Alberta’s Tory government is trying to steer itself out of turmoil after several unpopular decisions have shaken Premier Ed Stelmach’s comfortable majority.
Stelmach began the new year with a cabinet shuffle that saw embattled Health Minister Ron Liepert move to energy and fiscal hawk Ted Morton moved to finance, where he promptly declared that the “all-you-can-eat buffet” of spending is closed.
Last week, newly appointed Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky halted roughly 450 hospital bed closures.
The tense political landscape has set the stage for a lively spring sitting of legislature that opens with a throne speech Feb. 4, followed by a provincial budget on Feb. 9.
Stelmach is now in damage control mode. “It’s like they’ve seen the Wildrose iceberg and they’re trying to steer the Titanic before it’s too late,” as one Tory insider put it last week.
But political analyst David Taras says the resentment among disaffected Tories runs deep.
“When the public has made a judgment — if they no longer believe the premier can do the job — then it’s very hard to undo that judgment once it’s made,” says Taras.
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