Was Lake of Fire 2.0, the 2015 edition, averted by an incompetent Tory war room?

Posted on May 23, 2015, 2:16 am
7 mins

PHOTOS: Former premier Jim Prentice, left, asks a member of his opposition research and strategy team what the heck went wrong on May 5. Actual Alberta politicians and their flunkies may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Pastor Allan Hunsperger, whose blog post ignited Lake of Fire 1.0; Deborah Drever, whose tasteless social media posts failed to spark Lake of Fire 2.0, despite having the potential; and political strategist Stephen Carter, who wondered why.

What would have happened if Pastor Allan Hunsperger’s blog post about the Lake of Fire had been revealed to the public a week or two after the 2012 election?

Had the revelation happened then, instead of eight days before the April 23 vote, Danielle Smith might now be gearing up to run for her second term as premier of Alberta and leader of the Wildrose government that finally brought the Tory Dynasty to its knees, that’s what!

Hunsperger-LWhat might have happened if someone from the PC Party of then-premier Jim Prentice had been paying attention and discovered NDP candidate Deborah Drever’s offensive social media pictures a couple of weeks before this year’s May 5 election?

It wouldn’t have been much on which to hang a major political turnaround, but stranger things have happened. Even given the pervasive dissatisfaction with his Progressive Conservatives among Alberta voters and the vast arrogance shown by the Prentice government’s bizarre election strategy, Prentice could well have been getting ready today to be sworn in to his first properly elected term as premier.

We’ll never know if such a revelation could have become Lake of Fire 2.0, the 2015 edition, but it’s certainly not impossible. On such small things does history sometimes turn.

We all know what is scheduled to happen tomorrow: Premier Designate Rachel Notley and her New Democratic Party cabinet will be sworn in, a historic and powerfully symbolic moment that could change the course of Alberta and Canada for many years.

Even given the differences in the way Ms. Smith and Ms. Notley were inclined to deal with the problem in their ranks – the former refused to condemn Pastor Hunsperger’s offensive comments until it was too late, the latter let the axe fall swiftly yesterday on Ms. Drever when more offensive Facebook pictures and comments surfaced – the timing could have changed the outcome of the election dramatically.

Drever-RAs a result, many Albertans are asking: Where the heck were the PC Party’s opposition researchers and political strategists in the last few days before the election?

For supporters of the PC Party, and opponents of the NDP, the question is particularly anguished.

“Watching the people going after Deborah Drever leaves me thinking: why wait until after the election? Absolutely Incompetent,” exclaimed Calgary-based political strategist Stephen Carter on his Facebook page yesterday.

Asked Mr. Carter, the man who ran Alison Redford’s campaign, which may have been a near-run thing, but was ultimately successful: “Who ran the PC war room? Chief Wiggum? Inspector Clouseau? …”

I can’t answer Mr. Carter’s question about who was running the PC war room, but I can tell you with reasonable certainty what they were thinking and what they were doing when they weren’t doing opposition research on NDP candidates.

They were counting their chickens before they’d hatched.

They were patting themselves on the back for their majority government of at least 50 seats before they’d won it – the majority they believed they were certain to win until after the polls closed on May 5.

Carter-LThey were confident that no normal Albertan outside the Capital Region would ever, in any circumstances, vote for the NDP, no matter how appealing a candidate Rachel Notley appeared to be.

They were equally confident that their successful raid on the Wildrose caucus the previous December – the one that left Ms. Smith’s reputation and political career in tatters – had reduced the Opposition Wildrose Party to a backwoods rump, incapable of campaigning effectively.

Maybe they did or maybe they didn’t have a poll, as rumoured a few days before the election, that told them they would win those 50 seats. They certainly ignored other polls they must have known about that showed something quite different.

Maybe some of their supporters, like the Infamous Five Edmonton businessmen, had figured out the government they loved was going down. Maybe their own campaigners were warning them that voters were shifting swiftly to the NDP. Regardless, Mr. Prentice and the bumbling PC strategic brain trust simply couldn’t believe they wouldn’t win on May 5.

So they ignored what voters were telling them on their doorsteps – that they were angry about the early election call, resented the way the Wildrose Opposition was taken over, and were furious about Mr. Prentice’s Look-in-the-Mirror Budget, which asked everyone to shoulder a share of the load except the premier’s friends. Indeed, the Prentice budget gored almost every ox in the province except big business.

They went ahead with their worst, most unpopular ideas – confident the voters wouldn’t or couldn’t do anything about them.

