Are moderate Alberta conservatives likely to find themselves waking up to a Wildrose nightmare?

Posted on December 17, 2015, 1:38 am
9 mins

ILLUSTRATIONS: It’s a nightmare alright – but whose? Actual Alberta voters may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and NDP Premier Rachel Notley. (Both shown in CBC photos.)

The prevailing narrative in the Alberta media, as a headline in the reliably pro-Wildrose Edmonton Sun put it earlier this week, is that “Albertans are waking up to NDP nightmare.”

The yarn spun by the Sun’s political columnist, a former editor of the Byfield Clan’s nutty social conservative Alberta Report magazine, is that the NDP vote last May was merely a protest vote against the 44-year Progressive Conservative dynasty and that NDP voters didn’t really want an NDP government with NDP policies.

brain-jean-wildroseWell, we hear such claims regularly from mainstream media whenever the Canadian right suffers an electoral setback. The “honeymoon” is inevitably declared over as soon as decently possible, and absolutely nobody – even the Very Serious People making such assertions – takes any of it very seriously. Still, like the proverbial Big Lie, if you say it often enough, a certain number of folks will start to accept it as fact.

But is it really true that “most Albertans have awakened” from their delusions and no longer have any time for Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP Government, as both the Wildrose Party and the Sun, in its role as Wildrose’s Pravda, desperately want us to believe?

A recent poll, one of very few conducted at this early point in the Notley Government’s mandate, suggests something a little different.

The ThinkHQ Eye on Alberta poll published last Friday while your blogger was still enjoying the warm Mexican sun shows a considerably more buoyant outlook for the NDP than either media coverage or Wildrose commentary would suggest.

Leastways, while the poll shows a real drop in NDP support since the spring election – which is exactly what any new government would be expected to experience once they start to introduce legislation that inevitably gores someone’s ox – the NDP fall is hardly precipitous, as the Usual Suspects would like us to believe.

alberta-premier-rachel-notleyIndeed, the poll shows the NDP trailing the Wildrose by only four points province-wide (at 29 per cent of decided and leaning voters for the government, compared with 33 per cent for the Wildrose) and, importantly, still leading overwhelmingly in the Edmonton area (43 to 20 percent) and marginally in Calgary (30 to 29 per cent).

This is down significantly from the NDP’s big lead in the May 5 election. But the Sun columnist’s effort to portray this as a precipitous and probably irreversible drop, without looking too carefully at the regional breakdown, doesn’t really hold water.

It’s just as reasonable to argue this shows the NDP enjoying surprisingly strong and consistent support in the province despite its inexperience in government and the full-blown campaign in recent weeks to rattle and undermine its efforts over farm safety legislation.

Yes, the NDP’s handling of Bill 6 hurt the party during the period the poll was being conducted – Dec. 1 to 6 – as Ms. Notley has conceded. But it’s said here the hysterical and threatening response by the Wildrose Party’s supporters is not likely to help the Opposition party much either.

I mean, seriously, do Albertans really want to be governed by a political party that relies on Internet thugs threatening murder and sexual violence against female politicians? I frankly doubt it. Are they persuaded by the Wildrose leader’s pleas for his supporters to reign it in – which appear not to be working? That remains to be seen.

Which brings us to the second part of this interesting on-line panel survey – which must be considered with all the usual caveats about such polling techniques – and that is how well the PCs appear to be polling.

This may be worse from the Wildrose Party’s perspective than the continued strength of the NDP, as it shows the Progressive Conservative Party continues to enjoy considerable support among right-of-centre Albertans for its big-tent, middle-of-the-road approach.

Indeed, when you add the PCs to the mix, all three major parties are in a statistical tie in Calgary, the Tories are on the Wildrosers’ heels in Edmonton, albeit far behind the NDP, and they’re doing relatively well in small urban areas too. The Wildrose lead is truly commanding only in rural areas, which is not where it needs to make gains.

This undoubtedly accounts for the increasingly desperate tone of Wildrose Leader Brian Jean’s efforts to persuade the PCs to join the Wildrose now, before they wake up to the reality that conservative Albertans are more comfortable with the PC brand than Wildrose extremism – which, it is predicted here, will be a trend shown by future polls if PC loyalists can keep their party out of Mr. Jean’s hands.

This situation leaves Mr. Jean on the horns of a dilemma – to persuade PCs there’s an urgent need for them to join the Wildrose Party as soon as possible, he has to acknowledge the NDP continues to be a credible government, granted too far to the left from his perspective; to persuade Albertans to vote for a socon-dominated Wildrose Party they’re clearly uncomfortable with, he needs to portray the NDP as out of touch and on the ropes. It will be hard for him to square this circle.

