Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Alberta's Wildrose and Alliance Parties Looking At Merger!

Good to see the nascent Wildrose Party and the bucolic Alliance Party talking merger. My sources say early efforts at a merger between Wildrose and the Social Credit Party proved unworkable. There are still the Alberta Party and the Separation Party that may be ripe for merger with this new entity too.

The parties better fast track this effort if they want to be a force in the forth coming Alberta election. Getting the Alliance party members to agree to a merger and accept the bylaws of the Wildrose Party and have Wildrose first in name will take some explaining if it is to be successful a the January 19th AGM of the Alliance.

The Alliance has been around longer, since 2002, and has proven to be able to deliver at least a modicum electoral success with Leader Paul Hinman. The compromise position offered is Mr. Hinman will lead the new merged party. That will at least be until the next election where we will see how well he does in his own seat. His second major challenge as leader will be recruiting credible candidates with such short notice and not much money or time to raise it.

Hinman will be running against Progressive Conservative Broyce Jacobs again. Jacobs held the seat before but lost it to Hinman in 2004 as the Cardston-Taber-Warner seat concentrated its disillusionment with Ralph Klein. Alliance gelled their support and in a tight two-way race Hinman won by 131 votes. The Alberta Liberals and New Democrats have not nominated their cannon fodder candidates in the constituency as yet.

This constituency is one to watch for many reasons but mostly as a test of the Stelmach PCs and the political viability of the far right parties, in coalition or otherwise. The implications for the acceptability and viability of the proposed merged Wildrose Alliance Party are obvious.
Results differ depending if this deep-south constituency sees Stelmach as a continuation of Ralph Klein or is he going to be seen as a new guy with rural roots and a man of integrity, substance and experience. On the other hand they may feel they don’t know enough about Stelmach and could decide continuing as a contrarian constituency and supporting Hinman again can’t hurt them and it will send a serious message to government.

There is a back story in all of this too that involves Dr. Ted Morton and where he will stand and how will he come out in all of this. He is clearly the heir apparent to the Wildrose Alliance leadership if Hinman fails to win his seat. He is also well respected and known in the area. Where will Morton’s loyalties lie, with Stelmach, his Alliance roots or with his own future leadership aspirations? If the case is the latter scenario, which party will Morton align with to fulfil his political leadership ambitions?

Morton can concentrate on winning his own seat as a PC and not work for Stelmach in the deep south. This has the making of best scenario outcomes for Morton If Stelmach does well, Morton will have proven his capability and “loyalty” to the Stelmach PC government and should be secure in a Cabinet post again.

If Stelmach does not do well then consequences differ depending if Hinman wins or loses? If Hinman loses Morton will be facing a far right draft to cross the floor and lead the new party giving it a continuing seat in the Legislature as well. If Hinman wins, there will be pressure for a PC leadership change again and will Morton try to become leader of the PCs again?

Looks like Dr. Ted Morton is positioning well for a favourable personal political outcome no matter what happens in the next election – so long as he wins his own seat. One more indication that Alberta politics are no longer boring.