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Alberta Notes: Ed Stelmach, the George Chuvalo of Canadian politics, doesn't go down one more time

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Ed Stelmach, post-lame-duck premier of Alberta

Ed Stelmach officially moved beyond even lame duck status yesterday.

Leastways, as the Edmonton Journal gently observed, the Alberta premier will never no more again sit in the centre seat in the Alberta Legislature.

But that doesn't mean he's actually resigned as promised … oh, back whenever. That event will take place later this month, or something. Whenever it does, we can all say the same nice things all over again.

The Edmonton Journal laid it on thick, with the premier weeping, little children waving and opposition leaders larding on the praise. Only the brass band and the Russian chorus were missing.

Nevertheless, the Journal clucked with a mildly offended air, several Wildrose Alliance MLAs who had been given the bum's rush from the Conservative caucus by Stelmach failed to show up for the premier's Legislative bon voyage.

In the meantime, Stelmach, who turned 60 on Wednesday, has now entered the post-lame-duck phase of his political career. The intensity of the lamentations in the media should tell us something about the actual influence in government that this status accords.

Well, a tribute wouldn't be a tribute without some churlish commentary from the blogosphere, so here's my two bits: Ed Stelmach is the George Chuvalo of Canadian politicians: a guy who could go 12 rounds against a better fighter, never be knocked down, and still lose the big fight!

"Boom Boom" Chuvalo is said to have had the greatest chin in the history of the sweet science. Surely Stelmach has the greatest chin in the history of political science.

Rick Orman opts to run for top Tory job on Wildrose platform

OK, it's official. Rick Orman is now running for the leadership of the Alberta Conservative party to replace the dear but still undeparted Premier Stelmach.

The former energy minister from long-retired premier Don Getty's cabinet appears to be trying to position himself as the Wildrose candidate who's not running for the Wildrose ticket.

In his official announcement -- which was widely reported well before it happened -- the Calgary oilman paid ritual obeisance to such alleged Wildrose (or eternally Conservative) virtues as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, translated for the local audience as individual responsibility, free enterprise and unrestricted corporate property rights.

This is as good a strategy as any, one supposes, for a candidate who has been gone as long as Orman has. Remember, the year that Orman left office, never mind when he got there, Kim Campbell was prime minister of Canada and the ink wasn't dry on NAFTA.

Orman's chances of winning? Somewhere between negligible and zero.

The number of Conservative leadership candidates now in the field? Six.

Number of operational Rick Orman websites as of midnight? Zero.

Talks about a water market? Gee, I can't recall!

Just wondering, but if you were a minister of the Crown in discussions with a highly controversial multinational corporation about a policy sure to set off a worldwide hurricane of bad publicity for your government, would you remember it?

On Wednesday, the chairman of Nestle SA told a business news agency after giving a speech in Switzerland that his company was in talks with the government of Alberta to set up a commercial market for water.

Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, accompanied his bombshell announcement with the usual market fundamentalist clap-trap about how we'd all keep our water cleaner if we only had to pay huge prices to foreign corporations for it.

The suggestion immediately hit the fan like the proverbial you-know-what and was heard splattering on things 'round the world. Even some Alberta reporters managed to bestir themselves enough to dig out their Blackberries to give provincial Environment Minister Rob Renner a call.

Renner's response? Uh, maybe. Could be… He couldn't actually remember just then if he was negotiating with a $100-billion Swiss corporation to sell Alberta's water. As the local paper considerately phrased it, "he couldn't recall whether he spoke with any Nestle executives, but said he has heard from many people on both sides of the issue."

Really? Really!

This blog also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

CLARIFICATION: A Rick Orman website can now be found at voterickorman.com. Maybe it was there last night and just not yet showing up on Google. There's a picture, too. 


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