Wednesday, October 05, 2011

What Saturday's Win by Red Tory Redford Means in Alberta

Alison Redford was Saturday's surprise winner of the Alberta PC leadership race. As stunned as frontrunner Gary Mar was, the most surprised may have been Alberta's opposition parties, who had no doubt begun positioning themselves against Mar.

So how does this shocker change Alberta's already rocky political landscape?


Progressive Conservatives

Redford's first task will be assembling a new Cabinet - expect that announcement in about a week. Her second will be deciding when to go to the polls.

There had been speculation Mar would call a snap election this fall, but Redford's victory has ended talk of this, with the Premier-designate saying she will not call an election before June. Although Redford campaigned on fixed election dates, it's unclear whether this was a real promise, or one of those silly things one says to get elected. So the exact timing of the next election is still up in the air.

Redford will use the time until the next election (whenever it is) to earn the trust of a caucus she had only a handful of supporters in, and to introduce herself to voters. Redford ran a policy-heavy campaign, and enacting some of these policies into law would be the perfect way to define herself to the electorate.


Alberta Liberals

After Gary Mar, the biggest loser on Saturday may have been the Alberta Liberal Party. Running a single issue Health Care campaign against Gary "two tier" Mar must have been a tantalizing prospect for newly elected Liberal leader Raj Sherman. Now Sherman finds himself up against a red Tory who is popular among women and lists education and Health Care as her top two priorities.

Redford looks like a Liberal and sounds like a Liberal - she likely would have run as a Liberal if Liberals stood a chance of being elected in Alberta. That makes her a very formidable opponent for Liberals. Hell, even Margaret Atwood is excited.


The Danielle Smith Party

For the same reasons Redford's victory is trouble for the Liberals, it should help the Wildrose Alliance. They can now portray themselves as the only "true" conservatives, and might be able to poach a few disgruntled PC MLAs or organizers.

At the same time, the Wildrosers should be careful about toasting Redford's win. After all, much of Danielle Smith's appeal transcends the political spectrum. To many, Smith isn't a conservative ideologue - she's a strong female candidate willing to take on the establishment. That was very much Redford's M.O. during the leadership contest, so if the choice boils down to Redford or Smith...well, maybe voters will opt for the leader whose party has been tested and whose candidates aren't as extreme.


The short of this is to say Redford adds another wild card to an already unpredictable political game in Alberta. The challenge for all parties becomes shifting strategies and defining this largely unknown leader.

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16 Comments:

  • Why even have a Liberal party in Alberta, when Alison Redford is the leader of the PC party?

    By Anonymous Michael F, at 12:30 PM  

  • I agree Michael F.

    I commented here on CG (before Sunday morning) that the Liberals should have waited for her to lose before having a leadership campaign, so she could lead the Liberals. Very, very, pleasantly surprised and impressed with the outcome!

    It's not only the Liberals, the NDP are also in trouble in Edmonton with Alison at the helm.

    A lot of oil money is going to flow to the Wildrose Party very soon.

    By Blogger MississaugaPeter, at 2:42 PM  

  • How do you think this affects the Alberta Party CG?

    By Anonymous Brianne, at 2:58 PM  

  • I find the rapid turnaround in electing female premiers quite fascinating. For a long time Canada has had more elected female legislators than the US has, but that advantage hasn't translated into prominence in executive positions compared to a number of fairly prominent female governors in the US (though percentagewise they still aren't impressive there - 6 of 50, at the moment).

    It seems like the dam has broken - 3 new female premiers in the space of a year, bringing us up to 30%.

    By Blogger Sean C, at 3:31 PM  

  • As for the NDP and Alberta Party, I'm not sure it changes a lot.

    The vote splits in Edmonton are so complex that it's hard to project what this would mean for the NDP.

    For the Alberta Party, I don't think it changes much in the short term. They'll be living off protest votes, and their success will be largely dependent on how much money they raise and how many volunteers they have. I doubt this changes either of those numbers significantly.

    In the long term, if a Redford victory leads to a reduced Liberal seat total, it might make a Liberal/ABP merger more likely.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:32 PM  

  • Alison Redford definitely makes Alberta politics much more interesting. With a provincial election expected in 2012, I would not be shocked to see more than a few of the deadwood MLAs in the Tory caucus take their severance and not run in the next election.

