Whither Liberal Laurie Blakeman? Will she become the first Alberta Party MLA actually elected to that role?

Posted on February 07, 2015, 2:56 am
6 mins

Edmonton-Centre Liberal (but maybe not for long) MLA Laurie Blakeman in a recent photo grabbed from her Facebook page. Below: Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark and the party’s executive director, former Wildrose candidate Tim Grover.

Whither Laurie Blakeman?

The more I think about Ms. Blakeman’s offer just a week ago to lead the foundering post-Raj-Sherman Alberta Liberals if they’d let her try to negotiate a merger with the Alberta Party, the more it appears to me as if a sincere offer also came with a carefully thought out narrative that would allow the Edmonton-Centre MLA to abandon ship with her dignity and electability intact.

Ms. Blakeman had to know that the proposal would be a hard sell to what’s left of the party’s leadership, even in the dire straits Alberta’s Liberals now find themselves after three years with the mercurial Dr. Sherman at the party’s helm.

Clark-LBut it’s hard not to speculate that she released her plan to the media and the public the way she did to ensure that if they didn’t take her up on her offer to try one last time to save the party that just doesn’t seem to want to be saved she had an exit strategy.

Predictably enough (with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight) last Sunday the party board met in Calgary and appointed former leader and Calgary-Mountain View MLA David Swann as interim leader. As I wrote at the time, Dr. Swann is a fine person, but he has already proved he doesn’t have what it takes to successfully lead the party and his chances of achieving much in the face of the Jim Prentice Progressive Conservative juggernaut are negligible at best.

Ms. Blakeman was graceful in defeat, congratulating Dr. Swann on his unenviable new position and acknowledging the party board’s right to choose whom it liked.

But it’s pretty obvious the board’s decision offers Ms. Blakeman, a five-term MLA with a sterling reputation among the voters of her downtown Edmonton riding, a graceful way to escape the threat to her electoral survival presented by the implosion of the once-proud opposition party she has championed through thick and thin since 1997.

She hinted at something like this on her Facebook page this week: “Dear Wonderful People, Thank you all so much for your concern, advice, support, cheers, & invitations to join various political parties. I am fine – back at work in the fabulous constituency of Edmonton-Centre. I’m going to let a few days, or a week, pass before I make any decisions about my future. When I know, I’ll let you know. xxoxoxo laurie.” (Emphasis added.)

On Sunday, of course, a week will have passed, and somehow I don’t think it is at all unlikely that Ms. Blakeman will announce something then, and that it won’t be that she’s about to sigh and run again as an Alberta Liberal.

Given her attitudes and the positions she has taken on a variety of issues, Ms. Blakeman would make an excellent New Democrat, but I think the history of the two parties in the Alberta Legislature would make such a switch very unlikely.Grover-R

More likely, she will arrange her own personal merger with the Alberta Party.

As Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark wrote on that party’s web page last Monday, he was prepared to enter into merger negotiations with Ms. Blakeman, as she proposed. Failing that, “the Alberta Party is busy putting together an impressive slate of candidates including past supporters of the Liberals, moderate Wildrose supporters.”

Indeed, the Alberta Party recently hired Tim Grover, the Wildrose Party’s disappointing candidate in the Oct. 27 Edmonton-Whitemud by-election, as the party’s executive director. (“During the by-elections it was clear Wildrose was trying to become more moderate, and Tim was a big part of that movement,” wrote Mr. Clark, not necessarily persuasively.)

What do you want to bet that Ms. Blakeman is one of those past supporters of the Alberta Liberals who rallies to the Alberta Party’s pastel banner?

I used to think that after Dr. Sherman’s catastrophic helmsmanship, the best the Liberals could hope to survive with would be two seats – Ms. Blakeman’s and Dr. Swann’s. It may soon turn out that Dr. Swann is the party leader in the Legislature by default, because he’s the only Liberal left there. Even that will be no sure thing in current circumstances.

Ms. Blakeman, on the contrary, could turn out to be the first Alberta Party MLA who got the job through an election, not by crossing the floor.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

8 Comments to: Whither Liberal Laurie Blakeman? Will she become the first Alberta Party MLA actually elected to that role?

  1. Paula Kerner

    February 7th, 2015

    I’ve always voted either Liberal or NDP … yet, the Wildrose hired me as a legislative assistant “staffer.” Anyway, I can say for a certainty that Tim Grover is Capital “M” Moderate. Sure, Tim is small “c” conservative Moderate, but small business is his forte. I’m talking about tea shop owner moderate, small restaurant moderate – that’s Tim Grover.

    Reply
  2. David Boroditsky

    February 7th, 2015

    I think there’s too much attention given to the application of labels in Alberta politics. It seems to me that there’s a lot of people in a lot of parties who generally agree on a lot of issues, who generally agree on living within our means, making decisions based on evidence, and for caring for everyone in our communities, and yet a lot of effort is applied to labelling and subsequently dismissing others based on these labels.

