Tag Archives: William Munsey

What’s at stake in the four Oct. 27 by-elections?

With less than two days left in Alberta’s mini-election, voters will head to the polls on the morning of October 27, 2014 to cast their ballots in by-elections being held in Calgary-Elbow, Calgary-Foothills, Calgary-West and Edmonton-Whitemud. As these mid-term elections approach, what is at stake for Alberta’s political parties?

Progressive Conservatives

In a normal general election, the PC Party would easily elect candidates in all four of these constituencies, as they did in the 2012 election. In three of the by-elections, the PC Party benefits from having three high-profile candidates – Premier Jim Prentice in Calgary-Foothills and appointed Health Minister Stephen Mandel in Edmonton-Whitemud and Education Minister Gordon Dirks in Calgary-Elbow.

Not wanting to expose themselves to criticism, the PC candidates have faced criticism for skipping all-candidates forums in their constituencies. But despite shying away from debating their opponents, the PC Party has not shied away from using the leavers of government power to keep their candidates front and centre in the news during the by-election campaigns.

My general impression is that many Albertans want to give Mr. Prentice a chance as Premier, despite their disapproval of his recent predecessor, Alison Redford. PC victories in all four by-elections would not come as a surprise, but a loss in one or more would be a warning sign to the PC Party. A personal loss for Mr. Prentice or one of his cabinet ministers would be a significant blow to the 43-year long governing PC Party.

Wildrose Party

http://youtu.be/0ITMFPlpyZc

From the beginning of the by-election campaign, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith has been managing expectations and downplaying her party’s chances of winning in these strong-PC voting constituencies. But that does not mean the Wildrose should be underestimated, because they are in it to win.

The official opposition party has released a series of television and radios ads during the by-elections praising their leader and attacking Mr. Prentice as being “the same” as Ms. Redford.

http://youtu.be/uu83VvNVUrI?list=PL_KcAuvnNTj-QwAjPWL2Zbokxv6MJOH8A

The Wildrose has focused on areas where the Tories are perceived as being weak – trust and fiscal responsibility – and hope that the memory of Ms. Redford has not faded in the minds of Albertans.

As the official opposition, the Wildrose needs to win at least one of the four by-elections to show it still has the strength to compete with the Tories in the next election.

The Wildrose likely has its best shot in Calgary-West, where public school trustee Sheila Taylor is running against PC candidate Mike Ellis, a Calgary police officer. The Wildrose are running former police officer Kathy Macdonald against Mr. Prentice in Calgary-Foothills and John Fletcher in Calgary-Elbow, where Ms. Redford is the former MLA.

Despite historical PC strength in the four constituencies, four losses by the Wildrose could force Ms. Smith to have to defend her leadership going into the party’s annual meeting later this year.

Also running for the Wildrose is Tim Grover in Edmonton-Whitemud.

New Democratic Party

Alberta NDP Ad Edmonton-Whitemud Dr. Bob Turner by-election

An NDP pamphlet used in the Edmonton-Whitemud by-election.

Not really a contender in the three Calgary by-elections, the Alberta NDP has focused their resources in Edmonton-Whitemud where Dr. Bob Turner has run an aggressive campaign against Health Minister Mandel, attacking him for his lack of knowledge of the health care system. Dr. Turner, or “Dr. Bob” as he is affectionately known as by NDP supporters, has punched above his party’s weight in this by-election by dominating media coverage of the Whitemud by-election.

While the NDP have risen in the polls in Edmonton, Whitemud is not a traditional NDP voting area. The NDP earned 9% in Whitemud in the last election and last placed second in the riding in the 1986 election.

A win in Whitemud would be a spectacular victory for the NDP, but a strong second or third place showing is more likely. If the NDP places ahead of the former official opposition Liberals, it will strengthen the party’s argument that the Rachel Notley-led party is now the official progressive opposition to the PCs and Wildrose in Edmonton.

Also running for the NDP are Stephanie McLean in Calgary-Elbow, Jennifer Burgess in Calgary-Foothills, and Brian Malkinson in Calgary-West.

