What an interesting week in Alberta politics:
Normally summer for politicians means weight gain at barbecues, sneaking out of town for vacation and such things. Now that we have a United Conservative Party to replace the PC and Wild Rose parties, politics in July suddenly matters.
The new party is causing a lot of butt hurt amongst the NDP and the Alberta party trying hard to expand itself and make up the difference.
I have done several media interviews on the future, and since my crystal ball isn't any better than anyone else's, I'm going to prognosticate about the future as I see it.
Who leads this party? Are they still registered, have they recovered from Doctor Dreamy?
They have some great people and some really bad ones, in particular the MLA for Stony Plain, a barista by trade, this kid was a placeholder and found himself a sitting MLA. Recently I asked him if his governments hard line on coal would be detrimental to his constituents and if so, was he prepared to tell the government that the policy on coal was bad? Now admittedly I set the kid up, because there is no way a back bench public transit riding MLA was going to do anything other than support the philosophical agenda he was given, and true to form, he did not answer the question.
One of my favourite NDP MLA's is Deputy Premier, Sarah Hoffman. My bottom line belief is Sarah is not to be underestimated in her tenacity and ability to attack sewer rats or to take so much as a second breath before she launches into an attack on the new party. She say many entertaining things and has the ability to fake sincerity down to a science.
The Premier herself, has to be worried by the lack of vote splitting on the right and with the reenergized Alberta Party occupying that hallowed middle ground, they are likely to siphon off support from the NDP, particularly as people realize how badly the recession hurt and how badly the government handled the carbon tax issue. I see third party status in the offing.
The Alberta Party:
Former Edmonton Mayor Steven Mandell has been observed at a number of events supporting the middle of the road Alberta Party. I sense a leadership bid in the offing here. Mandell who is rumoured to fancy himself as the Bernie Saunders of Alberta, will undoubtedly use his charisma, charm and the wisdom of his 74 years on the planet to engage the youth in voting for fiscal responsibility and social progression. How a guy who has been collecting Canada Pension for nine years can expect to do this I don't know, especially when Thomas Lukaszuk, the younger and more fashionable politician is probably seeking the same job. Mandell is probably bored being at home full time and doesn't have any good hobbies other than running a trailer park.
Lukaszuk, has tried and failed several times to hitch his wagon to the shining star and hopefully realizes that hitching your wagon to a star requires very long reigns and a horse would be a better choice.
Greg Clark the current leader, is a hard working guy, has great staff and generally very likeable, I'm worried that he does not have Mandel's war chest or Lukaszuk's charisma and his tenure might he short lived as a result. The Alberta party is collecting an interesting association of former PC MLA's in addition to Mandel and Lukaszuk. Dave Quest, the man who sold former Premier Ed Stelmach his last Oldsmobile, has resoundingly rejected the UCP in favour, apparently, of the Alberta Party. Official opposition status.
The word "United" makes me very nervous, while I agree that unity is necessary the top down structure of the party, preferred by both front running leadership candidates Jason Kenney and Brian Jean, suggests that there will be a lot of internal control to prevent, incidents, like the Hunsberger Lake of Fire or any bozo eruptions on twitter. Personally, my own 2009 debacle is enough to keep me from running for anything, or being asked to I suspect. Google it if you are interested.
I have no clear idea as to who is going to win the leadership, although since the whole unity thing is really Jason Kenney's vision, I suspect he might, even if Brian Jean does look more credible in a hard hat and has sense enough not to drive a gas Dodge pick up. Jason would have done much better credibility wise had he opted for a Cummins diesel 3/4 ton quad cab, instead of the half ton, which is the kind of truck one buys if the heaviest thing they expect to haul is a few bags of mulch from Home Depot. .
The challenge in unity is that this requires more than consensus or singleness of purpose and this is where the party will need to be VERY CAREFUL with internal discipline moving forward to prevent getting labelled as demagoguery. Appealing to fears is popular in politics and they ALL do it, as it is human nature to vote against something rather than for something. Which explains the NDP government we have now.
There are many former PC MLA's who have hitch their wagon to the UCP and who, in turn, hope to alter their status from former to current, which is great, the shakedown will happen when it comes time to declare support for one leadership candidate over another.
Those particularly committed to self preservation will have to think carefully and tread softly, lest they back the wrong horse and wind up with nothing good to show. The safest course of action for those lacking in principle will be to work at polling stations and have selfies taken with all candidates, thereby showing their commitment to party principles at the expense of personal agenda. The UCP will win the next election with a narrow majority or a possible minority.
My guess for 2019:
UCP 46 seats
I think the Alberta party is going to pick up support in places like Stony Plain, Sherwood Park and other constituencies where champagne socialism is popular, the Alberta Party will be the urban upper middle class party and the NDP will keep their strongholds of tired huddled masses. Liberal's in Alberta will return their status of being extinct as even Mandell and Lukaszuk sense the toxicity of the brand name, even if it is their rightful home.
Make Alberta Great Again.