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How did Alison Redford win?

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?

Comments

comments

  • http://twitter.com/claudlemire claudia lemire

    And she said she can do it in 10 days!

    I know this kind of horse trading isn’t new or ilegal but it should, it just isn’t right. 

  • Anonymous

    The membership cutoff was Aug. 19 so I don’t see how any of this resulted in signing up new members to influence the vote.

  • Anonymous

    I am SHOCKED, you heard me SHOCKED…….She is actually going to keep a campaign promise within 10 days of being sworn in?  

  • Bill Baerg

    As a conservative she should be getting out of education !!!  No government except family government has any business or authority to be in education let alone unionized government monopolies.

  • Beauger

    An interesting point, however, she won because conservative supports stayed away and sat on thier hands rather than vote for this sorry group of leadership contenders.  If the teachers were influenced by her promises – good for them.  The Wildrose Alliance will look after this matter when they become government.  Cheers.

  • http://twitter.com/michaelmkennedy Mike Kennedy

    Putting the ‘P’ in PC. Go Wildrose!

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor

    Ted Morton suggested amending the Leadership Rules as part of his platform:

    “amending the current Leadership Selection Process by adopting a cut-off date for the sale of memberships before balloting begins, thereby rewarding our loyal party members and discouraging the ‘two-minute Tory'”

    http://www.tedmorton.ca/3/archives/05-2011/1.html

  • http://twitter.com/TheInvisibleDan Dan

    Wrong.  There was no membership cutoff at all – people could buy a membership right at the voting station, on both the first and second ballot.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks. Apparently the Aug. 19th date was just to receive a mail in ballot.

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    Do you always go about speculating on such matters? Do you have children in the school system in Alberta? I have three of them and I know how horrible the cuts have been to the quality of their education. If you paid more attention to the issues facing Albertans and less attention to getting press time, the world would be a better place. 

    I bet your mother would call you on that. I just did.

  • Lorrainemarie

    Robert-you are wrong-people could buy memberships right at the polling station on the day of the vote. There was no cut off date for memberships-you could even download off the internet the day of the polls and go vote.

  • Bec

    Are you serious?

    I raised children (that are now Mothers) during the deficit cutting years under Ralph! We solidified, volunteered, cut back and as a Province, proudly slayed the obscene and humiliating deficit.

    My Daughters have children in the system and are DISGUSTED with the entiltled mentality. They live within their means and expect to work for what they get and to give back to their province with sacrifices.

    It’s no different from a household budget……don’t buy what you can’t pay cash for and don’t make promises that you can’t keep.

  • http://andrewmcintyre.ca Andrew

    I’ll say it here too – because it’s ridiculous to omit facts like these in an analysis such as this: 

    All the final three candidates agreed on restoring the $107M education cuts and it’s woefully disingenuous to imply that only Redford did. 

    http://bit.ly/nYAvyV

    Lastly, it’s not clear that taking a stronger stand on this issue won the election because the ATA rallied its members. Furthermore, I’d speculate that Redford’s position on the education cuts resonated more with parents of children in school than it did with union members. 

  • Anonymous

    Why did the Alberta PCs make education cuts in the first place? When will conservatives ever again learn that public health and education are INVESTMENTS, not “entitlements”?

  • Bec

    Ummmm, because they have to be paid for, kenn2. If there is no money, there is no money!

    We spend the most of ANY province in the country on health care so how do you explain that they still can’t get it right? Just saying!

    Perhaps if UNIONS were not involved. Perhaps if merit was the ONLY reason that someone was hired, there would be MORE PRODUCTIVITY. It’s not an investment to waste money on treating everyone (an employee) the same regardless of their effort. That’s assnine!

    If I am being taught, I want the best teacher. The only way to achieve that is to quit making them union robots and that especially applies in the medical field. I want the hardest working, most productive medical professionals treating me and I want them to earn more that the flunky that was at the bottom of the class. You cannot achieve that under a govt program of payment. There is room for private and public….let the money follow the patient/student. 
    One tax payer…..one solution. Everyone work together.