    On the healthcare file, this definitely makes life more difficult for the Liberals and Raj Sherman. The media is already writing the narrative that this is a race between Redford's PCs and Smith's Wildrose.

    I'm not completely convinced. The last legitimate poll to be released over the summer (by Environics) showed the three main opposition parties sitting between 10 and 15%, meaning that any of the three could form official opposition.

    It will be interesting to watch...

    By Anonymous daveberta, at 3:32 PM  

  • Sean C - Agreed. It's quite remarkable.

    Not just in terms of Premiers, but there are a decent number of female leaders making a name for themselves on the opposition benches - Smith in Alberta, Horwath in Ontario, Marois (for better or worse) in Quebec, the NDP leader in Newfoundland.

    Federal politics is still bleak - none of the 3 major parties seem likely to have female leaders anytime soon.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:34 PM  

  • A lot of oil money is going to flow to the Wildrose Party very soon.

    Send money to a fringe party? Oil and gas companies are far smarter than that.

    Besides, Redford's a far stronger supporter of the energy sector than many of the other candidates.

    Progressive doesn't mean anti-business anymore than conservative doesn't mean pro-business.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 4:14 PM  

  • It's too bad the Alberta Party and Alberta Liberal Party can't figure out that they need to merge prior to the next election. The Alberta Party needs to wake up and realize that it's not gaining any momentum.

    By Anonymous Klaus, at 5:03 PM  

  • Smith in Alberta, Horwath in Ontario, Marois (for better or worse) in Quebec, the NDP leader in Newfoundland.

    And Olive Crane in PEI.

    By Blogger Sean C, at 5:14 PM  

  • Robert,

    Wild Rose Party is not a fringe party. It has more MLAs than the NDP. Many recent polls have them with a popular vote greater than the Liberals and NDP combined.

    http://www.electionalmanac.com/canada/alberta/polls.php

    BTW, you don't know Alison. She will do what is right for the residents of Alberta today, and for her daughter and the residents of Alberta in the future. That means a little more Heritage Fund and a little more environmental concern over the tar sands. She is pro-business but she is also pro-environment and pro-equality and pro-fairness.

    In 2008, the Liberals got 9 MLAs and the NDP got 2 MLAs. In 2012, there will probably be none. There will be only 2 choices, and the supposed fringe party will be the alternative to Alison.

    By Blogger MississaugaPeter, at 5:57 PM  

  • Women breaking into office (esp at executive level) is exciting to me, moreso than non-Europeans... it does feel like something cool is in the air, like something good is happening. At this rate it's easier to envision a female PM (still thinking Kim Campbell would be good for the LPC).

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 6:14 PM  

  • I'm not completely convinced. The last legitimate poll to be released over the summer (by Environics) showed the three main opposition parties sitting between 10 and 15%

    It's also an extreme outlier, with every other poll in the past year (including two conducted around the same time) putting Wildrose in the high 20's or low 30's.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 5:02 AM  

  • BTW, you don't know Alison. She will do what is right for the residents of Alberta today, and for her daughter and the residents of Alberta in the future. That means a little more Heritage Fund and a little more environmental concern over the tar sands. She is pro-business but she is also pro-environment and pro-equality and pro-fairness.

    I don't understand why you'd say I don't know her, and then basically agree with what I said about her.

    I didn't talk about pro-equality and pro-fairness, but I do like her position on that portfolio as well. When even Ezra Levant applauds your approach to the Human Rights Commission, you know you're on the right track.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 11:47 AM  

  • Robert,

    You don't know Alison. She and Ezra are light years apart. Why do you think that other Conservative blowtard Stephen Taylor is creating innuendo about Alison?

    Alison won because on Saturday's second ballot, Mar had 33,233 votes (42.51%), Alison had 28,993 votes (37.09%), and Doug Horner had 15,950 votes (20.40%).

    Doug Horner's votes were PC members and not some supposed boogeymen/women group out there. Horner's PC supporters made Alison their second choice by a margin of almost 4 to 1 (8,108 to Alison, 2,258 to Mar) so she could overcome the 4,000 shortfall and beat Mar by over 1,500 votes.

    Ezra and Alison are not bed mates and I am sure that she would not be pleased to see herself associated with him.

    By Blogger MississaugaPeter, at 4:40 PM  

  • Ezra Levant endorsed Alison Redford most wholeheartedly.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 11:42 PM  

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