PHOTOS: Wildrose Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt and Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney in a chummy moment (grabbed from Facebook). Below: Wildrose Party President Jeff Callaway and Wildrose Leader Brian Jean (Photos: CBC).

You could hear PINs dropping all over Alberta yesterday.

With Alberta’s Wildrose Party members scheduled to vote today, and today only, on unity with Jason Kenney’s reconstituted Progressive Conservative Party, reports soon began circulating on social media that many ’Rosies were receiving two, even three, of the PIN numbers required to cast their ballots online.

Even worse from the party’s perspective, many other Wildrose members didn’t get a PIN at all.

The resulting cacophony sounded more like pins dropping in a bowling alley than in the sewing room.

For those who received multiples, the party insisted, the recipient wouldn’t be able to vote more than once. For that you would have to be a member of both parties, as, indeed, many are.

For those who didn’t get a PIN at all, they said, they’re working on it. This prompted Wildrose Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt to put out a Tweeted plea for “emergency volunteers to help members vote for unity,” prompting a certain amount of hilarity and otherwise unkind commentary on social media.

“This is bananas. If they’re overwhelmed, why not extend the deadline? I call shenanigans,” said one Twitterist, who appeared to have renamed himself “Emergency Volunteer” for the occasion.

By nightfall yesterday, this was descending toward farce, taking on the characteristics of a full-blown gong show.

Party President Jeff Callaway confessed to a Postmedia reporter that the number of multiple PINs sent out to members was “in excess of several hundred,” whatever that was supposed to mean. What it did mean, I’m told, was at least 2,000 known cases.

The party, sensibly enough, is promoting the narrative the problems are caused by the technical difficulty of coping with a surge in new members in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, electronic voting by the PCs, who experienced a similar surge but started letting members vote on Thursday, is reported to be going swimmingly.

The leadership of both parties is pushing hard for a Yes vote, and will almost certainly get it.

This is not a problem on the PC side, where Maximo Lider Kenney, a former Harper Government cabinet heavy, has successfully exerted near-total control over the party and apparently purged most of the restive elements that pined for a return to the big Tory tent of yore.

It’s more of a problem for the Wildrose Party and its titular leader, Opposition leader Brian Jean, which remains riven by a number of factions.

These include several restive MLAs who favour Mr. Kenney’s leadership over Mr. Jean’s and rank-and-file members who still suspect the Tories are wets and progressives barely a step removed from the NDP government of Rachel Notley they all hope to topple in 2019, one way or another.

In addition, though I am aware of no public polling data to support this, there is a widespread sense that many rural Wildrosers are not fans of Mr. Kenney, suspecting despite his longstanding social conservative credentials that he is just another city slicker who has spent too much time in the metropolitan fleshpots of Calgary and Ottawa.

This may explain why Mr. Jean felt confident enough to try to make the case to socially liberal urban conservatives that “gone are the days when hard-right governments are going to be successful in Alberta.”

It is those Wildrosers who, for whatever reasons, are reluctant to throw in their lot with the PCs who are most likely to see something sinister in the party’s PIN fiasco if the vote favours the unite-the-right side, as it is likely to do.

So, shenanigans? Garden variety technical problems are not uncommon in such circumstances and are a more likely explanation than a conspiracy, in fact.

But the United Conservative Party leadership won’t have to persuade the readers of this blog of that.

They’ll have the tougher job of persuading people who still believe in #kudatahs and suspect the United Nations is conspiring to make them eat locally grown food. Not to mention members on the losing side who didn’t get to vote.

Join the Conversation


  1. Mr Climenhaga, it’s early on the East Coast and I am enjoying my first cup of coffee.

    My mood is enhanced mightily by this column – you have a wonderful way with words with just the appropriate amount of snark. A man who knows his subject through and through. Wonderful!

      1. You have to love David for publishing your childish ad hominem attack.

        That’s pretty classy.

        As for you, keep writing, if you want to call it that, and continue spewing out nonsense.

    1. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that the more right wing an organization is, the worse they are at cheating using technology” – Jane Austen

  2. This messed up voting procedure sounds like another conservative bozo-eruption happening again. “It’s déjà vu all over again” as Yogi Berra once proclaimed, amid chuckles from baseball enthusiasts. One thing about the right-wing — they love their traditions, bungled voting being one of them. The same thing occurred to the federal Tories in their May leadership vote.

    The fallout of this clusterf**k will likely be litigation from the Wildrose “anti-yes” voters who will see this as an opportune time to file an injunction to prevent the merger from occurring. If that should occur, there is a good chance this unit-the-right merger will be stalled in the courts for months to come, denying the right their long-awaited joyful strut and back-patting Kumbaya, hallelujah moment stalled on the fifty yard line of electoral victory.

    1. Bye bye socialist idiots!!!! Denial is a wonderful thing. Alberta will return to its rightful place. On the throne instead of at its feet. Feeding the rest of Canada instead of accepting its crumbs…

      1. Denial is indeed a wonderful thing. Thank you for sharing and providing us with an example.

        “…Alberta will return….”

        Perfect example of a right-wing delusion. Enjoy your fantasy world.

