As the Progressive Conservatives brandish their new slogan, “A new era for Alberta,” many Albertans might be confused about which political party has been in power for the past 43 years.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines an era as “a long and distinct period of history.”
If we were to apply the geological time scale of the Earth to Alberta politics, we would now find ourselves in the Honeymoon Period of the Prentice Era of the Progressive Conservative Eon (I will resist the temptation to name any political dinosaurs).
And despite the PC Party Eon having stretched more than four decades, PC Party candidates in four Alberta by-elections being held on October 27 are not running on their party’s record as the government since 1971. They are running on their party’s record since Jim Prentice became leader of the PC Party on September 6, 2014.
And it is too early to tell whether Mr. Prentice will oversee “a long and distinct period.” His two most recent predecessors each lasted less than five years in office.
The PC Party’s “new era” slogan is somewhat reminiscent of another slogan used by Harry Strom‘s Social Credit Party as the 36 year old governing party tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to win re-election in 1971. But, unlike the Socreds in the 1970s, the PC Party has become masterful at reinvention, consistently rebranding their party since Peter Lougheed retired in 1984.
Unlike Mr. Strom, who was overshadowed by his popular and larger than life predecessor, Ernest Manning, Mr. Prentice would never be caught in public uttering the words “Alison” or “Redford.” But while the PC Party tries to put their recently departed leader’s legacy behind them, the opposition parties and candidates will eagerly remind voters about the past two years of PC government.
Just two years ago, the PC Party led by Alison Redford were re-elected in a hotly contested campaign under the slogan “Real life leadership” (see the campaign advertisement above). This slogan was a reference to both Ms. Redford’s time spent overseas as a United Nations lawyer and provided contrast with her predecessor, Ed Stelmach, and the perceived inexperience of Wildrose leader Danielle Smith.
During the 2012 election campaign, a controversial advertisement published in some urban newspapers featured the slogan “Not your father’s PC Party,” which suggested to younger and more liberal-minded Albertans that the PC Party had entered a new era (and again provided a contrast to the perceived social conservative values of the Wildrose Party).
Six years ago, borrowing from the success of Barack Obama‘s “Change we can believe in” slogan, the PC Party led by Mr. Stelmach chose “Change that works for Albertans” as their slogan in the 2008 election. The slogan suggested that Mr. Stelmach’s main opposition, the Liberals, would provide change that would not work for Albertans.
Like his successors, the PC Party under Mr. Stelmach worked hard to distance itself from the legacy of his predecessor, Ralph Klein.
In the four by-elections being held at the end of October 2014, the opposition parties are also using new slogans to help brand their campaigns. “Send the PCs a message” is a slogan being used by the Wildrose Party, and it is meant to remind Albertans that by-elections are an opportunity to show dissatisfaction with the PC Party’s past two years of scandal and misdeeds.
The NDP are using the slogan “Albertans deserve better,” which is a true statement, but it seems unlikely that most Albertans outside Edmonton city limits are about to look to the NDP as a better choice.
While slogans alone will not win or lose an election campaign, they can cleverly help define the narrative each party or candidate is advancing and can serve as a rallying cry for or against voters choosing change at the ballot box.
If you have a few moments after reading this post, I encourage you to take a glance at the extensive ‘List of Political Slogans‘ page on Wikipedia.
7 replies on “The magic of Tory reinvention. A new era for Alberta.”
You really did provide a link to “All Power to the Soviets.” Just as I thought, you ARE a Commie!
The Wildrose (explicitly) and the NDP (implicitly) use the governing party in their slogans instead of themselves or their own ideas. People will draw their own conclusions on what that means (if anything) but I think it’s interesting.
NDP leader Adrian Dix lost in BC in 2013 with the slogan “Change for the Better: One Practical Step at a Time.” His political polar opposite, right wing Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, won soon afterward on the slogan “Change for the Better.” Lesson for sloganeers? Keep it short and simple.
Messaging for the parties:
Greens – TIME is running OUT!
ALP – Our TIME!
Wildrose – NEW Club Old TIMERS!
NDP – Beyond AB TIMES!
PCs – Hard TIMES Coming!
Don’t forget the awesome end to all WRP ads in 2012…..”it’s time!” 🙂
I recollect being told about a old campaign slogan from the UK; “Let us nail our colours to the flowing tide”. If a political party is able to accomplish that kind of move – nail to something that is moving. They deserve to be voted in.
Send PC’s a message a weak take off Send Ed a message from the Calgary-Glenmore by-election.
@ Shane. Its Time was stolen from Peter Lougheeds campaign in 1971.