Alberta Party

Greg Clark Alberta Party Calgary-Elbow

A Greg Clark self with his supporters on the campaign trail in Calgary-Elbow.

With no seats in the Assembly, the stakes are low for the Alberta Party. With leader Greg Clark as their candidate, Calgary-Elbow has been a fertile sandbox for the Alberta Party to focus on and try out new strategies.

Focusing on hot-button locals issues like local school closures and flood mitigation, Mr. Clark’s campaign appears to have spooked the PC Party, who are hoping Mr. Dirks’ candidacy will mitigate any lingering embarrassment voters feel from Ms. Redford’s time as the local MLA.

Mr. Clark has earned the endorsements of popular Mayor Naheed Nenshi‘s chief of staff Chima Nkemdirim, former Green Party candidate Chris Turner, former city councillor Gael Macleod and former mayoral candidate Wayne Stewart.

A win for Mr. Clark would be a huge victory for the Alberta Party and add a twist to the dominant PC-Wildrose narratives that has dominated Alberta politics since before the last election.

Mr. Clark is the son of Gilbert Clark, a Liberal candidate who came within 900 votes of defeating rookie PC candidate Ralph Klein in 1989.

Also running for the Alberta Party are William Munsey in Edmonton-Whitemud, Michelle Glavine in Calgary-Foothills, Troy Millington in Calgary-West.

Liberal Party

Susan Wright Calgary Elbow by-election

Liberal Susan Wright and her campaign supporters.

Despite having solid candidates in Calgary-Elbow (Susan Wright) and Edmonton-Whitemud (Donna Wilson), expectations are not high for the Liberal Party in these four by-elections.

The Liberals have raised questions about Mr. Mandel’s connections to tobacco industry lobbyists and focused on health care issues in the Edmonton-Whitemud by-election. But it is difficult to tell if the party has gained much traction in these by-elections.

Unlike its popular federal cousins, the provincial Liberal Party has become a sort of political sideshow, continuing to suffer a slow decline since losing official opposition status in the last election.

These by-elections will determine whether Dr. Raj Sherman’s Liberals are still a relevant force in Alberta politics.

Also running for he Liberals are David Khan in Calgary-West and Robert Prcic in Calgary-Foothills.

Green Party

The Green Party of Alberta has put forward candidates in two of the four by-elections. Polly Knowlton Cockett in Calgary-Foothills and  Rene Malenfant in Edmonton-Whitemud. The Green Party holds no seats in the Assembly and, while they have good intentions, it is unlikely that they will be competitive in the Oct. 27, 2014 votes.

Where to vote?

Eligible voters living in these four constituencies can vote in the by-election on Oct. 27, 2014 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Visit the Elections Alberta website to find your voting station.

By-Election Round-up: 11 days until the mini-election

There are now eleven days left until voters cast their ballots in four provincial by-elections on October 27.

Prentice a no-show in Calgary-Foothills

Jim Prentice Premier of Alberta Calgary Foothills by-election pumpkin

Jim Prentice (photo from @wmcbeath on Twitter)

He is the Premier of Alberta and he does not have a seat in the Legislature, but Jim Prentice skipped last night’s all-candidates forum in the Calgary-Foothills by-election. The event was organized by the Edgemont Community Association.

Noting the high-profile candidate’s absence, forum organizers placed a halloween pumpkin at Mr. Prentice’ empty spot at the table.

He has held almost daily media events since becoming Premier, but they have all taken place at planned and highly-controlled events. An all-candidates forum is an uncontrolled environment where Mr. Prentice would be forced to engage with his opponents, which could cause potential embarrassment to the new Premier.

The other candidates running in Calgary-Foothills are Jennifer Burgess (NDP), Polly Knowlton Cockett (Green Party),  Michelle Glavine (Alberta Party), Kathy Macdonald (Wildrose),  Robert Prcic (Liberal) and Dave Woody Phillips (Independent). Mr. Phillips was also absent from the forum.

