Friday, December 29, 2006


Jim MacDonald's CP report on Fast Eddie Stelmach's Country Cabinet, published in this morning's Calgary Herald, should result in some genuine dread entering the mind of any thoughtful reader. There was something awful for just about everybody.

The loyal old guard PC's - Ralph's pals and Dinning's disciples - were reminded of their colleague Ty Lund's pain, no doubt that he wishes to share with anyone who will listen. Lund said 'it was a slap in the face when he was "booted out' of the new cabinet.' Furthermore Lund whined, "It's so unprofessional that it's pathetic."

On the Stelmach's side were the new powerbrokers, Vermillion's most famous ex-turkey farmer, Lloyd Snelgrove, the new Treasury Board Minister and the hirsute Ray Danyluk, the Pride of Elk Point and newly minted Municipal Affairs Minister.

Snelgrove's soothing words were: "If you think business is done at such a high level, you will never be successful," and "Business is done by the seat of your pants." This bodes ill for those Albertans who believe that a Government should prepare a plan for governing, and follow it. Isn't business done 'by the seat of your pants', the Ralph Klein School of Government. In Eddie's world what are Plans? Hell, we don't need any stinkin' plans. We need reinforced seats on our GWG's.

Danyluk's words were no less foreboding. He opined: "When I was a youth secretariat panel chair, I told my kids there's one thing that's very important and that's not to think outside the box, but just throw the box away." How does one interpret those comments? One reasonable view is that the Stelmach Government will spend a lot of time reinventing wheels. It won't do much good for the people, but it will provide a lot of employment for the new team's croneys.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I have had occasion within the last few days of speaking intimately - at separate times and in Calgary - with a couple of former power forces of the ancien regime de Le Roi Ralph - in a civilized atmosphere with good booze (but expensive) and comely service. Although they have been politcally misguided for many years,they are bon vivants who have done well financially representing the flotsam and jetsam of favour seekers, promoters, flim-flam artistes, and other riff-raff who curried favour with the Klein Government.

Although they like the new Premier - in that they find him benign and possessing of a certain hayseed charm - they are of the view that the 'Strom Syndrome' is probably in play. For those of you who are not familiar with the 'Strom Syndrome,' its like the 'Frank Miller Syndrome' only with an Alberta farmer in place of an Ontario hamlet Rotarian. Either way, it means a change of Government. Harry Strom was an upstanding but boring southern Alberta farmer who replaced Ernest Manning as Leader of the Social Credit Party in 1969. Alas, he faced the cool, smooth, urbane Peter Lougheed in the General Election of 1971, and it was curtains for Strom and the Socreds. They have only now recently come back to life in their 'Conservative Party' incarnation under Bush's pal Steve Harper.

Likewise with Frank Miller, who replaced the cool and smooth 'Buttermilk Billy' Davis, only to go down to defeat to David Peterson which, come to think of it, was no mean achievement for Frank. Something like Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson. It gave new meaning to the expression 'Cinderella Man.' That last crack was subtle, but you get my drift.

So, according to my two unimpeachable sources, the future is bleak for Fast Eddie. But that ain't all - as Stevie's pal Bush would say. No. The big story is that both of these gurus predict that Calgary Elbow - Ralph's Riding - will go to the Grits! No Contest they say. For the Tories, Elbow is history!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


It seems to me that it is entirely appropriate that I open my blog with a Dead Fish story. The photograph that you see at the beginning of my blog was taken a couple of years ago at a fishing camp on the extreme north end of the Queen Charlotte Islands. The virile looking young man is yours truly. The Dead Fish was until an hour or so before the photo was taken, a fierce and elusive Pacific King Salmon. Unfortunately for the Salmon, I had landed it after a ferocious manno a manno epic battle. Alas, what was once a proud and formidable King Salmon, had been reduced to a dead fish.

Speaking of which, I can't help but think of poor Ed Stelmach, the new Leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party. Like the proud King Salmon, Ed is flush with victory, having killed the giant- dare I say - eel, Jim Dinning. While not too high on the political food chain in Alberta because he is electorally untested as a Premier and Party leader, nonetheless, Stelmach is savoring his new found fame and influence, and enjoying his swimming with the big fish.

For the moment, most of the Alberta media are giving him a pass on disasterous and catastrophic errors of judgement, the like of which is as profoundly damaging as it is unprecedented. After all, its the honeymoon period. But make no mistake, the honeymoon will end. Stelmach's political opponents together with the major print media establishment will soon encircle the hapless Ed. They are getting ready for the kill. When they are finished with him, poor Ed will be just like that big Dead Fish. He won't know what hit him.

Why am I so pessimistic about poor Ed's future? Because his mistake of decimating urban representation in his government and rubbing salt into the wounds of his political foes instead of applying some elementary healing remedy, is contrary to every fundamental rule of Politics 101. At the risk of belaboring this metaphor, and mixing it with others, the writing is on the wall. Changes in Alberta are well on their way.