If the Wildrose Party can’t unite the right on its terms, maybe there’s another way to skin that particular conservative cat

Posted on May 19, 2016, 1:20 am
7 mins

PHOTOS: Don’t look for a happy occasion like this any time in the near future of the Alberta Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties (grabbed from FashionEra.com). Below: Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean, Progressive Conservative Party President Katherine O’Neill and PC Party founder Peter Lougheed.

The Wildrose Conservative Party?

Sounds like the Wildrose Party’s strategic brain trust has finally reached the unhappy conclusion their great project to engineer a hostile reverse takeover of the defeated Progressive Conservative Party has come a cropper.

JEANWell, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, so if the Wildrosers can’t get the word “Conservative” into their party’s name by hook, maybe they can do it the other way – by main force!

Leastways, it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that since Brian Jean took over as Wildrose leader, the party has quietly registered the names Alberta Conservative Party Association and Conservative Party of Alberta Association with the province’s registrar of societies, a factoid revealed by one of Postmedia’s online Calgary publications yesterday.

Either they reckoned that with Conservative heavy hitters like Preston Manning and former prime minister Stephen Harper supporting their unite-the-Alberta-right effort it was inevitable they were going to get to use a new name with an old brand, or now that it’s obvious the project is a flop they’re just going to have to rebrand themselves.

The weekend before last, a surprisingly large throng of Progressive Conservatives gathered in convention in Red Deer – the city midway between Calgary and Edmonton that is nowadays a favourite venue for political gabfests of all persuasions – and decided they would have nothing much to with the Wildrosers.

Leastways, they elected as president Katherine O’Neill, a sharp former Globe and Mail journalist who was clearly not interested in uniting the two conservative parties on Wildrose terms. Since then, PC party insiders seem to have kicked off a bit of a charm offensive to ensure the right people know there’s a great future for their party – and, if they can attract 1,000 people to a convention at which a few months ago they’d expected 300, maybe they’re entitled to dream.

As has been said here more than once, the latest version of the Wildrose reverse-hostile-takeover scheme depended on catching the Tories when they were still reeling from their unexpected loss in May 2015 to the Alberta NDP led by Premier Rachel Notley.

O'NeillWith the PCs finally acting like they’re coming to terms with what happened last May, chances they’ll give up and allow a party associated with much more extreme social conservative and market fundamentalist policies to take over their brand and goodwill are shrinking rapidly.

This, I suspect, is what’s behind Mr. Jean’s suggestions in a “telephone town hall” for supporters Tuesday night that the unite-the-right dream, the Wildrose version anyway, is deader than the proverbial mackerel. “We will find the brand, or keep the brand, that we like,” Mr. Jean subsequently told Postmedia’s reporter.

As has also been speculated on many times over the years in this space, the plan to duplicate Mr. Manning’s and Mr. Harper’s hostile reverse takeover of the old Progressive Conservative Party of Canada has been part of the Wildrose strategy since it was created as the Wildrose Alliance in an energy industry test-tube in 2008 to punish Tory premier Ed Stelmach for daring to think about collecting higher resource royalties for the people of Alberta.

That way, the extreme market fundamentalist and social conservative positions the Wildrose Party was created to promote would subsume the big-tent moderation that was a tradition in the PCs dating back to the days of Peter Lougheed, elected first PC premier in 1971, while retaining a brand that could woo gullible centre-right voters.

1982. Alberta premier Peter Lougheed at a meeting in Edmonton in 1982. EDMONTON SUN QMI AGENCY

Had it worked, the entire political discourse of Alberta would have been pushed much farther to the right, just as happened in Ottawa under Mr. Harper.

The election of the NDP last year created a short-lived opportunity – now seemingly passed – to consummate this unlikely shotgun marriage.

It will now be much harder for the Wildrosers to do this, even if they can get permission from Elections Alberta to use an inherently confusing party name apparently designed to blur their very real differences with the PCs.

This may account for why the revelation the ’Rosers are flirting with the idea of officially calling themselves “Conservatives” found its way into the virtual pages of the Calgary Herald. Might as well run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes!

Meantime, presumably, the various unite-the-right efforts that have sprung up on the fringes of the conservative movement in Alberta will continue to try to raise funds so they can act as “super PACS” and evade the limits on corporate and union election spending made law by the NDP majority in its first months in power.

Moreover, as they have been doing since Tuesday’s AlbertaPolitics.ca post, media will no doubt cheerfully try to promote the idea the Alberta Liberals, with a little help from former union leader Dan MacLennan, can somehow steal enough votes from the NDP to ensure there’s a horserace worth bloviating about come 2019.

