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Alberta Politics

wildrose wildfire.

While the sacking of Toronto grabbed national attention this weekend, another event captivated political audiences in Alberta. The Wildrose Alliance policy conference in Red Deer drew the kind of crowds that opposition parties in Alberta have not seen since Laurence Decore led the Liberal Party twenty years ago. Around 700 delegates traveled to central Alberta to debate and vote on party policy and an estimated 900 to 1000 people packed the conference hotel to hear leader Danielle Smith deliver her keynote speech on Friday night (video and text).

Premier Ed Stelmach embraces Speaker Ken Kowalski.

Starting her speech, she took a direct shot at Speaker Ken Kowalski, who Ms. Smith claimed has been “running roughshot over Alberta’s democracy” for blocking increased funding to the Wildrose caucus. Ms. Smith also directly challenged the integrity of the current government, led by Premier Ed Stelmach.

In what must have been a carefully managed production, delegates rejected some of the more controversial policies (including the right to bear arms). There is no doubt that more extreme conservative elements exist in this party, but under Ms. Smith’s leadership they are very tactfully creating a new image as a moderate conservative alternative to the current governing party.

Danielle Smith with three of the now four Wildrose MLAs.

The Wildroses also announced that it has organized local associations in all 83 constituencies, which is a status that the Liberals and New Democrats would have a difficult time legitimately claiming. With organizations being built on the ground, a large challenge will be for the party to prove that it can attract strong candidates across the province (in 87 new constituencies).

Ms. Smith has yet to convince Albertans that she is ready to lead a government, but she has taken an important step this weekend by grabbing their attention. Let us see if she can hang on to it.

22 replies on “wildrose wildfire.”

“In what must have been a carefully managed production, delegates rejected some of the more controversial policies”

Wow Dave, normally I respect your writing.

Not today. What a silly statement. Do you honestly believe 500+ members were orchestrated to vote a certain way on policies? Ridiculous.. Really.

Thanks for this report. I was wondering if you could point me towards an analysis of the Wildrose Alliance, particularly one that focuses on its social base. Is it just a group of disaffected PCs? Is it rural or urban? Is it partially sponsored by Big Oil to discipline the PC party?

Regarding “the carefully managed production” which “Princess Jules” thinks is a bogus description, obviously they’ve never seen these mainstream political party meetings. They’re all stage managed affairs devoid of genuine democratic debate. The agendas, speakers, resolutions, voting methods, etc are always chosen or dramatically limited in their scope by unelected, partially unelected or emasculated committees as opposed to developed through committees of elected representatives from riding associations or local democratic bodies. This is true of the NDP, Liberals, Tories – everyone except, perhaps some minor political parties which really do emerge from radical democratic politics such as Quebec solidaire.

I meant to include this in my last post:
BC’s Constitution Act really seems to just put things into one Act that other provinces either have spread out over multiple acts, or that exist as parliamentary traditions anyways.

Denny, I think they are thinking less in the BC sense and more in the Quebec and US States sense. A document that would be the “core” legislative rules for the province, albeit one that respects the supremacy of the Canadian constitution.

It amounts to horn blowing, really. It’s a way for provincial politicians to keep thinking they are somehow equivalent to their federal partners, and it’ll make a good document to wave around while decrying the so-called abuses of Ottawa.

I am assuming what Dave is referring to when he mentioned “carefully managed” was the number of comments coming from people AT the event who said that voters on policy resolutions were being instructed to be considerate of the image of the party if some of the more extreme policies were adopted.

Not sure that is what he is referring to, but is certainly something I saw from some of the live tweets coming from people at the event.

Either way, I feel that the results were democratic, and the Wildrose made an important stride towards being a very legitimate contender for Government.

Comments for moderation were certainly made by people from the mikes, but they were as spontaneous as the rest of the debate on the motions, and they were often as not on the losing side of the vote.

To me, ‘careful management’ implies a top-down attempt at control that exists only in the imagination of people who can’t or don’t want to believe that grassroots policy development actually produces quality ideas.

Otherwise, a fairer summation from Dave than from many in the MSM, and he got closer to the actual numbers of attendees on Friday. As an aside, I’m told by the people who handled the live internet feed that over 400 people took advantage of it during Danielle Smith’s speech.

Thanks for all the comments!

