Wildrose leader Brian Jean (right) and Strathmore-Brooks candidate Derek Fildebrandt use a comically large arrow to point out tax increases to alcohol included in the PC Party's recent provincial budget.

“Over My Dead Body” – This week in Alberta’s Big Happy Conservative Family

It was only last week that the leaders of Alberta’s two main conservative political parties – Progressive Conservative interim leader Ric McIver and Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean – were in Ottawa hobnobbing with the conservative and right-wing establishment at the annual Manning Centre conference. It was reported that the two party leaders met with federal Conservatives at Stornoway, the official residence of official opposition leader Rona Ambrose, who were trying to help facilitate a merger between the two parties.

Yesterday, it appeared that any ground closed between the two party leaders last week may have been lost after Mr. Jean publicly claimed that Mr. McIver was encouraging PC Party members to purchase Wildrose Party memberships.

The Calgary Herald reported that Mr. McIver would not directly answer a question in an interview Monday on whether he had encouraged dual membership in both parties. But yesterday afternoon, Mr. McIver came out swinging with a LinkedIn post titled “Over My Dead Body,” in which he refuted Mr. Jean’s “outrageous statement.”

This strange blowout follows another odd episode on social media on Monday between the president of the Calgary-North West PC association and a Wildrose Caucus staffer, which PC MLA Sandra Jansen responded to on Twitter. Seen as a moderate conservative, Ms. Jansen is a vocal opponent of a merger with the Wildrose Party, and she could be a potential candidate for the PC Party’s permanent leadership.

In another odd story, Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt stirred up attention with his aggressive defence of his decision to submit expenses for a breakfast meeting with former Reform Party leader Preston Manning, the Manning Centre’s namesake.

Mr. Manning’s recent move to insert himself into the merger debates was publicly rebuffed by Mr. Jean. Conservatives still remember Mr. Manning’s role in the defection of nine Wildrose MLAs to the PC Party in December 2015, which proved to be a very unpopular move with party members and regular Albertans.

Both the PCs and Wildrose parties are running candidates in the March 22 by-election in Calgary-Greenway to choose a successor to PC MLA Manmeet Bhullar. The results of the by-election could be vital in projecting the future viability of the PCs, who formed government in Alberta from 1971 until they were defeated by Rachel Notley‘s NDP in 2015.

It is clear that despite attempts by outside groups to merge the two parties, which have a history as vicious opponents, there is still a very wide gap between the leadership and supporters in both camps.

10 thoughts on ““Over My Dead Body” – This week in Alberta’s Big Happy Conservative Family

  1. Bob

    Thank God these people aren’t running the government in Alberta. Can you imagine the uncertainty they would create in the economy?

    It would be 4 years of Infighting bickering infighting bickering infighting…. Etc.

    Reply
  2. Miradart

    A PC/WRP amalgamation does need to happen, but it should not be under a hardline WRP doctrine. The ‘every tax is a bad tax’ notion they work under is not what helps regular people succeed. It only helps the rich.

    Reply
  3. Darren

    We still have more than three years to go until the next election. Expect the “no way in hell” line to continue for the next two years at least. If, as the 2019 election approaches, information shows that neither party is strong enough to win or they will still split the vote, then expect to see some real movement on unification. A week is an eternity in a political campaign, there’s three years to go.

    Reply
  4. James

    I don’t know if that social media exchange can be considered infighting if neither party identified himself as belonging to the Wildrose or PCCA. Incidentally, why is the former “anti-bullying” minister basically cyber-bullying a Wildroser? Doesn’t she have anything better to do?

    Reply
  5. David

    There is a lot of bad blood here, which the meddling federal politicians trying to push a merger do not fully appreciate . While the PC’s were in power, the Wildrose was very aggressive in their accusations against the PC’s and did everything possible to bring them down. This will not be soon forgotten or forgiven by the PC’s.

