Alberta Politics

a wildrose government will need a real opposition.

Danielle Smith Alberta Wildrose
Danielle Smith with Wildrose MLA's Paul Hinman, Heather Forsyth, and Rob Anderson in 2010.

Despite questioning climate science and refusing to remove one candidate who railed against a policy to protect sexual minorities in public schools and another who claimed his skin colour as a political advantageDanielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party appears set to form a government after April 23.

If the Wildrose Party does succeed in electing enough MLA’s to form a government next Monday, unseating the 41-year governing Progressive Conservatives, Albertans should be asking themselves about which parties are best positioned to form effective opposition over the next four years? This election is as much about a change of government as it is about a change of opposition parties.

Alison Redford Alberta Election 2012 Conservative leader
Alison Redford

The PCs have governed the province since Peter Lougheed led that party to its first victory in the 1971 election. Behind in the polls for the past three weeks, Alison Redford‘s PCs have begun to quietly urge non-conservative urban voters to cast strategic votes for their party to block the chances of the Wildrose Party forming a government. With six days left in the election campaign, it may be too late for the PCs or urban voters to block a Wildrose government.

After four decades in government, there may be no one left in the PC Party who remembers what it is like to be an opposition party (or may no longer have an interest in supporting that party in opposition). As a conservative opposition party it is also unclear what policy differences it could present to contrast itself with a similarly conservative governing party. As a new website launched today reminds voters, the PC Party also has its share of MLA’s with extremist social conservative views.

The survival and success of the PCs as an opposition party may entirely depend on which Tory MLA’s are elected on April 23.

Voters who want more than two conservative voices in the Assembly should ignore the calls for strategic voting and cast their votes for the candidates and parties who best represent their views.

Raj Sherman Liberal leader 2012 Alberta Election
Raj Sherman

The Alberta Liberals, led by former Tory MLA Raj Sherman, have presented a good platform that focuses on health care, education, municipalities, and touches on controversial issues like tax increases.

From an experience standpoint, the Liberal Party’s slate of candidates includes a number of former MLAs, including Mo Elsalhy, Weslyn Mather, Bruce Miller, and Rick Miller, who served in the opposition benches from 2004 to 2008.

Unfortunately for the Liberals, being the official opposition since 1993 has not translated into their becoming the next government and the ingrained historical hostility felt by many Albertans towards the party suggests its chances of long-term growth are limited.

Brian Mason Alberta NDP leader 2012 Election
Brian Mason

During this election campaign the NDP led by Brian Mason has focused on skyrocketing utility costs, taking a friendlier position towards resource development, and expanding and protecting public medicare. The NDP are in a good position to make gains in Edmonton. A number of NDP Members of Parliament, including Olivia Chow, Jack Harris, Niki Ashton, and Peter Julian are making campaign stops in the province during the final week of the election.

As an opposition party, the NDP would certainly provide Albertans with clear policy differences from both the PC’s and the Wildrose Party.

Sue Huff Alberta Party Edmonton-Glenora
Sue Huff

Over the next four years, the Alberta Party may be in the best position to help build a real centrist-progressive alternative to a Wildrose Party government. Despite having never elected an MLA, the party has been punching above its weight during this campaign in terms of organization and media coverage. The question will be whether the party can survive as a political movement if it does not succeed in electing an MLA.

Candidates like community organizer Michael Walters in Edmonton-Rutherford and former school trustee Sue Huff in Edmonton-Glenora have been running strong local campaigns, which could produce some surprising results on election day.

Last weekend, more than 100 Alberta Party volunteers delivered flyers to 5,500 homes in Edmonton-Rutherford in less than an hour.

51 replies on “a wildrose government will need a real opposition.”

This makes me so sad/terrified for our province. Expect Klein like cuts to social programs and the continuation of Alberta being the laughing stock of this country. I am personally shocked by these polls. I don’t know anyone voting Wild Rose…

This article is absolutely on the mark.

