Vindication Comes With Headache for Wildrose

The initial moves taken by Alberta Premier-designate Jim Prentice can be seen from two vantage points.

In undertaking a project which essentially consists of reversing the list of controversial Alison Redford-era policies such as the closing of the Michener centre, and the ridiculous licence plate redesign, Prentice has at once given legitimacy to the Wildrose opposition and has possibly created a massive problem for the government-in-waiting as well.

Jim Prentice
Prentice has swiftly addressed some of the major issues the Wildrose has built their reputation attacking.  Announcing the government fleet of airplanes was up for sale is a no-brainer for anyone succeeding Redford.  Promising action on the issue of property rights stole a plank in the Wildrose platform. Keeping the Michener open?  Obvious and politically brilliant.

None of these moves give any real indication as to the direction Prentice intends to take his party or the government.  Some Progressive Conservatives are claiming the new Premier is taking the PC party ‘back to the right’.

That remains to be seen, but if that is the intention then that would be one more headache for the Wildrose.

After at least one term as the only real ‘right wing’ party, a step to the right by the governing PC’s would inevitably attract some Wildrosers back into the PC fold.

The reality is many Albertans have a ‘the devil you know’ attitude when it comes to politics.  If the Prentice PCs do bring back a semblance of actual conservative policies, they could become quite indistinguishable from the Wildrose, who some argue took a step to the left at their last AGM.

Danielle Smith
The challenge now for the Wildrose is to promote other issues which haven’t received media play.  They must search for new weak spots in the government.  Playing the ‘corruption’ card is a legitimate play.  But how will it play with the voting public after two years of Prentice’s leadership?

Right now, the Wildrose could be standing in front of the cameras proclaiming a kind of victory.  The issues they’ve been laser-beaming are the ones Prentice has been tackling.  Again, vindication for the opposition. 

But what’s left for sound bites?  The move to appoint Ministers?

I’ve already spoken out about that legal as it may be, it comes across as undemocratic and heavy-handed.  It has also been met with indifference by the general public.

In the personality contest which always plays a part in elections, Danielle Smith still exudes the potential to be an effective Alberta premier.  She quite possibly would have shone above the likes of Ric McIver and even Thomas Lukaszuk on the likability scale. 

In Jim Prentice, the game changes.  Likability isn’t so much a factor – Smith will still be more ‘liked’ by many who will vote for Prentice.  It will be more about trust and experience. 

In the next provincial election, the challenge for the Wildrose could very well be to convince the voting public that ‘new blood’ is better than the ‘old folks’ at implementing very similar policies.

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