Wildrose needs to be more than the Anti-Redford Party

PCs sweep four by-elections, NDP and Alberta Party make gains
Jim Prentice Gordon Dirks Calgary Elbow By-Election Alberta

Education Minister Gordon Dirks and Premier Jim Prentice during the by-election campaign.

Disgraced former premier Alison Redford gave Albertans a convincing reason to vote Wildrose, but Danielle Smith‘s official opposition needs to find a new strategy to defeat Premier Jim Prentice‘s Progressive Conservative.

This appears to be the case as Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives celebrate their candidates victories in four Alberta by-elections held yesterday.

Kathy Macdonald Wildrose Calgary-Foothills by-election

Kathy Macdonald

The wins in the four strong-PC voting constituencies are a signal that the long-governing party should not be underestimated. And despite two years of spending scandals, embarrassment and misdeeds, the PC Party remains a competitive political force in this province.

It appears that despite the scandals, many Albertans wan to give Mr. Prentice a chance. And the PC’s smooth ‘be boring‘ and ‘de-Redfordization‘ strategy appears to have paid off with voters, at least in the short-term, and helped the party hold onto Calgary-Elbow, Calgary-Foothills, Calgary-West and Edmonton-Whitemud. Chosen as PC Party leader in September 2014, Mr. Prentice was personally elected last night in Calgary-Foothills, with a commanding lead ahead of Wildrose candidate Kathy Macdonald.

Mike Ellis PC Alberta calgary-west MLA

Mike Ellis

In Calgary-West, a constituency the Wildrose had targeted to win, candidate Sheila Taylor was narrowly defeated by Tory Mike Ellis. The Wildrose hoped that Ms. Taylor’s high-profile role as a public school board trustee would take her to victory, but the PCs Mr. Ellis narrowly held on to the constituency first won by former premier Peter Lougheed in 1967.

The by-elections gave Ms. Smith’s Wildrose Party an opportunity to test campaign tactics, strategies and messages in preparation for the next election, and it is obvious they fell flat.

Stephen Mandel Health Minister Alberta Edmonton Whitemud MLA

Stephen Mandel

While PC Party supporters on social media have vocally called on their opponent to step down, the Wildrose would be foolish to part with the leader, who is one of their greatest assets. Ms. Smith is media savvy and has grown into her role as Premier-in-Waiting. Despite missing an opportunity to steal a by-election away from the PCs, the Wildrose is still strong in other areas of Alberta (and in other constituencies in Calgary and Edmonton).

One recent poll  shared with this blogger showed the Wildrose with 51% support in rural Alberta and 47% in the province’s small cities, which represent a significant number of constituencies in Alberta. Despite tonight’s losses, the 2016 election could still be hotly contested between the two conservative parties.

Dr Bob Turner NDP Edmonton-Whitemud By-election

Dr. Bob Turner

But worrying to both the Wildrose and the PCs should be the other opposition parties that made significant electoral gains in these by-elections. In Edmonton-Whitemud, PC Health Minister Stephen Mandel saw his party’s vote drop by nearly 20% from the 2012 election, but still collected enough votes to defeat New Democrat Dr. Bob Turner. Wildrose candidate Tim Grover was relegated to third place.

Dr. Turner’s 21% finish marks the first time the NDP has placed second in this constituency since the 1986 election, an impressive feat for the tiny Edmonton-based party.

Greg Clark Calgary-Elbow Alberta Party

Greg Clark

And in Calgary-Elbow, Alberta Party leader Greg Clark exceeded expectations, placing a close second behind PC Education Minister Gordon Dirks. Mr. Dirks’ was elected with the help of a convenient opposition vote-split between Mr. Clark and talented Liberal Susan Wright. But despite the narrow defeat, this second place finish gives Mr. Clark a solid foundation to run as a candidate in the next election.

Before the next election, can any of those tiny opposition parties garner enough strength on their own to take advantage of a split within Alberta’s conservative movement? And as Wildrose strategists analyze the results of yesterdays vote, can they come up with a plan to defeat the Tories? In spite of yesterday’s wins by the 43-year governing PC Party, will Albertans still be willing to give Mr. Prentice a chance in 2016?