Princess_Jules: Like any large-scale political party event, there is a certain amount of stage-managing that occurs. This weekend’s convention was not simply a policy conference, it was a public coming out party for the Wildrose Alliance and was scripted as such. Ms. Smith’s keynote was a key part of the careful management. It was a production.

I have no doubt that there was “grassroots debate” during the policy sessions, but I have heard that some delegates were being instructed to consider the party’s public image if “some of the more extreme policies were adopted. (as Chris Laboissere wrote).

As someone who saw some of the inner and outer workings and as I attended the event let me just make a comment.

1. Stage management at any convention is important. One of the key ones was not to take any amendments from the floor (that was a good change). However no one was challenged to say anything for or against a specific subject. In fact at times the Caucus wanted a bit more lee way with some things but lost their changes.

2. Lots of people were cognisant that the media was in attendance and I think most were aware of the significance of the policy book in the eyes of Albertans. Many smaller policies meetings were held in all of the ridings so that there was a lot of discussions about the policies over the last four months.

3. There is no sponsorship by Big Oil. Small Oil, Small business that is the kitchen that the Wildrose lives in, other than private donors.

The PCs and Liberals get more money from Big Oil.

4. I think most of the disaffected Tories are mostly already in the party. 15000 people you have to get a fair amount of some disaffected people from all walks of political and non political life.

Anyway sorry for babbling so much but I just wanted you to know that there was a fair amount of sincerity in that room. People who, to be fair are fairly conservative, who learned from the federal conservatives that being the right wing version of the NDP really is not all that fun.

Actually, if you look at the Alberta Liberals’ list of donors, many of them are not “Big Oil” but “Big Pharma”. Makes you wonder what Liberal government would do in the health care arena.

Fair comments. Good post.

Where are the Liberals and NDP in Alberta? I don’t hear much since Kevin Taft was leader.

Three days and seven hours after I am still overwhelmed by the grassroots debate that I was part of in Red Deer. Great people lined up to debate the best ideas i heard in years at this agm.

Can Danielle Smith hang on to Albertans attention?!?!? YES SHE CAN!

Darren The Liberals and NDP are stuck playing with their floaty toys in the shallow end of the kiddy pool. The Wildrose Alliance swims in the deep end. The Tories are living in the hot tub.

The ANTI-LIBERAL BIAS on this blog is making me SICK. DAve shows his usual ANTI-LIBERAL BIAS by heralding the Wildrose’s activities akin to big Liberal Lawrence Decore. SICK DAVE SICK.

The Liberals are everywhere. David Swann was in Red Deer. Laurie Blakeman was at the Syncrude Duck trial.

Get a life Kyle Wildrose. When the Liberals win government in the next election by the vote split of the Wildrose and PC Party’s then I will laugh at you.

Dear Liberal Defender: you know what else is everywhere? Herpes. Yet that doesn’t mean it’s going to catch on as a socially acceptable option.

PS – might want to wipe your chin. The Kool-Aid is dripping.

Hmmmmmm. Some kind of tag-teaming seems to be going on between WRA and progressives here–kind of like Ralph’s adoption of Pam Barrett as the tory’s unofficial team mascot in the 90s. Much the same dynamic is seen in Ottawa these day where right-wingers are kept in government by the left, as the latter continue their incremental march to official opposition status.

Doug,

Obviously you have no idea what I may have seen or not seen. Suffice it to say, I was at the AGM which is most likely more than you can claim. Perhaps you should check your facts before you embarrass yourself again with your lack of knowledge. Here is a hint. There was no delegate system for the voting. One Member = One Vote. So tell me again how this was orchestrated?

Interesting

The Guy is coming – or NOT!

His photo is not posted on the Wildrose – nor any mention of him as part of an ‘elected’ caucus – where is GUY!
MLA Boutillier must be waffling – or as Ms. Smith Leader WRA stated to the Canadian Press June 25, 2010 – “After much deliberation and thoughtful discussion” – HUM – what does that mean – do we want him – do we not – does Guy want WRA or Not

It seems not – as he has not committed – as their has been no transition to his new caucus – So no official party – of course there is still none as one one of these guys has been elected as WRA -the rest are turncoats and have little honour – they should resign and run as WRA candidates in their own ridings.

Theatre – Theatre and BAD theatre at that – hard to fault the Speaker for not providing funding to someone a) who is not elected, b) a caucus that does not yet exist to qualify….
Who’s is ‘running rough shod over democracy’ Mrs. Smith???

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