Alberta Politics

The tough road ahead for Alberta’s opposition PC Party

When Members of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly gather on June 11 to choose a new Speaker, the seating chart will be unlike anything Albertans have seen in this province’s 110 year history. Premier Rachel Notley‘s New Democrats will occupy the majority of the seats, the Wildrose Party will sit as Official Opposition, and for the first time in 44 years the Progressive Conservative MLAs will sit in the opposition benches.

Ric McIver
Ric McIver

The three other political parties that previously held government in Alberta faded into obscurity soon after losing power. With the exception of the Liberal Party, none of the other parties (the United Farmers of Alberta and the Social Credit Party) ever reemerged into Alberta politics a meaningful way (though the UFA transformed into a successful agricultural cooperative).

And with these historical precedents in mind, it will undoubtably be a tough transition for the remaining PC MLAs and their party, who have no institutional memory of how to operate in opposition.

The PC Party has actually appointed a transition team to help navigate the party into opposition. While other provincial conservative parties in Canada can rely on their federal counterpart for assistance, it has been long suspected that many in the Conservative Party of Canada favour the more conservative Wildrose Party over the PCs.

Preston Manning
Preston Manning

A big challenge facing PC MLAs in the upcoming session of the Legislature is to simply be relevant now that they are no longer in government. Interim leader Ric McIver announced his caucus critic roster today (see the list below) and it will be fascinating to watch how those MLAs perform in their new roles. It is still yet to be seen what the motley crew of nine MLAs that make up the PC Caucus have in common politically, other than wanting to have been elected into government, or if they can even work together as a team.

Who does and does not vie to become the party’s seventh leader in the past ten years will also be telling. Former cabinet ministers Mr. McIver and Manmeet Bhullar are frequently named as possible contenders, as is former deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk, who was unseated by Nicole Goehring in the NDP sweep of Edmonton. What political direction these potential leaders would lead the new party is unknown.

Thomas Lukaszuk MLA Edmonton-Castle Downs
Thomas Lukaszuk

Losing power after 44 years in office makes the PC Party a brokerage party with nothing left to broker. And while a future in opposition without the comfort of large corporate donations may look bleak, PC Party supporters now have an opportunity to redefine what their party stands for and rebuild its credibility after crippling election defeat. While the memory of PC scandals and arrogance are fresh in the minds of Albertans today, including distasteful comments recently made by a member of the PC Party board, there are four long years before the next election.

We can expect many of the usual suspects, including professional political meddler Preston Manning, to advocate a merger of two main conservative parties. Both PC and Wildrose MLAs should not forget the role Mr. Manning played in manufacturing the disastrous floor-crossing that critically damaged both conservative parties in Alberta before the recent election.

Because of its history and bitter political differences, future floor crossings are not a palatable option and a merger of the PC Party and Wildrose Party would probably not be a match made in heaven. If it is possible for the PC Party to survive outside of government, could it play a role in Alberta politics as an urban based conservative opposition?

Here is the PC Opposition Caucus critic roster for the upcoming session of the Legislature:

PC MLA Critic Role
Ric McIver, MLA
  • Interim Leader
  • Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour
  • Municipal Affairs
Wayne Drysdale, MLA
Grande Prairie-Wapiti
  • Caucus Whip
  • Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development
  • Transportation
Richard Starke, MLA
  • PC Opposition House Leader
  • Culture and Tourism
  • Health
  • Parks and Recreation
Richard Gotfried, MLA
Calgary-Fish Creek
  • International and Intergovernmental Relations
  • Seniors
Manmeet Bhullar, MLA
  • Finance and Treasury Board
  • Infrastructure
Dave Rodney, MLA
  • Aboriginal Relations
  • Innovation and Advanced Education
Sandra Jansen, MLA
Calgary-North West
  • Education
  • Human Services
  • Status of Women
Rick Fraser, MLA
Calgary-South East
  • Energy
  • Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
Mike Ellis, MLA
  • Justice and Solicitor General
  • Service Alberta


10 replies on “The tough road ahead for Alberta’s opposition PC Party”

The worst thing ahead for the PCs is that none of their criticism of the government will be taken seriously. Any PC critique of NDP Government will be responded with “if your idea is so great, why didn’t you do it in when your party was in power?”