Strategic voting is a terrible idea. You don’t vote against someone, you vote for who you believe will best represent you in government. You may not always win, but if you throw away your vote just to stop the other guy, and your guy wins, will they truly reflect your values?

Keep that in mind on Monday.

Now… strategic voting means something more than just voting against what we dislike. If one of the leading two parties is the government… and the other, the official opposition in a minority, we’d better have a few rational people to work with whatever good can come of this. These two parties… so much alike in so many ways will look for what divides them rather than seek the common ground most of us want them to look for.

Never again should Albertans allow one party to govern for so long.

True democracy means that we must be respectful of each others’ differences, and respect that others must lead from time to time. Democracy requires an opposition to build realistic leadership, able to effectively contend for the reins of power.

The PCs will be too preoccupied for the next few years to provide a meaningful opposition. Indeed, they are still too close to power themselves to offer a meaningful alternative to the status quo.

Alberta MUST select a meaningful opposition. This means that those opposed to the conservative values and ideas of Wildrose should choose a real progressive party. Strategic voting means, in truth abandoning the PC Party for either Wildrose or the progressive parties.

For progressives, the most likely selection is the Liberal Party of Alberta. Closest to the centre, with the richest history of the progressive parties, it is ideally situated to become a real, vibrant opposition.

I look forward to Alberta politics becoming a lot better a week from now. We don’t even need to be on the same side to cheer for it.

This misrepresents what is meant by strategic voting. The PCs are urging so called strategic voting, that is vote for them to stop the WR, but actual strategic voting involves picking the non-right wing party most likely to win the riding, as,for example, individuals and sites like Change Alberta have been urging. Vote for the real alternative. Don’t fall in with the PC’s, Dave, and help them to co-opt the idea of strategic voting.

Unfortunately, my vote in Fort Sask-Vegreville has effectively no chance of helping to elect a progressive MLA, but it may be able to help hold a seat for the Tories. All I can really to do within our first past the post system is try to deprive the Wildrose of a seat. I wish it were different, but it is effectively a two horse race here, with the Wildrose candidate apparently running pretty well ahead. If I lived in Edmonton Strathcona, I would gladly vote for Rachel Notley; as it is I will accede to reality.

Dave you’re bang on. We can’t vote for the devil we know (PCs)in order to avoid the devil incarnate (WR). We’ll simply end up with a right wing gov’t and a right wing opposition. Redford will lose the next PC leadership review because she brought the party to the brink of destruction. She’ll be replaced by Ted Morton or someone of his ilk. Voting PC in this volatile environment would be a big mistake. Vote for the nonPC/WR candidate most likely to win your riding. Check out for guidance and if you don’t like the recommendation vote with your conscience.

The media’s constant woodie over” Danielle” is getting so transparent they need towels. She is a smart girl, but this is not America, we vote for our MLA here! If people listen to, and believe the same media that brought us, and continue to manufacture “crisis of the week reporting” like Y2K Ice age coming, hole in the ozone, globull warming blah blah blah, then a lot of good hard working honest MLA’s will be turfed. There are some that need turfing, but replacing them with some of the clowns WR is presenting here, then you will get snookered by the destructive media again. Media people are the LAST people on earth, that I would take advice from, like I told my kids while the grew up, better to be a street walker than a reporter, at least they, can chose to be honest, reporters can’t.

The other argument I’d add to progressives is that it’s not far fetched to assume Alison Redford will be gone as PC leader after this election, likely to be replaced by a more conservative option.

And, hell, I’m willing to put money down that at least one or two Tory MLAs cross the floor to the Wildrose.

I usually vote Liberal but this year I’m voting for Michael Walters. The Liberals have had 20 years to get it right and they are going no where. I’m taking a bet on the new guy.

This post presumes that the Wildrose is going to form government. With the recent revelations about their candidates, this is not something that’s going to happen. They will have a 15-20 seat opposition, at best.

Danielle Smith just doesn’t sell to the average Albertan.

Many progressives like myself are simply voting wildrose to stop the Alberta who party. We need progressive leadership from Danielle smith and the an party will simply bring us back 200 years.

