Redford ‘on her way out’ as premier
By Stephen Murgatroyd
Troy Media columnist
It’s very clear to those close to the world of Alberta politics that Premier Alison Redford is not likely to be the premier this time next year. She is now being referred as “dead premier walking.”
She has no friends in caucus, she isn’t running the government (Doug Horner is) and she isn’t in control of the policy agenda (which is why there is no throne speech).
The money that backs the party has already written her off and is looking for a successor. Redford herself should be seeking, though she is likely not (she is stubborn and determined), an out that enables her to leave with dignity and grace — as Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., to the Alberta Court of Appeal or a federal judiciary appointment.
Be that as it may, the void already exists. So who will succeed her?
The obvious candidate is Doug Horner, who lost last time to both Garry Mar and Alison Redford and will, as soon as next week, push the budget button that will kill his chances of winning an election by the people, never mind his own party.
Thomas Lukaszuk will run — his ego and hairdo will make it difficult for him not to — and lose. Jeff Johnson, scourge of teachers and a threat to the school system, may also fancy his chances. But when you mention these names to people who care about Alberta and its future they all say, without exception, “You got to be kiddin’ me” (or words to that effect — they are generally not that polite).
In fact, one of the failures of the Progressive Conservative (sic) Party in Alberta is the lack of leadership and the failure to grow and manage succession, which was not helped by the single transferable vote system it used to ensure that those who are front-runners don’t win. Ted Morton may fancy his chances, but no one fancies Ted Morton.
So the grandees of the party are looking outside the current crop of MLAs for leadership candidates. One favourite, Jim Prentice, is ruled out because of the fact that he very deliberately left politics, is making a ton of money and finds Ontario a comfortable place to live, despite the bizarre nature of its provincial politics. We can similarly rule out Garry Mar from making a comeback. So who?
My favourite candidate is Rona Ambrose, MP for Edmonton-Spruce Grove since 2004. She’s one very smart woman, and a natural at political survival. She has experience of the Alberta government — she worked in Intergovernmental Affairs. She is currently Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister Responsible for Western Economic Diversification, Shared Services Canada and vice-chair of the Treasury Board. She survived some bruising times in cabinet and government. But she’s focused, a team player, articulate, and even has a sense of humour.
Better yet, she’s a street-smart, as well as a thinking, politician. She knows Alberta and its challenges well and is rooted in the community. She has championed Alberta in the Commons and in cabinet, though she hasn’t always been able to deliver on everything she has championed. She’s a straight talker, thinks before she speaks (a trait that some in the Wild Rose need to develop) and can hold her own in a serious debate.
While part of the rejection of Premier Redford is due to her gender — there are some in politics who still think that politics should be left to men — Rona Ambrose would take on and probably beat Danielle Smith, who is otherwise looking like the next premier of Alberta.
Redford’s days are numbered. Part of the reason she’s hanging on by the skin of her teeth is that no one can think clearly about who should succeed her. Time to talk to Rona.