    Even worse for the Wildrose, the PC’s likely see merging with them more as a liability rather than an asset. Over the years the PC’s tried hard to get the centrist/moderate conservative vote and those voters are repelled by the Wildrose.

    However, I suspect most of the Wildrose grassroots really don’t want to merge with the PC’s anyways. This makes perfect sense, if you consider that the Wildrose members actually believe the things their party said about the PC’s. Why would they want to be associated with a party like that? We saw what happened last time with the forced top down “merger”. The Wildrose grassroots basically rebelled as they were equally repelled by the PC’s.

    Reply
  6. Julie Ali

    The Wildrosies could win the next election if they become slick and smooth (real politicians). If the Wildrose folks would just become real politicians then they could really win the next election without depending on the PCs but so far they haven’t stop making boo boos.

    The Wildrose folks are nice but they haven’t mastered their public demonstrations yet.

    They should learn from the public relations folks hired by the provincial NDP who have sequestered their charges like baby bunnies in pens until they were mature enough to meet with the public.

    For example we have heard nothing from the Edmonton-Riverview MLA -Ms. Sigurdson and the office was prone to cancelling appointments with constituents or even asking for proof of constituency citizenship in order to even get an appointment.

    Now for the first time I note that the MLA is voyageuring out to the public. She will meet with constituents in an MLA Town Hall meeting soon. Wow. That’s new. Maybe she had been meeting with constituents but maybe just with particular constituents.

    In any case, there is a break in the dam and a bit of water is trickling out to the thirsty citizens.

    The media folks in charge of the NDP seem to know what they are doing. Except for the rural Alberta uprising that resulted in the demotion of the Sigurdson, we have had no major embarrassing episodes with the NDP MLAs. The myth making machinery of the Tories is in full operation with the NDP as well.

    The Wildrose folks should learn the media strategies of the NDP (which seem to be rather like the media strategies of the Harper crew) and stop making public boo boos.
    They should learn about social issues that matter to Albertans. They need to enter the middle country. And I’m betting if they do all of this, they will win the next provincial election.

    Albertans don’t care how green their politicians are as evidenced by the election of the NDP. What we want is representation, relationship and real results. We have’t had that from the current NDP hires; we had that in a patchy way from the PCs and who knows? We might get it from the Wildrosies.

    Reply
  7. Jamie

    Both wildrose and PC parties realize that the reason they lost was because they weren’t right wing enough.

    Reply
    1. Julie Ali

      Hi Jamie,

      I doubt that Albertans are hard line right wing fanatics.
      Most of us are middle of the road folks who like to be fiscally conservative but socially liberal. This sort of make up of Albertans–is a problem for the Wildrosies. Fortunately it is their problem not ours; they have to match us—we don’t have to match them.

      I think the Wildrose Party lost in the last election because they haven’t decided to match the ordinary Tory voter in Alberta cities. This is a young political party and it still has some growing up to do. To get the vote of city Tories they need to become more interested in social issues. Social issues matter to families and the Wildrosies need to learn about the issues that matter to families and speak for us. That’s the way to get our votes.

      I think the PCs lost because they were actually on autopilot for the last decade or so and voters woke up finally. Certainly I hadn’t been aware of the messes in nearly all areas in Alberta–until I encountered them in health care and continuing care problems that I asked my MLA about.

      Mr. Hancock was not able to explain to me why I was sitting at the UAH emergency for centuries with a mother in her eighties on repeated occasions. Nor was he able to delineate the reasons for the lack of oversight in continuing care that results in repeated adverse events for a severely handicapped sister. The failure to address issues for ordinary citizens and to find solutions for the problems–tends to make us not vote for the MLA again. I did not vote for the Mandel who replaced the Hancock.

      So I feel that voters were just fed up with the PC government’s inability to do the work of governance with any success. Mind you I don’t think the current NDP government is very capable either. The current NDP government seems to be continuing the same record of ineffectual performance that the Tories were so noted for. Unfortunately for the NDP folks they lack the lubricating gel of money from a boom to overcome citizen discontent with the typical payback of new schools, hospitals and other goodies.