Health care big issue in Edmonton-Whitemud

Donna Wilson Liberal Edmonton Whitemud By-Election

Donna Wilson

In an press conference designed to keep Health Minister Stephen Mandel in the news, Mr. Prentice joined his party’s Edmonton-Whitemud by-election candidate to make a vague announcement about the opening of more “continuing care” spaces.

The announcement provided no detail about how the province plans to address the shortage of long-term care beds, which provide a higher level of care to Albertans in need of longer-term medical assistance.

Despite a growing population, the number of long-term care beds across the province has actually decreased over the past decade.

Stephen Mandel Health Minister Alberta Edmonton Whitemud MLA

Stephen Mandel

Mr. Prentice used the press conference as an opportunity to repeatedly explain to reporters that Mr. Mandel is a “hands-on minister” (a description he used at least three times during the press conference).

Although the former mayor is widely expected to win the Whitemud by-election, Mr. Mandel has faced pressure from Liberal Dr. Donna Wilson and New Democrat Dr. Bob Turner to address the province’s lack of long-term care beds and to replace the aging and overcrowded Misericordia Hospital.

The other candidates running the Edmonton-Whitemud are Tim Grover (Wildrose), Rene Malenfant (Green Party), William Munsey (Alberta Party),

Moving targets in Calgary-Elbow

It’s not just about electing Dirks, it’s about beating Carter too,” a PC Party insider told me this week. Fighting to elect appointed Education Minister Gordon Dirks in the Calgary-Elbow by-election, the PCs are also gunning to defeat Alberta Party leader Greg Clark, whose campaign is being run by former Tory strategist Stephen Carter.

A sort of political mercenary, Mr. Carter was a key strategist in Alison Redford‘s 2011 leadership campaign and Naheed Nenshi‘s 2010 mayoral election.

While the Wildrose Party poses a threat to the Tories province-wide, recent moves suggest they recognize Mr. Clark as a threat in this by-election. For example, Mr. Dirks’ campaign trotted out an endorsement last week from former Alberta Party leadership candidate Randy Royer.

Drawing on the experience of Mr. Carter and a band of local political organizers, Mr. Clark’s supporters say his campaign is showing signs of momentum on the ground. Whether they can translate any momentum, real or perceived, into votes is an unanswered question.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dirks’ campaign manager Alan Hallman, apologized for referring to Wildrose Party candidate John Fletcher as the fictional TV Nazi “Colonel Klink” on Twitter. Mr. Fletcher is a retired Colonel of the Canadian Forces Reserves.

The other candidates in the Calgary-Elbow by-election are  Stephanie McLean (NDP) and Susan Wright (Liberal).

Four by-elections are a risky mid-term test for Alberta Tories

Jim Prentice Stephen Mandel Edmonton Alberta PC leadership

Former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel and Jim Prentice on June 10, 2014.

Albertans in four provincial constituencies will go to the polls on October 27, 2014. Half-way through the  PC Government’s current four year term in office, the by-elections will be our own version of the mid-term elections.

Ken Hughes

Ken Hughes

Yesterday morning three anticipated provincial by-elections turned into four when first-term Ken Hughes announced his resignation as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Calgary-West. Earlier in the morning, Independent MLA Len Webber, fresh from securing the federal Conservative nomination in Calgary-Confederation, declared that he would vacate his Calgary-Foothills seat.

Combined with vacancies in Calgary-Elbow and Edmonton-Whitemud, Alberta’s political parties will face off in four constituencies in 28 days.

Premier Jim Prentice wants these by-elections to be a referendum on the past two weeks, during which time he has made daily announcements trying to undo unpopular decisions made by the Alison Redford-led PC Government. The opposition wants to make sure these by-elections are a referendum on the past two years of broken promises and misdeeds by the PC Government.

Alison Redford

Alison Redford

Despite the unpopularity of the PC Party in recent polls, the four by-elections are not taking place in constituencies that were decided by small margins of victory in the last election. These four are some of the stronger PC-voting constituencies in Alberta. In the 2012 election, the PCs earned 60.4% in Edmonton-Whitemud, 58% in Calgary-Elbow, 53.5% in Calgary-Foothills and 49.9% in Calgary-West.

