In the course of the current election campaign, the Alberta P.C. Party finds itself in dangerous – perhaps fatal – straits. It cannot focus on the quality of its team, or its platform, or the platform of the other parties, or the future, because its past, its toxic culture, and its undemocratic nature keep getting in the way.
Should Albertans vote for a P.C. candidate, in any constituency, and elect a cog in a machine that is running amuck?
This election should be about the economy, or jobs, or the environment, or education, but it is not about any of these. Nor is it about Jim Prentice’s leadership, or the P.C. candidate in a constituency, or the campaign sound bites. It is going to be a referendum about the P.C. Party as a whole.
The campaign is being managed by the same person who was at the centre of the 2012 and 2008 elections.
It was probably the campaign organization that made the decision to disallow Jamie Lall as a P.C. candidate: it was certainly the campaign organization that made the execution of this decision such an odious affair.
Mr. Lall was a P.C. candidate in 2012 in spite of a domestic matter that had been before the courts in 2007. Given that he was an acceptable candidate in an intervening election, why does a now 8 year old matter render him unacceptable in 2015? And if an 8 year old matter renders him ineligible, why is the former Attorney-General, Mr. Denis, still a candidate although he has a current domestic matter before the courts? What distinguishes Mr. Denis’ court situation from Mr. Lall’s (other than the fact the Mr. Denis situation is very current and could immediately impact his ability to serve wholeheartedly)?
Given recent news reports, what are voters to think of a Cabinet minister who believed that the P.C. Party was treating Mr. Lall disgracefully and lying to him (“B.S., B.S., B.S.”), and yet stayed silent? Does this behavior meet the voters’ standard of courageous leadership?
The Lall affair provides a great opportunity for voters to take the measure of Mr. Prentice, and/or the President of the P.C. Party.
Does either believe the “Lall affair” was an acceptable or unacceptable expression of the ethics and practices the P.C. Party of Alberta? Was it important enough to speak to, or so unimportant that the Party can remain silent? If it was unacceptable, who will accept responsibility, or be held accountable? Or, will the Party leadership treat the affair as unfortunate and exempt everyone from accountability? If someone is accountable, the toll will reflect how seriously the Party treats the affair. The Party, after all, is very big on accountability – at least for others. Perhaps the Party itself is immune to accountability, until election day.
The Lall affair is simply the most recent of many. Who can count the ways in which P.C. nominations have been problematic in advance of this election. Aside from problematic nominations, there have been an usual number of candidates named by the provincial party, presumably because the provincial party knew better than local members who would be the best representative. The Party does not think highly of local democracy.
The Executive Director of the Party has been a major beneficiary of sole source contracts from the provincial government in years gone by. The current provincial campaign manager is principal of a firm that has been the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands of dollars of sole source contracts over the years. Is this kind of incestuous relationship wrong, or has enough money not yet changed hands to make it wrong? (As with prostitution, perhaps the greater wrong is with the john who pays the money, rather than the person who takes it.)
On May 5th, voters who consider the P.C. Party will not be weighing the Premier, or the local candidate, or any policy. They will be weighing the toxic culture, undemocratic practices, and deep sense of entitlement that is the P.C. Party. When the election is over, Mr. Prentice and all P.C. M.L.A.s will be captives of the party that embodies that culture those practices and attitudes (The P.C. Party of Alberta – a many-headed hydra)