Who says the Prime Minister Stephen Harper won't make Raj Pannu Lieutenant Governor of Alberta? He is the best choice, after all.
OK, it seems unlikely when there are so many undeserving old Alberta Tory retainers hanging around with their paws sticking out. But if you think Stephen Harper doesn't have what it takes to name the former Alberta NDP leader the Queen's representative in Alberta, maybe you should consider Canada's new ambassador to Washington.
Sometimes a prime minister, even a Conservative one, just needs to send a political message –- either to wave a political carrot or shake a political stick in the general direction of whoever ought to be paying more attention.
One suspects the appointment of Gary Doer as Canada's ambassador to the United States –- when just last year he was NDP premier of Manitoba -– was an attempt by the market fundamentalist federal Conservatives to pour a little oil on the American waters now that a liberal Democrat, or a liberalish one, anyway, is in the White House. This would be the carrot.
With Alberta Lieutenant Governor Norman Kwong about to retire, the message from appointing a New Democrat – albeit a distinguished one with an unrivalled history of public service –- would be more in the form of a stick. The recipients of the smacking: Ed Stelmach and his frequently misbehavin' provincial Conservative caucus. The message: Stop embarrassing us or we'll never get a majority. (And if we never get a majority, you'll never get to "reform" public health care.)
Pannu was born in India and came to Canada in 1962, taught school in rural Alberta for a couple of years, then moved to Edmonton where he earned a doctorate in sociology at the University of Alberta and taught for 27 years. He was elected as MLA for the university-area riding of Edmonton Strathcona in 1997 and was re-elected with ease in 2001 and 2004, earning the moniker Raj Against the Machine. Charan Khehra, Pannu's legislative aide back in the day, put the case this way in a recent letter to the editor: "Pannu is an accomplished scholar, a respected political leader and a man of vision and compassion. He has touched the lives of many Albertans and continues to challenge, engage and inspire them. His warm personality, intellectual vigour and integrity will reflect and represent the new Alberta."
All true. So why not make Pannu the vice-regal personage, reflecting the true 21st Century face of our modern, changing, diverse and increasingly sophisticated province?
Because 1,322 people have now joined the Facebook group called Appoint Raj Pannu Alberta's next Lieutenant Governor? Naw, that would never wash with Harper?
But because the crowd around Premier Stelmach might not like it? And because such an appointment would send a –- let's say interesting –- message to voters in Edmonton Strathcona, the federal riding that shares territory with the undefeatable Pannu's old provincial riding? You know, the electoral district that just happened to skid Rahim Jaffer and elect New Democrat Linda Duncan in the last federal election?
Yeah, that could be a reason that just might appeal to our prime minister.
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