Welcome to the new Alberta, where politics are actually interesting!

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

20 Comments to: If the Wildrose Party can’t unite the right on its terms, maybe there’s another way to skin that particular conservative cat

  1. TENET

    May 19th, 2016

    The right wing political parties in Alberta are adrift. We have much to be thankful for.

    As long as the right aim their poison arrows at each other, Albertans are spared. When they unite, the right is capable of considerable destruction, full blown exploitation of the commons, and advancing a narrow band of powerful individuals.

    No one knows how long the current government will reign, or if any legacy will survive when the barbarians (no matter how they cloak themselves) return to rule and spread ruin.

    I do not sense a transformational shift in the political beliefs in Alberta, what I observe is a battered and abused electorate. When the memories of the abuses begin to fade, the fortunes of the NDP will begin to be vulnerable. When the wounds disappear and heal, this abused electorate is likely to surrender for more. It is only a matter of time.

    We already know that the wolves wear many disguises. We have already seen that the sheep will open the gate. The pack is trying to unite, we electors are grazing.

    Reply
  2. May 19th, 2016

    Perhaps you notice Brian Jean only giving articles to those papers who agree not to allow comments?

    Anything I have seen up on him, interviews and press releases have the “Comment” section turned off.

    Reply
    • May 19th, 2016

      This is an interesting observation. I never noticed that Mr. Jean was presenting only in papers where comments are not allowed. Why would he do that?

      If he doesn’t want comments in newspapers -no problem—you can always go and comment on his Facebook page. I do go there now and then to post a remark.

      In any case, I would not hold this cautious stance against him. He is a new leader of a young party that has been vilified in the past. He is being extra careful now.

      I don’t know exactly why everybody thinks that the Wildrose folks are demon seed but I’ve met at least one MLA– Mr. Drew Barnes and he’s nice. In fact most of the Wildrose folks are doing a good job representing their constituents unlike my MLA–Bob Turner– who won’t help me because Sarah Hoffman told him he is off the hook. Why is the MLA off the hook when my family pays for his salary? He is not off the hook.
      I think the NDP MLAs need to become more like the Wildrose MLAs.
      The Wildrose folks are much more democratic than the NDP folks are.

      For example, the Wildrose MLAs let me comment on their Facebook pages.
      This permission to comment on their Facebook pages– is in sharp contrast to Premier Notley’s position. Her Facebook page comments moderator has banned me from commenting on her Facebook page.

      I was a bit outraged by this sort of totalitarian move so I sent my list of comments (which I keep) to the Premier’s Office and asked which one of my comments got me banned and they were curiously silent. Maybe all the yapping about continuing care problems, the lack of action on Diana Daunheimer’s case, the conversion of the NDP into the new Tories–may have ensured my erasure from the public page?

      Strangely enough, I am still allowed to send e-mails to the Premier and so I do. The private communication I guess won’t be spread out to the public. They probably just dump my e-mails like they do for all the other citizens they have banned.

      Not only does the Premier’s office act in this anti-democratic way but a group supporting the NDP do the same sort of rot. The group that banned me and took my comments off their Facebook site -seems to be very odd.

      They seem to have banned me-for no reason other than they don’t believe I voted NDP in the last election. I said that the NDP weren’t doing well and they erased my comments. They seem to have problems believing that a person could vote for the NDP and still have the ability to criticize the NDP. Please note the chatter here before I was banned by the Albertans For An NDP Government group:

      Albertans For An NDP Government
      Albertans For An NDP Government You’ve never voted NDP let’s drop the charade
      Like · Reply · 1 hr
      Julie Ali
      Julie Ali http://daveberta.ca/2015/05/notley-ndp-government-alberta/
      Unable to post comment. Try Again
      Julie Ali
      Julie Ali Julie Ali
      May 8, 2015 at 11:52 am
      Reply
      Hard to believe but every time I see Rachel in the news, I am cheered up.
      After 44 years of the PCs it was time for a change.
      I feel very happy about hiring a leader who is trust worthy and intelligent.

      ****************************************************************************

      I think this sort of banning on Facebook —when you don’t like what the other person is saying is very anti-democratic especially for the Premier’s Office.

      In contrast to such antidemocratic shenanigans, I note that NDP supporters go to the Wildrose MLA Facebook pages and surprisingly aren’t banned for their anti-Wildrose yapping. I get the impression that the NDP folks are a tad insecure or volatile about their definition of democracy unlike the Wildrose folks. So odd.

