How did Alison Redford win?

l

Alison Redford is the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta and will be sworn in on Friday as Alberta’s 14th Premier.  She pulled off a stunning upset of her chief rival in this year’s leadership race against front-runner Gary Mar.

I say upset because Redford accomplished just 19% on the first ballot compared to Mar’s 41%.

Between the first and second ballots, Redford jumped to 28,993 votes while Mar jumped to 33,233 total. Mar also had the benefit of the endorsement of the other contenders. But as the preferential ballot broke after the second ballot was counted, Redford picked up the rest.

Who were these new members?

Between the first and second ballot, Redford had a meeting on September 22nd with the Alberta Teachers Association, a 43,000 member strong union. Redford sent a letter to the ATA president promising to restore $107 million in education funding that the previous cabinet (of which she was a member) cut. Mar and other leadership rival Ted Morton said that such funding could not be restored due to Alberta’s deficit budget, but Redford made the promise to the union.  Here is her letter:

Dear Ms Henderson,

As you know I am contesting the Leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party to become the next Premier of the province of Alberta.  My priorities, like so many Albertans, are healthcare and public education.  In particular, I am committed to funding public education properly and it is important that the government move quickly on that front.

I will commit to restoring the education cuts made in the 2011/2012 budget within 10 days of being sworn in as Premier. This funding should not have been removed from the budgets of Alberta School Boards. I only regret that the timing of the leadership contest means that unacceptable disruption has already occurred that must be reversed. If elected Premier, I will not allow that to happen again.

The restoration of this funding will allow School Boards to hire back teachers and support staff laid off this summer. This, in turn, will reduce class size to a more manageable level. In consideration of the funding restoration, I will request that School Boards also roll back fee increases passed onto parents this fall.

Further, I commit to stable and predictable funding on three-year cycles in the future. School boards need to be able to plan, not annually react to unpredictable budgets. In order to keep talented teachers, we must be able to offer them longer term stability, not a continual cycle of layoffs and rehiring. Students and parents must know what to expect from year to year.

It is increasingly obvious that we need to change how we consult, and how we plan and implement government initiatives. I am very hopeful that you will work with me going forward to build a much better process, for the benefit of public education, public health care reform and other areas of government.

I very much appreciate the opportunity to address your representatives on these issues, and look forward to some challenging questions!

Sincerely,

Alison Redford

And then ATA Executive Director Gordon Thomas published a letter on the union website encouraging union members to sign up to influence the leadership vote,

As I write this editorial, Gary Mar, Doug Horner and Alison Redford are in the final days of a long campaign seeking the leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party.

I encourage all members to consider being active in this leadership campaign—and, for that matter, any leadership campaign. Get involved in choosing the next premier of Alberta. Assess the candidates for their education platforms. In my role with the Alberta Teachers’ Association, I have met with all of these candidates to discuss their views on education. I look forward to working with the new ­premier, no matter which candidate wins, as the teaching profession and the government work together to improve public education in Alberta. While the Association is decidedly unpartisan, we do encourage our members to get involved in public affairs—and this leadership competition will have a real impact on the ­province and our future.

Did a $107 million dollar promise activate the machinery that turned out most of the new votes on the 2nd ballot? One thing is for certain, the second ballot took a decidedly different direction than the first and that new direction was due to brand new members. The Tory rank-and-file showed up to vote on the first ballot. Did the special interests rush the ballot box to take Redford from 19% to victory?

As an allegedly “conservative” party, the Alberta PC is not supposed to be delivering for the special interests. Today a $107 million promised hand-off and tomorrow a ballot box explosion? Did Alison Redford use taxpayer dollars to unions to guarantee her victory?

  • Gabby in QC

    I don’t think I stated anything to the contrary. I wasn’t weighing in on the Alberta political scene, but it appears that the people who listened most closely were those who saw something in it for them — which is just human nature.

    My point, which appears to have eluded you, is that regardless of the amount of funding any project or cause receives, it’s individual human endeavor that affects outcomes. We (a general “we”) seem to always want someone to blame for whatever goes wrong: it’s the system, it’s the government, it’s the politicians, it’s the teachers, no it’s the principals, it’s not enough money, it’s too much money, it’s not enough time to educate my kids, it’s because I’m from a disadvantaged socio-economic background, it’s because of greedy capitalists, etc. etc.

    In short, it’s always someone else’s fault. But IMO, Steve Jobs’ achievements disproved that. It’s my way of commemorating his passing, I suppose.

  • http://twitter.com/erynlkelly Eryn Kelly

      If you don’t like the PC voting regime then attack that…hate the game not the player…

  • Anonymous

    That kind of quest for personal excellence cannot be legislated,
     affirmatively-actioned, funded into existence, or otherwise promoted by
    education departments or politicians.

    What is your point, really? Yes, remarkable people are remarkable because they are remarkable. So, how many Steve Jobs are out there, then?

    Most of us aren’t Steve Jobs, and our offspring, pleasing as they are to us, probably aren’t Steve Jobs either. So, we still need to raise them and give them the most tools we can to enable them to eventually feed and clothe themselves, and maybe meet someone and start their own family. Bonus marks for finding a vocation – something you love to do – but many, maybe most of us, are satisfied with earning a basic living doing whatever, and finding our joy in our family, friends, and a hobby or two.

    So Steve Jobs didn’t need university (I’m a uni dropout too, btw). Yay us. But the rest of you us need to get at least a basic education, and if possible a supplemental education that enables us to find gainful employment, hopefully fitting our aptitude and interests. Is it not a proper goal for Canada to provide a better education to as many of us as possible?

  • Anonymous

    The point is, she won. Will the right learn a lesson from it, or try to explain it away as some sort of trick?

