Stelmach wins 77 per cent support for his leadership

The media always seems to be down on Stelmach. Stelmach is not the choice of the party elite and power brokers especially those associated with Calgary and the oil patch. He did much better in the provincial election than people thought he would and he has done better at this convention than many thought. I wonder if the Wild Roses are becoming less disgruntled rural right wingers and more urban prickly Calgary thistles, disgruntled urban power brokers.


Stelmach still the man for the Tories Share with friends
KATHERINE O'NEILL

RED DEER, ALTA. — From Monday's Globe and Mail


.Despite receiving a strong vote of confidence from his party, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach still has a lot of heavy lifting to do in order to satisfy both Progressive Conservatives and other grumpy Alberta voters.

"[The result] puts the Premier in a position of comfort ... but indicates to him there is room for improvement," Edmonton Tory MLA Thomas Lukaszuk said Saturday, shortly after Mr. Stelmach received 77 per cent support in a mandatory leadership review at the party's annual convention in Red Deer.

Heading into the vote, there were predictions Mr. Stelmach was going to fare much worse considering recent public opinion polls that show Albertans are increasingly unimpressed with both him and his party, which has governed the province uninterrupted since 1971. Many people are flocking to the upstart Wildrose Alliance Party, a right-wing rival to the Tories that recently elected Danielle Smith, a young former media commentator, to lead it.

A Tory party delegate from Edmonton, who didn't want to identified, said that she supported Mr. Stelmach in the secret-ballot vote only because she didn't want to help throw the party into a leadership race at a time when the once-booming Alberta is suffering through a recession. "I supported him now, but things better change or else I'm done," she said.

Many Albertans, not just card-carrying Tories, are unhappy with the way the government has handled several files, including the province's finances.

"Changes are coming," Mr. Stelmach promised party members during a speech after Saturday's vote. The next general election is expected to be held in March, 2012. The PCs currently hold 70 of Alberta's 83 seats.

During the convention, several party members told Mr. Stelmach that his government needed to improve its communications strategy.

"I really do feel that the policies we have are the right ones for Alberta, but it's difficult to get it through the present media that's available to us," Mr. Stelmach said, adding the government plans to use social media more to connect directly with Albertans.

There is already speculation many Wildrose Alliance members are delighted Mr. Stelmach is no longer in danger of losing his job because they believe Ms. Smith would easily outperform him in the next election.

Tory cabinet minister Ted Morton, who ran against Mr. Stelmach in the 2006 party leadership race, said it would be dangerous to underestimate the Premier, and he expects him to lead the Tories to "another big majority."

Mr. Morton said the Wildrose Alliance faces several challenges in the months ahead, including drafting policy and going "through the difficulty of building a new party."

"The honeymoon for Danielle Smith is over," he said.

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