So we have a situation in which the NDP is down a bit, but far from out and certainly not all washed up; Wildrose strength is considerably shakier than portrayed by party loyalists in and out of the media, and reliant on support from some pretty sketchy factions; and the Tories, at least if they keep their wits about them, have the potential to remain a major player.

In other words, if the PC leadership falls for Mr. Jean’s sales pitch, it’s moderate Alberta conservatives who could very well find themselves waking up to a Wildrose nightmare.

That, in turn, could turn be good news for the NDP in three and a half years.

+ + +

Speaking of nightmares, as we just were, what if Jim Prentice, Alberta’s last PC premier, had waited until now to call an election? And what if I had run and won a by-election as an NDP candidate? This disturbing alternate history was presented last night by political blogger Dave Cournoyer. It is competing, if you ask me, with the suggestion Russian President Vladimir Putin may be immortal for the weirdest news commentary of the day yesterday.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

9 Comments to: Are moderate Alberta conservatives likely to find themselves waking up to a Wildrose nightmare?

  1. Jim Storrie

    December 17th, 2015

    surely if what the voters had wanted was a party that resembled the PCs, but wasn’t the PCs, they had at least three options on the ballot – Wildrose, the Alberta Party, and the Liberals – who were all much closer in character to the Progressive Conservatives than the NDP.

    we were fed up with more than just Jim Prentice. we were fed up with the conservative movement in general. say what you will about conservatism having always been a lapdog for the interests of capital (and I’ll probably agree with you), but even people less radical than us have to have noticed that the modern incarnation of that movement has become nothing more than a grift, a con-job, a travelling circus meant only to secure book deals and donations to political entities. certainly the Americans have been kind enough to demonstrate for us recently what that movement is when it reaches its logical conclusion.

    Reply
  2. Tom in Ontario

    December 17th, 2015

    Wow, have a gander at DJC on Daveberta’s blog! David is doing his best imitation of Burl Ives getting ready to belt out a holiday rendition of “Have A Holly Jolly Christmas.”

    Reply
  3. Tom

    December 17th, 2015

    I do not feel sorry for the Alberta NDP. When Stemach screwed with the royalty rates how many Alberta lost money. Now the NDP is about to “fix Alberta” again. When Notley and the NDP get there asses booted the rest of Alberta will be left to clean up the mess. I hope that not too many of us are bankrupted in the process.

    Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      December 17th, 2015

      That’s an odd thing to say about a province supposedly filled with the most entrepreneurial people in Canada. A true entrepreneur would know how to adjust his or her sails to catch the prevailing wind, whichever direction it might be coming from – indeed, such a person would make plans for such events so they wouldn’t be caught with their sails down. Anything less strikes me as little more than the kind of welfare-state mentality that conservatives (like you, Tom?) gnash their teeth over, where the welfare doner, in this instance, is the oil and gas industry rather than the government.

      Reply
  4. Horace

    December 17th, 2015

    Clearly the only reason the PC party lost was because they went too far to the left. The idea of a merger would bring back true conservatism, undiluted by the filth of the centre and left. Once again, Alberta can become great for another 44 years.

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      December 18th, 2015

      Ah, yes. How I long for the good old days of Fascism. In those days there was no filth only the benevolence of one percenters and the blessed oil and gas companies.

      Reply
  5. K. Larsen

    December 18th, 2015

    The death threats should come as no surprise. The Harper government destroyed the scientific papers and books in16 Federal Research libraries, and 9 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research stations. While they claimed the information was put on computers, in fact the collections were put in dumpsters.

    Many items were so rare that only one or two copies existed in the whole world.

    There is a monument in Berlin to the book-burning that took place there. “Wherever they burn books, eventually they will burn people too.”

    Now that the neo-cons are reduced to opposition in Alberta they have progressed from burning books to fanning death threats against the Premier and her Cabinet over a Bill which protects farm owners no less. In my view, no decent person who knows about this can possibly continue supporting these people

    Reply
  6. December 18th, 2015

    I thank God everyday thatI live in a democracy. Far to many people don’t get the principle of it. If you don’t like it vote it out. That is what the people of this province did. Now the obviously disturbed people who don’t grasp this principle are using threats against what the majority have voted for. They need to be reminded why so many people are coming here to live. If they want to live in that kind of murderous society go to one of the world war zones that people are fleeing from. They need to be reminded what constitues a society. People living together with common security and laws that keep us safe. We ask people to represent us to do that. IT IS CALLED DEMOCRACY!

    Reply

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