  • Mthielen

    I thought all the second place ballots were counted, not just the losers.  So, I guess my vote was counted twice.
    But, reading comments elsewhere it shows not many people watched the debate, where she made the promise to put back the 107 million or how memberships were sold at the door, even for the second ballot.
    Redford promised this funding in the debate  within 10 days.
    So it was not a new thing, but she has already changed her mind re a fall sitting.  But who is surprised, women change their minds.

    Mar said it could not be done in 10 days.

  • Mthielen

    If, and it is a big IF, the money goes to the classrooms for teachers, teachers aids, equipment, supplies, special ed, etc it will be ok, but I think most of it will go to administration and raises for teachers, and administrators, and other perks.  Will wait to see parents mention that they have no kids in mixed grades by Christmas.

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    In case you don’t follow the true economics of it, there is funding in the sustainable fund. Education is our most sustainable resource. ergo…Welcome to the year 2011, and it’s not about your definition of “entitlement”. It’s about a solid education and a planned, sustainable 3 year budget. THAT is good planning. Alberta is the richest province, if not the most viable economy in all of North America. We can and should do better for our future. BTW?….aside from paying property taxes in our riding/school board area, we have been asked to come up with the shortfall through “school fees”. Ever heard of them? They are approximately $360.00 per child in our school board, including bussing (which was never charged for previously). My kids can’t go to school without a bus. We live about 5km away, across the Trans Canada highway.
    Yes, my kids are ENTITLED to a public education, but I am not about to pay twice for it and no one should be expected to do so. I AM entitled to a voice and choice in government.Wherever you might have some idea that this is about household budgeting, think a little deeper – think if you’d pay your butcher for a pound of hamburger at the meat counter, then on checkout, have your bags searched and for the privilege of it, pay twice as much as the best steak.I bet that would mess with your pristine household budget, Bec. Welcome to 2011.

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    That will be for the individual school boards to deal with, as I understand. There is not a one-size fits all solution and many boards have teachers with higher pay-grades due to experience, etc. This can totally skew a Board’s budget. In the area of special ed, with a child in a program, I can attest that the support that is already in place is not nearly enough. A goodly portion of our families’ time is spent in home-schooled accommodations (which I don’t get paid for). So….the answer is: The system has a LONG way to go. 

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    What he said. :)

  • Mthielen

    I sent my oldest son to school in 1964 and paid school fees, and continued paying them for all 5 kids. And I sent 2 g/kids to school for 12 yrs, one a very special needs boy.  Paid school fees, plus extra for school trips etc.  One yr I refused to pay for one of them and when asked why I said, he does not use text books, does not play sports, does not go on field trips.  All he gets is photocopies of junk. Big changes made and all sp ed kids got books, and other supplies.  I also managed to get him a full time signing aid for all 12 yrs he was in school.  Do they still have the program unit grant for sp ed students.  That paid for the aid and other equipment.  Parents can get what their child needs, just takes a lot of work and refusal to take no for an answer.
    Main reason I voted against Mar was things he did as education minister during my kids school years.
    I know, it was years ago, but my kids suffered.  You don’t forget.

  • Mthielen

    They maybe all said they would restore it, but it couldn’t be done in 10 days, and she is the only one that met with the ATA and wrote them a letter promising it.

  • Ted

    You make a really horrible accusation without any facts to back it up, Stephen.

    What was the swing in votes? What were the final numbers? How many new Conservatives signed up after that promise? How much did the total number of votes/voters go up and were new voters enough to make the difference?

    Highly highly unlikely that a promise and an endorsement only a few would read would motivate enough teachers to bother to go all the way into the convention, sign up to be a (ugh!) Conservative, provide personal information to the Conservatives just to vote for a politician who wasn’t even in the lead and (it seemed) not likely to win.

    I have no dog in this race at all. But this post is a silly strawman argument designed to besmirch a candidate you preferred not win. It’s not special interests but sour grapes.

  • Tedbetts

    In fact, it wasn’t even hard to show this post is BS with real data.

    Again, I have no dog in this internal race at all. I don’t really care.

    But it seems that the total number of votes plumetted between ballots: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Conservative_Association_of_Alberta_leadership_election,_2011

    Which is really really odd if you are trying to argue a promise after the first ballot convinced a whole bunch of non-Conservatives to suddenly join up and vote for Redford, enough in fact for her to leapfrog Mar and win.