      I like the rebranding of the Wildrose folks. I figure they have started to understand that they have to present better and will hire more bright folks to help them. Once their media presentation is as slick at the PCs and the NDP, they will get morevoters to support them.

      I also like the name–“Conservative Party of Alberta Association”–it has a nice solid, middle of the road feel to it that gives me a warm fuzzy feeling of the sort I had with the PCs before they went bad.

      The PCs are pretty much extinct for Conservative voters like myself who will never again vote for that miserable collection of self serving entitled bigwigs again. Mind you maybe all political parties are the same; it does feel that all political parties degenerate even after a few months in the oil monarch place.

      Hopefully, the Wildrose folks will get bright people in who have some ability to train the folks in this young party in the wily ways of all politicians.

      If they don’t mature there is always the Liberal Party of Alberta. They can acquire a good leader, reposition themselves as the opposition party and divide the left.

      I’m not going to vote for the NDP again. The NDP have shown themselves as folks who are not dependable based on their lack of efforts in changing the messes in continuing care.

      Some of these messes are outlined in a new book by another family in Alberta here:

      http://www.onmymothersbehalf.ca/home.html

      On My Mother’s Behalf
      A Daughter’s Story
      **************************

      I guess families will have to write books and publish the abuses/ cover ups in Alberta in order to get government to do its job. This is unfortunate. I see no reason for Sarah Hoffman and crew at Alberta Health to fiddle while continuing care burns.

      If the NDP folks can work for the benefit of the NDP –but not for old and vulnerable folks in continuing care, I guess they are no better than the PCs that we have thankfully decanted from the milk jug of politics. I was hoping better from the NDP. But that’s life. You gotta keep hoping even when the milk turns sour.

      I will look at the Wildrose and the Liberals as change agents— in the next provincial election.

      Reply
      • jay

        May 19th, 2016

        “I’m not going to vote for the NDP again.”

        Stop insulting our intelligence.

        Reply
        • jay

          May 20th, 2016

          I shouldn’t have been so hasty in questioning your voting record, Julie Ali, as your post seems sincere. Strangely, the only politician, federal or provincial, who ever replied to me, was Doug Horner.

          Reply
        • May 20th, 2016

          Why am I insulting your intelligence?
          Is voting for the Wildrose Party or the Liberal Party of Alberta an insult to NDP supporters?

          I am not going to vote for the NDP again– indicates that I have learned that the NDP folks are just like the PCs folks and are simply going to do what is best for the political party and not for the people of Alberta.

          The only matter that is up in the air is who to vote for next. The Wildrose Party and the Liberal Party of Alberta are the only political parties left standing as options.

          The Wildrose Party has some good MLAs. Their MLAs are representing their constituents. If you look for example at the work done by Jason Nixon in Sundre, you will see real representation.

          In contrast, I don’t get that in Riverbend. What is the difference? I believe the Wildrose MLAs are working in the best interests of the citizens rather than doing the bureaucratically or politically expedient decisions. This sort of junk seems to happen in government no matter who we elect. Maybe it is easier to do this sort of representation in opposition as the NDP were good at democracy before they got into power.

          The NDP folks are on the way out. You may not think this but I do. I voted NDP and I am not satisfied with progress to date. I am not even talking here about the messes with the budget or the economy.

          I am talking about legislative changes that they are fully capable of doing– that they are not doing in the continuing care system. Why not? Good question. And why are they expanding privatization of continuing care rather than opening public long term care beds in the public sector? What happened to the commitment to keep the public system public?

          I guess it will take a few more disappointments for the rest of the NDP supporters to figure it out. Some of us have learned from the attempted closure of the public long term care beds at Sundre Hospital that the NDP folks are the new PCs. Same old, same old.

          http://www.friendsofmedicare.org/wodak_sundre

          Fast forward to March 8, 2016, when radio station rock104 reported Council Learns Of AHS Plans To Decommission 15 Sundre Hospital Long Term Care Beds.

          “…There was a big announcement made by Alberta Health Services at the Monday, March 7th town council meeting.

          AHS is going to decommission the 15 long term care beds at Sundre Hospital with the construction of the new Mountain View Seniors Housing facility in Sundre, according to Mayor Terry Leslie.

          He adds there are 15 long term care beds in the Sundre Hospital and those residents will see a change in care.

          Mayor Leslie says they are looking forward for ongoing community meetings to try and make the transition as easy as possible for patients affected and make sure resident care into the future is going to be the paramount focus.

