The PC Party is weaker than it was two years ago, but it is far from dead.
As delegates to the Progressive Conservative Party convention gathered in Calgary this weekend, it appears that “re-invention” was in the air. By all accounts, it sounds like it was a pretty good party.
As I first reported here on October 21, the Tories will launch as series of “discussion sessions” billed as “the most democratic engagement process for policy development in the history of any political party in our province.” These sessions will attempt to reconnect the PC party leadership with an increasingly disillusioned membership-base in the year before the party celebrates its fortieth year in government. It is being billed as a process in which any Albertan can participate, except the price of participation is purchasing a PC Party membership. It would be refreshing to see a new kind of politics come from the PC Party, but I am not holding my breath.
(Bloggers note: The new Alberta Party has held hundreds of Big Listen meetings across the province since the beginning of 2010 which have been open to anyone, regardless of party membership or lack thereof.)
As a near 40-year governing party, the PC Party suffers all the problems, challenges, and disfunctionalities that our traditional institutional political parties are facing. Low interest from the general public, high involvement by senior citizens, low interest from the under 40 crowd. The obvious advantage that the PC Party has over its competitors is access to power, which helps draw a lot of people to their ranks (see: Liberal Party of Canada).
The PC Party has hired 2008 campaign manager Randy Dawson as its campaign manager for the next election and plans to have candidates nominated in all 87 constituencies by next Summer. Currently, the Wildrose Alliance 21 nominated or declared candidates, the NDP has nominated 4, and the Liberals have nominated two candidates. See a full list.
A policy proposal to limit the power of unions to spend money on political campaigns was defeated. The defeat has drawn the ire (and conspiracy theories) of some elements of the PC Party membership.
While some political watchers have found it easy to already write the PC Party’s obituary, they are still the most organized and well-funded partisan political machine in this province. The growth of the Wildrose Alliance signals that the PC Party may be weaker than it was two years ago when it swept 72 constituencies across the province, but they are still far from out for the count.