It Was Inevitable

I warned them about this.  They didn’t listen.

For more than a year I have become vocal regarding what I perceived as problem areas in the Wildrose party.  Listing several key issues, I resisted the temptation to drone on endlessly and instead took the route of moderation, choosing to discuss with a few insiders.

After a few attempts, I decided the ball was in their court.  It was now up to them whether or not to follow up or to ignore the ramblings of a blogger – albeit a blogger who is widely known (for better or worse) as a party supporter.

I also listened to what other grassroots party members were saying, much of which mirrored my own experience.

The problems aren’t located only in the realm of the ‘party brass’.

One need only to look at the level of party Constituency associations, which range from the well-structured (some) to the disorganized (many) to some which are little more than stepping-stones for self-serving politician-wannabes who hold no actual ideological similarities to the Wildrose.

…just sayin’.

Fresh on the scene after the merger of the Wildrose Party and the Alberta Alliance, the Wildrose Alliance (as it was originally known) was a breath of fresh air for conservatives from libertarians to social conservatives.

It was what the Progressive Conservatives used to be and perhaps never really were. 

By the time the leadership race was finished and the bright, energetic Danielle Smith became leader, the Wildrose presented Albertans a bold, new choice of party focused on the things that conservatives pride themselves on in Alberta: small government, accountability, fiscal responsibility, and perhaps the most appealing, the promise to get government out of the way. 

Even after the ‘shocking’ election loss to Alison Redford’s PC’s which was widely attributed to Wildrose errors, the party continued to grow into a viable political force.  Their term as the Official Opposition gave the ruling PC’s their first real opposition since the days of Lawrence Decore’s Liberals. 

Danielle Smith blossomed into a believable leader.  The Wildrose exposed and exploited the endless gifts handed to them during the Redford era, and their popularity grew.

Naturally the party couldn’t ignore the Redford PC goldmine of scandals.  It was too good to be true.  Alberta’s Natural Ruling Party was on the ropes for the first time since the Getty era and there was no Ralph Klein on the horizon.

But this is where they fumbled.  Too much attention was given to the Redford feeding frenzy and not enough was given internally.  Problems at the constituency level right up to the perception of heavy-handedness by the party Exec were rumoured.

Party spin doctors were never able to erase the stain caused by the Lake of Fire.  PR missteps continually resulted in grassroots party members having to defend their choice instead of discussing policy.

Then Jim Prentice appeared as the new Progressive Conservative saviour, and that changed the ballgame.  Suddenly it wasn’t the UN-trained nightmare named Alison, it was the experienced and polished Prentice as the opponent.

With policies from one AGM to the other resembling an off-Broadway Rocky Horror Picture Show tribute (a jump to the left, a step to the right), the choice for Albertans swiftly became between two parties with similar policies.

The difference is experience.  Suddenly the ‘old, tired PC’s’ have become the ‘known, experienced’ PC’s, while the Wildrose repeatedly suffers from self-induced bouts of amateur hour syndrome.

And now it’s costing them.  See: by-election.

The latest defections, Ian Donovan and Kerry Towle, are two more nails in what seems to be a sudden political coffin for the Wildrose.  With all due respect to Donovan, the real bombshell here is Towle, who I have referred to as the most effective MLA in the Legislature and a personal favourite.

Pretty much any improvements made by the PC government in the area of Senior’s care can be directly attributed to Towle’s efforts in Opposition. 

The fact that she believes she would be more effective working with the PC’s instead of against them might be cliché.

The fact she saw no alternative than to leave the Wildrose is, in my opinion, definitive proof there are real fractures in the party. 

It also suggests those hot spots I spoke of long ago went unnoticed and now the inevitable is occurring right before our eyes.

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His Name Was Steven