    In fact, her growth in votes (8108) and Mar’s growth (2258) adds up to a swing of 10,366 votes from Horner who was eliminated.

    Ah but lo! Horner had 15,950 votes. So Redford’s catering to special interests was so influential that it drove about 5000 Conservatives AWAY from voting.

    Sounds a LOT more like sour grapes than special interests to me.

  • Anonymous

    So now the work begins to ferret out the number of new votes post September 22.  Is this something that can be achieved in the Socialist Republic of Alberta?

  • Anonymous

    Time for you to pack you and your children up and move to a more Socialist province. After the spring election it may be a different story.

    So the ends justify the means? You’re a scary socialist.

  • Anonymous

    Because special Ed caved to the teachers and dragged his sorry group of liberal MPs with him. I hope they all enjoy their retirement years starting next year.

  • Anonymous

    What’s BS Ted? Is that what you learned in public school? Or are fixed election what is taught in the public system these days

  • Mthielen

    Those 15,950 votes for Horner had a second choice and most of them went to Redford, so many of us had out votes counted twice.  Secondly, you did not have to go to the convention center to buy a membership an vote.  You could do that at any poll in the 87 ridings of AB.
    More votes were cast in the second vote than the first, but around 78,000 did not vote in the second vote than voted in the Stelmach win. And new memberships were sold, at the door and you did not have to give a lot of personal info to do it.   You have used the first vote of the previous race not the current one to come up with fewer voters. 
    On Sept 17, my husband and I went to cast a vote for our WRA candidate, crossed the street, bought memberships in the PC Party and voted.   And a lot of very dedicated former conservatives did the same thing.  
    You had to have a membership in the WRA for at least 2 wks before you could vote, and I loved the ballot,  the two names were there plus, none of the above.
    A lot of voters did not pick a number 2 choice on their second ballot so there goes your 5000.
    I, and many others that voted will not vote PC in the next election. 
    Oh, the girl selling memberships knew we were WRA as I accidentally gave my WRA card instead of a long expired PC card.  Didn’t matter.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see the point of any of the posts below. REDford’s letter and the “appeal” from ATA Executive Director Gordon Thomas says it all. There was only one meeting with one union group who will be repaid with 107 million tax dollars.

  • Anonymous

    Liar is a bit strong so I’ll assume you just don’t know.

  • Mthielen

    When my kids were in school, and parents objected to school fees, I would ask, do you have golf memberships, and they then shut up.

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    The only problem with this, Bec, is that getting the best teachers suffers when there are cuts. Not everyone is treated the same at all. Because for the most part, teachers with the most experience (translate to “best” in this case) receive a higher pay grade. After years of working in your profession, wouldn’t you want to be paid accordingly? Only fair, I say.

    When a board has a high number of experienced teachers, their budget is higher. My understanding is that the transfer of payments from the provincial government do not allow for this to be taken into effect. Therefore, we penalize experience and the “best”. When we have to lose the best…..we all suffer for it.

    I have yet to see a union robot teacher. I have seen a robot in Dave Hancock.

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    The only problem with this, Bec, is that getting the best teachers suffers when there are cuts. Not everyone is treated the same at all. Because for the most part, teachers with the most experience (translate to “best” in this case) receive a higher pay grade. After years of working in your profession, wouldn’t you want to be paid accordingly? Only fair, I say.

    When a board has a high number of experienced teachers, their budget is higher. My understanding is that the transfer of payments from the provincial government do not allow for this to be taken into effect. Therefore, we penalize experience and the “best”. When we have to lose the best…..we all suffer for it.

    I have yet to see a union robot teacher. I have seen a robot in Dave Hancock.

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    Exactly.

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    Exactly.

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    I can see you’re scared. Why else would you make threatening comments on a blog with a false name and silhouette icon? I’m sorry for your fear of change, and I hope you find a way through it.

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    I can see you’re scared. Why else would you make threatening comments on a blog with a false name and silhouette icon? I’m sorry for your fear of change, and I hope you find a way through it.

