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Another embarrassing Alberta government reversal brings 2010's total to 11

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The Reversidex ™ -- a new index of embarrassing reversals by Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach's reversal-prone government -- has now risen to a record 11. This is the highest level since the index was introduced, oh, about 15 minutes ago.

The Reversidex ™ has a base of zero, because that’s how many times a normal Canadian provincial government completely reverses itself on major policy decisions in a one-year period. The Reversidex ™ is now at 11 because that’s how many times the Alberta Conservative government has reversed itself on major policy decisions since we all sang Auld Lang Syne last Dec. 31.

Albertans had to switch to the Reversidex ™ because the old Reversometer that you can see through the kitchen window, the one Grandpa nailed up back William Aberhart was premier of Alberta and that darned Ottawa-appointed Lieutenant Governor kept tossing out his funny-money and press-control laws, only went up to ten. (And when it comes to flip-flops, ten is just so last month! Anyway, the Reversometer hasn’t worked right since the winters got so warm.)

By the way, speaking of social credit, we Albertans were pretty darned mad about the stamps falling off our prosperity certificates back in '37, and we probably would have stayed that way if that National Energy Program hadn't come along to make us even madder! (Ralph Klein gave us a prosperity bonus when he was premier in 2006 that was big enough for everyone in Alberta to buy an iPod, so we all felt better for a while after that, especially if we sold iPods for a living, leastways until that Stephen Harper turned out to be just another Eastern politician. One thing’s for sure, though, there are one heck of a lot of obsolete iPods in Alberta!)

Just the same, it's pretty shocking that with the latest flip-flop by Alberta’s Conservatives last week, we've gone right off the chart -- off the Reversometer, anyway.

You could argue this flip wasn't as big a flop as the last 10. This time, the Stelmach Tories backed down on their plan to make the chair of the Legislature's Public Accounts Committee, a member of the Liberal Opposition, give all his email questions to a Conservative backbencher for approval before he was allowed to press the send button. (Really! We’re not making this up! It was a respectable morning newspaper that reported it first!)

Needless to say, this sort of thing is not generally done, least of all in functioning Westminster-model democracies where the chair of the Public Accounts Committee is by tradition a member of the Opposition who enjoys a meaningful degree of independence. As a result, it aroused a certain amount of disapproval, even in democratically somnolent Alberta. Apparently the premier got enough calls after the even-more-right-wing Wildrose Alliance Party threatened to hold a media conference about it that he figured he'd better change plans again before he shut down Canada’s laziest legislature for the summer. It must've made the Conservatives really nervous, because they even put out a story that the premier himself had disapproved! Good one!

The opposition said this change shows the government has no plan. The government says that it does too have a plan, but that its plans need to be responsive "to public opinion and changing circumstances." (You know, like Wildrose Alliance press conferences.)

Well, whatever! The previous ten flip-flops have involved health care policy (seven of them), oil royalties, jail-admission operating hours and funding for foster parents.

With a record like this, you’ve really got to wonder why all the opposition parties are acting like Premier Stelmach means it when he says there won’t be a provincial election until March 2012.

The Reversidex ™ says they’re wrong!

But then, maybe they’ve got no plan either.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There is no such thing as the Reversidex, and the name is not really trademarked. What’s more, there never was any such thing as a Reversometer. The author just made it all up to make a point. That’s what you get for wasting your time reading blogs on the Internet, instead of respectable newspapers staffed by trained professional journalists! This post also appeared on Alberta Diary.

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