And the establishment is fighting to the last ditch to get Jim Dinning elected leader of the Alberta PC Party and premier:
They meet clandestinely, behind the closed doors of salons in Calgary's Mount Royal mansions and the cappuccino bars of Edmonton's Old Strathcona district. They belong to a small, underground band known as Alberta Liberals. And after decades as political pariahs in a solidly blue province, they're now talking in hushed tones about doing the unthinkable: joining the enemy.
It's anyone's guess how many left-of-centre Albertans have held their noses and forked over $5 for a Progressive Conservative membership, but Gillian Steward, publisher of Alberta Views magazine, which covers the province's arts community, says she's "been hearing from people who would not normally take out a Tory membership that they think that they should." The reason? Fear and perhaps a dash of loathing of Ted Morton, the unapologetically right-wing poli-sci professor on the brink of stealing Alberta's Tory leadership runoff vote this Saturday from urbane centrist front-runner Jim Dinning.
Tom McCabe, president of Theatre Calgary, says that while he didn't vote Tory last election, he's ensured his entire staff has PC memberships and has pressed them to vote for Mr. Dinning and his promise to double funding for the arts.
"I tell them, 'Look. Grow up. You're not voting for the government here ... You're not committing yourself to a lifelong support of the Tories," says Mr. McCabe, who says he knows other music and theatre groups advising their members to join up, too.
Alberta's former treasurer, they charge, is actively recruiting non-Tories, dialing up Liberal party membership lists and warning dyed-in-the-wool Grits that if there's one thing they need dread more than another PC premier, it's a hard-right PC premier with a social-conservative agenda. Says one senior Morton operative: "We've heard it from several law firms downtown," where the city's political power brokers dwell, "that Dinning's people are combing through the Liberal party lists and signing them up as Tories."
Every special interest suckler on the government teat fears being forcibly weaned by Ted Morton. Jim Dinning, for all his other faults, will not do so.
But it may be too little, too late, to salvage the crown, if not the coronation.
Source: National Post