Ed Stelmach is a bigger wastrel than Dalton McGuinty or even Bob Rae
I had some fun Twittering about the Alberta PC convention this weekend. I used to attend those conventions myself, back when the party was actually somewhat conservative. It can't credibly call itself that anymore: it's Canada's biggest-spending government per capita, with the biggest deficit per capita.
Take their last budget: $36.4 billion. Divided by 3.3 million people, and that's $11,000 per person.
By comparison, Liberal Dalton McGuinty's budget this year has $108.9 billion in spending for 12.7 million Ontarians -- or $8,500 per person. Alberta's "Conservatives" spend 30% more per person than Ontario's "Liberals".
But let's compare it to one of the most disastrous budgets in modern political memory: Bob Rae's 1994-95 NDP budget in Ontario. It was his biggest-spending budget, the one right before he was turfed in favour of Mike Harris.
Back then, Rae spent $56.3 billion for a population of 10.5 million people, or just $5,300 per person. That's 1994 money, which, adjusted for inflation, is $7,100 in today's dollars. Stelmach spends 55% more than Rae did, in per capita, inflation-adjusted dollars.
Ed Stelmach is Canada's biggest socialist. And the only reason he gets away with it is because he's smart enough to have run for the Progressive Conservatives, not Alberta's NDP.
But that deception-based lucky streak looks like it's ending. The PCs' by-election loss earlier this fall, when his "star" candidate came in third in Calgary-Glenmore, a traditional Tory riding, was a sign that Albertans don't much like their socialists, even if they do call themselves "PCs". And then there are the polls -- including the latest one that puts the Wild Rose Alliance neck-and-neck with the PCs across the province, and actually ahead of them in Calgary.
To me, the funniest moment in the PC convention this weekend was when Stelmach gave his view about the biggest problem in Alberta: not the economy; not healthcare or the H1N1 flu; not crime; but... the media.
Seriously. They're the only reason he's not being recognized for the great, maximum leader that his wife tells him he is!
Stelmach's solution to Alberta's problems -- no, not the deficit problem, but the media problem -- is to make more use of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, like Barack Obama did. He really said that. Seriously: Ed Stelmach, an inarticulate, old white guy, who has been in government his entire adult life, thinks Obama got elected because of a campaign tactic. The fact that Obama would be the first black president, that he promised "Hope and Change", that he was running against a tired, two-term incumbent party, against a tired, old, inarticulate Republican Senator, during a time of economic crisis and two wars -- forget about that. Stelmach sees himself as Obama, the fresh new thing who is buddies with Will.i.am. I don't think Stelmach knows who Will.i.am. is, and we know how he treats the lone black man in his caucus. In Stelmach's daydream, young, telegenic Danielle Smith of the Wildrose Party is supposed to be the John McCain character. Right.
Other than Mrs. Stelmach, is there anyone else in the world who sees Ed, presiding over his party's 38th year in power, as a glamourous young agent of hope and change?
One last funny comment. Stelmach noted yesterday that he gets the most honesty at 1 a.m. over drinks with people. I have no doubt that's true. But what does it say about the bunker mentality of his office -- a group of paranoid, blamestorming yes-men?
I wonder if, at one of those 1 a.m., liquor-fueled chats, anyone has the courage to tell Canada's worst premier that the problem isn't with Alberta's reporters, and it can't be solved with a Twitter account or a Facebook page. The problem is with his lack of leadership and judgment -- and his tax-and-spend ideology that would make even the NDP blush.