To have any credibility going forward, the PCs need to make a clean break from the past. It needs a new generation of MLAs to be the face of the party, people who have nothing to do with the “PC dynasty”. This probably won’t happen in the short term.

I fully support the comments Jordan Lien made. If we are banning types of cigarettes, what’s the next thing? Soda? Candy?

Lien should be commended for such comments.

The PCs will find it’s much easier to criticize than govern so they will have that going for them. The big hurdle is that the WRP will have the next 4 years to shine as the official opposition. The WR will have a much easier time differentiating itself from the governing NDP than it did from the governing PCs. If the WR can steer clear of social issue distractions and maintain strong pressure on the government from the right, the support and the money will slowly bleed from the PCs to the WR. At that point, there won’t need to be a formal merging of the parties.

When I visited the Alberta Legislature before the provincial election, to present my banned self to Mr. Mandel —-courtesy of the NDP —-I was fascinated to see the seating arrangement of the PCs. Seating arrangements are all about who has the most power.

The Prentice guy was in the middle of the front row. The important folks (Robinson, Dirks, Mandel, Bhullar) were close to him. Then there were lesser luminaries at the tail ends of the front row (Jeff Johnson). The rest of the PCs were divided into the folks behind the bigwigs in the front row and a second group of PC MLAs were in a group facing the PC bigwigs.

In contrast we had these small groups of folks in the opposition party looking like islands in a small archipelago.

All this has now changed and for the better.

I hope when I get unbanned and get my handicapped sister restored to the Good Samaritan Extended care at Millwoods, that the NDP will invite me back. I want to see the MLAs in action again and you can’t seem to get to the Legislature unless you are invited or part of a school group. It will feel deliciously right to see the PCs in the place of the opposition parties.

I suspect the PCs won’t endure much longer. If the PCs take the advice of the Preston Manning guy who seems to be nothing but a shill for big oil, I am pretty sure we will see more anti-democratic junk that will hasten the end of the PCs. Mr . Manning is a political booby trap.

I could be wrong of course. They may get money from their corporate donors before the NDP turn off the tap. But after that revenue stream is gone, they actually have to do work and they aren’t known for that so I suspect they will not be rehired by citizens again.

Ridiculous that any party would prohibit corporate donations. Corporation is a separate person under the law. Just govern the limits the same and you’re all good without affecting basic rights of freedom in this province.

Rodeo’s won’t cut the mustard for the future of our PC’s it is much akin to Archie Bunker flushing the toilet as Edith prepares the Family Dinner.
Prepare yourself for the skeletons presented by the WRP to put the PC’s in their place if they choose to investigate the Alberta Treasury ? Meanwhile…… this NDP Budget will be on the side of Henry and Martha’s Grand Children to decide where we go from this point in our recent 110 year history . Good Bye and Au Revoir Mr. Stephen Harper and Welcome Our Labor Union to the Table.

Burns , great idea, if a corporation is just like a person, then each corporation must be allowed to donate $275, right or are you looking for a double standard? Corporate donations are so large they tilt and warp the democratic field in the most unfair way, yes it does, don’t kid yourself.

If this party of 9 want to play ball again, they must embrace a culture of transparency, honesty and ethics and join every other party on banning corporate donations, and fully agree to opening all the books and and conducting a wholesale forensic audit of everything. Then, no prior member of the previous party can in any way be connected to the new rebooted party. The old must be purged and go completely from any politics or lobbying of any kind, for any credible new faces to emerge from that party.

Really? Albertans have yet to see what the NDP/Hugo Chávez style Gov would do to them.
When Hugo told his stupid followers that the wealthy will pay , the wealthy immediately removed their money from the Venezuelan banks into foreign banks. When Hugo heard what they did he asked them to bring back their money which they refused.
Hugo was hoping that that the wealthy would pay for needs of his stupid followers and the nation while he and his pals flourished in the wealth from the oil revenues.
If I hear the same tactic by this ndp pulled by Chávez, my money not is OUT Of Alberta.

I am not a fan of Nenshi, but he might be able to beat the NDP next election. I supported the WRP the last two elections, but the public is merciless with the Party. I won’t be voting anymore, but will be curious to see what happens. Maybe Nenshi for the PC party?

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