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What's next - Klein narrowly passes leadership review!

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  • What's next - Klein narrowly passes leadership review!

    What's next for Alberta?

    {quote="Edmonton Journal Online]

    Premier studies his options
    Narrow margine supports Klein's retirement plan

    James Baxter and Kelly Cryderman
    The Edmonton Journal

    Saturday, April 01, 2006

    CALGARY - Premier Ralph Klein was handed a crushing defeat in Friday night's leadership review vote, garnering just 55.4 per cent of support from PC party delegates.

    Klein, who had attempted to make an impassioned plea to party faithful to let him finish his fourth term as premier, said he will take some time to talk with family and party members about his next moves, but is widely expected to be announce his retirement within days.

    "Given the results of this vote, I intend to meet with party officials and my staff to discuss my next steps," Klein said in a statement after the voting results were released early this morning.

    "I will do this as quickly as possible and announce my decision about my future shortly."

    Klein's statement notes that technically he won the vote, his statement made clear he does not plan to try to stay on as premier through the fall of 2007.

    A shaken Marisa Etmanski, Klein long-time communications director, in announcing the results said of Klein: "He was disappointed. He was a little shocked and dare say, a little hurt."

    Asked what the results mean for the premier, Etmanski said: "It's up to the premier to decide what to do."

    In his speech, an appeal to the party faithful read directly from a pre-written speech, Klein had said he wanted more time to complete the mandate to which he was elected "less than 18 months ago.

    "During that campaign, I made a public pledge to Albertans that if our government was re-elected, I would stay as leader and premier for a period of time," Klein said.

    "I made that pledge so Albertans would know that I wouldn't vacate my post a short time after being re-elected. I wasn't running for a six-month term or a one-year term. I was running for a fourth mandate."

    Klein all but begged the delegates to let him fulfill that mandate, saying there are key issues that need to be addressed and that he's the best person to take them on.

    "If you see fit to give me that support, I pledge to you that I will work as hard as I possibly can to bring continued honour to this party, and continued prosperity to the province we all love.

    "You have my word, which I offer to you with humility, with respect and with honesty."

    The speech came as something of a surprise to some delegates who had been hearing rumours that Klein would deliver a speech moving up his controversial late-2007 or early-2008 retirement date in an effort to placate mounting opposition to what's being called his "long goodbye."

    Even moments before Klein took the stage, well-placed Tories were predicting that he would bow to critics and offer late in the fall of 2006 as a compromise departure date, a move aimed at giving him an overwhelming endorsement in the leadership review vote.

    Colleen Klein teared up as her husband opted to stare down his critics and defy the party to vote for his ouster. But many delegates pointedly did not applaud at times when Klein was asking for support. Some did not clap throughout the speech.

    Lyle Oberg, the leadership candidate ejected from cabinet and caucus last week, walked quietly from the hall after Klein's speech with his wife and a small group of supporters, refusing to comment.

    Results from the vote were to determine whether the party will hold a leadership convention. Some 1,200 delegates were expected to cast votes

    In total, 1,180 votes were cast.

    Tim Uppal, a former Conservative candidate in Edmonton, said of Klein's speech: "I've actually seen better. But there's nothing wrong with it. Maybe it's just because we've been here so many times."

    When asked about his vote, Uppal would only say, "I did what's best for the party."

    Former cabinet minister Mark Norris, a leadership candidate, said Klein spoke like he did 10 years ago, calling the speech "nice."

    "I mean, he knows obviously there's issues out there," Norris said.

    "There's a lot of people who are very worried about the future. I think it just shows humility. So, I was very proud of him. It takes a lot of guts to do that."

    Delegates who voted for Klein enthused about the premier's accomplishments as they dropped their votes in the blue and orange tackle boxes.

    Many of those who voted against the premier, in favour of pushing the party into a leadership campaign, would not go on record with reporters.

    All six of Klein's would-be successors stood in the room watching as Klein listed a handful of recycled policy commitments that were coupled with efforts to convince the party faithful that this time he would really do them.

    Klein, now in his fourth term as premier, listed five priorities for his remaining tenure, including improving relations with Ottawa and developing and diversifying the energy sector. In a surprising move, Klein also reverted to his mantra of finding a lasting solution to health care.

    "We need to find some way to sustain our health-care system for future generations."

    Klein said it won't be a quick fix, but he wants the party's blessing to keep pushing for change.

    "The work won't be finished before I leave office, and all the solutions won't be found by me," Klein said.

    "What I can do, what I pledge to do, is everything in my power to fix what can be fixed in order to strengthen the system."

    Klein also reiterated his government's desire that Alberta find a cure for cancer.

    Speaking in the heart of conservative Calgary, Klein appealed to liberal values with his final pledge.

    "I know that I have been given the gifts of good health, opportunities and love and support from good people," he said.

    "I also know that for others, life can be lonely -- lonely and hard. It can be filled with despair and seemingly devoid of hope. I've talked with many people in that position, and at times in my life, I've walked a mile or two in their shoes.

    "Friends, through good days and bad, I have never lost my desire to stay in touch with ordinary Albertans. I'm not ready to let go of that desire. I still want to use the office I have been blessed to hold in the service of ordinary Albertans."

    [email protected]

    [email protected]

    © The Edmonton Journal 2006 [/quote]
    Retire sooner.
    Retire now.
    Stay on for the swan song?
    Leadership review? What leadership review??
    President and CEO - Airshow.