1. It’s all about Calgary: The Liberals will need at least 15 seats in Calgary to form even the shakiest of coalition governments and, if Stelmach maintains his rural and Edmonton base, they may need a near sweep of the city. That means a lot of work needs to be done from now until election day to make it acceptable for Calgarians to vote Liberal. Kevin Taft and his four horsemen need to be visible in the city and the ALP should ask themselves “How would Calgary vote?” when making virtually every decision. Calgary thinks it’s the new Toronto which means you need to stroke the city’s ego a little bit every now and then. It also wouldn’t hurt to hire an extra staffer for the city.
2. Target Seats: Someone should draft a list of 45 “winnable” seats and the party should focus their resources on ensuring that viable campaigns are run in those ridings. Long term, you don’t want to ignore the tough ridings, but Olds isn’t going Liberal next election and if the goal is to actually win, the party’s very limited resources need to be focused.
3. Slip of the tongue: It wouldn’t hurt, in my opinion, to get Kevin or an MLA to “accidently” refer to Ed Stelmach as Harry Strom during the campaign. An election is all about framing of your opponent and I think the easiest framing job on Special Ed would be to paint him as the hapless nice guy farmer who isn’t up to the job of Premier.
4. The Others: Get the Alberta Alliance into the leader’s debates. Try and marginalize the NDP (that should happen by itself if it looks like the Libs have an actual shot at forming government).
5. Rural vs. Urban: Back to the framing topic. You don’t want to say it publicly but this should be framed as an urban vs. rural election. The best policy the ALP could put in their platform would be “City of Calgary” and “City of Edmonton” acts, which would transfer more powers to the cities. Most major Canadian cities have them and it would be a good way for the party to paint itself as being in touch with urban issues.
6. A Change Would Do You Good: The most interesting quote I saw from Kevin Taft following the Elbow by election, hinted at something I’ve said for a long time: it’s not natural that many senior citizens who have lived their entire lives in Alberta have been through only one government change. You heard the “time for a change” and “13 long years” thing from Harper during the last federal election…I think the argument can be made that it’s a little odd to not change governments for 36 or 37 years. We’re getting into Communist Party territory here.
7. The Liberal-Conservative Party: The Taxpayers federation came out a few weeks ago and said the Liberals had a better platform than the Tories. The Herald referred to them as “Kevin Taft’s conservative Liberal Party” in an editorial a few weeks back. The ALP should be preaching fiscal responsibility as their number 1 priority. A few years back, I was a big proponent of the Liberals promising “sexy” policy like a bullet train but I think painting themselves as a small c conservative party that will save Alberta’s wealth might be the best course of action.
8. NOW! Remember point 3? Well, it’s not enough to say Stelmach is Harry Strom because even Kevin Taft wouldn't go so far as to call Kevin Taft the next Peter Lougheed. The ALP should dig up everything written on the 1971 election and steal it. Have Kevin run from door to door, show some youthful energy, use the same slogan if you want to. Also, as a plus, Lougheed has said some critical things about the PCs of late…wouldn’t hurt adding them to the stump speech.
9. Stand up for Alberta: As much as it pains me to say it, Kevin Taft is going to have to publicly slam Dion and the federal Liberals at some point during the campaign. The Alberta Liberals needs to distance themselves from the federal party. In an ideal world, they’d change their name, but that won’t happen so they’ll need to go out of their way to make it clear they aren’t the Pierre Trudeau NEP party.
10. Star Candidates: After the Elbow by election, it wouldn’t surprise me if a few star candidates might be willing to run for the ALP in Calgary. I’d hold off on nominations for a bit and try and recruit a few big names to run in cowtown.
11. New Blood: As much as I dislike the concept of people changing parties, it would be a big coup to publicly lure a Tory MLA or a few big name Dinning supporters over to the ALP.