After 43-years in power, will Albertans buy Mr. Prentice’s argument that the PC Party is “under new management” and has entered “a new era?” The PC Party prides itself with the ability to rebrand itself under pressure. Long-time Tories boast of the “Miracle on the Prairies,” the tale of Ralph Klein’s reinvention of the PC Party before its expected defeat in the 1993 election.

Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed

Peter Lougheed

But fresh in the minds of many Albertans is the hope and opportunity that seemed real when Ms. Redford became Premier in 2011. We were promised a new era reminiscent of the days when Peter Lougheed led our province. Instead, we received two years of arrogance, broken promises, budget cuts and endless political spending scandals. And despite attempts to blame it all on Ms. Redford, it is hard to forget the 60 PC MLAs who stood behind her during those two years.

The appointment of two cabinet ministers from outside of the Legislature certainly helps the argument that the PC Government is “under new management.” But however credible the two men are, and despite their records as successful politicians, their age and notable careers in politics certainly undermines the argument that we have entered “a new era” in Alberta politics (Gordon Dirks is 67-years old and Stephen Mandel is 69-years old).

Danielle Smith Highwood

Danielle Smith

The four PC candidates in these by-elections could easily all be elected, but some of them could just as easily be defeated. By-elections are risky for incumbent parties because they give voters an opportunity to voice their disapproval without changing a government.

Running in Calgary-Foothills, Mr. Prentice will soon face voters for the first time since he was selected as PC Party leader on September 6, 2014. Wildrose leader Danielle Smith is expected to announce her party’s challenger in Foothills today.

The lack of interest in the recent PC Party leadership race suggests that many Albertans have put our Natural Governing Party on probation. It will be a test of Mr. Prentice, Mr. Dirks, Mr. Mandel and Calgary-West candidate Mike Ellis, to prove themselves worthy. And it will be a test of the opposition parties to remind Albertans why the PCs do not deserve another chance.

By-Election candidates (as of September 29, 2014)

Calgary-Elbow
AP Greg Clark [FacebookTwitter]
LIB Susan Wright [FacebookTwitter]
NDP Stephanie McLean [Twitter]
PC Gordon Dirks [Twitter]
WR John Fletcher [Twitter]

Calgary-Foothills
AP Michelle Glavine [FacebookTwitter]
GRN Polly Knowlton Cockett
NDP Jennifer Burgess [Facebook, Twitter]
PC Jim Prentice [Facebook, Twitter]

Calgary-West
AP Troy Millington [Twitter]
NDP Brian Malkinson
PC Mike Ellis

Edmonton-Whitemud
AP William Munsey [Twitter]
NDP Bob Turner [Twitter]
PC Stephen Mandel [Twitter]
WR Tim Grover [Twitter]

For an updated list of by-election candidates, visit the Alberta Election 2016 page.

Where will Jim Prentice run in a by-election?

Premier Jim Prentice Alberta PC leadership race

Alberta’s new Premier Jim Prentice, does not have a seat in the Alberta Legislative Assembly.

Three weeks after being selected as leader of the governing Progressive Conservative Party, Premier Jim Prentice still does not have a seat in the Alberta Legislative Assembly.

Premier Alison Redford

Alison Redford

Although his party has already nominated candidates to run in the impending Calgary-Elbow and Edmonton-Whitemud by-elections, Mr. Prentice remains coy about where, and when, a third by-election will be held.

On August 26, Mr. Prentice told the Edmonton Journal he would call a by-election immediately after he became PC Party leader. He was elected PC Party leader on September 6 and sworn-in as premier on September 15.

It appears likely that Mr. Prentice might announce which constituency he will run in on the day the writ of by-election is signed by Lieutenant Governor Donald Ethell. Using all the advantages of an incumbent government, it appears he is trying to give the opposition parties the least time possible to prepare candidates to run against him.

