By Medicine Hat News Opinon on December 5, 2017.
When Calgary-based MLA Greg Clark stepped down as Alberta Party leader it was mildly surprising considering many would say he’s done a decent job as leader of the fledgling party.
However, while Clark has done a good job, he has not got his party past a two-seat high, not exactly influential in Alberta politics.
The Alberta Party while seemingly relatively new, has technically been around since 1990 when a formation of parties including the Heritage Party, Confederation of Regions amongst others formed the Alliance Party which in 1998 became the Alberta Party Political Association aka, the Alberta Party.
They have developed a nice niché as the centrist party with a keen sense for business, but what does that actually mean? While voters are aware of them, they have never seemed to gather any clout and while they seem to more well known, they have not developed a strong enough identity. If their history consists of bringing together members of a collection of disenfranchised political movements, how does that equate to a single, solid political identity?
It doesn’t or at least it hasn’t yet. It worked in Saskatchewan with the Saskatchewan Party founders bringing together old Progressive Conservatives and Liberals in the wheat province, but even then it took time. Saskatchewan didn’t also have the divisiveness on the right as Alberta does. In Saskatchewan, you were either NDP or ‘small c’ conservative. After Lynda Haverstock left the Liberals, that party pretty much faded into oblivion.
In Alberta, there are so many egos/political movements, right wing voters are have a plethora of parties to choose from which isn’t a good thing if you’re not a fan of the New Democrats. “The ND’s” name almost used to be a punch line when discussing Alberta politics as early as a decade ago.
The NDP have a large number of critics, especially in the rural areas, but they have an identity and a solid urban base which just may equate into more success the next time voters visit the ballot box. People understand the stability of the NDP — like it or not.
The UCP which are the fiscally and socially conservative old Conservatives and perhaps now ‘red Tories’ which now make up the Alberta Party will be slugging it out and basically whoever has the better public relations people getting their messages out there, will garner more of the conservative-leaning votes.
The Alberta Party’s convention in Red Deer in November reportedly drew over 400 delegates, up from the paltry numbers which were well under 100 last year. The 2017 Alberta Party convention which was aptly-themed “A Party For All of Us” featured some former prominent PCs such as high profile MLADoug Griffiths and former PC party president Katherine O’Neill (who is now on the Alberta Party executive). When one party ceases, just find another one.
However, the whole idea of combining the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose has blown up because those insiders and nameless, faceless strategists and bureaucrats who help steer the philosophies of these right-wing political movements just cannot get along in Alberta. Hence, somewhere Premier Rachel Notley is wearing a smirk.
A cynic may say political parties are just an advanced form of high school cliqués where one set of “cool kids” don’t like another set of “cool kids” and they compete for the affections of the rest of the group.
Perhaps that may be a tad simplistic. However, with high stakes for those who tend to lean a little bit more to the right and want to see “the orange crushed,” the waging battle between the new, old conservatives and the old, new conservatives may leave Alberta with nothing (but) left.
(Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with comments about this opinion piece at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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