I had the pleasure of attending the Alberta Liberal Party's (the provincial Liberals) policy convention in Edmonton this weekend. Friday night, all eyes were on Dalton McGuinty who spoke about his experiences bringing the Ontario Liberals from opposition to government. It was good of him to take the time to speak to Alberta Liberals and he was really well received. Friday also featured a hospitality suite hosted by Rick Miller
and the MLAs.
Saturday and Sunday, the focus was on policy, as around 50 resolutions
were voted on. Most of the resolutions were vague enough to leave the platform committee some leeway (ie. more money for post-sec and infrastructure) and proposals for things like increased Auditor General powers and a Citizen's Assembly are long overdue. At the same time, the perils of grass roots democracy were on display when a resolution calling for all resource revenues to be put in a trust fund passed; the end result would be 7 billion dollars in new taxes or cut services. For a recap of the Saturday, you can also check out Daveberta
who I believe was the proud winner of an engraved flask as Young Liberal of the Year.
The general mood was certainly one of optimism, with everyone expecting a spring election (presumably
Jim Dinning will be the next Tory leader, although a lot of people feel someone like Ed Stelmach might surprise). The financial books seem to be finally in order, most ridings are finding candidates, and the party has it's first competent leader in a long time. And when it comes to communications and organization, the provincial Liberals are still miles ahead of the federal Liberals in Alberta. What the party does need to do is stop trying to find the perfect policies that will make Alberta a better place and go with some populist policies that will get votes. That's how Harper waltzed to 24 Sussex and there's certainly the potential to pick up a few seats if they roll out some clever vote grabbing ideas.