I suggest a little of the focus here has been lost. Anyone who is a true progressive or left-of-centre and does not live in Edmonton or Calgary may rightly feel like they have no voice. But honestly, who can say they live somewhere that the majority of friends and neighbors actually get involved in the real issues and vote consistently?

It was not very long ago that most were conceding the leadership of the PC’s to Gary Mar, saying the first round lead was insurmountable. Nothing could be done. The combination of being able to vote without serious party attachment and the efforts of Alison Redford to actually bring a different narrative to the contest changed everything. Because more people voted. If Alberta had a percentage of eligible voters turning out similar to 60 years ago, these problems of right-wing or further right-wing would simply not exist.

Common folk are simply not ideally driven along those lines here. They want competent Government, fair taxes, and compassion for those who cannot fend for themselves. The solution to what ails us is the simplest available. Get as many people as possible to vote. Stop letting a sliver of the population decide who runs the show. The rest will take care of itself.

So glad to see an endorsement for Michael Walters! The Alberta Party offers a real alternative…I am very envious of the constituencies who have that option. Full disclosure, I am on the Provincial executive. I have to say, think about the fact that many WRP candidates are opportunists – riding on a charismatic leader’s coattails. If you have an Alberta Party candidate, please take the time to get to know them. The Alberta Party is a party of opportunity for Alberta, but there are no opportunists here, just hard-working intelligent committed Albertans.

Dave, you should clarify what you mean by ‘strategic voting’. As other commenters mentioned, is doing a great job urging people to vote strategically to block EITHER Conservative party. In this election there is a real possibility of right-wing vote splitting and opportunities for progressive candidates to run up the middle.

Progressive voters have to vote strategically. Choose the WR or pc candidate in your riding to stop the Alberta party. They must not get above 2% support this election!

Lawrence – Thanks for the comment.

I feel very conflicted about the Democratic Renewal Project/Change Alberta group. I am encouraged that there are some people who have apparently put aside their own personal partisan affiliations to help make these decisions, but I question on what basis they are recommending “progressive” candidates.

The parties promoted by are all non-conservative parties but the NDP has a very different take on the issues than the Liberals and the Alberta Party.

They seem to have created a judging system that takes into account many things that may not even matter in an election. I question what makes them their choices objective.

I will not be voting strategically, but for the party that I believe best represents my views (even if they do not stand a chance at winning in my constituency).

– Dave

I think what is misleading about the site is that most of the Tory comments come from the era of Ralph’s PC party. While by no means is PC a completely different party today, I genuinely believe that Alison Redford is slowly turning that party around. By many measures it’s hard to even call her a conservative.

I don’t think it’s fair for the site to paint the two parties with the same brush when it’s looking at current members of the Wildrose versus many people who aren’t even in the PC party anymore.

I heard the best seat projection EVER.
PC 35
WRA 35
and the Lib, NDP and AP splitting up the other 17 seats. Wouldn’t that be a hoot!

anyways, remember while the PC’s have extreme right winger in their tent too (Mr. Morton I am looking at you!), they also are committed to the party Whip who keeps the ideologues in line with party policy. Ms. Smith has promised to NOT use the Whip with her free vote system which makes their ideologues a lot more scary.

Dave, thanks for the reply. I wasn’t sure if you meant ‘strategic’ as in voting PC to block WR or aligning the progressive vote. All I know about Change Alberta is that they seem to have made a good non-PC, non-WR pick for my riding (although it’s a no-brainer; Glenn Taylor). It seems to me they are just endorsing the candidate that has the best chance (highest profile) of winning. And to me, that’s what’s important. I used to be anti-strategic voting but the last few federal and provincial elections have changed my view on that. At least until we have a new electoral system.

A minority for this province would be a bad thing, but hey… At least it will be interesting. CG, I’d take your bet, but I think your exactly right.

It will take nothing to get floor crosser’s if it’s a minority in favor of Wildrose, and I’d be surprised if the PC’s didn’t actually order some of their MLA’s to cross, if only to keep the skeletons in the closet.

