Political Ballads from an Independent Paper Scratcher.
Stories from former Stettler Independent journalist Christopher Walsh.
A group of fanatical Indians break into chants and interpretive dance outside the entrance to the Chateau Louis Convention Centre, shortly after Ed Stelmach's victory speech Monday night. The blaring Hindu music from the Cadillac Escalade, mixed with their gyrations and chants, was enough for some middle-aged white Conservative supporters to seek safety back in the hotel, away from the noise and frolicking.
One chubby Conservative was bent on finishing his smoke and stayed until it was done, against his better judgment.
“Don't worry,” I told him, after noticing his nervous looks. “They're on your side tonight.”
Ed Stelmach makes his way around the dining area at Spolumbo's Deli in Calgary on a sunny Saturday afternoon in classic Stelmach fashion. His legs move in short, quick patterns from one table to another, as his handlers guide him a few steps in any direction to the next person who “really wants to talk to you, Ed”.
The premier's dark eyes shift behind his custom glasses and his legs and semi-stretched right hand follow the gaze's trajectory, as if all three are attached in unison by small strands of invisible thread.
“How you doing? How's the family?” Stelmach offers when the object is finally located after the turn-around.
A burly man with a NASCAR hat and a moustache responds quickly and in broken terms as Stelmach starts his prototypical small-talk.
“Yeah, we got twins – two year olds,” moustache man blurts out.
The premier's voice seems to fade, as if he doesn't want the media who have been following him all morning to hear what he's saying to these people; these just-happy-to-meet-the-premier-folks who happened into the sausage factory for lunch this fine sunny afternoon.
“Government spying on its citizens is as deadly to democracy as a needle is to a drug addict,” Joe Anglin tells me late Wednesday night from his home near Rimbey, without the slightest bit of hyberbole in his voice.
The 51-year-old former investment advisor and full-time provocateur was sharing one of his campaign ads that hit radio in central Alberta this week.
Anglin was at the centre of a full-blown government scandal last year, when the Tory government (and their arms-length utility regulator) were caught spying on him and other landowners in central Alberta as they built their case against a proposed massive power line project that would feed the United States with Alberta-born energy, running through their backyards. Much has been written about that, so I'll refrain from getting into all the details, except to ask where the public outrage was when the government was caught, without any doubt or excuse, hiring private detectives to spy on its citizens?
Kevin Taft's campaign van pulls a sharp right off a busy Calgary street and down a residential neighbourhood, making a quick u-turn at the first left. I attempt the same, but cars whiz by before I can completely negotiate the sharp turn. The van, which contains the Liberal leader, makes a clear bolt for the lights back to the speedy street.
I had been following them for a good 20 kms, from a party rally on the way to a meet and greet and door knocking at a mall in north east Calgary. I stayed close the whole time, unsure of the exact location. Taft's men understood this, but the driver seemed to have his own agenda, as if he had finally spotted the tail and had to shake it immediately. It's a good thing my resume boasts “evasive driving techniques”. I pulled out and over a curb, cutting off a white van as I made my way – quite literally – back on the campaign trail.
The bastards wouldn't lose me that easily. I caught a glimpse of their right turn down the hill, but by the time I made it to the busy intersection, the lights had changed and traffic was flowing against me. Any number of motorists are probably still angry with me, but I darted out and pulled another sharp turn, catching the van taking another right. I quickly caught up and made the curve. The van was waiting, already turned around in the opposite direction.
The driver and Taft's lead media man were laughing.
“The mall's right there,” the driver said, pointing back across the busy intersection. “We got lost.”
“Yeah,” I replied, “those were some effective driving manouevers.”