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.

Creepy Wildrose attack ads set the tone as Alison Redford prepares to be sworn in as Alberta premier

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Image from Wildrose Attack Ad

Honeymoon? What honeymoon?

Alison Redford was elected leader of Alberta's governing Progressive Conservative Party in a vote announced in the wee hours of Sunday morning. She hasn't even been sworn in as premier and everyone is piling on and screeching like banshees.

Just a thought, but rank and file Albertans may want to give Redford a few days to get her transition under way in an orderly fashion, and to drop a couple of hints about what her policy plans may actually be, before we all light our hair on fire.

The National Citizens Coalition, a loony-right Toronto-based propaganda shop once led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, attacked the premier-designate for making an unholy alliance with unions in a "highly controversial backroom deal."

The NCC couldn't actually find a backroom deal to call controversial, but it did the next best thing and reported that a certain number of unionized teachers and public sector health-care workers went out all on their own and joined the PC Party. They did it to vote for Redford on the strength of her promises to preserve public health care and restore funding to public education. And we all know the NCC hates "special interest groups" like women, teachers, health care workers, parents with children in school and seniors -- you know, citizens -- who don't share their brutalist dogma of economic perfection.

Meanwhile, the president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the province's largest union, told the Edmonton Journal yesterday that behind the "veneer" of Redford's health-care and education policies "is a very sinister approach to public services overall."

This was based, the union said, on a statement on Redford's website that some government departments would be required to conduct program reviews "and demonstrate why programs and services cannot be delivered by community-based organizations or the private sector." Redford's policy statement went on: "Within six months, I want to identify services that can be transferred to community leadership or privatized."

Well, one can certainly sympathize with the concern about privatization talk among members of AUPE, who have faced such destructive policies under premier Ralph Klein, but since Redford has left the door open to listening to arguments against it, instead of throwing down the gauntlet, persuasion might be the place to start this discussion.

As for the right-wing media (which would be pretty much all of it), the Calgary Sun hyperventilated that "female health-care workers and moms peeved about teacher cuts" were to blame for the outrage of Alberta being led by a woman premier bent on perpetrating a dreadful plan to spend more on education. Also at fault, the Sun lectured, were members of the Alberta Teachers Association, whose executive director, quelle horreur, encouraged members to "get involved in choosing the next premier of Alberta."

Regardless of all this, the blue ribbon for sheer brass must go to the far-right Wildrose Party, which along with almost everyone else in Alberta (your correspondent included) assailed Redford on Monday morning for saying immediately after her victory that she didn't plan a fall sitting of the Legislature.

On Tuesday, she said she'd decided to have a fall session after all. So yesterday, which was Thursday, the Wildrose brain trust rushed out a creepy video attack ad that complained Ms. Redford "tried closing the Legislature."

Well, you know what, you just can't please some people!

The Wildrose strategy is pretty clearly to get in fast, before Redford is in a position to defend herself, and Swift Boat the premier-designate with attack ads that cement the notion in voters' heads that Premier Ed Stelmach's successor is a flip-flopper and someone "who will do anything for power."

The conventional political wisdom in the United States, where parties have some experience with this kind of thing, is that some of the sleaze always rubs off on the attackers when they go negative, but that it can be a net benefit to their campaign.

We saw in this country how effective this can be when former federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was preemptively smeared into irrelevance by the U.S.-influenced Harper Conservatives.

Still, the menacing Wildrose attack ads, complete with a soundtrack that in one sounds weirdly as if dogs are barking in the background, could work -- if Alberta happened to have the U.S.-style system of government the right-wing party admires so overtly it uses U.S. images on its website.

But it can also have interesting unintended consequences when you imagine, as the Harperistas did this year, that you're operating in a U.S.-style two-party system when in fact it's a multi-party democracy with, say, an Orange alternative.

Indeed, the new Wildrose ads are eerily reminiscent to the TV spots purchased by a coalition of labour unions in 2007 to plant the idea in voters' heads that Stelmach had "no plan."

We all know how well that one worked out!

Redford will be sworn in today just before noon.

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.


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.