I agree with AJ’s comment. And you can see by the number of wrp supporters who are bringing up Ted Morton’s (much older) comments and retweeting links to this blog that a big part of the wrp strategy is to paint the PCs with the same brush as them to split off any socially moderate voters from the PCs. So while Rob Anderson and others have gone to Wildrose, the PCs are left holding the bag on Bill 44 and Klein era decisions.

I suggest Dave that you investigate how far the wrp is actively going to bolster center/left PC opposition.

Reading most of these comments above makes me laugh. I am so tired of, “I can only vote MY Party, because MY party is the best, forever and ever.” This kind of thinking is our downfall as progressives – Pollyanna-ish at best, juvenile at worst. Talk about Balkan politics.

Can’t progressives – moderate and fully left – understand the virtue in voting for the most LIKELY candidate who has views that are at least SOMEWHAT akin to those of YOUR party so that we can at least avoid the pitfall of electing a candidate from one of the two right wing parties whose policies are a complete anathema to intelligent governance and who will cause great damage to this province, the likes we haven’t even seen yet?

I think it’s absolutely folly for people from other progressively aligned parties to think that voting for an NDP or EverGreen in Dr. Swann’s riding or the Liberal or Alberta Party candidate in Brian Mason’s, or Lib or NDP in GLenn Taylor, will help anything, when it’s perfectly obvious that these parties are NATURAL ALLIES and could easily work together because they all have some great people running — if only the leaders and exec were intelligent and offered to work together, instead of being so myopic and divisive. Ergo:

Successful politics are all about cooperation. Europeans understand that. Hyper-partisan progressive Albertans who don’t, won’t ever understand why progressive parties in Alberta fail dismally. Every. Single. Election.

Your logic is flawed and you contradict yourself. You state, “Voters who want more than two conservative voices in the Assembly should ignore the calls for strategic voting and cast their votes for the candidates and parties who best represent their views.”.

You then go on to say in one of your comments “I will not be voting strategically, but for the party that I believe best represents my views (even if they do not stand a chance at winning in my constituency).”.

If you suggest that those who want more than two conservative voices in the legislature should not vote strategically, but then admit that some of the parties people support stand no chance at winning in certain constituencies, how can this result a resonsable presence of non-conservative voices in the legislature?

The Alberta Party is really the only party that will benefit from not voting strategically, because more votes for them, even if they don’t win any seast, will show that there is increasing support for the new political entity. Progressive parties in some ridings in Edmonton will most certainly benefit from strategic voting (ie: soft NDs voting for Laurie Blakeman in Edmonton Centre or soft Liberals voting for candidates like David Eggen and Deron Bilous in Calder and Beverly-Clareview). Also, remember that one of the big reasons why Linda Duncan won her federal seat in the first place was because the Liberal vote collapsed and moved to her. Without that seat, Alberta would have been a sea of blue and there would be no voices representing Albertans but Conservative ones.

Further, while in principle and in an ideal world, voting for the candiate you think would represent you the best should be the way to go, when there is a real possibility of an inexperienced group of candidates taking power, many of whom have extreme views on many issues, voting strategically against them is not so crazy an idea. In a previous blog post, you mention that “If the Wildrose Party are to form the next government in Alberta, an important question needs to be asked about whether their candidates are the kind of politicians that Albertans want running the show.” If Albertans don’t want them running the show, then in many ridings, their only option will be to vote strategically against them.

Also, I’d like to echo the comments of Concerned Albertan ”
Successful politics are all about cooperation. Europeans understand that. Hyper-partisan progressive Albertans who don’t, won’t ever understand why progressive parties in Alberta fail dismally. Every. Single. Election.”

It is a truth that too many progressives in Alberta refuse to admit. Suggesting that people not vote strategically if they want progressive alternatives in the legislature continues to add to the problem. This election, the consequences of failing to accept this truth will be greater than before, and will include the possibility of electing candidates who profess hatred and intolerance and a leader who stands by their comments. That should weigh heavily on the minds of those who look back and think “Maybe I could have prevented this by voting strategically….”.

