PHOTOS: Progressive Conservative interim Leader Ric McIver and Wildrose Leader Brian Jean in a rare recent moment of amity at, but of course, the Manning Centre’s Ottawa beanfest for right wingers in February 2016. This snapshot, the only one of its kind I’ve ever seen, was published by Postmedia. Below: Wildrose spokesperson Jason Nixon, perennial “united alternative” advocate Preston Manning and former NDP leader and current cabinet minister Brian Mason.

Devotees of the idea Alberta’s right must unite gathered in Red Deer Saturday and came up with a plan to form a third conservative party.

A third right-wing party? … The fourth if you count the rebranded Alberta Party? Even more if you credit the ambitions of the rather unsavoury #Kudatah clowns venting their passionate intensity in the darker corners of the Internet?

NixonI mean, like … Wow! Who saw that coming?

Well, perhaps Preston Manning did. The old master strategist of uniting the right is involved in this, and he may have seen something that the rest of us missed. Or maybe Alberta’s conservative movement really has disappeared down the rabbit hole in the face of the onslaught by Premier Rachel Notley and her New Democratic Party, which overwhelmed them a year ago this week.

It’s certainly hard to imagine how creating yet another right wing Alberta political party – which will be styled centre right, have no doubt, just like all the others – is going to help conservatives restore God to His heaven and make all right with the world again come the next general election, circa 2019.

Plus, it’s hard to imagine what they’re going to call this rough beast slouching toward Edmonton to be born when its hour comes round at last. After all, all the good names have been taken!

But despite these seemingly sensible arguments against the plan, the 400 or so folks who showed up in Red Deer for the inaugural meeting of the group with which Mr. Manning is associated – called Alberta Can’t Wait – voted at to form yet another Alberta conservative party as an essential step toward uniting the right.

manning_5There’s definitely something wrong with this picture, especially at a moment when – or so it seems to this observer – the NDP government is really starting to find its feet and introduce policies that have the potential to be very popular with large numbers of Albertans, notwithstanding the right’s perpetual hysteria about debt and deficits.

I can’t say I bothered to drive down to the Central Alberta city, located midway between Edmonton and Calgary, for this particular clambake, so we’re going to rely on the Calgary Herald’s account of the event.

According to the Herald, participants voted to support the principle of a new party – rather than just try to unite the two principal right wing parties they have now, the Opposition Wildrose Party and the formerly governing Progressive Conservatives.

Apparently for the time being, the Herald’s reporter explained, there will be an “unincorporated association aimed at bringing together voters” that will eventually turn into a “united alternative” – a nostalgic tip o’ the top hat to Mr. Manning’s salad days uniting the federal right, which started nearly 30 years ago and ultimately brought Stephen Harper to the PMO.

MasonThe result, according to an organizer quoted by the Herald, “is a message to Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and interim PC Leader Ric McIver” – neither of whom, significantly, bothered to attend or appear much inclined to listen.

The Herald also said the Red Deer meeting was organized by “a number of veterans of both parties,” although by my count, the list of 55 “Ambassadors” named on the group’s website, which includes Mr. Manning, runs much more heavily to Tories than Wildrosers.

Wildrose MLA Jason Nixon – who represents the riding of Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre – got to do the honours for the Opposition party, officially dismissing the Red Deer meeting as “folly,” which sounds about right to me from the Wildrose perspective.

Mr. Jean must see efforts like this as a distraction from getting to power the only party he’s ever likely to lead. The PCs under Mr. McIver are looking for a new leader, and they’re likely to choose someone inclined to position the party closer to the centre than the Wildrose will ever be or than Mr. McIver himself would take it. Example: former newscaster Sandra Jansen, definitely a Red Tory, who is reported to be contemplating a leadership bid.

So maybe, given that without any prompting those twain are likely never to meet, Mr. Manning’s minions are right to take a slightly longer view.

Still, as former NDP leader Brian Mason, now the government’s minister of transportation and infrastructure, famously cracked wise: “I like Conservative parties. I like them so much, I want there to be two of them. Or three!”

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  1. Pastor Presto should put his good book away and stop trying to save right wing souls. His time has passed, his message does not resonate anymore. The Manning Centre (Seminary) can continue to clothe and house right wing political outcasts.

    Premier Ernie had his day. His endless SOS sermons from tube type radios on Sundays are from a bygone era. The shopping malls are busy on Sundays, preaching prohibition and sin is the stuff of Saturday Night Live skits, and we no longer suffer in the darkness “protected” the evils of daylight savings time. The Mannings had better days. Ernie promised Albertans to totally eliminate local taxes and “pave the streets with gold” in 1947. Promises of redemption and threats of damnation will still attract a few hundred souls in Red Deer, but in the bible belt, as many would gather to build Noah’s Arc. Bring on the rain.

  2. And then we have NDP Premier Rachel Notley who, and whose platform, probably more closely resembles the once progressive, and fiscal, Conservative Premier, Peter Lougheed, a Red Tory, than many of the now so-called ‘conservatives.’
    The now, neo-conservative/neo-liberal Conservatives have lost their way, in my mind, and many of us are sick and tired of this type of politics.
    And, wholeheartedly agree re: “the NDP government is really starting to find its feet and introduce policies that have the potential to be very popular with large numbers of Albertans…..” Perhaps this is the ‘sweet spot’ that is so desired by the ‘right wing’, and it’s already here!

