A peek behind the curtain

One of the most fundamental elements of any successful campaign tour just has to be: Be where you say your leader will be and ensure you're ready to service the media horde.

Reporter's Notebook | Scott Dippel

CBC Reporter Scott Dippel covers politics from Calgary. (CBC)

I don't envy the people who organize leaders' tours.   

I've never done it and I know there must be a thousand details to ensure it all works well.  

The site survey. The set up. The leader swans in, delivers and leaves. Then there's the teardown and you move on to the next stop... or hopscotch ahead to the one after while your other team handles the next event.  

One of the most fundamental elements of any successful campaign tour just has to be: Be where you say your leader will be and ensure you're ready to service the media horde.  

Most people covering the campaign trail are pretty easy-going. Well, unless you're following every single stop a leader makes in a day. Then the whole thing gets a bit tedious as you move from one event to the next. Most on the trail just pop in and out as required.  

Keeping the time

I haven't been to every campaign stop for all parties. But there is a fundamental failure in Election '12 for each party. By and large, they just cannot stay on schedule. Can't. Do. It.   

That or else I just have had really bad luck for three weeks.  

Monday was just the latest example. On one of his rare forays outside of Edmonton, Brian Mason's NDP team calls a media scrum for 4 p.m. in Calgary's Beltline to talk about gay rights and a certain blog post put up by a Wildrose candidate.   

NDP Leader Brian Mason was late for his photo op with LGBT candidates Marc Power and Ashley Fairall Monday. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

Mason was late. Not a little late. REAL late. At 4:45 p.m., we were still waiting. He did turn up a short time later and after a five minute scrum, the candidate was on his way.  

The Wildrose portrays military precision and has an oversized staff. So far, it's the best organized. But several times on this campaign for whatever reason, it just cannot deliver.   

For example, at one of Danielle Smith's peak moments of this campaign — announcing an energy dividend at a campaign stop near Cremona — the leader was late. For the first event of the day, the flag was up, the media feed was working, the cowboys were standing by, but everything and everyone just waited in the chill morning air for the leader to arrive.  

However, the pictures of Smith with the pumpjack in the background and those cowboy-hatted ranchers have gone coast to coast to coast. Mission accomplished.  

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith makes a campaign stop with an oil and gas pumpjack the background near Cremona, Alta. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The Tory machine is much vaunted in Alberta politics for its campaign prowess but it has a history of problems too. (We simply will not talk about the debacles that were the party's last two leadership vote events.)  

At times late and at other moments, the PCs provide audio which sounds like unusable static. This is not how to get your message out in the 21st century. Security is good though because after all, Alison Redford is still the premier.  

Like many other elements of political life in Alberta, this province still has a ways to go. And that's always hard for this Albertan to admit because like any good Albertan, I like to think my province takes a backseat to no one on pretty much anything.  

The fun part about a competitive election like this one is that perhaps future elections will be better run.