The ‘Self Preservation Society’ wants Jim Prentice for ‘The Alberta Job’ – but can he forgo his ambition to be PM?

Posted on April 15, 2014, 12:55 am
9 mins

“The Alberta Job.” Will the original “Self Preservation Society” get to keep the Tory gold? Is Jim Prentice – above, not exactly as illustrated – the man to help them do it? Read on to find out why we’ll probably never find out. Below: The actual Jim Prentice. Below him: Possible, rumoured, putative PC leadership candidate Stephen Mandel.

The question Jim Prentice really needs to ask himself is this: “Do I really want to ride that bus all the way to the bottom of the cliff and be sitting in it when it bursts into flames?”

The question the lawyer, banking boss and sometime federal Conservative politician will actually ask himself will likely be a little more polished, and a little more complicated. To wit: “Can becoming leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party help my ambition to become the prime minister of Canada?”

But in the end – since the metaphorical bus in the first question represents the Alberta PC Party, the original Self Preservation Society, the cliff it’s teetering on represents the election that is going to have to be called sooner or later, and the gold in the back represents the gold in the back – the questions are actually pretty much the same.

If Mr. Prentice is the person he appears to be, the answer to either question is likely to be a resounding No!

With an excellent and extensive political resume, and the opinion widely held in Alberta political circles that there’s no one in the current Alberta PC caucus and cabinet likely to be able to fend off a challenge to Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Party whenever an election gets called, it’s natural that die-hard PCs see Mr. Prentice as a potential saviour of their party after the disaster of the Redford-Hancock Government.

The other potential savior that gets some Tory hearts going pitty-pat these days is former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel. But notwithstanding Mr. Mandel’s great collection of bow ties, it seems as if it’s Mr. Prentice that has them mopping their brows and fanning themselves.

Mr. Prentice is available, sort of, having quit his job as Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre North and resigned from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Cabinet, in which he had held a number of important posts, back in November 2010.

And he can probably afford the $50,000 entry fee, seeing as since January 2011 he’s been employed as senior executive VP and vice-chairperson of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. And heaven knows, they need the money!

Sounds like he’s dipped his toes in the leadership lake a couple of times too, just to see how warm the water is, as he’s been known to do once or twice before in similar circumstances.

But you’ll notice that, notwithstanding the understandable buzz from desperate Alberta Tories dreaming of a way to hang onto power one more time, Mr. Prentice doesn’t seem to have made any announcements, or said anything much of consequence at all. This, presumably, is because he’s still mulling over his chances and what they mean to his ultimate ambition – to wit, the prime ministership of Canada.

As I see it, there are three things that could happen if Mr. Prentice throws his hat in the Progressive Conservative leadership ring and tries to get “The Alberta Job”:

  1. He could lose to one of the other candidates – which would be a disaster for his hopes of becoming PM.
  2. He could win the nomination and then lose the election – which would be a disaster for his hopes of becoming PM.
  3. He could win the nomination and somehow win the election – which would be a disaster for his hopes of becoming PM.

The problem with Point 3 from Mr. Prentice’s perspective, for those of you who haven’t been paying attention since 1896, when the 69-day ministry of Charles Tupper came to an end, is that Sir Charles was the last provincial premier ever to become prime minister of Canada.

And it’s likely to stay that way. After all, why would Canadians elect a provincial premier as national leader – a surefire guarantee, in the public mind, of a leader who won’t consider the needs of the entire country.

Someday, I suppose, we may elect a PM who was a premier first, but it won’t be any time soon, and it will most likely be a short-lived accident like Sir Charles Tupper.

Ergo, unless he’s given up on his prime ministerial ambitions, Mr. Prentice would be nuts to run to be premier of Alberta.

Also, he’d have to give up his current job as a big shot with CIBC, which almost certainly includes a pretty comfortable bi-weekly pay packet and some nice additional perks.

On the other hand, perhaps Mr. Prentice has concluded, like me, that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will never willingly let go. Yeah, I know, the Ottawa Press Gallery has been in a frenzy for a year about how Mr. Harper is depressed, Mr. Harper has no friends left, Mr. Harper will quit any minute now…

But it’s said here that reading this kind of stuff every day would make it pretty hard for a man of Mr. Prentice’s inclinations to take a chance on the Alberta Job.

Still, if you’re a desperate Alberta Tory, you can dream of just such a miracle.

