Bell: Toews warns UCP of dangers of ‘risky leadership’ as the mood looms

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Travis Toews reminds me of the Marlboro man without the cigarette.

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It’s no understatement to say that the Rio Grande rancher in northern Alberta bears some resemblance to the image of the cowboy on his horse in the open field.

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And Toews says he just doesn’t like political roar. He’s not about pumping up the crowd.

He doesn’t deal in razzmatazz, even if a little razzle dazzle could get him political points, even if there’s just a question and he could knock out the park with a rush of rhetoric to get the juices going.

“I care about substance,” said Toews, who served as county budget chief in Prime Minister Jason Kenney’s government.

But Travis, can’t you give us some more exciting delivery?

“You know, it is what it is. There’s no point in feeling sorry for that. It is what it is.”

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Toews is dead serious with serious questions.

And here’s a serious question that some serious people are seriously considering these days.

Can the UCP go into the ditch after October 6 and the adios to Kenney, before next year’s election, while at the wheel?

Are there any rabbit holes they are not allowed to go down?

Are there things they shouldn’t be doing that could mess up the works that could bring the NDP back into government in a few months from today?

Is there anything the OHP should be wary of?

“We can’t adopt a risky leadership style,” Toews says.

He doesn’t name names. He won’t name names. You can fill in your own blanks.

Toews says the UCP needs a leader to “navigate this time of uncertainty and unpredictability with sound policies, navigate with defensible policies, and make sure the gains we’ve made are not eroded.”

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Ask Toews. Risky leadership? What do you mean?

Toews once again puts forward Smith’s Sovereignty Act, refusing to enforce federal laws that are seen as violating the rights of Alberta or Albertans.

The man does not believe that such a policy “will appeal to Albertans broadly. We must guard against that kind of policy and leadership style.”

Toews says that ‘real solutions’ must also be found for all kinds of issues, such as the capacity crisis in healthcare, affordability, the economy and fiscal responsibility.

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He says Albertans want the UCP government to get back together “rather than focusing on the myriad problems that can cause division, we need to refocus on the core principles that define ourselves as conservatives.”

The UCP is a Humpty Dumpty.

Toews says he has no deep history with either party. He voted Wildrose and he voted PC.

“I don’t bring luggage from one side or the other.”

He believes the UCP should be “a big tent conservative movement.”

“I’m hopeful it’s possible. I don’t despair.

“We have to come together. 2015 is in the minds of many conservatives.”

2015. When the NDP won.

To become prime minister, Toews must defeat Danielle Smith, who leads the polls in a contest where the most UCP members voted.

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Smith travels across the county at an exhausting pace.

In a recent stump speech, Smith pushes a lot of buttons.

She refers to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a possible Prime Minister Rachel Notley as “The Axis of Economic Destruction.”

She says that with that duo in power, Alberta will never be the same.

If Notley’s NDP wins here…

“It won’t just take four years, because it won’t be an accident. It will be a choice.

“She could be there eight years or 12 years or 16 years, just like our friends in Saskatchewan had the NDP for 16 years.”

UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith speaks at a campaign rally in Chestermere on Tuesday, August 9, 2022.
UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith speaks at a campaign rally in Chestermere on Tuesday, August 9, 2022. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

She tells the people that she is the person who can beat Notley.

“I see Alberta as the beating heart of conservatism. If we don’t maintain our conservative values ​​here, where else will they show up?” continues Smith.

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“How are we going to convince the rest of the country to vote for Pierre Poilievre and the Conservatives if we don’t maintain a Conservative government here?”

Smith presents her Sovereignty Act as drawing a hard line and sees the relationship with Ottawa as “insult after injury after insult after injury.”

She points to what she sees as the political persecution of Tamara Lich of the Freedom Convoy “while we have all these guys getting revolving doors and going out to wreak havoc and commit heinous crimes.”

Smith applauds the Twitter hashtag #TrudeauMustGo, dislikes “the wake mob” or the mainstream media. (Hi Mom!)

As for Alberta’s health services…

“I don’t trust anything Alberta Health Services tells me anymore.”

She talks about possible pipelines and rail lines to Churchill’s Manitoba port, the Great Lakes, Prince Rupert’s port in BC and Tuktoyaktuk to the north.

Smith’s battle cry?

“We have to put Alberta first. We must do it without fear. We have to do it without excuses and, if we are elected, we will do it without delay.”

We hold our breath and wait.

rbe@postmedia.com

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