Wednesday, 06 January 2016 15:18

Conservative-minded Alberta politicians’ egos may cost them again

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In 2015, in one unexpected stroke of a rather broad political paintbrush, the Alberta Progressive Conservative party’s Tory blue which had been the colour of Alberta for more than four decades was replaced by the orange of the NDP, something almost unfathomable less than a year ago.

Here Albertans sit in 2016, and general long-time supporters of the PCs in the rural areas are not happy.
Those in the petroleum and agriculture sectors are not exactly enamored with the orange crush movement. Carbon taxes, controversial climate initiatives, the infamous Bill 6 and the seeming general inability to figure out a way to stimulate a staggering economy has many people feeling steamrolled. In what was hope for a different approach in politics and new ideas with Rachel Notley, that instead has not been met with a lot of favourable reviews.
Voters in the Alberta May 2015 election were generally tired of the PC’s self-indulgence. That was personified in the caustic and unlikeable then leader Jim Prentice who many people were so off-put by, they voted ABC (Anything But Conservative).
In the urban areas this meant voting NDP as Wildrose’s unknown leader Brian Jean was unable to convince city dwellers the green and pink were a viable option.
Those in the rural areas generally stayed conservative in voting patterns (NDP — 41 per cent of the votes, PCs — 28 per cent and Wildrose — 24 per cent).
The PC and Wildrose MLAs, workers, strategists, supporters, and administration need to work together instead of against each other in order to, not only ‘unite the right’ but, make themselves palatable to all voters.
A new party or a really effective rebranding is needed. Wildrosers need to appear to be a little bit more sensitive and willing to spend on social programs to those in the urban areas, while PCs have to regain trust in the people who think they were at the political trough slurping as much as they could.
There is some good pieces there, but the chemistry between the two sides is lacking (see floor-crossing, Danielle Smith, nine Wildrose MLAs).
Can the two parties combine to get the fiscal Conservatives back together again? Unless something changes, it appears not. Why? Because of the same problem which plagued the PCs before and is still doing so — ego and pride. No one wants to give up the reigns and team up. Besides the obvious executives, there are scores of bureaucratic braintrusts who think they are the ones who have the answers.
As separate sides, both have shown neither have the answer. Is the PC’s Ric McIver or Wildrose’s Brian Jean the answer? It doesn’t look like either have the charisma to back up their policy beliefs. With all due respect to the hard-working and admirable Dr. David Swann, there are no provincial Liberals left and no help there.
There has to be some sort of meeting of the minds, much like those organizers of the Saskatchewan Party did years ago when Grant Devine’s PCs and political scandals ran that party into the ground. Like-minded conservatives from the PCs and what was left of the Liberals — sense a pattern here? — managed to throw egos aside and formed a new party or at the very least rebranded itself.
Sure, the Sask. Party didn’t start off gangbusters either as cerebral leader Elwin Hermanson set the table, but couldn’t get them over the hump. This allowed a determined Brad Wall to take over and the rest is history.
Without being in Edmonton or Calgary, it’s hard to know if there are any potential leaders out there lying in wait prior to when Albertans go to the polls in the 30th provincial election “on or before May 31, 2019.”
Whether it’s Wildrose or PC, something’s got to give to make “conservative” supporters an opportunity to picture a new direction to the province or else they will be seeing red in the face of more orange.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor