Is there a potential for an Alberta Tea Party? Where has Craig Chandler gone? What happened to WAP leadership candidate Jeff Willerton? Where are the Alberta Separatists these days? Where are the Libertarian activists located politically these days? We get little or now news from them for quite some time but we know they are out there...in more ways than one!
My sense is they are hiding quietly in the basement of the Wildrose Alliance Party. So long as Danielle Smith can keep up the media generated momentum for the alliance side of the WAP, the wild side of the party will keep quiet and wait until the power shift happens. If that happens after the next election expect the Tea Party types to come out of hiding. they will want to reassert and impose their values on what has become a very compliant, confused and all-too content and comfortable Alberta public. It will be a a hard-fought contest for the heart and soul of the WAP too but all of us will suffer in the internal culture war that will ensue.
The sense is the popularity of the Wildrose Alliance Party has peaked but at a significant level of support that cannot be ignored. They are not going away but the question is will Albertans vote for them in protest just to send a message to the PC Party? Smith has done a remarkable job of soothing the citizen's fears about the scary side of the WAP. This is in no small part because she is personally able to do that with her mellow messaging and skillful positioning of herself as a Peter Lougheed kind of politician.
There is a yearning for a return to Alberta of that kind of Lougheed socially progressive social, fiscal conservative and culturally diverse basis of public policy coupled with a long term view of good governance over short term pursuits of political power. So far nobody has been able to capture the imagination of the Alberta public to convince us that any of the existing parties can deliver that kind of inclusive, creative and conscientious government we used to enjoy under Peter Lougheed.
I hope nobody is fooled by this illusion of the WAP selling us that they are going to be a return to a Lougheed style of governing . The hard-nosed mean-spirited Harper Conservatives are very much behind the provincial Wildrose Alliance Party in our Alberta. We have seen the dire consequences to progress from that kind of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld inspired reckless abuse of power.
The way I see it is with the Harper-Cons coupled with the Fraser Institute inspired WAP will take Alberta into a socially conservative policy approach that will be marked by wedge issues, division and marginalization of minorities and further damage vulnerable citizens. They abhor government because they think it interferes with individual rights and freedoms and is inefficient. While at the same time they fail to understand the need to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens - especially those who disagree with them.
They think individual competition and marketplaces forces are the only way to create a society based on economic wealth being the trump card in any political policy decision. They scoff and the idea of a synergy existing between individual talents foster in ways the benefit those individuals and in the service of our society as a whole. They are proudly the anti-intellectual and rejects science, preferring superstition and fundamentalism as a basis to make public policy decisions.
They think nature is a resource only to be exploited now and not protected in a duty to ensure we leave the planet in better shape than when we arrived as an obligation to future generations. Environmental policy is always seen to be in the way of their version of wealth-creation based on market forces that dictate conspicuous consumption. Long term conservation and habitat protection policies it must be tamed to ensure "wealth" is created as quickly as possible with little or no regard for the long term environmental or biodiversity implications. As "wealth gets created they have little if any regard as to fairness in how that wealth is distributed. If you are poor or disadvantaged the social conservatives say it is your own fault. You must simply pull up your socks...if you have no socks...well that is your fault too.
So is there a Tea Party in Alberta's future? In my opinion, chances are yes! Especially if progressive thinking Albertans continue to avoid their responsibility to re-engage in the political culture of the province. Abdication by progressive thinking Albertans of their duty of citizenship will leave the wielding of political power to those who aspire to take Alberta backwards. If you want a progressive political culture in the Next Alberta come to RebootAlberta 3.0, November 5-6 in Edmonton. Register now at www.rebootalberta.org