rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

A very Albertan coup: Alison Redford fell victim to her own hubris, as well as that of her party

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Image: flickr/premierofAlberta

UPDATE: As David predicted below, Deputy Premier Dave Hancock has been named interim Premier of Alberta.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who resigned moments after 6 p.m. on Wednesday March 19, fell victim to her own hubris and that of the party she led.

In the next few days and weeks, we are certain to hear two competing narratives emerge to explain what happened to Redford's short, unhappy premiership, which began when she was sworn in on October 7, 2011, and ended suddenly yesterday evening in the palace coup, dignified resignation or whatever it was that happened.

The first narrative will be that Redford was an arrogant and headstrong leader, chosen almost by accident through the maneuverings of a Machiavellian political operator, and that she was principally the victim of her own excess.

The second will be that that Redford was the victim of the structural flaws of a party that is a generation beyond its best-before date and the scheming of that party's network of "old boys," and thus the entire party must be swept away to fix the problems Albertans now see their province as facing.

The first benefits Redford's Progressive Conservative Party, as it tries to find a way to reinvent itself yet again, when it thought it had managed to do just that with the selection of Redford as party leader in October 2011 and the general election that followed on April 2012.

The second benefits the Opposition parties, and in particular the Wildrose Party led by Danielle Smith, which hoped and still hopes the conditions are finally in place for the replacement of the Progressive Conservatives, who have now ruled Alberta for 43 years.

In truth, there are elements of truth to both stories, and it is nonsense to believe one to the complete exclusion of the other.

Redford was an arrogant and inconsistent leader, perpetually persuaded she was the smartest person in the room, harsh in her treatment of subordinates, certain she deserved to travel first class, convinced she could casually betray people on the left and the right with whom she had built alliances without consequences for herself or her government.

Who now doubts that either a smooth old charmer like Gary Mar, the seemingly practical Doug Horner or even an ideological zealot like Ted Morton, the other front-runners in the 2011 leadership race, couldn't have done a better job keeping the PC Party together, wooing back disgruntled defectors to the Wildrose and reinventing the Tory party so that it could survive yet another electoral test and last a half a century?

But it is also true that the party is truly past its prime, a coalition of self-interested individuals like the governments of other one-party states that stayed too long in power and forgot why they exist. I rule, therefore I am.

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, we can see now that Redford was exactly the wrong leader to take up the reins of a party that assumed it ruled by divine right, and which otherwise had forgotten what it was there to do.

It is a party, moreover, that had already split in two with the defection of the more ideological Wildrose faction, and which threatened to split in two again when the controversy over Redford's high-handed and entitled style refused to go away.

What is clear is that the rebels were plentiful enough, and their threats believable enough, that Redford bowed to the inevitable and departed gracefully.

When the end came yesterday, it was sudden. My local paper turned up in my mailbox yesterday afternoon bearing a story that declared, "Premier Alison Redford isn't going anywhere and is committed to changing her leadership style for the better." Within a couple of hours my smartphone was carolling the hour of her news conference.

Attention will now turn to what the PC party will try to do to remain in power, and whom it will choose to lead it out of the wilderness it has found itself in, however it got there.

Elected Tory representatives and party officials were tight-lipped yesterday about who will take over as premier when Redford formally steps aside on Sunday, but the prevailing wisdom -- with which I concur -- is that Deputy Premier Dave Hancock will be chosen as interim leader while the party holds a leadership contest it can ill afford.

Hancock is the most likely interim premier simply because he is the least likely to want to stick around in that role, and hence will be agreeable to most.

After that, certainly some former candidates will take a serious look at taking another run at the leadership -- others may conclude it's now too late to aspire to being captain of what’s been revealed as a leaky and quite possibly sinking vessel.

Aspirants may include Mar and Morton, as well as former Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk and former Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel. There may be some surprises too. Very possibly the quality of the field will be a weathervane for the party’s chances of survival.

Today is the first day of another season, both in politics and the calendar. That is the only certainty.

Alison, we hardly knew ye! But I guess we knew ye well enough.

 

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

Image: flickr/premierofAlberta

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.