Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wildrose may be poised to defeat Progressive Conservative dynasty in Alberta

An article in the Globe and Mail argues that the Progressive Conservatives may go down to defeat because they have ignored a central tenet of the the party's success under Peter Lougheed who first brought the party to power more than forty years ago.

While Lougheed was moderately progressive as a conservative he paid attention to his back benchers. He consulted them constantly and on occasion even let them overrule cabinet decisions. It worked to keep harmony for the most part.

However in recent years some back benchers especially in some rural areas have felt left out. Even more dramatic some of the oil patch supporters have been miffed that a former premier Ed Stelmach raised royalties.

The problem as the Globe article sees it is that the Progressive Conservatives had huge support on the right so they tried to keep the left at Bay. In order to do so they adopted more liberal policies that alienated their base. This is a common tactic for parties to remain in power. In the U.S. the Democratic party moves right because the left in the Democratic party have no where to go. The Conservatives moved left slightly to attract and keep votes from going to the Liberals and NDP. However the tactic has backfired and disgruntled conservatives formed the Wildrose party.

While Peter Lougheed the patriarch of the Progressive Conservative party continues to support the party and its leader Alison Redford many federal Conservatives support the Wildrose. The former chief of staff for Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper Tom Flanagan not only supports the Wildrose Party but is manager of Danielle Smith's the Wildrose leader's campaign. We will know on Monday if the Wildroses are more than just a thorn in the side of the ruling Progressive Conservatives.

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