    McGuinty won too, and it shows that the Conservative attack machine doesn’t always work, and was not enough of a distraction from Hudak having NO policy alternatives that would survive scrutiny.

    With voter turnout around 50%, your brand of foamy McGuinty hate apparently isn’t that prevalent.

  • Gabby in QC

    “What is your point, really? ”
    The use of the word “provide” in your last sentence shows you understood little of what I wrote. Other people’s far more limpid and pithy statements may help illustrate my point.
    “It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself.”
    ― Epicurus
    “The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm.”
    Unknown Source
    “No one can really pull you up very high-you lose your grip on the rope. But on your own two feet you can climb mountains.”
    - Louis Brandeis

  • Anonymous

    So, yay for personal initiative and effort. Is that your point?

    Take this on, no evasion: Is it not a proper goal for Canada to provide a better education to as many of us as possible?  (for provide, feel free to substitute “make available and affordable” in the case of post-secondary education)

  • Gabby in QC

    Since in your estimable opinion I’ve apparently failed to get my point across on more than one occasion, here are some more quotes from much more articulate people than I. Please note I don’t necessarily subscribe to everything else those same people have said/written, but these sayings of theirs express very closely what I think. And no, I’m not anti-education, far from it. If that is the conclusion you’ve derived from my comments on Steve Jobs, you’ve posited a false dilemma.

    All quotes courtesy of http://www.famousquotesandauthors.com/ 
    “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. The people who get on in this world are they who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw
    “Life is raw material. We are artisans. We can sculpt our existence into something beautiful, or debase it into ugliness. It’s in our hands.” – Cathy Better
    “We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers-you can blame anyone, but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you want to change, you’re the one who has got to change. It’s as simple as that, isn’t it?” – Katharine Hepburn
    “In the history of enterprise, most of the protagonists of major new products and companies began their education – not in the classroom, where the old ways are taught, but in the factories and labs where new ways are wrought … nothing has been so rare in recent years as an Ivy League graduate who has made a significant innovation in American enterprise.” – George Gilder
    “In the long run we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
    - Eleanor Roosevelt
    “Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned, and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.” – Thomas Huxley

    Happy Thanksgiving to all who visit here!

  • c frank

    As a 30 year PC voter and a mother of 2, I am gravely disappointed in the hijacking of our democracy by the teachers union!  If I have learned anything in nearly 15 years as a parents dealing withn our education system, it’s that teachers unions are NOT advocates for children.  They are advocates for teachers!  Teachers unions are the reason that young innovative exciting teachers can’t get tenure, while stressed out teachers who yell and humiliate or need endless stress leaves can’t get fired!  The teachers union is the reason that our teachers walked out with less than one day’s notice 4 1/2 years ago leaving thousands of studentsand families  high and dry)  Teachers unions are a big reason for the lobby against marks on report cards and provincial achievement tests. (Allison Redford plans to eliminate the PATs; I wonder how she came up with that idea) The last thing that teachers unions want is any sort of measure of accountability to the students and especially to the parents.  Parents wishes are squeezed out as being virtually irrelevant in the educational process while special interest groups lobby our politicians for their own interests.  When is anybody going to remember that educators work for us and should be accountable to us!  The ATA is entirely too powerful in policy formation and parents are far too powerless!  WILDROSE…..Here I come!!!! 

  • c frank

    As a 30 year PC voter and a mother of 2, I am gravely disappointed in the hijacking of our democracy by the teachers union!  If I have learned anything in nearly 15 years as a parents dealing withn our education system, it’s that teachers unions are NOT advocates for children.  They are advocates for teachers!  Teachers unions are the reason that young innovative exciting teachers can’t get tenure, while stressed out teachers who yell and humiliate or need endless stress leaves can’t get fired!  The teachers union is the reason that our teachers walked out with less than one day’s notice 4 1/2 years ago leaving thousands of studentsand families  high and dry)  Teachers unions are a big reason for the lobby against marks on report cards and provincial achievement tests. (Allison Redford plans to eliminate the PATs; I wonder how she came up with that idea) The last thing that teachers unions want is any sort of measure of accountability to the students and especially to the parents.  Parents wishes are squeezed out as being virtually irrelevant in the educational process while special interest groups lobby our politicians for their own interests.  When is anybody going to remember that educators work for us and should be accountable to us!  The ATA is entirely too powerful in policy formation and parents are far too powerless!  WILDROSE…..Here I come!!!! 

  • ATA Member

    Don’t forget that Stelmach bought off the teachers union with a two BILLION dollar pension payoff upon his ascension to Premier.

    Redfords payoff is rather modest by compariosn.

  • ATA Member

    Don’t forget that Stelmach bought off the teachers union with a two BILLION dollar pension payoff upon his ascension to Premier.

    Redfords payoff is rather modest by compariosn.

  • quest58

    “Cuts”???  The government has raised spending on education by an amount greater then inflation and population growth combined every year for over 4 years, including this year.  The $107M “cut” is the amount the ATA felt spending should have been increased by even more.  An amount regurgitated uncritically by the media, unquestioningly by spineless politicians, and parroted by School Boards.  School boards who reacted to these “cuts” by laying off front line teachers and support staff while simultaneously building large fancy new downtown office buildings to house the increased number of bureaucrats who have been hired, while buying ‘Smart Boards’ for every classroom, new lap tops for every teacher, and paying a legion of consultants, and specialists (most of whom are the friends, spouses or relatives of PC back room operatives or employees of high ranking Education Department members, but I am sure that is just a coincidence).   Education (like many other areas of Government spending) does NOT have a funding problem; they have a spending and organizational problem born of their bloated bureaucracy.

  • http://twitter.com/geoffjball Geoff Ball

    “Your kids are not ENTITLED to an education…”

    I stopped reading there. You’re clearly a loon.