Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is Danielle Smith A Game Changer in Alberta Politics?

As I said in an earlier post the political attention in Alberta will shift from the WAP Leadership of Danielle Smith to the PC AGM confidence vote on the Stelmach leadership.

I see the WAP overplaying their hand already claiming to being "ready to govern" in the next election, likely less than 3 years away. They have one MLA through winning a protest vote by election in Calgary. They have the underwhelming support of less than 8500 Albertans who could be bothering to even mail in a ballot. That hardly makes the WAP a "party of winners" as they are now claiming.

The grumpy old Reformer type social conservatives had to be embarrassed by the poor showing of their SoCon candidate in the WAP leadership results. One even more extreme WAP leadership candidate withdrew from the contest without explanation.  His anti-homosexual and closet Alberta separatist leanings didn't help promote what the new gentler big-tent party the new leader is calling for the WAP to become.

Smith, once selected to lead the WAP, was recently quoted as saying:

“Wildrose Alliance was seen even a few months ago as another marginal protest party. Now we’re the government in waiting”

“We’ve been doing a lot of cringing and ducking to avoid being labeled extremist. We should now stop. It’s undignified.”

But it's true the newly merged Wildrose and Alliance parties are full of extremists. Nice to see the new leader admitting that they have been "cringing and ducking to avoid" the label. It is not a label. It is the truth. The WAP can expect Albertans to cringe as this traditionalist political party tries to duck and hide from its yester-year discriminatory social policies.

I see the old-boys club of certain disgruntled Calgarians elites, who used to get direct and personal political access to Premier Klein back in the day, are now taking their shots at Premier Stelmach...including the former Premier himself. Shabby! I take my shots on the government too but I try to keep my criticism on policy and politics - not personality.

I was recalling the Klein-Betkowski PC leadership contest back in 1992. There were some elements in the Klein support base who said about Betkowski that "They were not going to be lead by that uppity educated city woman." Some of those same elements are now supporting Smith. I figure there must be some progress being made.

The biggest mistake we made in the Betkowski leadership campaign was to beat Ralph by 1 vote on the first ballot. The Klein forces came out of their self-satisfied shell and kicked our butts on the second ballot, even after every other candidate came to the Betkowski side.

We will have to wait and see if the Stelmach forces respond to the WAP in the same way by energizing and engaging. The reality still is the PC Party and the Stelmach government can choose to lose and even by the time the next election rolls around. If that happens then they will have both collaborated to engineer their mutual demise. November 7 at the PC AGM should give us some early warning signs as to what will emerge.

Danielle Smith's leadership victory and the recent WAP election result will be merely a catalyst for creating or the consciousness for change. She and the WAP are not necessarily going to set the direction or the destination from such change. There are other political forces afoot that may come into play. There may be a push for rebooting Alberta and designing a political agenda and alternative towards a more progressive direction and destination.

As Ralph used to say, "Stay tuned."