Freddy Lee "Ted" Morton, the worst premier Alberta never had, was back in the pages of the Calgary Herald the other day, bloviating at length about the need for brutal attack on public service salaries because this province's frequently fluctuating principal revenue source has gone and fluctuated again.
Alert readers will recall Morton describing himself as "every liberal’s nightmare, a right-winger with a PhD." He was also the owner of the mysterious "Frederick Lee" semi-official government email account.
Later, Morton's defiance as finance minister effectively brought down premier Ed Stelmach -- setting himself up to succeed "Honest Ed" as the leader of the Progressive Conservatives and the premier of Alberta, or so he thought.
Morton first came to public attention back in the early Zeroes as the neoconservative University of Calgary professor and American-born Alberta independentiste who signed the Firewall Manifesto along with such other well-known Western separatists as Stephen "The Big Kahuna" Harper, Tom "I'm Feeling Manly" Flanagan and Ken "No Notes" Boessenkool.
Well, it's nice to know that nowadays when Dr. Morton, PhD, is in semi-retirement, he can still pick up a little extra cash cobbling together completely predictable opinion pieces for the Calgary Herald, the newspaper lately known to its non-union employees as The Nightmare on 16th Street SE.
"Do we need another Klein-era five-per-cent wage rollback for the entire public sector?" asked Morton, rhetorically. "Probably. It would get the job done in a hurry, and it is less hurtful to families than massive layoffs."
This would be especially true if the families in question were those of well-off, largely superannuated, public service double dippers (the Legislature and the University of Calgary) such as Morton, who is mostly out of danger of his own economic remedies. Mind you, Morton is still, according to the Herald, an "executive fellow" at the U of C's School of Public Policy, where he is listed as teaching a single course, so there's a small but worthwhile cut that could be made to save a few petro-shekels.
Well, Morton's five-per-cent pay cut idea would get the job done in a hurry all right.
It's a fight Alberta's public service unions would almost certainly lose, but at least they'd have a chance of taking the double-talking government of Premier Alison Redford down with them, which would get Flanagan's Wildrose government off to as easier start in 2016.
As for the health care professionals -- specifically mentioned on the list of targets for wage cutting in Morton's op/ed piece -- they could move by the thousands to British Columbia and the United States, just as they did back when premier Ralph Klein last tried that stunt in the mid-1990s, leaving the Alberta health care system in a shambles from which it is yet to recover.
As a good friend of mine recently remarked, this is a person whose own government wouldn't pass his anti-gay "religious freedom" Bill 208 in 2006, and whose Firewall Manifesto was chucked into the garbage can by Premier Klein in 2001.
His recent electoral record is similarly (un)impressive:
- The Progressive Conservatives rejected him as their leader in 2001
- They rejected him again as leader in 2011
- The voters of his Foothills-Rocky View riding rejected him as their MLA in 2012
So why would anyone, even the Calgary Herald, be interested in Morton's opinion now?
We've already seen this horror movie, thanks very much. It wasn't very good the first time.
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.