One this is for sure, the political landscape in Alberta looks more interesting than ever.

 October 27, 2014 By-election Results

Calgary-Elbow
Gordon Dirks, PC: 4,207 (33.2%)
Greg Clark, AP: 3,412 (26.9%)
John Fletcher, WR: 3,056 (24.1%)
Susan Wright, LIB: 1,519 (11.9%)
Stephanie Mclean, NDP: 472 (3.7%)

Calgary-Foothills
Jim Prentice, PC: 6,898 (58.2%)
Kathy Macdonald, WR: 3,545 (29.9%)
Robert Prcic, LIB: 458 (3.8%)
Jennifer Burgess, NDP: 444 (3.7%)
Polly Knowlton Cockett, GRN: 261 (2.2%)
Michelle Glavine, AP: 212 (1.7%)
Dave Woody Phillips, IND: 23 (0.1%)

Calgary-West
Mike Ellis, PC: 4,843 (44.4%)
Sheila Taylor, WR: 4,528 (41.5%)
David Khan, LIB: 926 (8.5%)
Brian Malkinson, NDP: 336 (3.0%)
Troy Millington, AP: 265 (2.4%)

Edmonton-Whitemud
Stephen Mandel, PC: 6,003 (42.3%)
Bob Turner, NDP: 3,150 (22.2%)
Tim Grover, WR: 2,679 (18.9%)
Donna Wilson, LIB: 2,043 (14.4%)
William Munsey, AP: 202 (1.4%)
Rene Malenfant, GRN: 95 (0.6%)

15 thoughts on “Wildrose needs to be more than the Anti-Redford Party

  1. Alvin Finkel

    “Before the next election, can any of those tiny opposition parties garner enough strength on their own to take advantage of a split within Alberta’s conservative movement?” No. Even if the economy tanks, if the centre-left remains without a coalition, the next election will mainly be a dogfight between the two petro-parties outside of a few seats where the centre-left parties have traditional strength or a particularly well-known candidate. The centre-left parties missed their best chance for a coalition that might actually have produced a government or a strong opposition in 2012. But they could still manage to become a force if they could find the commonsense to work together. I don’t think they will. And I think that many voters in the cities, who might like to vote leftwards because they regard Alberta’s social and educational programs to be severely lacking, will stick with the Tories, fearing a provincial takeover by Wildrose rural loonies. Why shouldn’t they? When four candidates, usually people with modest resumes, are campaigning on similar socially-minded platforms, it’s a good bet that they will cancel each other out. So why not stick with the do-nothing, bland Tories to keep out the nuts?

    Reply
  2. Justin Time

    In fairness…oil has been $100/bbl for years, gerry mandered ridings, the thing that will make them lose is catastrophic healthcare vote of non-confidence, during a time when oil prices drop and health and education cutbacks run deep and the people are made to suffer.

    As long as oil remains, high, the PCs can afford to be everything to everybody with a $44 billion budget and they can afford to manurfacture any labour crisis with every group, only to fix it before the election. Coupled with weak media compared to other provinces, its a petro state niche cycle that has kept on working.

    Once people are made to suffer from social cutbacks, the PC’s will hemorrage to the WR and Libs and NDP. PC power is going to stay, as long as oil prices stay high, despite little to no savings.

    Reply
  3. Linda McQee

    I’m counting down the days until the Liberals are no more. Raj Sherman has nosedived a once proud party 6 feet under the ground. Hehr and Kang are leaving. The Party of Laurence Decore is dead.

    Reply
  4. David Tonken

    It is not Raj Sherman who killed the Liberals. It was Kevin Taft who put a stake through the heart when he decided to support higher rather than lower resource royalties.

    Reply
  5. Watson Smith

    @David, as he should have; royalties are too low, the claimed expense of extraction we are told by industry are blatant lies. There is no way the per barrel cost for an oilsands mine went from $14 to $65 in 15 years.