A few spelling errors in the above post:
should be “reasonable” not “resonsable”, “seats” not “seast”, and “candidate” not “cadiate” (I was typing too quickly 🙂

Also, I did want to say that I fully agree with you that if there is a Wildrose government, they would need a real opposition. I just differ with your position on strategic voting. There is still the possibility of strategic voting resulting in a PC government with a strong opposition that includes a bunch (albeit a small one) of progressive MLAs.

Once the WR takes power on the 23rd the de-liberalization of Alberta can start. Then we can construct the firewall since that traitor Harper has abandoned the Wildrose country. All progressives will rue the day they attempted to turn Alberta into a moral morass.

I disagree with Dave, stragetic voting CAN make sense, depending on the circumstances. In our current case progressives voting PC to stop the WR probably won’t work, and could have nasty side-effects (i.e. wiping out the other parties). However progressives voting for whichever of the centre or centre-left parties has the best chance of wining just makes sense. It’s just how our system works, sadly: votes for no-hopers are wasted.

I’m an Alberta Party member in EDM-Centre and I’m voting for Liberal Laurie Blakeman. I challenge Lib and ND voters in, for example, St. Albert and Yellowhead-West to vote Alberta Party, as suggests.

Let’s see now. If we don’t like the idea of the Wildrose governing Alberta, we should keep splitting the centre-left vote so we can get some progressive opposition? That’s exactly backward, as the last 40 years should have shown us. In the face of present public opinion polls predicting some 4 NDP and 0 Liberal MLAs across the province, surely it’s only by combining behind the strongest of the progressive candidates in each district that we can hope to elect more.
Sure, strategic voting for the PCs in these circumstances is counter-productive, but strategic voting for the centre-left is our only hope. See for suggestions.

Its interesting to note that the PC party hasn’t polled below 60% in the seat of Highwood since 1975. The outcome of that seat alone is highly uncertain, let alone the outcome of the election. The role of the LG could be tested for the first time in Alberta’s history. With Paul Hinman in a tough fight to retain his seat – the next long term Premier of the province could be somebody who has not even been mentioned in the campaign – whether PC or WR.

True Albertan: “Once the WR takes power…”
Well, that’s hardly a foregone conclusion. Canucks were gonna sweep the Kings, how’s that working out? As they say in hockey, If predictions always came true we wouldn’t need to play the games.
Your other comment: “All progressives will rue the day they attempted to turn Alberta into a moral morass.” So a WR government, if successful, would set out to punish each and every person who doesn’t agree with their views? You don’t sound like a True Albertan to me, you sound like a “True Stalinist.”

Alberta needs a strong opposition and an effective government actually working for its citizens. Strategic voting means each constituent votes for the person who will best represent him/her in Edmonton. If that person ends up on opposition, then it’s his/her duty to cooperate on policy that best serves the constituents and fight those policies that would disadvantage them.

Dave I couldn’t agree more with what you and David Climenhaga are urging. If a Wildrose government is in the offing then we need an opposition party that can pose true alternatives

If we can get a minority, all the centre/left parties should insist on preferential ballot elections as a precondition to supporting any government. It will finally end the no-win choice of whether or not to vote strategically.

From my cynical POV elections are nothing more than a charade – a bunch of wannabe actors reading their scripts to gullible voters and hoping for the casting call for their turn on the main stage. Once there, they will be handed a new script written by the entrenched bureaucracy some forty years in the making. Real issues are being avoided like the plague – e.g., AESO, deficit spending, unsustainable health care costs, etc.

That said, the current actors’ scripts are getting dog-eared.

Dave,David,Matt, Give your head a shake. Martha and Henry don’t want alternatives. If they did you three would be campaigning now and not blogging. They want superior government services with no taxes and not to think about it between elections.

Progressives are in a SURVIVAL situation. Right now, in my constituency, anyone who can beat the WR shares my values!
I never thought I’d say this, but…. I’m voting PROGRESSIVE (gulp) conservative.

