murky waters ahead for alberta’s liberal party.

Raj Sherman delivers his leadership victory speech as leadership chair Josipa Petrunic, and candidates Laurie Blakeman, Hugh MacDonald, and Bruce Payne look on (September 2011).

Raj Sherman delivers his leadership victory speech as leadership chair Josipa Petrunic, and candidates Laurie Blakeman, Hugh MacDonald, and Bruce Payne look on (September 2011).

The Alberta Liberals will be holding a vote to affirm or oppose the continued leadership of  Raj Sherman on June 16 at the Whitehorn Community Association in northeast Calgary.

While the 2012 election gave the Liberal Party its worst electoral showing in decades, including the loss of Official Opposition status to the Wildrose Party, many Liberal partisans are lining up to reaffirm Dr. Sherman’s leadership. Dr. Sherman was first elected as a Progressive Conservative MLA in 2008, became Liberal leader in 2011 and was re-elected as MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark in the recent vote.

It is unclear where the Liberal Party fits in the new political environment and despite its dismal showing at the polls last month and it is disputable whether changing leadership at this time will improve that party’s electoral fortunes. Dr. Sherman’s biggest advantage in the June vote may be a lack of anyone else interested in taking up the unenviable position of trying to rebuild Alberta’s Liberal Party.

With only four other MLAs in the Assembly, the Liberals would have a small pool to draw from if Dr. Sherman were to leave. One of those MLA’s, David Swann, already served as leader from 2008 until 2011, and another, Laurie Blakeman, was defeated in the 2011 leadership contest.

Ms. Blakeman spent the past month campaigning to become the Speaker of the Assembly, which if she had won would have, for all intents and purposes, bumped the group of Liberal MLA’s down to 4. Ms. Blakeman was unsuccessful in her bid and was defeated by Edmonton-Mill Creek PC MLA Gene Zwozdesky, who himself crossed the floor from the Liberals to the PCs in 1998.

Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr demonstrated ambition for higher office during his short-lived run for Mayor of Calgary in 2010, but has not publicly displayed interest in his party’s leadership position. I have little insight into whether Calgary-McCall MLA Darshan Kang would be interested in the role.

A few long-time Liberal partisans have shared their frustration with me, suggesting that if long-time Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald had not decided to retire in the recent election, he would be in an ideal position to claim the party leadership. Mr. MacDonald placed second in that party’s 2011 leadership contest and many of his supporters continue to see Dr. Sherman as an outsider to their party.

Other Party Leadership Reviews

It is expected that PC Premier Alison Redford will face a leadership affirmation vote at her party’s annual convention next year. After leading her party to re-election, winning 61 of 87 seats, it is likely that her leadership will be strongly affirmed in the vote.

Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith, now Leader of the Official Opposition, is required to face a leadership affirmation vote every three years, which means the next vote would be held in 2013 at the latest. Under section 8.4 of the Wildrose Party constitution, Ms. Smith leadership also faces conditions of term-limits:

8.4 The Leader shall be limited to holding the office of Leader of the Party for the longer of two terms of the Legislative Assembly or eight years, unless endorsed by a two-thirds majority to continue for an additional four years at the Annual General Meeting immediately preceding the expiry of the allowed term.

Both the Alberta NDP and the Alberta Party hold votes to affirm or oppose the current leadership at each annual general meeting, meaning that Brian Mason and Glenn Taylor will face votes in the upcoming year.

8 thoughts on “murky waters ahead for alberta’s liberal party.”

  1. Hopefully we can cut the fat from the Alberta Liberal Party and make her relevant again. The ALP came damn close to a majority victory in 93, within 4000 votes in swing ridings. We did this with a party strategy that was sensible and focused to what vote for, we must follow this template already set.

    It is hard to see the PC party maintain a policy that is middle of the road enough to keep all of the borrowed votes from the Liberals, as well the Alberta Party, tho maintained good media presence for its size, failed to make any headway in the terms of share of the votes, all the have done is act to split resource and volunteer power from the centralish parties.

    As well there now such a massive split on the right side of the political family, as most rural and a good portion of urban PC voters switching to WR, this gap in support for the PC was filled by the Liberal and Undecided votes. I can see no reason why the Alberta Party and the ALP are not the same party, party attitude and outlook are to similar to each other for this split to make sense. Party cooperation would not only consolidate election resource, but show a strong progressive centralist alternative to Albertans. It would be nice to include the Alberta NDP, but I dont think since 08 the willingness to cooperate has increased too dramatically.

    The Alberta Liberal Party can be relevant again, we just need to

  2. Hopefully we can cut the fat from the Alberta Liberal Party and make her relevant again. The ALP came damn close to a majority victory in 93, within 4000 votes in swing ridings. We did this with a party strategy that was sensible and focused to what vote for, we must follow this template already set.

    It is hard to see the PC party maintain a policy that is middle of the road enough to keep all of the borrowed votes from the Liberals, as well the Alberta Party, tho maintained good media presence for its size, failed to make any headway in the terms of share of the votes, all the have done is act to split resource and volunteer power from the centralish parties.

    As well there now such a massive split on the right side of the political family, as most rural and a good portion of urban PC voters switching to WR, this gap in support for the PC was filled by the Liberal and Undecided votes. I can see no reason why the Alberta Party and the ALP are not the same party, party attitude and outlook are to similar to each other for this split to make sense. Party cooperation would not only consolidate election resource, but show a strong progressive centralist alternative to Albertans. It would be nice to include the Alberta NDP, but I dont think since 08 the willingness to cooperate has increased too dramatically.

    The Alberta Liberal Party can be relevant again, we just need to pull it together.

  3. This article should have been titled “Daveberta continues to be a hater who backed a failed experiment instead of trying to do good with a real political party”

  4. Them’s some sour grapes, Fixed Wing Goose. Mayhaps instead of blaming everyone else, the ALP should look to itself. If the ALP offered something worth voting for, the existence of “failed experiments” wouldn’t take away from that.

  5. Yeah, he’ll be kept because he’s the only one who wants the job. But it won’t help. The liberal party will keep going downhill, because liberalism has already won. All of the parties espouse free markets, individual freedom, and using the power of government to give opportunity to those who are disadvantaged and to care for those who are in need. The very reason that the PCs won so convincingly is as a reaction to how illiberal some of the Wildrose positions, real or imagined, seemed.

    Either the unidimensional political spectrum devolves into two parties, in which case the PCs have the strongest claim to being the party of the “left” at this point, or the NDP, AP, and ALP find some reason for existing that at this point none of them have.

    They are all selling different “what”, but no one has an alternative “why.” Until they do, they will all remain irrelevant.

  6. The PC party became more Liberal than the Liberals! Simple as that! There is no room for Liberals nor NDP- the PC occupies that place. And the voter will usually vote for the party they think will win so a lot of “left” votes left the ndp and liberals to vote PC.
    But I must say I admire both paties and their leaders- they did not try bribing the voters, and they actually attempted to talk about issues. And I am not a supporter of either of those parties but I recognize integrity when I see it
    Nuff said!

  7. The NDP doesn’t have a leadership affirmation/review like the other parties. The leader is elected at every annual convention meaning there never is a review or affirmation unless someone actually chooses to run for leader against the incumbent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>