And they suffered a historic defeat on May 5 – from which they may never recover, and with which many of them have not yet come to terms.

If that doesn’t speak to the narrative that the Tories were arrogant, entitled and out of touch, I surely don’t know what the heck would!

And it is Rachel Notley, of course, not Danielle Smith, who will go down in history as the woman who finally toppled the bumbling Tory giant that stood astride Alberta for so long.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

9 Comments to: Was Lake of Fire 2.0, the 2015 edition, averted by an incompetent Tory war room?

  1. Francis

    May 23rd, 2015

    The guy who dropped the writ was not ready. Good thing. If I see Jim around, I will thank him a lot.
    Calling the election one year early did cause all of the opposition parties to scramble to get candidates. Two parties, Alberta Liberal Party and Alberta Party did not fill the slate and therefore appeared numerically not ready to govern. The other 2 opposition parties Wild Rose Party and Alberta NDP made efforts to have 87 candidates signed up by the deadline. Had the WRP gotten 54 seats, there may have been some surprises too. We will never know now.
    As for Ms. Drever as certain someone who goes on endlessly about freedom of speech (The Bill Needle guy on SNTV) seems to be grasping at whatever straws. Sheesh.

    Given the Gatekrashor Cover and childish Facebook material – we seem to be in FUBAR (the Alberta movie) part III. Who is actually going after the right wing stoner vote? Anyone, how many are there.

    Debbie’s becoming an icon for them, and punting her in the out of caucus penalty box will keep her (hopefully from being a distraction while some work get’s done

    Reply
  2. Jeremy

    May 23rd, 2015

    Whomever it was running the campaign, it sure wasn’t Clouseau. He always managed to get the job done, despite his comic incompetence!

    Reply
  3. The Red Tory

    May 23rd, 2015

    Dave

    How is it that the only post you put out after a new MLA is found to be posting pictures condoning drug use, sexual assault, and homophobia, you somehow twist it into yet another stab at the losing side in the last election. By suggesting these pictures might have cost the NDP the last election if they had come to light sooner, this post is a passive admission that Drever’s actions were well past the standard of excusable.

    But this post was not the definitive, witty invective that we are so used to. Have you become the chief apologist for the new government? It is not a stretch to imagine the biting satire that would have been heaped upon any Wildroser or PC that would have made the same mistake. I miss the old Alberta Diary that held all politicians to account whoever they were. The last few posts haven’t been journalism, but propaganda.

    I also find many of the NDP friendly comments on the various news media stories about this to be hugely hypocritical. Instead of admitting it is a legitimate concern to have one of our elected officials showing these attitudes, commenters are railing against the “right wing bias” of the media. The parallels to the federal Conservative’s “on-line rage machine” (which I personally find to be amateurish and infantile) are readily apparent to anyone willing to look at It with an open mind.

    I do agree it was a hugely, incompetently run campaign by the PCs. This fact shouldn’t fill NDP hearts with such glee. Realizing that the last election results were more about the PC’s losing the campaign as opposed to the NDP winning it, this should not be a huge confidence builder for the NDP brain trust. Again, I think Notley gets this, I don’t know if anyone else on her team does.

    Reply
    • Gord

      May 23rd, 2015

      Wow… sore loser or what! After 44 years the hogs have been cut off from the trough. These guys don’t know how to lose gracefully. They thought the dynasty would go on forever. Albertans finally had enough of their smug, arrogant sense of entitlement. Respect that “The Red Tory” and give this new government a chance. It’s the dawn of a new era in Alberta; one I’ve been waiting to see for over 40 years. I’m thrilled to see the backside of the dynasty at last.

      Reply
      • The Red Tory

        May 23rd, 2015

        It’s telling that you didn’t deal with any of the points I brought up, and resorted to a boiler plate diatribe. You just provided the perfect example of the left’s own on line rage machine. As much as you probably hate Harperites, you are mimicking their techniques.

        Reply
    • May 23rd, 2015

      You are wrong about the election being about the PC’s losing the campaign.

      This election was about families who will never vote PC again. It was about the Tory voters like myself waking up from a sleep of 44 years and evicting the PCs from their sinecures as oil monarchs.

      The PCs have failed to do their jobs for years. They were used to coasting for years and then just before elections they would bribe us with the changes we wanted (schools, hospitals, long term care beds). They were so used to this pattern of politics that they thought citizens would follow this pattern forever.