I’m voting for Sue Huff of the Alberta Party in Glenora. I’ve volunteered for her campaign since the summer. She’s a woman who stands by her convictions, she’s fair and compassionate and fought fiercely for the public school system as a school board trustee.

Sue’s earned my vote, not only because I align with her politics, but because I believe the Alberta Party is the only party that has a shot of creating real change in the political spectrum in Alberta.

As much as I respect the Liberal and NDP candidates and platforms, neither party is likely to form government – at least not in my lifetime.

We need a progressive shift in Alberta. Without a new party on the horizon – what’s to stop the Wildrose Party next election, or the one after that? There needs to be a long term plan. Why settle for the status-quo.

“I don’t think we need to highlight it, because I think everybody knows that. When I talk to people on the phone or visit people on the doorsteps, there were remarks that they heard someone was coming here to run who’s not from here. They commented that doesn’t sound like a Gold Bar-kind of style.” – David Dorward PC Candidate Edmonton Gold Bar

“Without a new party on the horizon – what’s to stop the Wildrose Party next election, or the one after that?”

“. . . the one after that?”: the WR will be that much harder to defeat the one after that. Just ask Stephen Harper.

Breaking news on the Rutherford show…

Gary Mar exonerated in ethic’s breach in early April, and according to Rutherford’s sources Redford’s office (it was her deputy Minister who handled the investigation) knew Mar was innocent of any wrong doing prior to the debate, yet they’ve sat on the report.

Allison Redford perpetuated the pall of an ethics breach on Gary Mar’s back, and on a nationally televised and broadcast debate, despite knowing he was innocent.

It sure as hell isn’t your Fathers PC Party anymore… that would never have happenned under Loughheed, Getty, or Klien.
A defemation apparently has been prepared, but isn’t filed yet because Redfords office is still sitting on the findings of her own government.

Go sic’em Gary, that is foul play in the highest form and I sincerely hope you take a pound of flesh out of her ass for doing this to you. provides recommendations to progressive Albertans who want to vote strategically based on the best information we have about the success of the campaigns for progressive parties (Liberal, ND, Alberta Party, and Evergreens) in each constituency. Though these parties have somewhat different philosophies, their actual policies this election in most areas are similar. A common comment from people at election forums is that the candidates for these parties all said essentially the same things.

Obviously,however, some people are wedded to one party or perhaps one candidate and will vote for that person regardless of the likely outcome of the vote. respects their perspective. But, for voters who believe that under FPTP, they need to be open to the candidates of more than one party before casting their vote, I think that we offer an important service.

The PCS had 41 years to get it right.

Voted themselves a huge raise! Got that right

Had a chance to prove their platform in the budget!
Got that right!

Alison Redford had the chance to gain some integrity during the debate, when challenged to rescind the raise! Got that right!

Stooped to LIBERAL tactics when behind in the poles!
Got that right !

Defame the most popular Premier the province has ever had, when he can`t defend himself !
Got that right!

Neil’s comment:
“If we can get a minority, all the centre/left parties should insist on preferential ballot elections as a precondition to supporting any government. It will finally end the no-win choice of whether or not to vote strategically.”

I completely agree that no matter which party we all support, we should hold emergency meetings with our elected opposition representatives and their party execs to push for some kind of proportional representation — and not waste time with a citizen’s assembly, etc.

smith wins high wood.
And yes the defamation suit is ready to file – maybe only reason not to proceed, Marr may run for leadership again once the bribing accidental premier is gone
Other law suit filed: against the Heartland power line has been filed and has been given the go ahead on the basis of 2 things: need assessment not done appropriately and political interference in process
Another lawsuit has been prepared against at least 2 MLA’s,not sur if filed yet so will not disclose- for defamation
RCMP raided office of company that has bought controlling interest in Altalink- you know the power line guys ( one of their executive sits as a Vp on PC party board)
Wonder why never reported
Oh and we cannot forget Carter who has ignored two court orders to pay back money

Yawn- anther day at the PC party

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