Looking grim, as befits leaders of a unification government during a grave economic and pipeline crisis, former Wildroser Danielle Smith and Premier Jim Prentice gamely spin the astonishing mass political suicide of Ms. Smith’s former party this afternoon at Government House. If you missed the crisis, no doubt you’ll be instructed in the details soon.

Say it ain’t so, Danielle?

Well, the Wildrose Party committed ritual political suicide today, defecting in even greater numbers to the Progressive Conservative caucus of Premier Jim Prentice than anticipated by the Edmonton rumour machine.

At the end of the day, not only had party leader Danielle Smith and House leader Rob Anderson abandoned their foundering Wildrose Party, so had seven other MLAs.

A chipper looking Mr. Prentice and an apparently tired Ms. Smith finally appeared at Edmonton’s Government House just after 4 p.m., gamely trying to spin this astonishing surrender as a “unification” to a room packed with about 50 uncharacteristically skeptical and cranky Alberta journalists.

Well, the journos had been waiting all day – unlike dilettante bloggers who have the luxury of only showing up only minutes before the action starts. Still, it’s hard to believe that this unification hooey will go over any better with the public than with the press.

At any rate, that was their story, and they were stickin’ to it: “The caucuses have agreed to unite under a set of aligned values and principles,” Ms. Smith said, sticking closely to the script and tightly inside the joint message box.

This, of course, was baloney on the face of it. Nine members of the Wildrose caucus chose to accept Mr. Prentice’s terms and join the PCs. Five did not, and will try to soldier on as the Wildrump Party. That is not a merger, unification or anything of the sort, as we will see when they start to fight over the Wildrose Party’s well-stuffed bank account.

The details of today’s events are in the daily press, of course, but from an amateur political observer’s perspective, a few themes from coming PC charm offensive began to coalesce, and a few other interesting tidbits emerged.

The principal arguments for the mass defection will be, first, that since everyone now realizes Mr. Prentice symbolizes conservative perfection, there was no longer a need for another conservative political party – no matter what the Wildrose Party’s own donors, supporters and members imagine.

“I don’t want to take down this premier,” Ms. Smith asserted urgently. “I want this premier to succeed!”

Second, of course, was the application of the Shock Doctrine in its pure form. Oil prices are low and therefore we must be disciplined. The discipline, it went literally without being said, will not be felt by the rich or the energy industry in the form of higher taxes or royalties. (“In this time of economic uncertainty … our province needs united leadership and shared purpose in tackling the challenges ahead:” Prentice.)

Knowing that this will be unpersuasive to many Albertans, and that yesterday’s “unification” will offend the good sense and values of large numbers of voters, however, the newly unified PCs also began to float the narrative that the Wildrose Party was really too full of knuckle-dragging social conservatives for a sensitive and liberal soul like Ms. Smith.

Look for more of this in the weeks ahead, although I don’t know how this is supposed to go over with die-hard Wildrosers the Tories would also like to woo.

And let’s not forget Ms. Smith’s hilarious claim she saw the need in the entrails of the Calgary-Elbow by-election for the two conservative caucuses to unite lest they become the victims of sneaky progressive vote splitting by the Alberta Party. The Alberta Party? Wait for this one to appear among the PC talking points soon too.

Rumours that the quid pro quo of the deal would be cabinet posts for some of the most prominent defectors will have to wait to be resolved. Mr. Prentice stoutly resisted questions from reporters about whether, or when, he would appoint Wildrose defectors to his cabinet. Not sure what this means: Mr. Prentice dictated terms? Or the PC caucus needs to be whipped into line?

That business, like everything else in this affair, will be conducted away from the curious gaze of taxpayers and voters according to the premier’s own timetable.

“I have made no decision related to cabinet,” he repeated, sticking manfully to his message box. “That’s not part of what we are discussing today.”

Finally, it was conceded openly by the principal characters, that this scheme has been in the works at least for several weeks, possibly longer – while Wildrose Party members and the public were kept in the dark. Together now … unified, as it were … they will bring unto us “the most ethical and transparent government in Canada.”


Today’s Wildrose Defectors to PCs

Danielle Smith (Highwood)

Rob Anderson (Airdrie)

Gary Bikman (Cardston-Taber-Warner)

Rod Fox (Lacombe-Panoka)

Jason Hale (Strathmore-Brooks)

Bruce McAllister (Chestermere-Rocky View)

Blake Pederson (Medicine Hat)

Bruce Rowe (Olds-Didsbury- Three Hills)

Jeff Wilson (Calgary Shaw)

Previous Wildrose Defectors PCs

Kerry Towle (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake)

Ian Donovan (Little Bow)

Previous Wildrose Member, Now Independent

Joe Anglin (Rimbey-Rockey Mountain House-Sundre)

Wildrose Loyalists

Drew Barnes (Cypress-Medicine Hat)

Rick Strankman (Drumheller-Stettler)

Heather Forsyth (Calgary-Fish Creek)

Shayne Saskiw (Lac la Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills)

Pat Stier (Livingstone-Macleod)

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

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  1. Just one note: you appear to be missing Wildrose loyalist and Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier from your list.

  2. Tips for Jim and Danielle and Steve and Laureen:

    – Smile as much as you can – even on bad days.
    – Practice talking and smiling in front of the mirror.
    – Get new clothes and keep your wardrobe up to date with the latest fashions.
    – Go to a hairstylist for a trendier hairstyle.
    – Learn the latest songs and dances.


    1. Tips for Rachel, Raj, and Greg…
      Many readers of this blog may not realize this but what you are selling is not being bought by Albertans. Time to go back to the drawing board, because our democracy needs you. You are no longer fighting to win six seats rather than four. You are the only opposition to the dynasty and you have to fundamentally re-think your various approaches. Time to properly re-introduce the word “coalition” to the voters of this province.

      1. Coalitions can only emerge, in a Westminster-style legislature like Alberta’s, after an election that creates a “hung parliament”, or what we Canadians more commonly call a “minority government”. In single-member plurality elections, aka FPTP, you still have to get pluralities in enough constituencies to push the PCs out of majority territory, and that is a tall order.

        I think what you’re talking about is a mutual non-compete agreement amongst all the non-conservative parties: the Liberals, the NDP, & the Alberta Party. Never gonna happen.

        The only solution is for Alberta voters to finally grab a brain and vote for someone else.

  3. Jerrymac Albertans are the dumbest stupidest, densest, inconsiderate, low information, low iq human beings on earth. People in the middle east line up for hours to vote, we line for hours for the hockey game. We are retards and deserve whatever suffering the tories inflict through cuts. Tired of hearing whiners, who are too stupid to change their vote. An irrationally entrenched hatred of Liberals and irrationally entrenched love of Tories. You can also thank wreckless short sighted politically motivated bloggers for attacking the center and de energizing it. They have played a part in weakening democracy.

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