Wildrose wilts as Danielle Smith joins the PC Party

Tim Grover Danielle Smith Edmonton-Whitemud by-election 2014 1

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith introduces candidate Tim Grover during the September 2014 Edmonton-Whitemud by-election.

For four years, Progressive Conservatives told Albertans not to trust those kooky and scary Wildrosers. At the same time, the Wildrosers told Albertans not to trust those crooked and corrupt PCs. Today, it now appears that the leaders of the two parties have now put the past four years behind them and are joining forces.

Following a Tuesday, Dec. 16 caucus meeting, it is being reported that six of the Wildrose Official Opposition’s 14 MLAs, including leader Danielle Smith, have decided to leave their party to join the 43-year governing PC. Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell reported yesterday that PC leader Jim Prentice offered a “Reunification Agreement” as incentive to his opposition colleagues.

CBC is reporting that the six MLAs include:
Danielle Smith (Highwood)
Rob Anderson (Airdrie)
Gary Bikman (Cardston-Taber-Warner)
Jason Hale (Strathmore-Brooks)
Blake Pederson (Medicine Hat)
Jeff Wilson (Calgary-Shaw)

The governing PC Caucus will meet on Wednesday, Dec. 17 and are expected to discuss the acceptance of the six MLAs into their ranks. The addition of the six would bring the total number of Tories to 69 of 87 MLAs in the Assembly. The remaining eight Wildrose MLAs would remain Official Opposition.

The Edmonton Journal’s Graham Thomson reports that a cabinet shuffle could happen as early as Thursday to make room for the new MLAs.

Some sources say that Ms. Smith could become Mr. Prentice’s Deputy Premier and Mr. Anderson, a former PC MLA who joined the Wildrose in 2010, could be appointed to a senior ministry. Another potential cabinet appointment could be former Wildrose MLA Kerry Towle, who crossed the floor earlier this month.

Once source speculated that current PC ministers like Kyle Fawcett or Maureen Kubinec could be shuffled out of cabinet to make room for their new caucus-mates.

The phenomonally rapid collapse of the Wildrose Party raises questions about the unstable foundation of the party. Splits in the party became public after the loss of four by-elections and as Ms. Smith battled with party’s activists over an equality motion and her position in the Gay-Straight Alliances debate.

Just six months ago, the Wildrose Party was out-fundraising and outpolling the 43-year governing PCs. Only three months since becoming PC leader, Mr. Prentice has been able to demoralize, destabilize and now co-opt his main opposition.

The departure of the six could damage the Wildrose Party beyond repair and remove it as a viable political force in Alberta, at least in the short-term. Whatever your opinion of the party, the floor crossings are certainly a betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of voters who cast a ballot for Wildrose candidates in order to send the PCs a message.

Wildrose Party activists are pledging to fight any formal merger between the two parties, but the loss of high-profile leader Ms. Smith is a death-blow to the party.

The loss of Ms. Smith to the government benches and the crippling of her soon to be former party is also a blow to democracy in Alberta. After coming very close to winning the 2012 election, the Wildrose have been the most effective and aggressive opposition parties in recent memory. Their work exposed corruption and cronyism in the government and ended the careers of premiers Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford.

It is unclear who will replace Ms. Smith as leader of the Official Opposition, but candidates could include Shayne Saskiw or Drew Barnes. Neither have the provincial profile of their predecessor.

While the blow to the Wildrose could rob the non-conservative opposition parties of a conservative vote split in the next election, the decline of the Wildrose creates opportunities for other opposition leaders. This is especially true for new NDP leader Rachel Notley and Alberta Party leader Greg Clark, who now have an opportunity to present an alternative vision to Mr. Prentice’s (and Ms. Smith’s) 43-year governing PC Party.


2014CWA-secondAwards…
I was pleased to discover that daveberta.ca earned second place in the 2014 Canadian Weblog Awards in the Politics category.

Congratulations to Gender Focus for their first place finish and John Ibbitson for placing third. Thank you to everyone who continues reading, commenting, contributing and sharing this blog.

17 thoughts on “Wildrose wilts as Danielle Smith joins the PC Party

  1. Sam Gunsch

    Daveberta said: “Their work exposed corruption and cronyism in the government and ended the careers of premiers Ed Stelmach…”
    =============
    To a point… Arguably re Stelmach, the *their* which ended Stelmach is a plural *their*: WRP plus! BigOil.

