Searching for Peter Lougheed

By Harold Jansen on Feb 6, 2008

I'm not ordinarily in agreement with Lorne Gunter, the political columnist from the Edmonton Journal, but I thought he diagnosed the election and the mood of the province correctly in a recent column. Gunter argues that for a change of government to happen, two things have to be in place. He says that voters have to be ready for change and there has to be someone there to take advantage of that mood. His feeling is that there is a mood for change -- meeting the first condition -- but the Liberals are in no shape to take advantage of it.

That, in essence, is the dynamic of this election. After 37 years, it looks like voters are ready for a new party to be in government. Stelmach has tried to position himself as an agent for change (although the recent spendfest by the government is certainly business as usual), but hasn't succeeded. In 1971, that mood was there, but there was a Peter Lougheed out there to take advantage of it. Is Kevin Taft a Peter Lougheed figure? The lukewarm ratings in opinion polls suggest that he isn't. The election is there for the taking if an opposition leader can catch fire.

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