    It seems to me that due to branding and ideology, neither the NDP nor the Liberals will never form government in Alberta, so what’s the alternative? A party further to the right than the PCs? How do we stop always electing the same government?

    Reply
    • Sam Gunsch

      February 8th, 2015

      re: ‘How do we stop always electing the same government?’

      The answer would require solving the excessive hold on AB politics
      of 1) the petro-industry, 2) of neoliberal ideology as spewed by the RW thinktank/punditry tribe
      and throwing out FPTPost for 3) some form of proportional representation.

      An example of the neoliberal ideology impact on economic planning/budgeting is the phrase ‘living within our means’. This implies veracity to the claim the government budgets are like household budgets. Which is entirely without evidence but useful to corporate interests that want to shrink government and lower taxes on the rich.

      It’s IMO the most clear and widespred example of pure self-serving fiction/propaganda of the RW ideology that began to take over politics and economics in the West via the political movements against government and pro-market rule of society that was launched by Thatcher, then exploded under Reagan.

      Long-Term Goal: Mostly summarized by G. Norquist’s agenda of shrinking gov’t until you can drown it in a bathtub.

      ==========================
      background re: living within our means

      Nobody Understands Debt – NYTimes.com

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/02/…/krugman-nobody-understands-debt.ht...

      Jan 1, 2012 – By PAUL KRUGMAN … They see America as being like a family that took out too large a mortgage, and will have a hard time making the monthly payments. This is, however, a really bad analogy in at least two ways.

      Running Government Like A Business or Family – NYTimes …
      krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/…/running-government-like-a-business-or-f…

      Mar 14, 2013 – I’ve spent a lot of time trying to knock down the bad analogy … act like an individual family or business, and cut back when times are tough.

      Reply
      • Sam Gunsch

        February 8th, 2015

        Here are links below that work. Sorry for the dead link above:

        =========================================
        http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/14/running-government-like-a-business-or-family/?_r=0
        ===============

        http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/family-budget-not-equal-to-government-budget/

        Here’s the gist: “The federal budget is just like a family budget, and we in government must tight our belts and live within our means just like families do.”

        There are similarities which I’ll note below, but it’s almost always used as an argument for cutting everything to the bone right away, and in that sense it’s wrong.

        First of all, it’s bass-akwards: when families are tightening their belts, the federal government is the one institution that can actually help the economy—and these belt-tightening families—by loosening its belt and running a deficit.

        ===========

        http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/08/28/right-wing-media-erroneously-compare-the-federa/195644

        The upcoming debt limit debate has already prompted right-wing media to forward this deceptive analogy. Previewing Congress’ need to raise the debt limit, Fox News host Martha MacCallum likened federal debt to that of a daughter running up a credit card bill.

        Of course, numerous economists — such as Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Senior Fellow Jared Bernstein — have repeatedly stated that comparing household budgets to government budgets demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the subject.

        This analogy is considered so fallacious that William Baumol and Alan Blinder tackle it directly in an Economics 101 textbook…

        =====================

        Reply
    • Sam Gunsch

      February 8th, 2015

      BTW, David Boroditsky’s comment seems progressive overall.

      By my replies about ‘living within our means’ I did NOT mean to suggest I considered his comment as coming from a RW ideology.

      In fact, I was struck by the contrast between ‘making decisions based on evidence’ and that the RW has obviously succeeded in implanting this false analogy of gov’t budgets/capacities and household budgets among the progressive portion of citizens.

      Demonizing gov’t, taxes, public spending without resort to actual evidence since Thatcher kicked it off has obviously come to almost monopolize politics and economics in the West.

      Ralph Klein’s cuts and attack on the provincial gov’t public service programs and civil servants marked the takeover of AB. Lougheed Tories, which includes me, who believe in the public good and government’s ability to serve the public good and the citizenry, have for some time now been considered heretics by the PC’s/WRP and Reform/CPC’s.

      Under Lougheed we created our and owned our own Energy Company to help get our fair share. Socialist! now. The actual political home for AB progressives, and were formerly in Lougheed’s corner, is probably the NDP now, IMO. Liberals/AB Party would not do this, IMO.

      excerpt: The Alberta Energy Co was set up in 1975 by the Lougheed government. The idea was that it would provide a way for average Albertans to invest in and benefit from Alberta’s natural resource wealth.

      http://www.tarsandswatch.org/alberta-needs-publicly-owned-energy-company-peter-lougheeds-encana-showed-world-advantages-public-ow

      Reply
  3. Sam Gunsch

    February 8th, 2015

    re: ‘How do we stop always electing the same government?’

    The answer would require solving the excessive hold on AB politics
    of 1) the petro-industry, 2) of neoliberal ideology as spewed by the RW thinktank/punditry tribe
    and throwing out FPTPost for 3) some form of proportional representation.

    An example of the neoliberal ideology impact on economic planning/budgeting is the phrase ‘living within our means’. This implies veracity to the claim the government budgets are like household budgets. Which is entirely without evidence but useful to corporate interests that want to shrink government and lower taxes on the rich.