And if you’re the Bull Goose Strategist for the Wildrose Party – whoever that is now that Tom Flanagan spends his days writing judgmental books about the prime minister we have at the moment – you can have nightmares about it.

+ + +

Who knew? The loons of the Right were right for once!

If you Google the terms “Lorne Gunter” and “Nanny State,” you will discover that this particular combination has been posted to the Internet more than 4,400 times.

Mostly, the Sun Media columnist seems to have been complaining about things done by the Alberta government, such as banning the use of cellular phones while driving, but other governments appear to be guilty of trying to create a nanny state too in Mr. Gunter’s relentlessly consistent worldview.

It gets more interesting. Replace “Lorne Gunter” with “Monte Solberg,” another Sun Media columnist of similar views, and you will Google 21,200 articles. After that, it just gets better: Ezra Levant: 47,500 articles using “Nanny State.” Brian Lilley: 72,300. Michael Coren: 203,000!

OK, we already knew these guys were drinking from the same bathtub. Still, it turns out they were right. Really!

At any rate, CBC Edmonton investigative journalist Charles Rusnell reported yesterday that when Alison Redford was still premier of Alberta, and before that when she was minister of justice, she not only took her daughter on 50 flights aboard the government airplane, but on at least one occasion she brought the nanny along too.

So it turns out Alberta really is a “nanny state”! Leastways, the nanny really was aboard the state plane. Who knew?

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5 Comments to: The ‘Self Preservation Society’ wants Jim Prentice for ‘The Alberta Job’ – but can he forgo his ambition to be PM?

  1. Stephanie

    April 16th, 2014

    This business of crucifying Alison Redford for taking her daughter along with her when she traveled for work is ridiculous. We hear constant moaning and groaning about our alleged desire to see more women in positions of political leadership in Canada, even as the female leaders we have are dropping like flies. And then when we hear that one such leader had the audacity to take her child along with her when she was working, we scream about entitlement and how dare she, bla bla bla. What the hell? If she didn’t take her daughter along, she would be criticized for not having prioritized parenthood, and would ask what kind of a mother is she anyway, who abandons her offspring in pursuit of political ambitions? So the way I see it, she couldn’t win for losing. I guess she lost for many other reasons in the end, but I think slamming her for being present to her daughter while being the premier of Alberta is just a small minded attack. If we really want women to hold serious political office, we need to recognize they may not be willing to give up their relationships with their daughters and sons, and we should not expect this. And if this costs us a bit more, so what. We’ve given millions in corporate tax breaks to the oil industry with no agreement from the taxpayers, we’ve seen the federal conservative party spend millions for its oil propaganda campaign…I mean economic action plan ads….also with no public debate, so for all Redford did that was questionable, I think attacking her for including her daughter in her life is just low ball politics. And it does absolutely nothing to encourage women to enter public life.

  2. political ranger

    April 16th, 2014

    What crap Stephanie!
    If Alison and her coterie gave even the slightest indication of care and concern to the thousands of citizens facing hardships from discriminatory employment standards to criminal negligence of environmental regulations and a list of caretaker obligations a mile long, well then, I think everybody would be willing to cut her a boatload of slack.
    That she would thumb her nose at everybody who didn’t own a million dollar petro-corp while feathering her nest with public dollars is despicable as well as SOP for the PC.

  3. Watson S

    April 29th, 2014

    I offer a second set of possibilities; the first three still apply, but none of them matter because although there is a slim chance that the Alberta PCs can be saved, there is no chance that the federal Cons can win an election before 2023. Trudeau has this in the bag barring a major mistake and Prentice’s star power is not as strong on a federal scale as it is in Alberta.

    Assuming Harper opts to step down in the next 6 months, Prentice could run for leader of that party and his chances of winning are no better than Kenney, let alone McKay. Even if Prentice does win Leadership he could lose the General easily (or pull a minority which is just as devastating). If Harper doesn’t step down the Cons will be in for a three term swap out, where simple fatigue kills them off and Prentice never gets a chance to run a viable race even if he ever gets to be Con leader.

    I think Prentice realized that his chance of being PM are very slim while he’s 50/50 or better on Premier of Alberta; run correctly the PCs can get one more election win on the basis of fear of the extreme right. If they add on a renewed ability to court the unions after this AUPE deal they might just pull it out. I would not be surprised at all to see “Prentice wins 60 seats” in 2016.


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