      Only problem was in this election, citizens did not follow the pattern. Citizens wanted more than the once in four years results. The PCs exacerbated their track records of incompetence by their major attitude with voters. The PCs were telling Tory voters like myself that we were the problem for the messes in Alberta. In a way we were the problem because we reliably voted for them. But telling us this truth made us think about this matter. If we were the problem –then maybe we could be the solution?

      I mean why would I vote for the Mandel guy? He did nothing for my family when we needed help. When I went to the legislature to show my banned self to the parties, I got to see the PCs in action. They were insufferably arrogant, showed how entitled they were, failed to answer questions and generally acted as if they owned the place. They don’t own the place. They are contract workers.
      We hire these contract workers. We are the bosses. And yet when I went to my employee (Mr. Mandel)–he failed to meet with me. Mr. Mandel was too busy to see me when I went to his constituency office to complain about the unjust eviction of my handicapped sister from the Good Samaritan Extended Care at Millwoods and my banning for bringing up legitimate concerns at this facility that have been confirmed by an audit by Alberta Health.

      I believe the PCs will not recover from this defeat simply because they are incompetent and we –the Tory voters -have realized they are incompetent. We are fed up of our families suffering for their incompetence.

      The continuing care messes are ongoing and are a result of the privatization of this sector. The privatization of continuing care in Alberta is plagued by a failure to get these organizations to meet the standards of care or even to accept back my sister to the facility while an appeal process is developed by AHS. All these failures are explained to me by AHS–as grey areas of oversight. AHS does not have the power apparently to compel the folks at the Good Samaritan Society to do take my sister back because they are a private business. Wow. Why then are we privatizing the continuing care system?

      It’s a mess. These grey areas of oversight are present simply because they were allowed to be present by the PCs. These grey areas of oversight are not present in the public continuing care facilities where we know where our tax dollars are being spent, the value for our money and have full authority to make changes to ensure compliance with the standards.

      There are many important issues in Alberta such as the failures in continuing care that were allowed simply because the PCs wanted the private sector to do the jobs that they did not want to do. Privatization is not always the best route and in continuing care it is a failed experiment.

      When citizens are faced with family members who are experiencing avoidable adverse events due to failures of professional staff to press a button on a BiPaP machine, you might understand that we are less troubled by other issues such as a newly hired MLA who had photographs posted to show herself as a younger and less enlightened individual than she hopefully–is now.

      The chatter about Ms. Drever is not of interest to most voters who have bigger problems to deal with. We’re far more interested in seeing the continuing care system returned to the public sector, the increases in long term care beds to alleviate the situation in hospitals where my sister is currently stuck, and the need for actual oversight of private continuing care providers who are not meeting the standards of care.

      I believe we need to have financial and legal consequences for continued non-compliance by private continuing care providers which include a refusal to renew contracts with providers that fail to follow the laws of the land.

      Inappropriate transfers of stable residents to hospitals, forced evictions, punitive banning would constitute grounds –in my opinion for legal action to be taken by Legal Counsel at AHS against such providers. Alberta Health needs to recover the costs of housing residents who are evicted in this manner.

      In the past, we never had such actions under the PCs. The Politically Corrupt Party was only in the business of taking care of the party and the donors of the party. The most vulnerable citizens in Alberta were unimportant.

      I believe that Ms. Drever has been shamed enough. Let us give her a chance to be the MLA she could be if we would all be kind to overlook her mistakes.

      Haven’t we all made mistakes? Why not give her a chance? And why not move onto the major social issues of our day that the NDP will deal with (unlike the PCS).

      Reply
    • May 23rd, 2015

      “this post is a passive admission that Drever’s actions were well past the standard of excusable”

      which implies that our author here has conceded a point to the critics.

      You’re being rather harsh here. I’m a Wildrose sympathizer, but I think it flatters Wildrose somewhat to say these two outrages are analogous, not less because Ms Drever’s antics are arguably not really mean spirited.

      Reply
  4. Luomo Phillips

    May 23rd, 2015

    Giving too much emphasis on Alberta’s fundamentalist minority sector belies an Eastern anti-Alberta bias. Alberta was being settled at a time when religious groups were looking for a safe haven, and consequently many Albertans have fundamentalist roots. It’s important to note however, that the median age of an Albertan nowadays is 36, and the religious minority is more minor than it was before.

    Reply
    • Ann Onn

      May 23rd, 2015

      Clearly Luomo has never visited Ontario, were there are plenty of fundamentalist nuts from a variety of religions. An “Eastern anti-Alberta bias.” What a crock!

      Reply

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