Neil Brown

Neil Brown

The “announcement-a-day keeps the memory of Alison Redford away” strategy has kept Mr. Prentice’s name in the news headlines, and has allowed him to create a two-week long list of talking points with which to campaign.

It is widely believed that Mr. Prentice will run in Calgary-Nose Hill-Mackay, where current PC MLA Neil Brown has publicly offered to resign.

There is also speculation that he could also choose to run in another north Calgary constituency – like Calgary-Foothills – currently represented by Independent MLA Len Webber. Mr. Webber is seeking the federal Conservative nomination in Calgary-Confederation (he left the PC caucus in May 2014, after describing Ms. Redford as a “bully”).

Update: Len Webber has won the Conservative nomination in Calgary-Confedertation. 

The tight-lipped preparations have led many political watchers to believe that the Tories remain worried that Albertans may choose to punish the new Premier for the misdeeds and broken promises of Ms. Redford and the PC caucus over the past two years.

Under normal circumstances, Mr. Prentice would easily be elected, but by-elections are risky for incumbent parties because they give voters an opportunity to voice their disapproval without changing a government.

Jennifer Burgess Calgary-Prentice NDP by-election

Jennifer Burgess, the NDP candidate in the “Calgary-Prentice” by-election.

But whichever constituency he decides to run in, one party is ready  with a candidate in the wings. Calgary writer Jennifer Burgess has said she will run for the New Democratic Party in any by-election Mr. Prentice chooses to run in. Her website cleverly describes herself as the NDP candidate in the Calgary-Prentice constituency.

Edmonton-Whitemud by-election

The NDP and Wildrose Party announced their candidates in the Edmonton-Whitemud by-election. Dr. Bob Turner, a well-spoken doctor from Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute, has decided to run against former Edmonton mayor and newly appointed Health Minister Stephen Mandel.

Flanked by Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and a handful of supporters and Wildrose MLAs, Tim Grover announced his plans to challenge Mr. Mandel. Mr. Grover was already nominated to run for the Wildrose Party in the Edmonton-South West constituency. He was also the ‘Get Out the Vote’ chairman for Karen Leibovici‘s 2013 mayoral campaign.

Alberta Party President William Munsey is running under his party’s banner.

Rogue party activists to discuss ‘collaboration, and cooperation.’

Can Alberta's centre-left parties "work together?"

Can Alberta’s centre-left parties “work together?”

The latest episode of Alberta’s ongoing “cooperation on the centre-left” saga will continue on January 23, when rogue activists from the Liberalberta Party, the New Democratic Party, and the Alberta Party will host a “Soapbox, Suds, and Wings” night in Edmonton.

The event, which is being organized by Edmonton-Mill Creek NDP president Stephen Anderson, Alberta Party president William Munsey, and 2011 Liberal candidate Mike Butler, promotes “citizen engagement, collaboration, and cooperation” as the way of the future for Alberta politics.

In a December guest post on this blogCalgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA Kent Hehr restarted the latest debate about cross-party cooperation and was stunningly, and strangely, rebutted by Liberalberta Party president Todd Van Vliet in a media release. Liberal leader Raj Sherman remained suspiciously silent during the very public rebuke, leading political observers to believe he sanctioned Mr. Van Vliet’s ill-advised response.

Edit: On January 8, Mr. Van Vliet announced that merger ideas would be debated at his party’s annual convention, scheduled for June 2013.

NDP leader Brian Mason has also spoken out against any formal electoral cooperation or merger with the other non-conservative opposition parties.

The main centre-left opposition parties (the Liberals, NDP, and Alberta Party) earned a combined 21% of the popular vote in the 2012 provincial election, down from 34% in the 2008 election and 39% in the 2004 election. In 2012, the three parties were pushed aside by a reinvigorated moderate Progressive Conservative Party led by Alison Redford and an aggressive conservative Wildrose Party led by Danielle Smith.