  3. Alberta Can’t Wait, eh?

    For the Saudis to cut back production and the price of oil to rise. That’s really all they can reasonably hope for, just like everyone else.

    For a bunch of nitwit right wing pols to think they can skin the same bag of onions Notley has been handed even finer and revive the fortunes of Alberta in the short term, shows that hubris knows no bounds. What would they do? Fire civil servants, turn schools into bible classes, empty neighbourhoods, plunge even more families into financial distress and then announce victory?

    All because they are enraged, outraged and sputteringly blindly angered in the extreme that the NDP got into power. They entirely forget it was actual Albertans who kicked them out in the first place. You know, real people, not some socialist commie conspiracy assault on their primitive souls. And it is this same public which has to be persuaded that all these politicians of the right who feel entitled, nay destined to rule Alberta, have even the slightest clue of how to do any better than what is being done already. Logic says no but as ever, it is typical for the recently spurned to blame the messenger rather than the message and huff and puff in mindless bloviation and arm-waving whilst hopelessly lashing out at an imagined evil.

  4. We need a new centre-right party because the current two are not working and have run out of good ideas. It worked well in Saskatchewan with the Sask Party, it can work here! Once the new party has adopted fresh, modern policies and a dynamic leader, we will form government in the long run.

    I’m afraid Sandra Jansen is irrelevant – she would turn the PCs into the Liberal party, which is a non-starter in Alberta.

  5. The first thing I think is that the name Alberta Can’t Wait is a poor choice. That then leads me to question if there any political wisdom in this group. We are a parliamentary democracy and have elections on a fairly regular basis (like every 3 to 4 years or so), so those who want to change the government will have to wait until then – unless they still are planning a coup d’etat.

    However, I suspect it is not so much Albertans who can’t wait, but certain powerful right wing people who are not used to having little control or power in the government. The name seems to indicate to me their desperation and their inability to come to grips with their loss of power.

  6. Dave I am curious which policies you feel the NDP are bringing out that are popular? As an incorporated family farm I thought the reduction from 3% to 2% small business tax less than prudent with the size of our debt. Compared to 12% for large corporations 3% seems fair. Or are you talking about the 10 billion dollar deficit with no repayment plans. Or the carbon tax that wasn’t mentioned in the campaign and with 60% of Albertans receiving rebates will do nothing to change our consumption patterns. I could go on but no point.

    I will say this, you spend a lot of time writing about the follies of the unite the right campaign which shows me you are worried it will succeed. Have a good day:-)

    1. Farmer: Well, yes, since you’ve asked, I do believe a majority of Albertans would prefer an affordable deficit, which real economists as opposed to austerity hysterics tell us this amount is, to the destructive conservative slash and burn response that has made Alberta for generations the poorest richest place on earth. It is simply false, of course, that there is no plan for repaying debt.

      I agree with you that the small-business-tax cut is not a good policy, but I understand it is popular with the small business crowd and I also understand the political goals the NDP is trying to achieve with it, although I am skeptical they will meet with much success given the audience. I will write from time to time about the some of policies I think will help the NDP. Many on the right in this province, it seems to me, have worked themselves into a delusional state in which they have concluded that since they and their like minded friends all hate the NDP, everyone else must too – except for a few “commies,” of course. This is, naturally, nonsense.

      As for my topic choices, you would be surprised about how unworried I am about the effectiveness of developments on the political right. Either way, it’s all grist for the blogging mill. Regardless, this is a personal blog and I choose topics based on two criteria: (1) what I will enjoy writing about, and (2) what is likely to be ignored by the mainstream media, which continues to advocate for the Wildrose Party in particular with open partisanship. I generally support the policies of the NDP, although not uncritically. MSM attempts to undermine the NDP as standard operating procedure, whether their support is consistent or logical. There is no change in this just because the NDP has become the government. So I will continue to provide balance by covering stories ignored by the MSM because they do not match their narrative or their partisan objectives, which are clear. The unfolding unite-the-right fiasco – amusing and significant as it is – meets both these criteria. If this bothers you, there are many news sources and blogs that will repeat the messages you wish to hear.

      1. Just a note about terminology… ‘MSM’ used, I presume, to mean ‘mainstream media’ … but in the recent stories around the outbreaks of sexually-transmitted infections (or STIs, & not the kind manufactured by Subaru) we saw ‘MSM’ used to mean ‘men who have sex with men’… It’s a bit of a strange abbreviational (is that a word? my auto-correct doesn’t think so … ) correlation.

        How about “conventional media” instead?

        1. Wouldn’t that be MWHSWM, or maybe M2M, before it was MSM? Regardless, people can do what they wish in that department as far as this blogger is concerned, but around here MSM will continue to mean mainstream media. I’d abbreviate it to MM, but that would be … wait for it … Mickey Mouse. DJC

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