Friday, February 19, 2010

This Week in Alberta - The BIG Merger

We all had a good chuckle back when the Wildrose Party and Alberta Alliance merged together; "Unite the Irrelevant" would have been an appropriate headline.

But that was then, and just two years later they've already begun carving Danielle Smith's face into the rocky mountains to commemorate her 30 year reign as Premier. So I guess we shouldn't be too dismissive of the merger between Renew Alberta and the Alberta Party - but it's sure hard not to be.

On one side, you have the Alberta Party, which has been around in various fringe separatist forms since the mid-80s, and who collected a whopping 0.46% of the vote last the one riding they ran in. So they've got a base of 51 votes to work off of. But, hey, if they can double that every election, they'll be poised for power in 2068.

And their merger partner? Renew Alberta. Which isn't a party.

So it hardly seems like this is worth talking about, but there are a few reasons to not dismiss this outright:

1. I have a lot of time for the people involved in the Renew movement. They're bright and they're committed.

2. The "Alberta Party" name is a good one to have. Yes, yes, I know it's simplistic, but often politics is simplistic.

3. Alberta politics are all topsy turvy now. There's a mood for change - Danielle Smith has been the benefit of that so far, but that could change.

So I'm intrigued. I'm still on the fence over whether or not I wish them well. On the one hand, I've always felt a new party might be the best way for progressives to gain power in Alberta. After the last election, my dream scenario was an "Alberta Party" fusing together from the ALP, Green Party, disgruntled PCs, and left-wing reformists. Get someone like Dave Bronconnier to lead it, and it could have been them rather than the Wildrosers bearing down on the PCs right now.

But the problem is, the new Alberta Party is going to be fishing from the same pool as the ALP. So even if they do somehow manage to become competitive by 2012 (and that's certainly a long shot), they'd be draining votes from the Liberals - the end result of that would be a PC or Wildrose government.

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  • I'm pretty certain that Wildrose is also fishing from the ALP pond - voters who are centre-right but don't think the Tories have the competance to do the job. It's not the Liberal base, but since the days Laurence Decore dragged around the briefcase debt clock, those are the voters the ALP have been trying to appeal to in order to expand, and most of those voters will find a more natural home in Wildrose.

    I think a centre-left Alberta Party might be able to appeal in a way neither your party nor mine can right now, because both parties are suffering from a shortage in appealing leadership. Then again, there's no guarantee this new party will have any better.

    By Blogger Don, at 11:08 a.m.  

  • ""Unite the Irrelevant"

    An absolutely perfect description of the Liberal Party of Alberta.

    All three of you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:57 a.m.  

  • I think Chantal Hebert said recently the political storm centre will no longer be Quebec but Alberta. I wouldn't say she's wrong.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 1:19 p.m.  

  • Don - True. I think a lot of Liberal voters are looking at the Wild Rose now...I just question if they'll keep looking once they see Wildrose policy.

    But, yeah, I do think a Decore-style ALP positioning is the best bet. And that's going to be tough to pull off with Swann.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:33 p.m.  

  • Fred - the ALP routinely get 25-30% of the vote. I wouldn't call that irrelevant.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:34 p.m.  

  • Have you seen the article in "The Economist" about the Wildrose?

    Also, I keep waiting to see a delightfully funny post about Anders and how the board in his riding has quit. Is that coming soon?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:22 p.m.  

  • The big pool of voters is the 60% who don't show up plus the swing voters seeking a legitimate centrist alternative.

    All parties are fishing from the same pool, but the water is pretty low and the stock of citizens who care enough to vote is disappearing like the cod stocks off the Grande Banks

    By Blogger kenchapman, at 2:38 a.m.  

  • Calgary,

    Thanks for your comments. Reading through the blogs is so far the best way to start understanding the Renewed Alberta Party. An initial reaction I am getting from people who are removed from Alberta's political blogs is, "yeah, but what do they stand for?" and they seem skeptical when the answer is that the past policies have currently been suspended so "The Big Listen" can help to mold policy.

    While I think consultation with Albertans could really build a big wave of support, there HAS to be some obvious policy direction/philosophy very soon or the "irrelevant party" moniker might stick. It will take only one or two big wrong steps at this stage to sink a really promising ship.

    By Blogger Berry Farmer, at 11:19 a.m.  

  • Generally, Alberta is a right-of-centre province, so any new party to the left of the Tories won't be a threat. The only viable challenge to the Tories will have to come from their right. If the AP policies come down left of centre, they'll be going after left voters who reside mostly in urban centres and the fact the AP leader is from rural Alberta won't sit well with them - kind of like how central Canada feels about a PM who isn't from central Canada.
    If the AP doesn't make fiscal restraint/conservatism the central core of its policy platform it will be finished even before it starts.

    By Anonymous Darren, at 1:48 p.m.  

  • "the end result of that would be a PC or Wildrose government."

    as compared to what will happen otherwise in the election...

    By Blogger Graeme, at 10:50 p.m.  

  • By Blogger raybanoutlet001, at 11:40 p.m.  

  • By Blogger raybanoutlet001, at 11:41 p.m.  

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