This Week in Alberta - Premier Mar?
We're under a month away from the first round of voting in the PC leadership race, and it's still difficult to get a handle on the contest. I'd assumed it was Ted Morton's race to lose, but the media has crowned Gary Mar the frontrunner, thanks to some favourable polls and the vaunted Ralph Klein endorsement.
So, like any good frontrunner, Mar has sat back, promising nothing more than sunshine and puppies and...wait...he said what?!?
Alberta Tory leadership hopeful Mar touts private health care
EDMONTON - Alberta Conservative leadership candidate Gary Mar says the province must offer private health-care options for wealthy baby boomers or risk losing an economic opportunity.
“The thickness of your wallet should not govern your access to medically necessary health services,... but that does not mean there aren’t people who are willing to pay for services themselves,” Mar said Tuesday.
“I don’t want to stand in the way between somebody who is willing to do that and a health service they feel that they need.”
Yes, a leadership front runner coming out for two-tier health care. How about that?
Most have been shocked Mar would enter this minefield, but I like this move from a purely strategic point of view (even if I disagree with Mar 100%). Playing it safe never works for front runners, a lesson everyone in Alberta learned during the Magnificent Implosion of Jim Dinning in 2006. Moreover, I'm still not fully convinced Mar even is the front runner in terms of membership sales and, even if he is, he's nowhere near far enough ahead to coast to the finish line.
The real benefit for Mar, beyond showing people he stands for something, is that it positions him a bit further to the right on the spectrum. Mar is seen to be on the Progressive side of the PCs, and he needed this to shore up his right flank - first against Morton for the leadership and, should he win, against Danielle Smith in the general election.