    Will companies focus elsewhere if we raise royalties? Sure. To counter that the Provinces need to act together instead of racing each other to the bottom. We need a unified royalty and tax scheme. Quit trying to out cheap the other Provinces. The oil companies have relied on monopoly power and pricing forever, the Provinces need to do the same.

    Reply
  6. clyde elford

    Smith is finished as leader of the Wild Rose, she has taken it as far as Manning took the Reform. Perhaps the only salvation for the W.R. would be an amalgamation of the Alberta Party with the W.R. and change the name with Greg Clark as leader..

    Reply
  7. jerrymacgp

    This whole narrative about “uniting the centre-left” is so much nonsense. In these four by-elections, the two right-wing parties, the conservatives (PCs) and the even more conservatives (Wildrose) together garnered 57-88% of the votes.

    I think the line we have heard from pundits that the Alberta electorate is changing by virtue of the influx of internal migrants from other, less hidebound parts of the country is just plain bull$h1t. I think Alberta is where Ford Nation and the rest of Canada’s mouthbreathing knuckledraggers have all moved. I think this could have the effect of shifting the rest of the country’s politics more to the centre or even a bit left of centre, but it won’t make a lick of difference here in Tarberta. I think this province has the stupidest voters in the nation.

    But, I’m not bitter…

    Reply
  8. jimbo

    To all opposition parties: Keep that hope alive, win your relative ridings next election. Then once you win those seats, the entire opposition should co_operate and form a big tent temporary coalition govt and topple this 43 year old corporate scam….and yes the Alberta Elbow Party should hop along for a ride. That is the best way to hit reset.

    Reply
  9. retro

    Alberta Elbow Party devotees and their imagination is running overtime…..lol…a merger with the Wildrose? A thousand miles wide and an inch deep. What a freaky and scary base…no wonder the Liberals got rid of these retreads…they were recycled into the Alberta Elbow Party. Good luck with that Greg. Two elections now and the Albertans have rejected the A_P again.

    Reply
  10. Marie

    Tom Flanagan has it right. Danielle Smith took the political start-up Wildrose to a real contender on the provincial stage. She is well loved by party members, and there is no way they are going to dump her as leader. I believe she will get between 80 and 90% support at the leadership review.

    Based on the fact that the Wildrose is not expanding its base, donations have leveled off, and now the by election losses, it’s pretty clear the issue is the party’s over arching political strategy.

    Reply
  11. Tom

    Marie is wrong. Danielle Smith has been a terrible, out of touch leader. If the Wildrose is to even keep their seats, they need to dump Danielle now.

    Reply
  12. Marie

    I didn’t say whether or not I thought she was a good leader. I said she is well loved by her party members and they will continue to support her whole-heartedly.

    Reply
  13. Alvin Finkel

    I agree with Jerry’s numbers, but not the analysis. As we saw in the recent City of Toronto election, many voters, regardless of where they started, quickly move to the point of choosing between the top two contenders. Olivia Chow began the race sitting on the top of the pack and the movement of her support towards the more conservative John Tory (a giveaway name!) was at first gradual. But as it became clear that Tory was the best option for ridding Toronto of the embarrassment of being led by a member of the Ford family, Chow lost about half of her original support. In Alberta, the childish divisions on the centre-left (really just the centre since none of these parties is all that left-wing) cause voters to feel that they are not serious options. A Leger poll for the Democratic Renewal Project in 2010 showed that 48 percent of Albertans would vote for a United Centre-Left candidate if the 4 parties (Libs, NDs, Greens, and Alberta) chose to work together. They won’t and so Jerry and other partisans can continue to believe if they wish that unity among these tiny parties of social and environmental reform wouldn’t change anything anyway. I blame the partisans and not the Alberta electorate–who, on most Canada-wide polls on issues express similar views to Canadians as a whole–for the continued debacle that social reformers face in Alberta.

    Reply
  14. Iceman

    Not surprising the Wildrose didn’t win any of the seats. All they do is talk about the mistakes the PC party has made. I consume a lot of media in multiple forms and I have never heard the wildrose talk about their platform.

    Reply

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