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Why Stelmach looks disingenuous today

By DJ Kelly October 15, 2009

Let me be clear: I have nothing against Ed Stelmach. Generally speaking I think the PC government of Alberta is doing a pretty decent job. I’m not happy with them all the time, but a lot of the stuff they get slack crap for would come the government’s way regardless of what party was in charge. It’s a recession. It’s tough to keep the public confident in you during a recession. I get that.

I only mention this to highlight how disappointed I am with Premier Stelmach this morning. Ed specifically, not his party or the government. After all, he was the only one on TV last night.

First there was the televised “commercial” from last night that ironically spent a bunch of cash to tell us how he was going to save us a bunch more cash in the next couple of years. As near as I can tell there was nothing in the commercial – and what a fancy commercial it was – that could not have been announced via a press conference. (Please outline in the comments which announcement could not have been if you disagree.) So that confuses me and does anything but instill my confidence in the man. And, I assume, that’s the opposite of what he was trying to do by hitting the airwaves.

Generally speaking, it looks to me like the commercial was meant to calm Albertan’s fears about the future. Meaning it might have been useful a few months or a year ago, but serves little purpose now that the vast majority adapted to the current realities. (And in many cases, appear as thought the worst may be over and a recovery may be beginning.) Assuming this is true and was the actual point, this puts the Premier out of step with average Albertans.

But this morning I have to really shake my head again as the Premier announces he is taking a 15% pay cut and the ministers will be taking a 10% hit. When I first read this I thought it seemed like a good idea. But asking just a couple basic questions puts things in perspective:

  1. Why was this not mentioned in the TV ad when he announced they were freezing the salaries of 6,500 Alberta employees? To do it now looks like a PR intervention. Like a communications person watched the ad and said, “Do you think those 6,500 people will be mad they are the only ones taking one for the team? Maybe we should have the Premier do something too?” And so they came up with this over-night solution so the Premier can look like a good guy too. Ta-da!
  2. Too bad the cut is only for ministers.
  3. Remember six and half months ago? In March after the last election the government voted themselves a 30% raise plus extra for committee work. (I’m not going to get into whether those were justified at the time, that’s not part of my point here.) So, everyone got a 30% raise six and a half months ago, when we were in the thick of the recession, but now 20 or so folks are taking a 10% cut? And we’re supposed to think this is a sacrifice being made by our Government that will help solve the deficit they created? Why not just roll-back the whole thing? THAT would be a sacrifice.

In all, it simply seems disingenuous to me.

  • Good Post DJ. I was dissapointed witht this response also. I was not looking for a pre-recorded canned speech. I was hoping for some “fire” and strong, positive initiatives from Mr. Stelmach. Perhaps they will follow, but this exercise was a waste of his time. Maybe he needs some new communications advisors? I have met the man many times and confirm he is as gracious as they come. I just wish I understood the reason for some of the communication breakdowns lately.

  • Good Post DJ. I was dissapointed witht this response also. I was not looking for a pre-recorded canned speech. I was hoping for some “fire” and strong, positive initiatives from Mr. Stelmach. Perhaps they will follow, but this exercise was a waste of his time. Maybe he needs some new communications advisors? I have met the man many times and confirm he is as gracious as they come. I just wish I understood the reason for some of the communication breakdowns lately.

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