Where to from here – Part 1
As I did after the 2012 election, I am going to write a multiple part post regarding the outcome of the 2015 election.
It has been two weeks since the NDP won the Alberta election. This has given me a little time to reflect, wonder, and get rid of my tinfoil hat theories. Now it is down to business.
Much attention has been paid to conservative options in Alberta. Should Wildrose merge with the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta? If we do, should we allow senior members of the disgraced PCAA join? Should we just hope for the demise of the tired old party of “entitlement”? What should we do?
First of all, I think we need to understand the fact that Albertans did not vote for the NDP because we are suddenly a radically left leaning electorate. Albertans, for the most part, voted NDP for not just change, but to decimate the PCAA led by Jim Prentice. We weren’t going to be satisfied with sending a message, we wanted that party gone. We got our wish. the PCAA is now very close to being in the same position the Wildrose Party was expected to be back in December of 2014. They are all but gone.
Why did voters choose to vote for the NDP rather than the conservative Wildrose Party? I think the answer to that is simple. Jim Prentice and Danielle Smith, along with 8 other former Wildrose Party MLAs all but sank the party. People were not going to vote for losers. Rachel Notley and her campaign team did a great job of portraying themselves as the winners. It worked. The urban centres voted, almost unanimously for the winning party.
However, only 48% of voters voted for a left wing option to the beleaguered PCAA or Wildrose. 52% of Albertans actually chose a right wing party. Indeed, 27.8 chose the PCAA over all others. This leaves the Wildrose with 24.2% of the vote.1 So why did so many conservatives vote NDP? As I stated above, many people vote for the winners. Since the Wildrose, up to and including election day was not considered able to win, in order to ensure the PCAA was defeated, many many conservatives voted NDP. The song of ABPC (Anyone But PC) rang out in social media like the American National Anthem at a Nascar race. It was loud.
It appears FEAR style elections are bringing voters back to the polls. With a turnout of 57% in 20122 , and 52% in 20151 , the message is being heard. Scare voters and they will come out. In 2012 it was the scary homophobic Wildrose. In 2015 it was the scary entitled crooks of the PCAA. Out came the voters to ensure Alberta was safe from entitlement. What people didn’t realize is, with low oil prices, companies going out of business due to extreme slow down in the oil patch, Albertans may have voted in their worst nightmare. But they got rid of the PCAA, right? Isn’t that what it was all about?
That’s what it should have been about. Instead, it appears to have backfired. The last thing Alberta needs at this point in time is a government bent on punishing corporations for their successes. Despite warnings from right wing media, right wing parties, and even economists with no horse in the race either way, Albertans voted for a 2% hike in corporate taxes and a royalty review. They voted for increased income taxes and, if she didn’t know Albertans would string her up, Rachel Notley would surely impose a sales tax. This is not going to be the rosy 4 years Albertans were hoping for.
So why did it happen. In my opinion, the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the Wildrose campaign team. I won’t go so far as to blame the leader, Brian Jean. But, he should have taken control. What were the mistakes?
- Completely ignoring Edmonton, AGAIN!
- Making Brian Jean look like an automaton in the Leader Debate.
- Completely ignoring Edmonton
That’s right, I said completely ignoring Edmonton twice. In 2012 the party decided we should let Edmonton go to the left wing parties in order to pull seats from the PCAA. It backfired then, and it backfired now. In 2012 Alison Redford was handed a huge majority mandate while the NDP picked up a couple of seats and the liberals held firm. Wildrose did not gain a single seat in the capitol city. The same theory was in play in 2015. Sacrifice Edmonton to the left. Why? We can’t win there. Sorry folks. Every sports team will tell you there is not a hope in winning if you don’t come to the match. Brian Jean promised us that no area of the province would be ignored or sacrificed, during the Wildrose leadership debate. Less than a month later he listened to the puppet masters when they told him to sacrifice Edmonton.
Sure, gains were made in the rural ridings, where we received 4 seats more than in the last election. That’s great, but those seats were almost a given. If the urban centres were going to vote predominantly left, we know that rural Albertans would rather cut off their arm than vote left. If they were going to turf the PCAA, rural Albertans were going to do it by electing the conservative alternative, the Wildrose Party. So why completely ignore ridings where you figure you won’t win? It is a money argument through and through. Throw money were it is most needed. It was NOT most needed in rural ridings. I think we could have run a stray dog in rural ridings and they would have won. Money and publicity was most needed in URBAN centres.
Would Wildrose have formed government by throwing money into urban centres? Not a chance. What they may have done was slow down the Orange Crush and possibly hold the NDP to a minority government. Where were we on Candidates like the one in Cagary-Bow? Why wasn’t this candidate brought to the attention of the voters PRIOR to winning her seat? This was a failure on the part of the party. How is it we have an unskilled barista now making in the neighbourhood of $100,000 per year, while an educated candidate went down to the coffee jockey? How did an unknown candidate, who didn’t even have her name on signs, doesn’t live in the riding, or anywhere near it, and didn’t even bother to reach out to rural voters win in Stony Plain?
These results can simply be placed directly on the shoulders of the main campaign. We knew about St. Alberta and Stony Plain. We made enough noise to garner attention on social media, but it wasn’t enough. We needed the backing of the provincial party. We didn’t get it, despite giving our full out support to them. Sadly, I can’t see that support coming any time soon. The same people who made these bad choices are now the senior advisors to the leader of the official opposition, as they were to Danielle Smith. Frankly, it is beginning to look like the Danielle Smith Wildrose Party all over again.
And who was the genius who thought it would be a good idea for Brian Jean to look like a robot at the leaders debate? Who convinced him that he should allow Rachel Notley and Jim Prentice to have a love in at the expense of the Wildrose message? Did I laugh my ass off during the debate? You bet I did. I agree with Brian Jean, after that debate there wasn’t a single Albertan who didn’t know “Wildrose will not raise taxes.” What Albertans didn’t know was how Wildrose would fix our fiscal mess without raising taxes. Oh wait, it is on Page five of our platform. I looked. I saw ideas. I didn’t see firm mathematical equations proving the fact, though I know them inside out and backwards. Did Albertans? That is what we needed Brian Jean to explain.
We needed Brian Jean to make Jim Prentice look him in the eye. We needed Brian Jean to be the intellectually strong individual we know him to be. We needed Brian Jean to stand up to socialism and entitlement. We needed Brian Jean to be a leader, not an autonomous robot. Whomever gave those orders needs to go. Unfortunately I don’t see that happening.
So before we can even consider uniting the right, or forming any sort of alliance with the almost defunct PCAA, we need to get our own house in order. It is time to rally the membership and plan for the 2015 AGM. This time the focus has to be on fixing the party, not destroying it as was the plan last year. Alberta needs a strong fiscally conservative alternative to the current left wing government. In four years Albertans will be screaming for the mess to be fixed. We have to, by then, have earned their trust and have a proven track record of fiscal conservatism to offer Albertans a government that will work for ALL citizens. We have to do this without childish political games, and with a leader who will have earned the trust of voters.
We need to start today gaining traction in the urban centres. If we don’t, one of two things is going to happen:
- Voters will once again vote for left wing extremists, or
- They will welcome back the entitled PCAA in hopes they will get the out of the fiscal mess the NDP is surely going to create.
Neither option is acceptable.
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