Apathy Could Be a Player

The Final Word (?) on Danielle Smith

Has anyone in recent Canadian political history imploded their own career to the degree of the former leader of Alberta’s Official Opposition?  Smith’s time as leader of the Wildrose party is a quintessential rise-and-fall story.  The issue has been analysed, dissected, drawn and quartered.   The residue tells that Smith is now out of the public eye. 

I supported Danielle from the very early days, even before she won the Wildrose leadership.  I, like most others, began to question the strength of her leadership as we witnessed her words and actions – or lack thereof - in response to the well-known acts of dumbassery created by party candidates.

The bi-election shutout (0/4) pretty much sealed the deal, and caused many post-floor crossing questions regarding the amount of money spent on that election and whether Smith and the other 'crossers had already made the decision to flee.

In the end, the gambit failed.  The person who got the closest since Lawrence Decore to breaking the PC hold on government has become little more than a footnote in the book of Alberta political history.

Optics aside, I will give Smith the benefit of the doubt insomuch as I trust she had her reasons for making such a controversial move, as miscalculated as they were.

Is There a ‘None of the Above?’

Jim Pretentious
The next Alberta provincial election – any time between next month and next year, depending on who you listen to – could see voter apathy become the storyline.

Voter turnout over the past few elections has been deplorable and barring any unforeseen skyrocketing rise in fortunes for any of the opposition parties, that trend looks very likely to continue. 

For the forever-ruling Progressive Conservatives, the brand-spankin’ new Jim Prentice regime has tripped from the starting line.  While quickly cleaning up some of the leftover Redford smudges appealed to the masses early on, moves that followed soon killed the buzz. 

Then Prentice unleashed his budget which amounted to a baseball bat to the back of the head for Albertans.   59 increases in taxes and user fees.  A return of the provincial health care tax.  Very few cuts. 

And delivered with a level of arrogance that would make Redford blush.

So if the Prentice PC’s are no better than the Redford PC’s which were no better than the Stelmach PC’s… you get my point.  Who do you vote for?

Return of
The Wildrose suffered what should have been, and what many pundits claimed would be a complete meltdown in the aftermath of the floor-crossing incident.

Instead, interim leader Heather Forsyth stepped in and managed admirably to hold things together until a new leader was elected.  With former MP Brian Jean winning on the first ballot, the Wildrose chose the obvious best candidate not only to lead the party in the Legislature, but to almost instantly regain the credibility lost when Smith and co. abandoned ship.

Winning the next election remains the stuff of dreams, but it will be interesting to watch how the public responds to a Brian Jean-led alternative.

Has to break out
of Edmonton
According to recent polls, the NDP is making waves in the Edmonton area.  No surprise, as the blue-collar city has often looked left.  New leader Rachel Notley has already proven to be a force to be reckoned with, and her appeal is one the rise.

But can the socialist party, with such strong ties to the provincial AUPE, break through to the voters in the middle?  Not likely.

While they will see gains in the Capital region which could translate into an increase in seats, the NDP will probably remain locked into their traditional areas of support.

The Alberta Liberals have gone back to the future with temp leader David Yawn…er, Swann.  This party isn’t battling for power, it is battling for relevancy.  Noted MLA Laurie Blakeman tried valiantly to inject common sense into the minds of her colleagues by suggesting a merger with the ultra-enthusiastic yet currently insignificant Alberta party, and was shut down.
Do you know
this man?

Blakeman’s ‘running for three parties’ gimmick is more confusing than effective, but I understand the intent.

The Liberals will go nowhere.  The Alberta Party could surprise by winning a seat, maybe even two, if they capitalize on the revolt vote and turn their social media buzz into actual votes.

With a ruling party which most Albertans would like to see removed from power and a gaggle of not-ready-for-prime-time opposition parties waiting in the wings,  the first decision Albertans will have to make is whether or not to bother voting at all.

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