Well, no one can say that Ric McIver hasn't set himself apart from the other two candidates for the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party leadership.
While frontrunner Jim Prentice and tail gunner Thomas Lukaszuk have each offered five largely meaningless anodyne platitudes as their priorities, McIver has been right out there with some fairly definitive ideas.
Not good ideas, mind you. And they'd be bound to be highly controversial if anyone except me thought he had any chance of winning. So if I'm right, and everyone else is wrong, this could end up making a lot of people very unhappy.
I'm not talking, by the way, about McIver's March for Jesus faux pas, in which he claimed not to have noticed the extremely homophobic views of a religious group whose annual Calgary parade he's made a practice of marching in, an association that might actually help him sell memberships.
And I'm not talking about his placement -- if we believe in guilt by association, at any rate -- at the embarrassingly socially conservative end of the conservative movement.
Rather, this is about his views on speed enforcement, liquor sales and the treatment of inmates in (and out of) Alberta's provincial jails.
Last Friday, McIver announced that, as far as he's concerned, speed-on-green-light radar cameras are nothing but tax-collection devices.
"'Speed-on-green' cameras don't control speed," the former infrastructure minister said in his "justice policy," released Friday. "A Ric McIver government will ban the use of speed-on-green cameras in Alberta."
I'm not sure I understand his logic when he says speeding is bad and needs to be enforced, but it's OK if you happen to be speeding through an intersection. He cites statistics from Calgary that, as far as I can see, neither support his case nor indicate anything other than the fact more people speed through green lights than drive through red lights -- which ought not to be a revelation.
I can tell you this: Speed-on-green lights have made the highway that runs through my Edmonton bedroom suburb significantly safer, and it would be unfortunate if the province banned a safety measure that apparently works. What about local democracy?
McIver also thinks it would be just dandy if patrons in Alberta's bars were able to drink for two more hours, until 4 a.m., before they drive home. Not, of course, that he will say that they should be driving, but it's a certainty that some of them will -- with their judgment and their driving abilities that much more impaired.
McIver's argument is that if everyone has to go home at 2 a.m., as they technically do now, there aren’t enough cabs and some folks are tempted to drive drunk, whereas if they have to go home at 4 a.m., they'll have plenty of time to share the available cabs around. There's a flaw with this plan, since it assumes lots of die-hard drinkers will leave the bar between 2 and 4 a.m. instead of just sticking around and getting boiled as owls, as somebody is bound to learn hard way in the wee hours if McIver has his way.
It's an interesting observation that when Alison Redford became premier 2011, the first thing she tried to do was make it harder to drive drunk, and if McIver becomes premier the first thing he wants to do is make it easier to get a drink at an hour when the temptation to drive will prove irresistible to many.
As an aside, it's a wonderment to me how social conservatives like McIver and the Wildrose Party activists who are anxious to control what we smoke and whom we marry take such exception to regulating the nexus of booze and automobiles. I must be missing something.
Getting back to McIver's ideas about justice, as stated last Friday, the candidate offered a vague idea about putting prisoners in provincial jails to work -- outside jails. At first glance, this sounded suspiciously like former Ralph Klein minister Steve West's Mississippi-style highway-cleanup chain gangs, a national embarrassment that has thankfully disappeared from Alberta's highways.
But McIver says the inmates would be asked to volunteer for this duty -- which, presumably, they would do if they wanted more fresh air or planned to escape and needed to be close to a place suitable for helicopter landings. It wasn't clear where they would work, but it occurs to me that if they could bake donuts and run a cash register, this might be the solution to Ottawa's currently controversial Temporary Foreign Workers Program.
I wonder how the Chamber of Commerce would react to an Alberta Temporary Incarcerated Workers Program? You don’t have to pay them anything, but heaven only knows what they might do to the burgers when you aren't looking!
- Sound conservative principles (Prentice) and fiscally conservative principles (Lukaszuk)
- Ending entitlements and restoring trust (Prentice) and open, trustworthy government (Lukaszuk)
- Planning for our economic future (Lukaszuk) and maximizing the value of our natural resources and respecting property rights (Prentice)
- Increasing access to basic health and education services (Lukaszuk) and ensuring Alberta leads the way on health care and education training (Prentice)
- Being an environmental leader (Prentice)
- Encouraging new ideas (Lukaszuk)
In fairness, Prentice is a little more specific in gatherings with his supporters -- I've heard him promise no end to the flat tax, no changes to Alberta’s petroleum royalty structure, "choice" in education (i.e., more tax funding for private schools) and "pipelines in every direction" at recent meetings.
But I doubt either McIver or Lukaszuk would disagree with him on any of that stuff.
Apparently they've all fallen in love with LRT lines too, although you have to wonder how long that'll last once they start competing seriously with the fiscal conservatives in the Wildrose Party.
On the grounds it's a good thing to actually know where your leaders stand out there on the fringes, kudos to McIver. I guess.
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.