Tuesday, April 05, 2005

What's in a Name?

Here's an interesting news story an alert reader sent my way today. It appears the Provincial Liberal Party are considering a name change. And, no, "Washington Generals" does not appear to be in the running.

Jokes aside, I have mixed opinions on this. I've long been in favour of a Liberal/NDP merger to create a new Party. I think such a party might have a legitimate shot at challenging the Conservatives. You'd eliminate the vote splitting and erase the stigma surrounding both parties. Let's face it, "Liberal" is a bad word in Alberta. People who weren't born when the NEP was brought in and don't even know what it was still bring it up...and this is during provincial elections. A new name might get us a few votes from Albertans who hate the Conservatives but just can't bring themselves to vote for the Liberal Party.

On the flip side, a lot of life-long Liberals wouldn't like this. I can just hear the voices of party members shouting "I've been a Liberal since Sifton was Premier and have always been proud to be a Liberal and...blah blah blah". So, with this in mind, it's likely not worth the flack it would cause.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this? I'd be curious to hear what Liberals and non-Liberals alike think about this.


  • Interesting thought about merger. I doubt it would happen, but it's an interesting thought. With more right-wing loony parties cropping up each day, it seems kindof unnecessary if the Liberals can inch the right side of their tent closer to Alberta's political centre.

    With regards to the name, the argument I've made on www.gauntlet.ca is that they need to worry about the brand, not the name. We've been electing Ralph for 10 years, not the Progressive Conservative Party.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 7:11 PM  

  • Thanks for posting this.

    This is a question I've been grappling with for a long time.

    I'm in the tricky position of being an Alberta Liberal but not a Federal Liberal. People don't seem to know, or care, about the difference. So the rot going on in Ottawa hurts us badly just by name association. It may not be a coincidence that the Alberta Liberal Party performed well once the Federal Libs were out of power and Mulroney was at the helm.

    I, too, have mixed feelings about a name change. On one hand, the brand is clearly toxic in Alberta. On the other, rebranding is such a risk that could put us in an even worse position.

    And what names could we go to? So far, I have heard NO suggestions at all as to what we could change our party name to. I'm somewhat fond of usurping the PCs and taking the name "The Progressives"... but sane people look at me like I've lost all judgment when I run that one by them.

    One things for sure - it's nearly impossible to win in the rural areas of Southern and much of central Alberta with the Liberal name.

    Hating Liberals is part of the Albertan identity. Far right-wing conservatism, on the other hand, isn't necessarily part of the package. I believe a lot of Albertans are very moderate, but they always plug their votes for Conservatives because, well, to do otherwise would invalidate themselves.

    By Blogger Jim, at 7:37 PM  

  • I think the NDP and the Libs should combine/merge and call themselves the Canadian Alliance Party.. thats a sure-fire winner of a name in Alberta

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 8:15 PM  

  • change the name to the Alberta Party. Make the signs in the shape of alberta. Instruct doorknockers, particularly in rural alberta to avoid all talk of policy and go with a script

    "Hello I am __________ from the Alberta party, how are you this evening"
    response "Fine"
    "Do you support Alberta?"
    response "Yes I do"
    "Will you support the Alberta party to ensure that Alberta's interests are protected for future generations of Albertans?"
    response "well yes i will"
    "Thanks, can we put a sign on your lawn, a sign in the shape of the province of ALberta?"
    "You sure can"

    The slogan can be "putting Alberta first"

    they should do it for sure

    By Blogger iloveLaP, at 8:27 PM  

  • Too bad that there already IS an Alberta Party... it was created from the ashes of the Alberta First Party, whose former leader, John Reil, tried to hijack the Alberta Liberal leadership after Ken Nicol stepped down last year.

    By Blogger Jim, at 8:40 PM  

  • "And, no, "Washington Generals" does not appear to be in the running."

    ... Damn, you stole my joke right off the bat.

    But seriously, as someone who's neither Liberal nor Albertan, I'm really not sure it's worth changing the name *unless* it is a real & true merger, or at least involves taking a few non-Lib MLA's along for the ride.

    Take SK as an example: if the Sask Tories had simply changed their name to the Sask Party, it probably wouldn't have made a jot of difference; indeed, the fact that all of the then-PC caucus moved over to the Sask Party earned them the "Sask-a-Tory" moniker from Roy Romanow and others. But the fact that a few (Most? I can't recall at the moment) of the sitting Sask Liberals joined in made the change more than cosmetic.

    And in any event, a merger, or perhaps even convincing a few Tory MLA's to join in (which seems less likely from outside AB, but who knows ...) would be one thing, but the real issuea to be overcome, once the name is changed,are policy and, as gauntlet suggests, defining the brand.

    By Blogger Jason Hickman, at 8:45 PM  

  • Here's my take on these ideas:

    1) Rebranding is dangerous. I can just see it now. PC TV Adds:

    'The Alberta Liberals think that they can change their name and Albertans won't see throught it.

    They hide behind a new name because the're afraid that Albertans will find out their secret plans to destroy the surplus by spending their way into a deficit and bring back the NEP.

    Premier Lyle Oberg and the Progressive Conservatives are proud Albertans and don't need to trick Albertans into voting for them.

    Don't get tricked. Vote PC.'

    2) A merger with the ND's would never happen. WAY WAY too much distrust and dare I say it 'hate'.

