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Alberta Politics

Will Liberal wild card spoil NDP gains in Edmonton?

Rachel Notley NDP MLA Leadership Candidate Alberta
NDP leader Rachel Notley

Two polls released in the final weeks of 2014 could give an indication of the direction Alberta political might take in 2015.

Raj Sherman MLA Edmonton-Meadowlark
Raj Sherman

The polls show Jim Prentice‘s Progressive Conservatives dominating in Calgary and rural Alberta. And with Wildrose Party support in decline across the province, Mr. Prentice could be tempted to call an election sometime in early 2015.

The polls also show a race for support in Edmonton between the PCs (with 30% in both polls) and Rachel Notley‘s NDP (with 32% and 34% in the two polls).

Edmonton has been a traditional region of support for the NDP and Liberals since the 1980s. All four NDP MLAs and two of five Liberal MLAs, including leader Raj Sherman, represent capital city constituencies.

While NDP candidate Bob Turner‘s strong showing in the September 2014 Edmonton-Whitemud by-election has contributed to the narrative of NDP growth in Edmonton, the Liberals remain a wild card in city. Liberal support is inconsistent in the two polls (one showing the party with 13% and the other with 28%) and that party’s traditional base of support in Edmonton should not be ignored.

Laurie Blakeman MLA Edmonton-Centre Liberal
Laurie Blakeman

Many New Democrats hope that the disorganization and apparent marginalization of the provincial Liberals will allow their party to make long sought after gains in Edmonton. But it may not be that easy.

As we have recently seen in other provinces, the NDP have a track record of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

A big challenge for both Ms. Notley and Dr. Sherman is to attract liberal and moderate Edmontonians who voted for Alison Redford‘s PC Party in order to block a Wildrose victory in 2012. Now that most Wildrose MLAs have joined the PC Party, those voters may be looking for a new home.

The potential for vote splitting and a PC Party rout in the next election, with a backdrop of a slowing economy and low oil prices, has reignited the discussion about uniting Alberta’s tiny centrist and progressive opposition parties.

Responding to the calls for unity and cooperation, a clearly frustrated Edmonton-Centre Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman shot back, outlining some of the major challenges to uniting the parties:

I’ve tried for years and there is no budging. Each party has a core of supporters that believe their party is the best, the one and only. They will never leave or merge. Both still have infrastructure that is very hard to build, but neither can attract the volunteers and donators to be THE government. I think sometimes we spend more effort fighting each other than the PCs or WR.

7 replies on “Will Liberal wild card spoil NDP gains in Edmonton?”

Wow, that’s a downer of a post. You couldn’t have written a better “don’t bother voting for either leftist party” blog post if you tried. Although I think maybe you did, try that is. The reality is the Liberals in Edmonton are all but done. Your roots are with the Liberals so you spin it as “wild card” status but most people in the know realize they’ll be lucky to keep their current two seats. I’d say from Laurie’s frank post that she’s tired of it and is probably not even likely to run again.

What happened to the Liberals last time out was a miraculous case of each MLA’s personal brand carrying them to victory. With Hehr and Kang leaving for federal politics and Swann and maybe even Blakeman retiring, it will well and truly be the Sherman show.

Unless Raj is replaced as leader, their provincial ceiling for seats has to currently be estimated to be below what’s required just for official party status. My guess is we have an election in March and they get no seats. The NDP weathered a period in the wild and may arguably have been the better for it. Now we’ll see how deep Liberal support runs. My guess is they go away, for good.

Rachel can truly argue that as the only party leader in the Legislature who has never been a PC, she is the strongest Opposition leader and alternative to the government. The Liberals are a spent force, and the Alberta Party is not a factor.

Raj won his seat by a very thin margin, and will likely not be able to repeat the feat in the next general election. Hehr and Kang have one foot out the door, Swann is retiring. I think Laurie will run one more time and while she will likely keep the Liberal name, it will be on her own brand.

The Wildrose will likely remain a factor in the next election, unless they do something crazy like elect Rob Anders as Leader, with someone like Drew Barnes they can probably hold what they have and even pick up a few rural Northern Alberta seats, such as those held by Vandenburg and Goudreau.

The NDP have a solid shot at holding all the seats they currently have, plus picking up 4 or 5 more. I think the NDP would be wise to target Lethbridge-West and even Calgary-Mountainview when Swann retires. Giving them a chance to actually get outside of Edmonton. However, Rachel will never be Premier in Alberta. She is a great opposition leader but ultimately the party she leads will never be able to make the compromises necessary to win over a larger chunk of the electorate, at least not in the next decade or so.

We don’t need another moral opposition party to fight the good fight, we need a real alternative and a government in waiting.

The problem is right now is that centre-right and centre-left voters have no one to vote for. These voters were won over to Redfords cause, and originally put Peter Lougheed into power, yet they currently have no party in the house they can support. Prentice has moved to far right and the NDP remain to far left. This is a golden opportunity for the Alberta Party to replicate the work of the Saskatchewan Party and unite the centre-right and centre-left to build a coalition that could actually challenge the PCs not in 2016 but very possibly in 2020. 2016 they need to win a few seats and gain some momentum. While some dismiss this party, I will point out that when they have had the money to compete toe to toe with the other parties, they came in second.

The Liberals are a superbug of a political brand in alberta. Despite being bashed for nothing, their leader always getting bashed, the brand is a punching bag and whipping boy and scapegoat for almost everyones personal hygiene problems to their political problems. Some of you need to grow up and get a life and stop exaggerating a baseless narrative against the Liberals. This type of flattery is not warranted and false. Even without corporate or union cash and without any fair and balanced coverage by bloggers and media, even doing literally nothing at all, but just surviving, the Liberal brand is still exceeding and besting the Dippers. You are damn right the Liberals are spoilers, but they are not competing for the same votes as NDP. The Liberal voters are the ones that make this brand indestructible, irregardless of leaders or mlas that it has.

Jerrymac. Screechy Xachel?….this is exactly what conservative parties want…an ineffectual and denutted opposition with no policitcal center parties to represent the middle class.

Cons. Of every stripe are quite ok with a 3 or 4 seat ND opposition. I just dont feel Rachel exudes a hope of some political revival, it just isnt there Jerry. Good luck with a party until you find one that suits you.

The Unions and corporations hate representation for middle class families as it upsets their political agenda. Both right and left have an appetite for free money on the backs of the middle class.

A denutted small far margin NDP opposition would suit the neocons just fone for their electoral success…but NDP in office would role back democracy for mainstream middle class families.

Schreyer became the first NDP Premier of Manitoba when the Liberal vote collapsed. Could the same thing happen for Notley if the Liberal vote collapsed in Alberta? Hard to predict, but not impossible.

I would love to see the provincial NDs embrace Proportional Representation as their federal counterparts have done. Then if they ever did get into power they could break the stranglehold of dynasty politics in Alberta by making all votes equal and effective.

Dear Mrs. Blakeman please stop trying to unite the Liberals and NDP. They are fundamentally very difderent in AB and un unitable and very diff voters. Its like Thomas Milcair and Justin Trudea merging. The two parties are extremely incompatible and you are wasting your time and unknowingly playing a part to de_energize and disengage more Albertans to hate both parties, as this public airing of dirty laundry just turns the public off and pushes more voters to vote conservative. Please just stop it already and be steady and stay the course, as it has won you a seat each and every time. You need to be grateful for the party label you are with, it has politically sustained you whether you like to admit it or not.

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