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    And that works for anyone who has a golf membership, Mthielen. For those that simply do not wish to pay a tax twice, then it’s an issue, isn’t it?

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    And that works for anyone who has a golf membership, Mthielen. For those that simply do not wish to pay a tax twice, then it’s an issue, isn’t it?

  • Anonymous

    Not enough space to hold the health/education public/private debate here. Likewise unions… in the absence of strong unions, the middle class just about evaporates, as we’re seeing in the US.

    If education was truly a PC priority… then why did they enact cuts, instead of changes or improvements? Less funding has seldom made anything better.

    If Alberta is selling ALL that oil, yet can’t fund health and education… you’re doin’ it wrong.

    In Canada , virtually everyone receives a good basic education and very good healthcare. If a rich person wants something better, they can hop on a plane.

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    I would hazard that she wrote many letters promising it to many voters. That’s her policy, why wouldn’t she?

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    Wise PEOPLE change their mind when it makes sense. I wouldn’t fault anyone for listening.

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    Agreed, Ted. Excellent point and shame on Stephen who is now sitting back, all excited that this post got so much action to it. Like you, I have no dog in this race either. 

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

    Mthielen , “Parents can get what their child needs, just takes a lot of work and refusal to take no for an answer. ” Simply refusing to pay school/trip fees, is NOT going to move us to the transformation that Public education needs in the Province. You didn’t address the bigger issues like WHY are we paying these fees in the first place? How do we value public education in this Province? Why did this government cut Education funding in the first place; if we value public education then it should not vary with the economy. WHY don’t we have sustainable funding in this very rich Province? I am not a PC but I admire Redford for making Education a KEY issue in this election. Reaching out and caring about our teachers is a bad thing?????

  • Gabby in QC

    My comment is only remotely connected to the topic of this post, education.

    We learned Steve Jobs died last night. Having viewed the commencement exercise address he gave at Stanford U (H/T Dr. Roy http://torydrroy.blogspot.com/2011/10/rip-steve-jobs.html), I learned a bit about Steve Jobs’ life. Here’s some of what I learned:

    • Jobs was a college drop-out — which I already knew — but what I didn’t know was that he dropped out because he thought he was wasting his lower-middle class parents’ money. He didn’t really know what he wanted to do, so he figured his time at college was being wasted. Apparently, without the help of school bursaries or grants, he audited the courses that interested him, and we know where he eventually ended up. In other words, a self-reliant, self-made man.

    • I also learned that Jobs’ biological parents gave him up for adoption. Thankfully for him, his unwed biological mother went ahead with the pregnancy but his prospective adoptive parents rejected him at the last moment, preferring a girl instead. Again thankfully, Jobs was adopted by the blue-collar couple he called his parents. Despite those two devastating early rejections and others that followed in his career, Steve Jobs rose to the pinnacle of success — despite his disadvantaged start in life. 

    Steve Jobs’ life story illustrates for me that all the best educational opportunities imaginable can be made available to people — but it is the individual him/herself that seizes the moment, driven to succeed despite apparent setbacks. That kind of quest for personal excellence cannot be legislated,  affirmatively-actioned, funded into existence, or otherwise promoted by education departments or politicians. 

  • Gabby in QC

    Umm, on second thought, the primary topic of this blog post is Alison Redford and how she managed to become leader of the Alberta PCs.

    The secondary topic is education.

  • http://www.janicetantonblog.com Janice Tanton

    She managed to become the Premier because she addressed crucial concerns of taxpayers – education being one of them. People like to be listened to. :)

  • Mthielen

    You miss the point.  Rural parents always paid school fees, and had to buy everything for their students.  City kids bought nothing-crayons, scribblers and so much other stuff was supplied. Even food for special events was supplied. We brought our own.
    School fees, at that time were 100./kid.  Golf membership was 500.00, plus they had money for trips, RVs and other stuff.  And both parents worked.  Priorities, kids last, wants first. 

  • Liz J

    Who’s going to answer the question: ” How did Alison Redford win?”  I dunno, seems like a job for a super sleuth.

    We have an election in Ontario today and if McGuinty wins the question might be “how many people in Ontario had lobotomies?”