          He adds there is a contract to provide service not in long term care but in supportive living care at the new facility. So he calls it a change in the way care will be provided to seniors…”

          Closure of the LTC beds was not an AHS decision. The LTC beds in the Sundre Hospital were registered as an Auxiliary Hospital. According to the OPERATION OF APPROVED HOSPITALS REGULATION Alberta Regulation 247/1990 “Every hospital shall require prior approval of the Minister for a) any proposed major change or termination of an existing service provided by the hospital …”

          This was a decision made without any consultation with the community, and the community is very concerned about the loss of the LTC beds. AHS is now planning consultations to determine future use of the hospital space

          The current NDP government is on record over a long period of time, in 2012, NDP MLA David Eggen compared the closure of the long term care facility in Carmangay to “domestic abuse” at a rally to protest Premier Redford’s decision. Also in 2012, Premier Rachel Notley commented that the Tory plan to limit LTC beds and shift to supportive living “aims to force sick seniors to shoulder a larger share of their health-related costs and live in facilities that may offer them an inadequate level of care.

          “It’s unfair, but it’s also absolutely penny wise and pound foolish,” Notley said.

          “These patients will end up in much more expensive ER and acute care beds because they are the last resort.”

          The 2015 NDP Election Platform promised to create 2,000 public long term care beds [not to close public beds and shifting to private supportive living], and to “end the PCs’ costly experiments in privatization, and redirect the funds to publicly delivered services.

          They are short-changing Alberta seniors by not creating enough long-term care beds and relying on expensive, for-profit delivery of inadequate assisted living and homecare.

          Hansard records for Monday, March 14, 2016 and Tuesday March 15, 2016 show an interesting role reversal; the Wildrose protesting shutting down long-term care beds and laying off nurses in Sundre, and NDP Health Minister Hoffman explaining that they’re not really losing LTC beds, although there might be a slightly different level of care the number of beds is increasing from 15 to 40.

          The Minister’s lines could have been written by any of the Tory Health Minsters in the last dozen years.

          Friends of Medicare and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees have joined the opposition to the closure of the LTC beds and the shift to a lower level of care which is provided with increased private costs for goods and services, and increased responsibility for residents and/or family and friends.

          Reply
      • Expat Albertan

        May 19th, 2016

        Not sure posting on his Facebook page is a good alternative because you are forced to divulge your name. Expat Albertan still believes one has the right to post to forums anonymously (as long as one does not post abuse of any kind).

        As to your MLA not responding to your questions, I sympathize – my Conservative MP never, ever acknowledged my emails to him. I didn’t expect him to solve my issues, but just a note from his staff to say they received my emails would have been nice – after all, I too was paying their salaries.

        Reply
        • May 20th, 2016

          Mr. Hancock used to answer my e-mails.
          He also provided help when our family needed it.
          He also helped my younger son get help when he needed it at Edmonton Public Schools. He was a good MLA for some of his tenure because he had deliverables for his constituents. He was also an intelligent man; too bad he wasn’t a productive MLA at the end.

          Mr. Mandel was not helpful but we had him for a minute amount of time.

          Bob Turner is a nice man but I don’t feel he can do much if the Hoffman has told him to beat it which apparently she has told him to do.

          The matter of MLA representation is an important matter. Why do we hire people who cannot represent us because their party tells them to toe the party line?

          This is not acceptable and such poor behaviour (even if it is required for political success) should not be tolerated by citizens.

          I think Bob Turner should represent my family.

          He should ask for amendments to the Trespass to Premises legislation. He should speak about the eviction of my handicapped sister and the abuses she suffered in continuing care. He should say that there needs to be whistleblower protection and anti-SLAPP legislation. He should defend the weakest rather than silencing himself. Why else did he come into politics for? Wasn’t it to serve those without a voice in our community?

          My sister has no voice. Who will be her voice? Who will be the voice of those seniors and handicapped citizens who have no power in our society? It seems that it will not be the NDP.

          Reply
      • May 20th, 2016

        @Juli Ali In answer to the first question leading into your very good essay; Brian Jean represents a party that was formed in southern Alberta around the membership of the LDS church. (I can say that because I am or was LDS and lived it).

        Their philosophy remains unchanged from those early years.(I’m speaking of my first contact with them 20 years ago in the livingroom of an engineer).

        Doing away with #transfer payments is the heart and soul of their financial plan for Canada. This according to them would do away with Alberta’s problems. They went on to say that Alberta had never collected from this fund; in tough times it was the Chase Manhattan bank that saved Alberta.

        Americans farming in southern Alberta at that time would most certainly have been dealing with the Chase Manhattan so one can see were that started from. My Grandfather, in Cardston came from Missouri my Grandmother from Utah. He ran the local blacksmith shop; she ran the world.