Mr. Hehr and Edmonton-Centre Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman have confirmed their attendance on the “Soapbox, Suds, and Wings” Facebook event page, as have 2012 Green Party Senate candidate Elizabeth Johannson and 2008 federal NDP candidate Dave Burkhart.

alberta election candidate update – december 2011 (part 2)

The list of candidates nominated to stand in the next provincial general election continues to grow.

Nominated Alberta election candidates by region. December 15, 2011

Nominated Alberta election candidates by region. December 15, 2011

Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock: Westlock Town Councillor David Truckey is the first candidate to enter the Progressive Conservative nomination contest in the constituency being vacated by long-time MLA Ken Kowalski. The PCs have held this constituency since 1967.

Calgary-Currie: Lawyer Norm Kelly has announced his intention to seek the Alberta Party nomination in this south central Calgary constituency. Currie is currently represented by Alberta Party MLA Dave Taylor, who will be retiring when the next election is called.

Calgary-Fish CreekWendelin Fraser, former Dean of the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University, has declared her intention to seek the PC nomination. This constituency is currently represented by PC-turned-Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth.

Calgary-Hawkwood Farouk Aditia and Chris Roberts have entered the PC nomination contest in this new constituency. Mr. Adatia was the Chief Financial Officer in Premier Alison Redford‘s recent leadership campaign.

Calgary-McCall: Muhammad Rasheed is seeking the PC nomination. The constituency is currently represented by Liberal MLA Darshan Kang.

Calgary-West: Calgary Police Sergeant Mike Ellis is seeking the PC nomination. Incumbent MLA and current Finance Minister Ron Liepert recently announced that he would be retiring when the next election was called.
Chestermere-Rockyview: Nathan Salmon is seeking the yet to be scheduled NDP nomination.

Edmonton-Meadowlark: Former MLA Bob Maskell is seeking the PC nomination in this west Edmonton constituency. Mr. Maskell represented this constituency from 2001 to 2004. Also seeking the nomination is Richard Guyon, who was the Wildrose candidate in this constituency in the 2008 election. Meadowlark is currently represented by PC MLA turned Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman.

Edmonton-Mill Woods: Sohail Qadri is one of two people challenging incumbent MLA Carl Benito for the PC nomination.

Edmonton-Whitemud: Jim Graves defeated Muriel Stanley Venne to win the NDP nomination.

Leduc-Beaumont: Locomotive engineer and saskatoon berry farmer William Munsey is seeking the Alberta Party nomination in this constituency south of Edmonton. Mr. Munsey was the Green Party candidate in the Vegreville-Wainwright riding in the 2011 federal election.

Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre: School Principal Jimmy Clark is challenging incumbent MLA Ty Lund for the PC nomination. The 73-year old Mr. Lund has represented the constituency since 1989.

Sherwood Park: Former Strathcona County Mayor Cathy Oleson and County Councillor Brian Botterill are seeking the PC nomination.

Senate
First reported on this blog last week, Mike Shaikh has confirmed his entrance into the PC Senate candidate nomination contest. Also entering the PC Senate nomination contest is former NAIT President Sam Shaw, who announced his candidacy  at the 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron Christmas Dinner last weekend.

guest post: the berry patch perspective on the alberta party.

By William Munsey

I was reading a blog the other day by a young guy named Justin who just couldn’t see the Alberta Party as something worth supporting… was holding onto the idea that the Alberta Liberal Party is the natural home to the progressive vote in Alberta.  He described himself as “the kind of person you’d expect to be in the Alberta Party.”  He continued on to describe himself as a young person who lives in a downtown condo with a job in the ‘creative economy’ and a strong supporter of human rights and a proponent of a mostly free market economy.

Young Justin’s blog was pretty good, but I think he’s missing a couple of things.

See, I don’t live in a downtown condo.  I’m not young and my grey hairs far outnumber my brown ones.  I don’t have a cool job in the “creative economy” nor am I ever likely to.  I live in a drafty old farmhouse.  We grow flowers and saskatoon berries, which bring in little money but require lots of physical work.  I spend most of my days in dirty coveralls.  We don’t have extra money to go to the theatre or take vacations.  In fact the only theatre I get to attend offers two girls fighting over one bathroom in the morning.

