leader. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Mr. Prentice’s leadership, know that after the election the party, now in the background, will be in control once again. “rough beast, its hour come round at last (the day after the election), slouches towards Bethlehem to be born (again).”
When a party has formed the government for many years, the Leader is only the paramount leader for as long as other party interests agree it should be so. Essentially, the Party Leader is the avatar the party chooses to represent itself to the world.
Albertans are being asked to vote for Mr. Prentice. In reality, they would be voting for a party that is in an advanced state of decay, a party that has brilliantly mastered the practice of transferring all its unfortunate baggage from its own shoulders to the shoulders of its Leader. From time to time, whenever it is expedient, the Party replaces the Leader and carries on, unabashed, unapologetic, and unchanging.
The issue in this election is not the Budget, or promises, or flip-flops, or arithmetic errors or uncertainties.
The issue is servant leadership, character, imagination, energy, and democracy.
Albertans should consider the cumulative image and reputation of the P.C. Party. Consider the candidate who was convicted of prostitution in another jurisdiction, and remains the Party’s candidate. Consider the candidate who had a xenophobe as his campaign manager (until someone did a Google search). Consider the candidates who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) win a nomination contest decided by locals, and so were ‘named’ by the Party, thus avoiding the turmoil of dealing with voters. Consider the party organization that managed the 2012 campaign, and the 2008 campaign. Consider the important decisions about public education that are made without any consultation whatsoever. Consider the reversal on the charitable tax credit. The list could go on.
The nature of the P.C. Party is determined, not by its Leader but by the sum total of the many decisions it has made over the years: decisions that voters have objected to. On election day, Albertans should look past the avatar and decide whether they want to vote – again – for the rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem (which, in this case, would be another majority government for themselves).