        Alberta received equalization payments from conception until 1947 and again
        from 1957 to 1965. We got our share of the program when we needed it! It is a Canadian solution so both Harper and the WRP want to end it as does Presto who really irks me personally.

        The thing is the Equalization payments were not called that in the early years they were just trasnfer funds. This left the door open to weave the lies on Alberta’s position in federation.

        Brian Jean cannot stand or handle the hassle that comes from comments made to papers! Only the leadership can answer questions. The basis of his politic would embarrass Donald Trump I think. Having said that the WRP remain hard core Republican.

        Reply
        • May 20th, 2016

          Hi John, Thanks for enlightening me. So much history we don’t get in high school in Edmonton. I guess you don’t learn this stuff in social studies but have to live through it.
          I don’t think Brian Jean is the right leader for the Wildrose Party. He seems like a very nice person though. Jason Dixon seems like a better fit. In any case, they will form their way.
          I’ve read some of the blog posts on your blog. They are useful. Best. Julie

          Reply
    • Northern Loon

      May 19th, 2016

      When Brian Jean was my MP, he frequently did not respond to my e-mails and during elections never attended a public forum. He has some history of only seeking out information from those who he perceives as supporting his party.

      Reply
      • Expat Albertan

        May 20th, 2016

        That was my experience with my MP too (see above). It seemed pretty clear to me that I had a big black mark next to my name in that infamous Conservative Party elections database, and that his staffers probably cross-checked it before deciding to respond to me.

        Reply
      • May 20th, 2016

        This seems to be typical politician behaviour. If no one is interested in citizens maybe we need to form a new political party in Alberta.

        Reply
      • May 20th, 2016

        As a human being and a considerate person I think @Brian Jean rates at the very top. He is a person one would like to know. His politics is another thing.

        Reply
  3. David Climenhaga

    May 20th, 2016

    A NOTE ON COMMENTS: As a person strongly committed to free expression and wide-ranging discussion, and who believes that if you are going to dish it out, you ought to be prepared to take it, I am extremely reluctant to delete comments, edit comments or lay out rules about commenting. I do monitor comments and delete those that I believe defame third parties or are completely irrelevant – whether they are commercial spam or just political trollery. I’m edging very close, though, to imposing some firm rules on the length and number of comments. If you are moved to writing multiple responses to my blogs in the vicinity of 1,000 words, you should probably start your own blog. Extremely long comments distract from the observations of other commenters and, in my experience, are unlikely to be read in detail by anyone. They are also time consuming to read for legal problems – and remember, this blog is my hobby, not my job. For now, this is just a suggestion: Comments should be restricted to no more than about 300 words and, while a certain amount of back and forth among commenters is encouraged, filing numerous comments at once is discouraged. As the author of this blog, however, I reserve the right to make these suggestions hard and fast rules, and to then enforce them harshly and arbitrarily. Got that? You’ve been warned. DJC

    Reply
    • May 20th, 2016

      Hi Mr. Climenhaga,
      I got the message. Susan on the Soapbox tells me (nicely) that my big posts are too long for blog. It’s hard to stop writing big comments since I have endless space to write on my own blog but I will obey your command to write tiny comments. Julie
      See this comment? It’s microscopic.

      Reply
    • Linda Marshall

      May 21st, 2016

      Hear hear. If by the third paragraph in there is no evidence of a rational argument being presented in a coherent fashion, I just assume it’s another crazy person talking to the voices in their head.

      Reply
      • May 21st, 2016

        I’ve always found it curious that the confused commenter is seen as mentally ill by readers such as yourself.

        Why would you do such a comparison?
        The mentally ill citizen suffers from enough stigmatization. Surely you aren’t adding to that worm burden by this sort of comparison?

        And why would you assume that the mentally ill are “talking to the voices in their head”? Some mentally ill folks appear to be “normal”– just like you and carry their depression or anxiety problems without any sort of obvious evidence.Rather than characterizing someone as mentally ill by not just say that the person is verbose? It’s also kinder. By such restraint, you do not further assault the mentally ill with more labels and suffering. I hope by the end of this third paragraph you get my gist.

        Reply
  4. ema

    May 20th, 2016

    Thank you Dave, for your management of the blog. I totally concur with you deleting these mammoth responses that are often grossly repetitive and mostly boring to the average reader.

    Reply
    • May 20th, 2016

      Sorry EMA for boring you (if you were referring to my extensive tracts). I’ll keep it snappy from now on. No more “mammoth responses” seniors abused in care that are “mostly boring to the average reader”.

      Reply

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