11.20.2016

Jansen's Departure a Could Be Boon for Alberta's PCs

This past week’s news of Sandra Jansen’s leap from Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives to the ruling New Democrats caused the expected media buzz. 

Not your usual floor-crossing where a politician switches on the basis of policy, usually landing with an ideologically-similar party (think Danielle Smith’s move from the Wildrose to the PC’s), what made this move unique was the fact that just days earlier, Jansen was a candidate for the leadership of the PC’s. 

Citing ‘bullying’ as her main reason for jumping ship – followed by social media backlash with examples of Jansen’s own incidents of arguable bullying and charges of opportunism – Jansen quickly held a presser with NDP leader Rachel Notley, forming the New Democrat’s front-line into the next election.

On the surface, this is setting up to be a gender battle with the leftwing duo Notley and Jansen facing off against presumed PC leadership victor Jason Kenney, and that is certainly one narrative expected to be built by the left.
 Rachel Notley (r)
welcomes Sandra Jansen 

But there are a few uncertainties one must ponder.  Sure, this is politics, and anything can and will happen.

Questions abound regarding Jansen’s intentions.  How does a principled politician not only floor-cross in the midst of a term, but does so by immediately dropping out of contention for the leadership of an entirely different party?

If Jansen is true to her beliefs and convictions, how does she justify moving from a decidedly centrist party with a small ‘c’ conservative flavour to one that stretches the boundaries of the left?

Has she changed her opinion on such matters as private versus public ownership?  Is she pro-carbon tax?  Is she, as so many of her new party colleagues are, ‘morally and ethically’ against Alberta’s oil sands?
 
 Prophetic: I posted this
in June 
Does party leader Rachel Notley assume the knife will eventually be out, held by Jansen?

On the issue’s flip-side, this move could be a boon to the PCs.  The exit of Jansen (and presumably some of her supporters) is a small step to resolving a years-long internal conflict within the party.  The chasm between traditional, limited government, small ‘c’ conservative members and the more centre-left progressive faction has hampered the party and played a direct role in its fall from power.

The progressive/conservative balance in the party has seen the progressive side rise into more important party roles and policy influence, and with it, the inevitable downturn in party fortunes.

Focusing on unity with the ideologically-similar Wildrose party, PC leadership hopeful Kenney’s win would solidify those whose intent is to boot out the misguided New Democrat crew and re-establish a pro-Alberta agenda.
 Alberta PC leadership
front-runner Jason Kenney 

Like Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party itself, the provinces centre-right must undergo a reset, and quickly.

As Alberta’s political landscape continues to change, there are a couple of expected outcomes: the urge to purge the New Democrats will result in a unified centre-right, and the number of progressive voters which pundits assume will follow Sandra Jansen to the ruling ND’s will be lower than expected.

Most true progressives I know are with the Alberta Party, while a few can still be found in the remnants of Alberta’s Liberals.

The New Democrats?  They’re just soft socialists with a future leadership conflict.


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