    Supporting data & argument:
    https://albertaviews.ab.ca/2011/10/04/petrostate/

    Credit where credit’s due: Stelmach’s royalty review was going in the necessary direction for public good of AB.

    Small glitch: Stelmach’s direction – just didn’t serve special interests of BigOil/gas.

    Which Danielle/WRP exploited of course.

    Now Prentice as BigOil salesman is ruler of all he surveys sitting atop BigOil #yyc towers. Sauron’s cousin?

    ===========
    Comparative context for AB’s petro-politics:

    excerpt: “…every seven days Norway adds another $1 billion to its bank account.”

    http://thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2014/12/15/Nikiforuk-on-the-National/

    That’s an excerpt from yesterday @Tyee

    Results of Norway’s democratic control of their resources and oversight of corporations that exploit petro-resources
    vs our AB joint-venture gov’t between PC’s and petro-corp’s, since Klein’s gang decided corporatism, i.e. negotiating with corporations over public policy like royalty rates was more efficient than democracy serving the citizenry and the public good.
    ===================

    Danielle and Prentice have no Viking lineage. By all accounts. So… Don’t put away the begging bowls.

    Reply
  2. Brian Dell

    A few individuals changed parties. I don’t see why this should necessarily kill off a party that still has more than 20 thousand members. With Rob Anderson and the personally ambitious gone, old Wildrosers like me may even consider coming back, and although we are not many, the opposition role Wildrose would play this time would be heartfelt, like Paul Hinman’s was, instead of manufactured.

    I didn’t think Shayne would cross because he’s more seriously Wildrose than Anderson (Shayne lived in my riding when I ran for Wildrose in 2008 and he took the initiative to contact me and express support) and becoming Wildrose leader is a better option for him than continuing to play second fiddle to Danielle and Rob.

    Reply
  3. David Khan

    So you say Greg Clark is the opposition waiting in the wings? When the Liberals have been around since Alberta’s inception and have been working for you for years? I kinda respected your journalism until that statement. Very weak.

    Reply
  4. DT

    I think this could be an opportunity for the left in Alberta. The time has come to revisit a merger between progressive-leaning parties in Alberta. While I’m not saying that an unified progressive camp can defeat the PC (should the defection takes place), but the PC’s shift to the right should opened the door for the left. The strategic voters in 2012 may then have a more viable choice.

    Second, one must wonder about the political calculation of Danielle Smith on this. Does she plan on running for re-election in 2016 (in any riding)?

    Reply
  5. Alex P

    “…the floor crossings are certainly a betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of voters who cast a ballot for Wildrose candidates in order to send the PCs a message.”

    What about the hundreds of thousands of voters who cast a ballot for PC candidates in order to keep the Wildrose out? ‘Successful’ PC voters now face Wildrose candidates as their deputy premier, senior ministers, and more. Certainly this is a greater betrayal, or at least an equally noteworthy travesty, no?

    Reply
  6. John Winslow

    Where you are wrong, Dave, is neither Danielle Smith or any other MLA spoke to the passage of resolution 15 at the AGM. Not only were they silent, only a couple were actually in the room when the vote happened.

    When Danielle or any other MLA states they asked us to vote FOR the resolution, they are being less than honest.

    Perhaps, had Danielle Smith, or any other MLA not hid in their hotel rooms, and spoken up to tell us why a list is better than ALL in equality, the vote may have gone a different way.

    This floor crossing is not a result of the AGM votes, or Bill 202. Those were tools designed to throw the party into disarray in order for the traitors to have an excuse to leave.

    Reply
  7. Shifting Sands

    @david Khan, others, Agreed Greg Clark who? Gregs’ claim to fame is that his dad LOST to Klein by 800 votes, isnt it? I think Clark has peaked. He may if lucky, win a riding in two or more elections, now that the WR have lit their own building on fire, those margins have closed the door on the AP and some of the progressive voters that left before are likely to return to the known long time Liberal brand, as Red-fart is long gone.

    The AP is a still-born brand that has resoundly been rejected by Albertans. It is a wide and shallow vote splitting experiment that truly does not interest mainstream Albertans. The best political strategist, Carter even failed to get the AP a victory. I feel bad for AP supporters and Stephen wasting his time.

    There is a huge opportunity for the Liberals to rise in the center now and gain back ground.