  3. This is a fascinating race. The big Q is how many moderate conservatives will abandon the nominally conservative parties if they continue to move further right. The Alberta-Ottawa parallel is impossible to ignore, and the tumult in conservatism in Western nations implies a trend: with moderate conservatives having already moved away from nominal conservative parties, the once fringe extremists have come to the fore, and, much against better prospects, are driving the remaining moderates away, abandoning these moribund parties to the extremophiles.

    One wonders if members of these smaller, narrower parties of the right don’t dream of getting proportional representation.

    1. This is where you are wrong! The extreamists are not in the right but the left. Trudeau is hell bent on the destruction of Canada as we know it. One only look at the payout of the Terrorist Omar Khdar.

      1. Hey Solomon,

        Let’s Make Alberta Spell Again. “…extreamists” – kudhata anyone?

        Now, be a good boy and give the keyboard back to mommy, OK?

  4. When final victory is declared, will they be marching around a pile of burning books in honour of the Harper government’s destruction of Federal Agricultural and Scientific research libraries?

    It would be good practice for their proposed cuts to public services and infrastructure.

    1. If one looks objectively at what was said and what actually occurred, a differen hypothesis would have been reached. Hey. This is where our taxpayer dollars go into the CBC void…

      1. You obviously missed the content of the cited articles. Those were scientific libraries essential to agricultural, health and environmental research.

        They were used by farmers, scientific researchers, plant breeders, health, industry and environmental professionals along with many others.

        They were blindly destroyed with almost nothing saved on either computer or paper.

  5. Oh, more PINs than registered voters? Quelle surprise!!

    Sounds like my previous comment a few days ago. I wish I could claim to be a prophet, but alas I’m just a gall who has seen this before. History repeats itself, blah, blah…

    Hey Kenney, remember the job isn’t complete until you destroy the ballots 5 minutes after you declare your 50.00001% landslide victory.

      1. No one is surprised by this outcome.

        What was the name of Kenney’s girlfriend in high school again?

        I bet a lot of his so-called Wildrose supporters would be surprised by the answer to that question.

  6. Thanks for this column. My brother who lives in Ottawa, believes like many here in Alberta, that Rachel Notley is toast. While I think that that scenario isn’t entirely plausible, I believe, like Dave, that there are many, many, many, barriers that make this job very difficult-least of all not being to run an efficient system of electronic voting. I am also wondering that even if the Conservatives do win, will they want to repeal a lot of the things that the NDP have implemented-particularly if the measures have some degree of popularity. I am not going to predict the next election as it won’t likely be held until 2019 which is world away from the political realities of today, but it will interesting to see what happens to the Wildrose and the PCs as they try to create another political entity,

    1. Where have you been for the last year or so?

      The Kenney game show started a long time ago. Just ask Sandra Jansen and other assorted female hopefuls.

  7. I would be interested to know if supporters of unity were more likely to get more than one PIN and if opponents were more likely to get none.

    I suppose these problems do not help the credibility of the party, but if the vote goes the “right” way (ie. members vote as told), then the Wildrose party with its colourful history of bozo eruptions will soon just be a memory. I suppose any embarrassment will rest with the soon to be gone party, unlike in the past when parties that had problems with their telephone or on line voting systems sometimes had to wear the embarrassment for years after and it seriously hurt their credibility with voters.

    Of course, this will not necessarily be the last vote in the unity process so I suppose the new so far untarnished UCP could screw things up to and as for bozzo eruptions, they can be surpressed, but like vocano’s sometimes erupt unexpectedly all on their own. So while the UCP may start with a clean slate, it has a couple of years before the next election for it to mess up votes and have bozzo eruptions too.

    As for the duplicate PINS – Kenney at one point recently did say “vote often”. Perhaps we took that too figuratively and we should have taken him much more seriously.

    1. Solomon you won diddly-squat. Celebrating on the 50 yard line isn’t a win. Doing your Kumbaya dance does not an election win. All the hallelujahs by the right should be saved for church.

    2. I find your choice of the name Solomon as an online handle to be an interesting one. Your comments are comprised only of taunts and insults and reflect none of the wisdom the name Solomon should connote. Sad!

  8. In order to get my vote the Untided Conservatives will have to advance some credible policies. Their one policy seems to be to defeat the NDP. That is hardly enough for me because I believe that Rachael Notley is doing a credible job.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the Conservative establishment cannot wait to get their hands on those juicy Government appointment positions and board and commission positions. Great places to put loyal party members out to pasture at salaries up to and including $700K. Plus expenses of course.

    If Notley does one more thing, I hope that she continues to ‘out’ these clowns, eliminate useless organizations, and reduce compensation to competitive rates. Plus ensure that all contracts go to tender…..including all Alberta Health buys.

  9. The fact that there were no controls on who could vote – ll you had to do was pay pocket money, meant the Wildrose vote was easily manipulated, and there were groups openly trying to do precisely that. That means that those who were long term members would have their numbers easily overwhelmed meaning we don’t really know who the long term members who joined because they believe in the principles of the party would have voted for. That along with the multiples PINs (which in an of themselves were almost enough to alter which side would win) makes the whole vote a complete farce.

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