Federal MPs for Morton

This is fascinating:

Nonetheless, sources tell the Herald about a dozen federal Conservative MPs will rush back to Alberta in the coming days to help Morton capture Premier Ralph Klein’s crown.

Certainly, the battle for the Tory leadership is proving to be not only a struggle of competing conservative visions — but also two different Conservative parties within Alberta.

Much like Morton’s supporters, many MPs on his side subscribe to more grassroots, big-C conservative philosophies of libertarianism and traditional social values long championed by the former Reform and Canadian Alliance parties.

“It’s a Reform party takeover in provincial politics,” said David Taras, political analyst at the University of Calgary, adding the city could prove to be a battleground of epic proportions between these “two very different” visions for the party.

It’s nice to see more nuanced coverage of Albertan politics, rather than reporting of the silly stereotypes we’ve all come to know and love.


  1. Dr J says

    Nuanced coverage? like that offered by David Taras? A ‘Reform Party takeover’? epic battles? hysteria headlines and scaremongering caricatures, more like it.

  2. says

    A Dinning victory will result in a huge swell of support for the Alberta Alliance. The resulting vote splitting will do to conservatives provincially what was done to them nationally. On the surface one might believe that the Liberal Party of Alberta would prefer a Morton victory since many red Tories would join the Liberals (where they belong) but a Dinning victory will do far more for the Liberal Party of Alberta in the medium term.

  3. matt says

    How about this headline:

    Fear grips Alberta Tory party as Morton continues charge from the right


    CALGARY (CP) – Fear and loathing are gripping the more moderate wing of Alberta’s governing Progressive Conservative party as an upstart right-wing conservative named Ted Morton continues his hard charge to become premier.

    Facing a tighter leadership race than expected, former finance minister Jim Dinning and his supporters on the government benches have ramped up the rhetoric against Morton.

    Among the dire warnings was one from veteran cabinet minister Gary Mar, who predicted the party’s 35-year stranglehold on power in Alberta would end should Morton, a first-term backbencher, become premier.

    Thomas Lukaszuk, a Tory backbencher from Edmonton, said a Morton win would trigger a major split within the party that would force him to rethink his own future.

    Lukaszuk said Morton’s interests are narrowly focused on issues such as renegotiating Alberta’s place in Confederation, reopening debate on the Canada Health Act and reopening discussion on the definition of marriage – all of which are not under provincial jurisdiction.

    “There’s no use selling snake oil to our electorate and give them hopes that we can change some things that they don’t like when they’re outside of our jurisdiction,” said Lukaszuk.

    “It’s those kinds of campaign promises – that you in the back of your mind know you could never deliver – that give politicians a poor reputation.”

    But Morton, an unabashed social conservative and pillar of the old western-based Reform party, said the conservative movement that has taken power in Ottawa simply stalled out in Alberta once the province finished tackling its debt problems.

    “The Alberta PC party has lost touch with the conservative movement in Alberta,” Morton said Tuesday.

    Concerns within the Alberta Tory party were aired almost immediately after Morton finished a close second to Dinning in Saturday’s first round of voting for a successor to the retiring Premier Ralph Klein. A second ballot this Saturday will determine the winner among Dinning, Morton and former Klein cabinet minister Ed Stelmach.

    Roger Gibbins of the Calgary-based think tank Canada West Foundation suggested that if Morton wins, the rest of Canada will notice “a sharper edge” from Alberta.

    Morton has railed against Alberta’s $14-billion contribution to the federal equalization program, which helps poorer provinces. He wants to dump the RCMP in favour of an Alberta police force and is keen to implement a separate pension plan along the lines of Quebec’s.

    He wants to implement legal protections for those who oppose same-sex marriage and he said Tuesday that he hopes “if the Quebec nation seeks to be self-governing, they’ll also seek to be self-financing.”

    “I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Dinning represents the more established party in the province and I would expect the changes would be somewhat less dramatic,” Gibbins said Tuesday, saying Dinning’s approach to national issues would be more ambassador-like.

    In the final days before the decisive second ballot, all three candidates were scrambling to sign up new party members and boasting of endorsements from anyone who might sway the votes of those who supported the five candidates cut after the first vote.

    A handful of some of the farthest right-wing Conservative MPs and former Reform and Alliance party members, including Jason Kenney and veteran backbencher Myron Thompson have entered the fray to support Morton.

    That illustrates the ideological rift between some Alberta Tories, said Art Smith, a former provincial and federal politician who played an instrumental role in Klein’s rise to power.

    “I’m hoping whoever is going to lead it is going to try to amend the wound, because the wound is pretty deep,” Smith said.

    If the winner can’t be a conciliator and bring all conservatives “back under the same tent,” then a future election loss could be in the cards, he warned.

    Even under the perennially popular Klein, the Tories won less than half of the popular vote in the 2004 general election – a 15 per cent drop from 2001 – although they still hold 62 of the 83 seats in the legislature.

    Stelmach finished third in the first vote, but he quickly collected key endorsements from three of his former rivals. He also got lukewarm approval Tuesday from the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the largest organized labour group in the province.

    “We all know what Dinning did back in 1993 when he was the treasurer and rolled back everybody’s salaries,” president Doug Knight said.

    “And Mr. Morton has some social policies that are just so against what we stand for, so you can do the math.”

    Liberal Opposition Leader Kevin Taft figures the Tory leadership fight is good for democracy in a province often described as a one-party state.

    “We are ready for whoever comes on,” said Taft. “Let’s face it, this is the first time in a long time where there’s a sense of real meaningful debate involving the Tory party.”

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