PHOTOS: Only the façade remains as the once mighty Alberta Progressive Conservative Party implodes … Actual crumbling Alberta political institutions may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Independent Chestermere-Rocky View candidate Jamie Lall, former PC justice minister Jonathan Denis and former PC deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk.

Is Premier Jim Prentice’s Alberta Progressive Conservative Party on the verge of imploding?

It sure seemed that way it yesterday, with more bad news for the 43-year-plus “natural governing party” flowing through the news feeds into the consciousness of voters.

Yesterday morning alone saw reports that:

  • Staff at the Alberta Health Ministry broke the rules and knew they were doing it when they gave sole-source contracts to Navigator Ltd., a political strategy firm associated with the PC governments of Alison Redford and Mr. Prentice. To do it, the CBC reported, ministry officials back-dated contracts, paid in full for work that hadn’t been completed and acknowledged among themselves that they were breaking the rules.
  • Even though there’s a court publication ban on the family law case that led to Jonathan Denis being forced to resign as justice minister, there were reports that earlier this month Calgary police were called to the home of the former Prentice Cabinet member and his now-estranged wife. No charges were laid.
  • Former Chestermere-Rocky View PC candidate Jamie Lall went public with emails in which Mr. Denis, then still the justice minister, advised him not to talk to a Tory Party investigator and told him “Buddy, you are being set up,” and “they’re playing you for a dumb kid” when Mr. Lall was disqualified as a candidate to make way for a Wildrose floor-crosser.

And that was just the AM drive show!

By 4 p.m., the CBC had broken another story in which someone revealed the reason for Mr. Lall’s disqualification: a restraining order sought by an ex-girlfriend in 2007.

Mr. Lall, by the way, is now running as an independent in the riding in which he’d expected run as a PC.

The Herald reporter characterized the situation as dirty laundry being aired in public. The story’s headline writer, presumably in Hamilton and not trained in the Herald’s usual caution about discussing PC goings on, termed it a “Tory civil war.”

And who knows what we’ll be hearing on the radio today?

Like last week’s story about Redford Government deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk’s unreported additional cellular roaming charges, all the stories except the CBC’s report on the Navigator contracts had the sound of things that were probably leaked from within Tory ranks.

With voters seemingly abandoning the musty and threadbare 44-year-old PC dynasty for the NDP or the Wildrose Party, at least if recent polls are to be believed, the still-barely-governing party seemed to be foundering, unable to figure out how to respond or what else to do next, if not actually disintegrating.

It’s possible they’ve forgotten how to respond to a crisis after more than four decades in power with barely a serious challenge in all that time until the past couple of general elections.

Perhaps angry PC insiders, disillusioned at the turn the campaign has taken under the uninspiring leadership of Mr. Prentice, have decided they only have a week left to get their shots in at their former political home before the deluge hits?

Well, for his part at least, Mr. Prentice stood firmly behind the dismissal of Mr. Lall and just as firmly behind Mr. Denis, the provider of free advice via text to the disqualified candidate. Although, don’t look for Mr. Denis to be back in cabinet any time soon, even if the PC Government survives next Tuesday.

At least the CBC’s Navigator contracts story couldn’t be blamed on chaos within the party – it was the result of good old fashioned investigative reporting, the kind only the CBC does any more in Alberta, with the possible exception of a couple of bloggers.

Meanwhile, poll analyst Eric Grenier, author of the website, wrote in a CBC opinion piece yesterday that because of the NDP surge in the polls, which shows the New Democrats ahead of both the Tories and the Wildrose, “Rachel Notley’s New Democrats could win between 26 and 45 seats, with Brian Jean’s Wildrose taking between 25 and 42. Jim Prentice’s PCs could be reduced to between five and 31 seats.”

This, Grenier argues, points to a minority government – which if disgraced and abandoned former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith gets her way would then result in a Wildrose-PC coalition to ensure the 44-year-old Tory dynasty can survive in some form.

Of course, the “Tory civil war” would have to end first.

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  1. NOTE: This story has been modified to reflect the fact that Navigator Ltd. as such did not work for the government of Ed Stelmach, as reported here and elsewhere, although Randy Dawson, who today is Navigator’s managing principal, was employed as Mr. Stelmach’s campaign manager.

  2. As I’ve stated may times, a vote for the Wildrose is a vote for the PCs. A minority coalition of the two will solve nothing.

    To their credit, your followers probably know that. The question is, how do we get this message out to others?

    I’m all for protest votes, but one has to protest effectively. Voting for Wildrose to get back at the PCs is counterproductive.

  3. I’ve just discovered a youtube video of PC contract negotiations!! Shocking, but it would seem that we finally have proof that Groucho Marx was the key conservative figure behind the curtain, guiding not only the floor crossings, but also, the soon to be complete “second coming” coalition of our two right wings.

  4. A Tory/Wildrose coalition gov’t? After all these tales of woe about the PC dynasty imploding at the seams, we get this. The Torries walking the aisle in marriage with their half sister, the Wildrose. Can’t wait to see how their offspring turn out.

    More proof there is no God, that the universe is a cold random collection of atoms.

  5. Look, just like most of you, I’m alternately jealous of our host’s literary gifts and envious of his pulpit, and therefore grudgingly respectful. However, these are trying times and I am demanding that he throw caution to the winds and start blogging as if he was still a teenager! My second recommendation is to make sure that he has a youthful assistant to use the twitter et al to social media his de-bunking of the swill that’s being peddled as journalism!

  6. A PC-Wildrose coalition? Jesus, if you think Albertans (and WR supporters, in particular) were mad when Dani Dollars crossed the floor, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

    1. I agree. That’s why I don’t buy the notion of an NDP minority government. If that happened the PCs and Wildrose would jump into bed the first chance they get and then topple the NDP.

      The reality is the NDP need a majority win, or else all is lost. Anything short of a majority means we are back where we started with another election forced upon us by the PC-Wildrose.

      1. I’m pretty sure we are in for a NDP majority thanks to blogs like Susan’s. IOPS is a Conservative funded pollster. They were set up by the Conservatives and they are predicting an NDP majority if the vote turns out.

        Likewise the CBC who is run by Harpers crew hands on is saying the same thing.

        All we have to do is turn out the vote; that has to be the message going forward.

  7. Rick Bell in the Sun makes your comments sound mild by comparison:

    “The premier suggests we start focusing on what he says is important stuff.

    It is a tall order.

    You see, a lot of people don’t like Toryland.

    Even a lot of folks who vote PC don’t like Toryland.

    They don’t like the stink and there’s been so much stink when something happens that’s stinky it gets our attention.

    When we smell some more of it we say: “Aha! There it is. Must be Toryland.”

    Toryland has seen more than its fair share of idiots who have mismanaged our money and liars who haven’t come clean with the truth.

    Then there’s the seemingly endless conga line of the entitled, shameless about taking Albertans for a ride, hoping no one gets wise while their sizable snouts are taking their turn at the trough.

    Of course, an individual outrage passes but every new whiff of the stink erodes confidence in those who have presided over Toryland.

    Prentice was the new broom sweeping out the Toryland closet.

    But we don’t hear much from the broom anymore.

    For the moment, tawdry Toryland is on hold.

    Later in the day, Wildrose leader Brian Jean makes his pitch at Sun HQ.

    At one point Jean says: “I come to Calgary and it’s scandal after scandal. I know what it does to me. It makes my stomach churn.”

    Jean’s stomach isn’t churning over the Prentice budget plan though he opposes it.

    His stomach isn’t churning over Prentice as a leader though he believes he can do better.

    No, his stomach churns over Toryland.

    He is not alone.”

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