    Plus, you are assuming that the Liberal and ND vote would hold if such a merger would take place. I think having Brian Mason and Raj Pannu in a merged Lib/ND organism could scare off some of the more centre-right libs.

    3) The NEP... I feel your pain. It never ever ever ever dies.

    Conclusion, I don't think a name change is a good route to take. Distance from the feds is very very advised though.

    By Blogger daveberta, at 1:49 AM  

  • When Ralph steps down the Alberta Alliance is going to make a real bid at the rural seats of the Conservative Party, especially if they are led by a city slicker like Dinning. That combined with any wounds opened up by the leadership battle (ie Morton lossing and taking social conservatives to the Alberta Alliance) could make for a very interesting election.
    This talk of a name change is little more than a political stunt (and a good one) to actually get Taft et al. noticed in the Alberta press. There is no need (yet) to abandon the Liberal identity. Alberta has a history of momentus political and shifts.
    The Alberta Libs would do much better to hold the course, as gauntlet suggested, better brand recognition is the key.
    Power corrupts and the Alberta conservatives have been in power for a long time - there has got to be some dirty laudry and when Raplh is no longer there to take the bullets something is going to happen.

    By Blogger pol_grom, at 1:50 AM  

  • Being a member of the NDP I've always thought that here in Alberta there should be a merger of the two parties. I wouldn't want to get in bed with the federal Liberals but provincially I think that there's no way to get the PCs out of office (and avoid the Alberta Alliance taking power) anytime soon without a collaboration between the two more left leaning parties. However, I think "NDP" is a dirtier word in this province than "Liberal" so I'm not sure even if both parties merged we would win but I do think that a merger would increase our chances (given that many of the margins aren't that big for a number of ridings).

    -Socialist Swine

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 2:18 AM  

  • Too BAD that is not true about John Reil, there is an Alberta Party, it is run by that nepharious Fred Schorning, who is not John Reil. But I am sure if every provincial Liberal in Alberta (that is right, I am calling out all 13 of you) came to the Alberta Party's next AGM, we could take it over and Fred and Kevin could go head to head for leadership, alla Dief and Stanfield. Ohh the excitment I can sense it now.

    And Unlike Fred, we could really do something with that name. We could be like the Yukon Party (winners) and Sask Party (a heck of a lot better then they would have been if they were known as Devine's petty criminals, or whatever they were in a previous lifetime). Alberta Party is the way to go, we need to take over the party at the next AGM, come on everybody, phone up your liberal friend and tell him/her to come to the next Alberta Party meeting and help change the world


    By Blogger iloveLaP, at 10:46 AM  

  • I think it's kind of sad that the Alberta Party has a better website than the LPCA...

    ilovlap: I love the "do you support Alberta?" line.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:22 AM  

  • Yeah, I made a mistake about the Alberta First Party turning into the Alberta Party. I don't think that there is any connection.

    I do know that Reil said he wanted to get the Liberal nomination in Stony Plain regardless of his leadership loss. I wonder if he ever did try...

    By Blogger Jim, at 3:27 PM  

  • Mr. Reil never ran for the nomination in Stony Plain, but I do remember him saying that he was going to after I asked him if he was going to back in Feb of 2004. So...

    By Blogger daveberta, at 1:17 AM  

  • Never Happen. The Liberals keep trying to kill off the NDP as oppose to merge. Because of the that the NDP/Liberals shall never meet in this province.

    By Blogger Red Star Tonez, at 12:07 AM  

  • As a former Alberta Liberal (now in Quebec), I think a name change completely misses the boat. The key is to build a credible alternative, and get that message out. The Tories survived despite the Federal party being obliterated in Alberta and the West. Playing with the name is so obviously style over substance that it will actually end up being worse than before - you conceivably lose your core - for example, if I came back, and didn't see "Liberal" on a ballot, I'd probably opt for the NDP...

    As to a merger, not only won't it happen, but it shouldn't. There are real philosphical differences between the two parties that I don't think can be papered over, and further I think people have a right to choose between them.

    By Blogger Fiddlers' Green, at 1:51 PM  

  • My view is that the Alberta Liberal Party is just fine. contrary to some views, it has enjoyed a pretty good reputation ever since Nick Taylor helped get it going as a separate party from the Liberal Party of Canada. That was a necessary and good move.

    The real issue for Dr. Taft is simply this, to do everything he can to actually position himself as the Alternative Government.

    The Tories in fact are very weak in the talent department, most are followers not leaders, and not very many Tories nowadays have any original ideas. Most of them come up from the AUMA farm team system.

    What Liberals require is to lay down a solid and alternative Liberal view of issues, particularly in Healthcare, Education, Families, Children and Seniors. And certainly on Labour Issues and Small Business Issues.

    The Seniors in Alberta helped vacate 8 Tory seats in the last election including some of the most smug and inept Tories in all of Alberta. With some hard work and planning, and careful attention to communications, we could get rid of this decrepid Provincial Government. But it will take some work and some money.

    Not too much work and money if everyone pitches in, once we have made up our minds that Ralph and his boys have to go, and that we want to clean up the corruption in the Heritage Trust Fund that makes Adscam look like a Sunday Pizza Party.

    There are so many issues that Ralph has screwed up on, and used the money belonging to Alberta taxpayers to bail his sorry ass out of trouble.

    And for people in the NDP, half a loaf is better than no loaf. But in order to win, we need to focus on the objective, and that is to unseat Tories, one seat at a time.

    By Blogger Joe Green, at 12:25 AM  

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