I can’t afford either the time or money to sit in Starbucks.  I make my coffee at home and carry it to work in a thermos and look for abandoned newspapers to catch up on the day’s happenings.  I have to budget just to buy new socks and long underwear for the coming cold.  The other night, while most people were snug in bed, I was working the job that supports my farm…. lying in the snow, between the rails, under a freight train, strapping up dragging equipment. Two days ago I was up to my elbows butchering a deer that will help keep us through the winter.

If Justin’s analysis was correct, I’m hardly the sort of guy you would expect to have any interest in the Alberta Party.  My world is so distant from the condo dwelling urbanites Justin describes as likely candidates to support the Alberta Party, I sometimes think there’s a time warp between us and I suspect if Justin met me… filthy from head to toe, deer blood on my coat, he might dismiss me completely for someone so foreign to his values we couldn’t even communicate.

But Justin (and a ton of other urban progressives) would be surprised by what we rural rubes know about our province… and for the worry we are saddled with for the future and for what is happening to this province.  Dismissing the Alberta Party as a party for urban Albertans is a mistake. It’s a mistake Liberal Party of Alberta and the New Democrats traditionally make (even though they say they don’t). The truth is, there is as much dissatisfaction in rural Alberta these days as there is anywhere else in this province and considerably more common ground than people like Justin can imagine.

My rural neighbours may never think of themselves as progressives.  In fact, I would say that a majority of rural Albertans strongly self-identify as small ‘c’ conservatives. We might never see ourselves as strong supporters of human rights, but you will never get a fairer shake than in the hundreds of little communities dotted around this province.  We might not be able to tell the difference between modern Twitter and a old-fashioned twit, but we know first-hand the tenuous nature of landowners’ rights in this province.  We may eat wild meat occasionally, but we also understand the vital importance of fresh water, the value of healthy food, the nature of true conservation and the value of our natural heritage.  And more, I suspect, than urban Albertans we can see by the crumbling infrastructure in our small towns that life in rural Alberta is not thriving.

Rural Albertans are looking for a change in government.  To date, the only party who seem to be courting us is the Wildrose Alliance.  I’ve been to their meetings and almost without exception I am the youngest person in the room (at 49).  I have heard the cozy words about “taking back the province” and “bringing accountability back to government.”  Yet there is something stale in the Wildrose Alliance.  They just don’t strike me as an option for a better future for this province… and their cozy relationship with the petrochemical industry frightens me.

So what do we have?  The PCs?  Nope… unless they bring back Peter Lougheed and his band of young thinkers.  The WRA?  Not unless I see some distance from the monied old interests and a lot more youth at local gatherings.  The Liberals?  You’re kidding right?  I want a chance to be on the winning side of an election and the ALP hasn’t had a chance in nearly a hundred years.  The NDP?  (see Liberal… only way more so).

People talk about a party that can capture the imagination of Albertans.  That’s the problem.  Albertans’ imagination and dreams were captured 40 years ago… and they are still being held captive.  I’m looking for a party that sets those dreams and aspirations free again… a party that encourages dreaming and imagination… that will reward and support new ideas that diversify our economy without devaluing our environment… or dismissing elements of our society.  What I am looking for is a party that takes good ideas from wherever they come… the left… the right… the centre… the north… the south… wherever.  I’m looking for a party that offers Albertans the chance to dream again.

I want to counter the perception that the Alberta Party is for young, progressive urbanites only.  What attracted me was the coming together of people from diverse backgrounds.  We may not always speak the same language.  We may not always see the world in the same light.  We may sometimes differ about the best options for Alberta.  That’s all ahead for us.  However, it is the spirit of working together, being respectful of good ideas wherever they come from… and above all the chance to build an Alberta we can be proud of again.

I’d like to tell young Justin, “we can all meet in the Alberta Party.”  If he brings the latte… I’ll bring the jerky and saskatoon wine.

—-

This post can also be read on William Munsey’s blog, The Berry Patch Perspective.