rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

A Tale of Two Tories: Which Alberta Conservative do you think is typical?

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Alberta Conservative Leadership candidate Alison Redford

When it comes both to releasing potentially uncomfortable news and conducting yourself properly in public life, some Alberta Tories seem to get it and others do not.

Alison Redford, candidate for the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, is one who apparently gets it. Carol Haley, former Conservative MLA for Airdrie-Chestermere and now Premier Ed Stelmach's deputy chief of staff, clearly does not.

Despite the bad example set by past candidates for the Tory leadership and no doubt some pressure to conform to their ways for the time being, Redford last week did the right thing and published a list of the biggest donors to her campaign.

The list made the news in a fairly big way, both because of the size of the donations and the names of some of the people who contributed.

Now, we oughtn't to make too much of this. The party's current rules say she's going to have to publish the list sooner or later -- later being Feb. 1, 2012. What's more, some of the others have promised to do the same thing, eventually.

But from Redford's point of view, there was clearly a certain amount of risk involved in her decision to release this information now. First of all, because it shows that while the former justice minister and MLA for Calgary-Elbow may not be the candidate favoured by the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party establishment, she is backed by plenty of members of the plain old Calgary Establishment. Establishmentarians prominent in Big Oil, Big Hockey, Big Landlords, Big Utilities, and Big Health Bureaucracies all found their ways onto her donor list.

So that means some Albertans looking for someone a little different from the Old Boys Club that has dominated this province since a barefoot Ernest Manning rode his dinosaur to school, and who were thinking about casting a party ballot for Redford, or who might eventually think about casting a real provincial ballot for Premier Redford later on, may think again.

It also gives some of her opponents who might be less forthcoming with information just now a list of well-heeled potential donors who may wish to hedge their bets.

Haley, meanwhile, told the media the day before Redford's announcement that she just couldn't see anything wrong with taking a cheque for $3,000 as a farewell gift from her riding association when she told them she wasn't going to run again in 2008.

Asked about the optics of this by a journalist, Haley was unable to see a problem. She didn't exactly say, "What? Whaaaaat?" but that surely sounded like what she had in mind. Her actual quote, as recorded by Darcy Henton of the Calgary Herald: "It wasn't anything that I believed was inappropriate." (So, she presumably thought, shut up already!)

Uh, Ms. Haley, folks give donations to political parties to support the campaign efforts of those parties… not to send retired MLAs on sunshine-filled vacations. That's why their donations are tax-deductible.

It is said here that political parties that misuse donations like this should lose their ability to have partisans claim such contributions against their taxes, just as churches that use their pews for political organizing should lose their tax-free status. Don't count on either of these things happening in Alberta, of course.

OK, it's not a big sum. But that's not the point, is it? Indeed, surely Haley -- who has enjoyed a number of very influential posts in the Conservative Party over the years -- could afford to pay for her own holiday.

That she didn't, that she doesn't see anything wrong with that, that her constituency association thought this was appropriate (though we are told they balked at the idea of donating money from the same source to a deserving student) and that no one at her current place of employment thought to tell her to smarten up, speaks ill of the Alberta PC Party.

Indeed, this goes right to the heart of the problem with this bunch. They've been in power so long that they just don't get it.

That's why when it comes to Redford, it's probably not a good thing for her prospects that she showed some gumption and did the right thing, this time as in the recent past.

When she called for a public inquiry into health care and when she called out Stelmach on his ridiculous attempt to blame teachers for education budget cuts, these were dismissed by the commentariat as desperation measures. Heaven only knows what they'll make of her attempt to be transparent in her campaign financing. If she's willing to upset the apple cart on these things, who knows what else she might do!

Alison Redford or Carol Haley? Which one do you think represents the true spirit of the Alberta Conservative Party?

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary. Donate to rabble.ca and help this important site do its work.

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.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.