“Slick” Jim Prentice feeling the heat

Every time the Tories put Prentice or the PC logo in front of a voter, it turns them off

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CALGARY, AB, Apr 17, 2015/ Troy Media/ – Campaign rhetoric usually translates policy into options voters understand. Wildrose emphasized the connection between higher taxes, increased spending, greater deficits, and why Albertans should vote for them. The NDP, with a personable and decent leader, has an easy task explaining why “Albertans deserve better.” We surely do.

What about the PCs?

The machine is well oiled. “We have a campaign strategy and a well-organized campaign,” said head mechanic Kelly Charlebois. “Certainly everything is falling into place exactly the way we anticipated.”

Jim Prentice re-re-rebranding the party

The first thing in place was rebranding. This practice, all cowboys know, is highly favoured by cattle rustlers. It worked in the past. Randy Dawson, running the current campaign, first tried it out when former Premier Ed Stelmach promised “change that works.” Next election, another former Premier, Alison Redford, promised “change from within” because the Tories were “not your father’s PC party.”

Here is Premier Jim Prentice’s version: “Albertans were very disappointed by their government. So was I.”

To assuage our common disappointment, we should vote for Prentice and his plan, a plan without intelligible content. The budget that so offended fiscal conservatives is the first step in restructuring the entire economy: no more dependence on oil and gas. What will replace oil and gas, Jim, tomato production? Nobody knows.

jim prentice
For Jim Prentice, professing a plan is evidence of competence and realism

According to the premier, “everywhere I go people agree that we need a plan.” Right. Plans are just the ticket. Commissar Jim has a 10-year plan. Even Commissar Stalin only went in for a five-year model.

For Prentice, professing a plan is evidence of competence and realism. “Its fine for those on the extreme right and extreme left to criticize, but it’s incumbent upon them to put forward a plan that’s realistic.”

Why should they play the planning game rather than remind electors of what the PCs have done over the last decade?

Dawson pulled the extremist gambit last time and it worked. But no one considers the remaining Wildrosers extremist, so much as honest. And the leftiness of the NDP, as one wag said, has always been more gauche than sinister. Prentice’s remarks betray a deep Tory anxiety.

For good reason. Just before Jim McCormick, a former party president, resigned from the PC board, cryptically citing looming legal problems, seven (maybe nine) PC nominations were beset with serious scandals – well-publicized allegations of illegality, bribery, and tampering by “the boys on the third floor,” which is to say by the premier’s office in the middle of which sits Dawson.

The dilemma faced by Prentice, Dawson, Charlebois and the lesser mechanics is common to all oligarchies: more money than supporters. Under modern circumstances this forces them into a PR campaign, into an “air war,” to use the contemporary image. Specifically, they must dominate the airwaves hoping no one else can get a message across. If only nonsense about a meaningless 10-year plan is available, perhaps Albertans will forego their common sense and vote for them.

Trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

What these cup-bearers to the oligarchy have overlooked is that every time they put Prentice or the PC logo in front of a voter, it turns them off. It makes people angry, not supportive. Because the entire process is bogus, from recruiting Prentice to purging Danielle Smith, every exposure of slick Jim just confirms that judgment.

Randy, you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, even in Alberta. To retain the porcine imagery so appropriate to an organization with two feet in the trough for a generation, lipstick on a pig does not hide the pig. It draws attention to it.

“Choose Alberta’s future,” the PC slogan instructs. Let’s do just that.

Barry Cooper is a research fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.

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