    Reply
  8. Dylan

    Anyone who honestly believes the Liberals have any chance of forming the official opposition post 2016 has not been paying attention to provincial politics for the last 3 years. Raj has run the party into the ground, two sitting MLA’s are leaving as soon as the federal writ drops, and the remaining two act like independents that happen to sit near each other in the house. The Liberal glory days are long gone. This isn’t the party of Decore or Taft, it is a captain less ship which is trying to ride the coattails of Justin Trudeau back into relevance. Until Nenshi or Iveson step into the fold it is going to be dark days for the Alberta Liberals.

    Reply
  9. GoinFawr

    Well, that just about takes care of any doubt left about whoil’s interest the WRP were actually formed to serve: the exact same group as the (not so) Progressive (not so fiscally) Conservative …. it’s almost as if the whole neoliberal complex is frantically consolidating out of fear that the hoi poloi are finally catching on to their disingenuous rationalizations, based on wholly debunked economic theories, for decades of selling off public assets for pennies on the dollar while driving the province ever deeper into debt slavery . I guess the neolibs must be able to tell which way the wind is blowing after all:

    Rachel Notley

    Reply
  10. Bunkle

    The only party that benefits from this (other than the PCs) is the Alberta Party.

    1. No one is going to switch from right-wing to left-wing because of this. And the Liberals are too stubborn to give up and merge into the NDP (as they should). The Green Party have barely got a foot in the door and misunderstanding of the name “Green” means that the party is mostly toxic in this province. So the left will remain split and meagerly supported.
    2. The Wildrose is officially finished. Remaining members of the Wildrose might as well just join the PCs. WR was on the way out already, and this seals the deal. The electorate will not trust them again.
    3. The Alberta Party is such a vaguely defined entity that they can easily re-brand themselves as a replacement for the Wildrose.
    4. The big loser here is public engagement in the electoral process. Voter turnout is going to be horrendous in the next provincial election.

    I hope the PCs vote to disallow the Wildrose MLAs from joining, and force them to walk back to the WR Party with their tails between their legs. But I highly doubt that’s going to happen.

    Reply
  11. Dave Niven

    Now more than ever, we need a new centre left coalition party to take the place of the former “Progressive ” Conservatives. We need a combined Liberal/NDP/Alberta party. It is our only chance for a moderate voice in Alberta.

    Reply
  12. defunkt democracy

    @dave Nixen just saw Raj Sherman on TV. He is the most experienced leader in the legislature and on of the only ethical and honest politicians in Alberta. He is very worthy as an opposition leader and has the experience in keeping the Tories accountable in the Legislature. The AP has no ridings nor a leader with experience. Coop with them is a moot point and will de_energize the grass roots for any kind of democracy. The NDs leader is wholly uninspiring and not as experienced as the Liberal leader, so any coalition would necessitate the ND’s rolling up their flag and putting it away. The WR has wilted and is the best choice for official opposition right now, practically speaking are the Liberals. Immediatley right now democracy demands some opposition and right now the Liberals are the best ones for it. Alberta still needs a functioning opposition. This was not chosen by the people.

    Reply
  13. Rene

    “And the Liberals are too stubborn to give up and merge into the NDP (as they should).” X

    A few years back the Liberals voted to merge with NDP however it was the NDP who are too stubborn and voted against it.

    Reply
  14. SC

    The biggest issue has been ignored by all commentators. The fact is, old-style Social conservative (read: pro-life/homophobe/bigoted) politics are a dead-end in modern Canada. The smart and sensible realized this and decided PCs would give them a better chance at power than their knuckle-dragging brethren.
    As a secular centrist, I’m happy to see the WRP implode.

    Reply
  15. Rural gal

    The biggest piece to the puzzle is that the Human Rights Act is mentioned and contained within the WR Constitution. Is it in the PC Comstitution, Liberal, NDP? The respect for Equality for All Albertans was in the WR Policy Manual. What came to the floor was an amendment that was virtually a list defining ALL- it was defeated as most felt that ALL is ALL inclusive, and the LIST is already in the Constitution.
    So there are no homophobes, racist etc in the party. My gay friends who attended were very comfortable. This was a sham- and yes the MLA,s were primping for a news event and were not in the AGM Policy session to speak to it or support the amendment.
    Just setting the facts straight- I was there

    Reply

Leave a Reply

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