Alberta Politics

what effect can danny williams have on alberta’s pc leadership contest?

Alberta PC leadership candidate Gary Mar and former Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams in Fort McMurray in September 2011.
Gary Mar and Danny Williams

Former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams traveled to Fort McMurray this week to support Alberta PC leadership candidate Gary Mar and to give the candidate a boost in support from Newfoundland’s diaspora in the northern Alberta community.

The retired Newfoundland Premier’s support may be one of the former Calgary MLAs most significant endorsement in northern Alberta, where most MLAs are backing former Deputy Premier Doug Horner.

The endorsement could play well among regular conservative voters, who could respect Mr. Williams as a crusader for provincial-rights, but his battles with Ottawa also pitted him against Calgary-based Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Mr. Williams led the charge against Prime Minister Harper’s Conservatives in the 2008 federal election, which ended with the Conservatives being shut out of that province. They failed to elect any Members of Parliament on the island again in the 2011 federal election [edit: Peter Penashue was elected as the Conservative MP for Labrador, on the mainland portion of that province].

Alberta PC leadership candidate Ted Morton and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Ted Morton and Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Seen by many as Mr. Mar’s main competition, former Finance Minister Ted Morton has a photo of Prime Minister Harper and himself prominently placed on the front-page of his website. Earlier in the race, online conservative pundits piled on Mr. Mar’s campaign for gaining the support of Federal Liberal fundraiser Daryl Fridhandler.

This is not the first time that Alberta’s political parties have tried to use a Newfoundland connection to get votes in Fort McMurray. In 2007, former Premier Brian Tobin was expected to join then-Liberal leader Kevin Taft at a fundraiser in Fort McMurray. Mr. Tobin had to cancel at the last minute.