If you have any doubts left there are only four more sleeps before the end of the Progressive Conservative Era in Alberta, look no further than the video and website called "I never thought I'd vote PC."
Whether or not the PCs under Alison Redford had anything to do with this vain effort to encourage hip, edgy young people to vote for the clapped out Conservative party in a last-ditch effort to prevent a Wildrose Apocalypse, there could be no surer sign of the imminent demise of the once mighty Tory dynasty.
I mean, really, telling young voters you understand why they'd "rather gouge their eyes out than vote Conservative" in an effort to get them to vote Conservative is just ... embarrassing.
"Danielle Smith thinks the Flintstones is historically accurate," one of the characters in this desperate effort asserts about the Wildrose leader, straining not-quite-successfully for a light touch. Well, in fairness to Smith, she may have her doubts about climate change, but unlike the video's talking heads she's actually met Ralph Klein -- who was, after all, the original Barney Rubble. (Or was that the other way around? Whatever.)
After this pathetic excuse for a Tory campaign, the tattered remnants of the Alberta Conservatives have less dignity left than Saddam Hussein when he was hauled out of his hidey-hole in Tikrit by the soldiers of the U.S. Fourth Infantry Division! This little video squib is just the final excruciating evidence before our eyes notice that the moribund Conservatives' best-before date has passed.
It doesn't even matter if the Tories didn't do it, as the videographer who made it claims. The very fact that somebody, anybody, thought this would be an effective way to stampede voters into voting for the Conservative party is incontrovertible proof that after 41 years it’s finally hit the political equivalent of skid row.
Indeed, there would be a mild irony if the Conservatives in fact had nothing to do with it -- after all, the Liberals under straight-arrow Kevin Taft got blamed by Ed Stelmach's Tories back in 2007 for those "No Plan" ads that someone else had actually cooked up.
From the script, it could have been the Tories or the equally moribund Alberta Liberals that came up with it. It certainly wasn't the NDP, which you'll notice is the only opposition party not to be mentioned in the soundtrack. But then, the NDP makes the current crop of Alberta "strategic voting" advocates almost as uncomfortable as the Wildrose Party, possibly because it too stands for something more than simply being in power.
That's the Alberta Conservatives' big problem right there: Nowadays they only exist to be in power. And they've been in power so long they still can't imagine it being any different -- which may be why they didn't exert themselves until so late in this campaign there was no chance of a reversal. Then again, maybe they just forgot how to campaign after all those easy years.
Regardless of the reason, if they're pinning their hopes on strategic-voting by twentysomethings, they're in for a big disappointment.
That's why we can predict some things about the future with relative confidence: If Smith and the Wildrose Party coast to a large majority on Monday, it likely won't take long for the Conservatives simply to evaporate into thin air, with most of the party's MLAs petitioning to join the Wildrose ranks -- completing the radical right's reverse takeover of moderate Alberta Torydom.
Indeed, if this is a harbinger of the next couple of days, Smith's biggest problem will be how to keep her caucus in line while keeping her cabinet small enough to avoid having to appoint some of her party's most egregious kooks, who also happen to be its most faithful troopers.
Just in case, though, I wonder if the Wildrosers will trot out Preston Manning in the next couple of days to counter the effects of Peter Lougheed's endorsement of Redford.
And I wonder if Redford will announce she's stepping down on Monday night or wait till Tuesday morning.
And I wonder if Doug Horner ever thought, when he entered politics as a standard bearer for Alberta’s eternal Conservatives, that one day he might become the Leader of the Opposition?
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.