Political intrigue ramps up a notch

Gerry Phelan
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It’s the day after Halloween. The masks and costumes are about to be stashed for another year, except, perhaps, in the House of Commons, the Senate and our own House of Assembly.
In those hallowed places, certain politicians of all stripes will likely continue to try to disguise political or selfish motives which have taken up way too much time and trouble this year.

Back in June, I predicted we were in for the summer of political discontent. I was a season early. Autumn brought cooler weather, plenty of dogberries and political turmoil on the federal and provincial scenes.

I knew Mike Duffy wouldn’t go quietly, and he’s not done yet. The events in the Senate over the last few weeks — which left Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau trying to cling to their handsome paycheques and perks — gave a platform and a ringside seat to politics at its worst. It was a lesson in how to make victims out of people who are alleged to be crooks.

It has been a powerful he said/she said, and while this particular chapter has played itself out, stay tuned. I think he has a verse or two left yet, that I suspect has the potential to do some unravelling of the Harper crowd.

Good journalists keep good notes and, even better, recordings of conversations. There is always the fear of a newsmaker denying they said what they said, and the proof is the voice or — more often than not these days — the text and email trail. I’m not sure what Duffy has left in his

arsenal, but let’s face it, most of us figured he would have quit or been fired long before now.

This is going to be some book. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear the talk in the hospitality suite in Calgary, where the Conservatives are meeting this weekend. The only thing better would be to see Duffy walk into the convention.

Not to be outdone, our provincial political landscape is in for an interesting few months. The Liberals choose their new leader in a few weeks, and the campaign has been mostly polite and respectful. They attracted a healthy slate of candidates, and signed up tens of thousands of people to vote. The candidates have done a decent job of promoting themselves and the party through their advertising campaigns.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale has scored some nice wins in the past few months. She insists she will lead the Tories into the next election and the rumours to the contrary have died down, at least for now. Ironically, given those recent victories, and what’s happening with the other parties, this might have been a good time to make an exit, accomplishments in hand.

And that brings me to the NDP.

I first heard rumblings in May of some people pushing for a New Democrat Party leadership review. The surprise is the messy way it has been handled. Putting the question of Lorraine Michael’s leadership to next year’s convention has bought some time. Unfortunately, as we have seen, it doesn’t solve internal problems in the caucus.

Given the circumstances, one wonders why Michael even wants the job today. Is it ego, spite, determination or some combination of all three? Someone tweeted last weekend the suggestion that Michael sit behind the others when the legislature opens. She and the party can take some consolation in realizing that the long knives that recently came out are standard with opposition parties in this province. These are growing pains; expect more with the lust and quest for power.

The legislature opens next week and it will be interesting to see if the governing PCs can avoid taking potshots across the aisle at the sorrows of the third party.

Commenting last weekend, the premier said she doesn’t “take any pleasure in anybody else’s misery.”

Like a breaching whale, the underbelly of politics has been a sight to behold for the past few weeks. It’s been ugly.

Hang on to your seats. The best is yet to come.


Gerry Phelan is a journalist and former broadcaster. He can be reached at gerryp@bellaliant.net.

Organizations: New Democrat Party, Conservatives

Geographic location: Calgary

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