    It’s IMO the most clear and widespred example of pure self-serving fiction/propaganda of the RW ideology that began to take over politics and economics in the West via the political movements against government and pro-market rule of society that was launched by Thatcher, then exploded under Reagan.

    Long-Term Goal: Mostly summarized by G. Norquist’s agenda of shrinking gov’t until you can drown it in a bathtub.

    ==========================
    background re: living within our means

    Nobody Understands Debt – NYTimes.com

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/02/…/krugman-nobody-understands-debt.ht...

    Jan 1, 2012 – By PAUL KRUGMAN … They see America as being like a family that took out too large a mortgage, and will have a hard time making the monthly payments. This is, however, a really bad analogy in at least two ways.

    Running Government Like A Business or Family – NYTimes …
    krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/…/running-government-like-a-business-or-f…

    Mar 14, 2013 – I’ve spent a lot of time trying to knock down the bad analogy … act like an individual family or business, and cut back when times are tough.

    Reply
    • David

      February 8th, 2015

      Thanks for the thoughtful replies. I’m sorry for my sloppy use of the phrase “living within our means”. I realize that it’s often code for the kind of fiscal nastiness that you refer to.

      My knowledge of economics is quite limited, but as a mortgage owner, I can’t fathom why anyone would be opposed to the notion of a government acquiring debt as required, so I wasn’t using it in that sense.

      What I think I was trying to get at was the notion that we could, in theory, spend an almost limitless, amount of money in all manner of ways… A personal physician for every citizen, 3 children per class, re-pave all roads every year, and other silliness, but in the end the government needs to decide how to collect money and how to spend and borrow money.

      For myself, and other Alberta party people I’ve spoken with, we’re a pretty progressive crowd, but don’t like the limitations and dogma that comes from the traditional left/right labels. There are some good ideas from all parts of the spectrum.

      Reply
  4. Sam Gunsch

    February 8th, 2015

    David,

    re: David said… excerpt: ‘What I think I was trying to get at was the notion that we could, in theory, spend an almost limitless, amount of money in all manner of ways… A personal physician for every citizen, 3 children per class, re-pave all roads every year, and other silliness, but in the end the government needs to decide how to collect money and how to spend and borrow money.’

    Unfortunately, the RW agenda has succeeded in making ‘living within our means’ something quite different than you had in mind ( clearly, you get that) … they’ve embedded and continue to propagandize a *frame* that gov’t should cut spending, not incur debt to fund infrastructure and service in downward economic cycles, to the point it is unconsciously used by, a large portion of the West’s citizenry.

    The RW thinktank+MSMcorporatePunditry has succeeded in embedding/making common-sense the phrase of ‘living within our means’ to the extent that it’s a certitude, *truth*, that gov’t should NOT spend in a counter-business cycle strategy.

    George Lakoff has explained the communication and politicization processes on this stuff.

    Since I’ve read Lakoff, I find that it’s possible to *see* the propaganda of the CTF/Fraser/Nat.Post/Sun/CalgHerald economic/government complaints.

    Links below to Lakoff’s explanations, and no offence, but his explanations as to why ‘living within our means’ have crept into progressive’s debates on policy:

    http://www.truth-out.org/progressive-picks/item/12401-george-lakoff-progressives-need-to-use-language-that-reflects-moral-values#

    http://www.commondreams.org/views/2011/02/20/what-conservatives-really-want

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/17/magazine/17DEMOCRATS.html?pagewanted=all

    Lakoff points out how conservatives have been cunning in their framing to undercut the citizenry’s belief that government can serve them.

    http://www.truth-out.org/progressive-picks/item/12401-george-lakoff-progressives-need-to-use-language-that-reflects-moral-values#
    ==================

    From some recent comments, Prentice/Horner get that no government debt to support spending on infrastructure has become a too extreme position, given that the state of AB public infrastructure, such as hospitals for example that may ultimately deal possible death blows to PC+WRP coalitionat some point.

    As per Lougheed replacing Socreds in a convulsive political change.

    And so PC+WRP are trying to stifle the TeaParty extremism they’ve imported via their WRP coalition.

    For the moment, Danielle Smith DID succeed on behalf of this corporate-serving agenda. Prentice while admitting the need to fund infrastructure despite falling petro-revenues, IS revealing his neoliberal roots. Or market fundamentalism. Synonyms.
    ===============

    So the argument I`m trying to publicize is that the RW market fundamentalists, have succeeded in dominating society, in large part because of their superior resources applied to superior communication techniques. The evidence in the economic metrics does not support their policy. See: AB Inequality. Piketty.

    Techniques discussed:
    http://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/view/harperism

    http://www.comnetwork.org/2015/01/know-your-frame/

    Huxley has so far been proven right. We humans are vulnerable to propaganda without coercion.

    Orwell`s take was built on actual war. Doesn`t have the long term power of communication.

    Mind war. Is where it`s at.

    Sam Gunsch

    Reply

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