Alberta Politics

alberta does it differently.

In a recent podcast with Vue Weekly Podcast, Mount Royal University Professor Keith Brownsey laid some pretty harsh criticism on Liberal leader David Swann and his letter inviting other parties to discuss cooperation. In the interview Dr. Brownsey went as far to call Dr. Swann “a baffoon” for signing the letters and that “he is probably going to get eaten alive” for this venture. Overall, Dr. Brownsey’s is pretty dismissive of the state of Alberta’s political parties. This is a departure from three years ago when Dr. Brownsey was a keynote speaker at the 2007 Liberal Party policy convention.

Dr. Swann recently announced over Twitter that he will be meeting with NDP leader Brian Mason to discuss the letter this summer.

Even in the low-stakes world of opposition politics in Alberta, there are many party insiders who cannot fathom changing the comfortable political environment that they have inherited. Perhaps this is why the Wildrose Alliance has excelled. In 2008, I wrote that:

Party archetypes in both camps really need to put aside their biases and prejudices and take a serious and objective look at why their parties are not connecting with Albertans.

Of course, Dr. Brownsey’s opinion is that of one man, but more than two years later and already into the next election cycle, perhaps he is correct in stating that it is too late to save the traditional political parties.

Alberta doing it different.

Alberta is the anomaly among Western Provinces. In 1921, Albertans abandoned the traditional Liberal-Conservative options for the United Farmers of Alberta. We once again turned away from the traditional by electing the Social Credit Party in 1936. It was only in 1971 that Albertans elected another political party into government that had connections to a traditional federal party in Ottawa.

Albertans have elected parties with large majorities since 1905, but it was only starting with the 1986 election that Alberta’s political environment began to closer resemble that of federal Ottawa by electing a large majority of PC MLAs, with a medium to minor opposition of Liberal and NDP MLAs. Other Western Provinces have abandoned the traditional PC-Liberal-NDP balance for a variety of two party systems. British Columbia has the conservative Liberals and social democratic NDP. Saskatchewan has the conservative Saskatchewan Party and the social democratic NDP. Manitoba has a balance between the PCs and NDP with a marginalized third-place Liberal Party.

After 24-years of traditional parties as the status-quo opposition, maybe Alberta is due for another change.

5 replies on “alberta does it differently.”

I agree – I definitely see the NDP or Alberta Party taking over the Liberals as official opposition. The Wildrose simply doesn’t have it, especially with a leader as inept as theirs.

Jane, interesting comment. In the past several months, the Wildrose Alliance Party has set up 83 constituencies’, do you really think that could have been accomplished by an “inept leader”. I am guessing you are an NDP supporter and you are worried because, after the next election, the WAP will either be the official opposition or will be the governing party.


Lets juxtapose, recent Calgary-Glenmore by-election.

Wildrose Alliance 4,052 votes
NDP 148 votes

Who was it that was inept?

Who do they think they’re kidding? The Wild Rose hasn’t gained attention by sheer elbow grease alone – they received an input of something like $3 million dollars from the oil lobby last year. Give that money to the Greens (Vision 2012), the Liberals, NDP, Alberta, or even Social Credit and see what great things any one of those parties would do with it!

Kudos to David Swann for making clear to the public that the old way of running things, election after election, is beyond insanity. Finally, a leader with a spine who has a vision for the kind of cooperative, open government we need. Forget the media naysayers – let the voters decide on a fair playing field.

I agree with Jane. Smith is far too extreme and ideological to get anywhere beyond a handful of seats. Maybe this will provide a half decent opposition, but with someone as narrow-minded as her as leader I highly doubt the WAP will prove to be nearly as big as they make themselves out to be. Third party status – at the very best.

Also if you go to – the WAP only raised $500,000 and spent $300,000 of that. That was in a near-record-bad year for the Tories. Is that the best they can do?

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