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Monday, April 03, 2006


I don't know what Ralph Klein's magic number was, but I guarantee it was higher than 55%. It's an inauspicious end to a remarkable political career, and it's too bad. It's too bad for Klein, who surely wanted more dignity in his exit from a long political life that was remarkably successful, despite his lengthy collection of inauspicious moments. It's too bad for the Tories, who are going to be extremely hard-pressed to heal from this vote, or to find a leader with the political chops to dance the way Klein could, high-stepping around enormously contentious issues while leading a caucus divided (nearly equally, in the early years) between fiscal and social conservatives. And it's too bad for the province, at least in the short term, because none of the serious leadership prospects look to be taking the Tories to the left.

That probably sounds a little odd, thinking of Klein as leading his party from the left. The fact is, when the Premier arrived on the scene, he was coming from the right of his party - not all the way right, but far enough. There was still enough of the leftover modernizing spirit of Lougheed (who, Conservative though he may have been, took over against a very conservative old SoCred party. Lougheed's first act as Premier was to repeal Alberta's longstanding eugenics legislation. It's all relative in Alberta politics.) to keep the party balanced. Now, we're left with Jim Dinning as the great hope for the centre. Jim Dinning! Maybe Gary Mar, though he's had his moments. But most of the rest of the caucus looks suspiciously more like Steve West.

But here's the good news, at least from my perspective. As Don Martin points out today in the Post, neither Caesar's nor Chretien's assassins fared very well. This looks like a Conservative Party on the verge of tearing itself apart. Bear asked earlier today why the media hasn't been filled with quotes from the leaders of the major opposition parties. My guess is, they're both lying low, writing speeches filled with kind words for their long-time nemesis, using terms that will stand in stark contrast to the Brutuses and Cassiuses waiting in the wings. Mark Anthony know what he was about. As for myself, I just hope I can take a third shot at Strathmore-Brooks. I have a feeling Lyle Oberg's support might be taking a beating over the next few weeks and months.

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