      Right now it is hard to think of who we could vote for in the next election. The Wildrosies aren’t maturing, the PCs are going extinct and the NDP are incapable of doing the job of change. It’s a puzzle.

      But I guess we’ll all manage with the inept government we have now as we have had to manage by ourselves–for the past 44 years with the Tories.

      We still should feel hopeful. There is always the Alberta Party. The leader is bright and he might get a PC replacement party up and running in the next few years. He seems to be doing good stuff like getting the MLAs to cut down on housing bills but really he should have gone the whole hog and eliminated the housing payouts to begin with.

      I have never understood why citizens have to pay for the housing costs of out of town MLAs or for that matter for MPs. I mean when citizens take a job elsewhere we pay for our own housing costs.

      So why do we pay for the housing (rental) costs of the MLAs and MPs? I’d say because the politicians make their own rules and usually these rules are in their own favour. Why the heck were MLAs in Alberta getting $1930 for a flat rate for their rentals? It’s mind boggling.

      http://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/alberta-legislature-committee-votes-to-change-mla-housing-allowance-rules

      I feel all these benefits–such as the housing allowance for MLAs and MPs should be pruned to nothing. In other words, you take this politicians job and then you pay for the rental or purchase of a house yourself.

      I see no reason for citizens to pay for these sorts of liberal benefits especially since there are no deliverables. Not only do we pay for the housing allowance, some of the other offices have major allowances as noted here:

      https://www.assembly.ab.ca/lao/hr/MLA/_Archive%20information%20-%20MLA%20salary%20pre%202012/2013_remuneration.htm

      Additional Allowances, Office Other Than MLA

      Special Members’ Allowances

      Committee Allowances (Committees of the Assembly)
      ***********************
      Then when I go look at my current MLA’s expenses there is coverage of fuel and parking and other stuff. Here is the most recent expense report on file:

      http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/edr/0878_2016Q3_01_edr.pdf

      LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ALBERTA – 29th LEG
      Member EDR 2015-16 – 29th Leg
      046 – Edmonton-Whitemud – Turner, Bob
      For Expenses Processed Oct 1 – Dec 31, 2015

      ************************

      This is just one MLA.
      Now imagine how much it costs us for the entire group.
      It feels as if we are spending too much money for politicians who do nothing for constituents.

      Reply
    2. Jerrymacgp

      Ummm, how can you say that? Turnout was up from recent past elections, so they didn’t lose because of more right-wing voters staying home. The PCs lost votes to the NDP, Liberals and Alberta Party on their left in the cities, with a few exceptions, while they lost rural votes to the Wildrose on the right, again with a few exceptions. On both sides, the PCs lost votes because they were perceived as arrogant, entitled and corrupt. Ideology had nothing to do with it.

      Reply
      1. Ontarois

        The Liberals did not gain votes in the 2015, and the AP only marginally gained votes. This is not “mainstream wisdom” at present, but it is what the numbers show.

        The Liberal vote went from 127,626 in the 2012 election to 62,153 in the 2015 election.

        Alberta Party vote did go up (from 16,959 in 2012 to 33,221 in 2015), but almost two thirds of that increase was found in two of their riding results (Calgary Elbow and Grande Prairie-Wapiti).

        In fact, Wildrose vote went down from 442,325 in 2012 to 360,511 in 2015. Their increase of 4 seats in the Legislature occurred due to “lucky splits” caused by an increase in NDP votes and decrease in PC votes in rural Alberta seats (and saw an unlucky split in Calgary Fish Creek allow the PCs to gain a seat they had not won in 2012 — Wildrose lost its other Calgary victory in 2012 to a New Democrat.)

        Turnout overall was 53.0% in 2012 and 53.0% in 2015.

        In short, New Democrats gained at the expense of the Liberal, PC, and Wildrose parties in the 2015 election. The biggest gains were from previous PC voters, but not solely from them.

        Reply

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