PHOTOS: Would-be UCP leadership candidate Paul Hinman, back when he was Wildrose Alliance MLA for Calgary-Glenmore. Below: Preston Manning, Ted Hinman, and Ernest Manning.

Paul Hinman? Seriously?

Has somebody stumbled over a mysterious time capsule buried by the Wildrose Alliance Party way out on the lone prairie? Probably somewhere down there in Southern Alberta around Cardston, or maybe over Taber way?

It could’ve happened! And when they popped the lid – whoever found it, that is – out scrambled Mr. Hinman, brushing the dust off his suit. Sort of like a genie that grants only three wishes: “parental rights,” “conscience rights,” and “recall elections.”

The backstory in a moment, but first an observation about the announcement Monday by the former Wildrose Alliance leader, former Mormon missionary and avowed social conservative that he’d sure like to seek the leadership of the United Conservative Party and replace NDP Premier Rachel Notley in the province’s top political job.

The timing is darned weird. Nominations for the UCP leadership race close tonight. And you have to have a $95,000 entry fee to run – $20,000 of which the new party promises to refund to candidates who behave themselves.

Mr. Hinman told the CBC yesterday he’s $57,500 short. Still, he’s got a nice website, and he says he hopes to come up with the cash by tonight.

Don’t laugh. He’s had unexpected successes before. Just the same …

OK, back to the backstory:

The Wildrose Alliance was the nutty right-wing party that back in the mid-Naughts was begotten by the union of the Alberta Alliance Party and the Wildrose Party of Alberta. From this odd coupling sprang the latter day Wildrose Party, which is not exactly the same thing as the aforementioned Wildrose Party of Alberta, but close enough for Wild Rose Country.

Sorry, but it gets more complicated.

Into this strange brew were added bits of the Canadian Alliance Party of Stockwell Day, successor to the Reform Party of Preston Manning and predecessor to Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party of Canada, which was famously the product of the reverse hostile takeover of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada engineered by Mr. Manning. (For the sake of simplicity, some liberties have been taken with this timeline.)

Also added were a dash of Social Credit Party (once led by Mr. Manning’s dad, Premier, later Senator, Ernest Manning), the Alberta First Party (don’t even ask!), and the Alberta Party, which is not really a relation to the formerly liberal now centrist conservative party of the same name, although it sort of is as well. There are probably others I have missed.

From this mélange were conceived the latter-day Wildrosers, whence sprang the UCP, itself the beneficiary of a reverse hostile takeover of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, carried out according to the master plan devised by the Mannings, pere et fils. (Don’t believe me? Read Political Realignment by the elder Manning, rumoured to have been written by the younger, published a half century ago in 1967. Your public library should be able to get you a copy.)

But all you really need to know if you’re not from around here is that we create right-wing fringe parties out here on the western expanses of the Great Plains like church ladies bake pies – and then they seem to absorb the big mainstream parties, instead of the other way around.

Sooner or later, certain names keep popping up. One of them is Mr. Hinman’s.

For a spell in the Naughts, Mr. Hinman was the sole Alberta Alliance member of the Alberta Legislative Assembly. He was the honourable member for Cardston-Taber-Warner, best known as the home of the first Mormon temple outside the United States. By merit of his lonely status, he became leader of the Alberta Alliance in the House. In the dispensation of the fullness of time, he helped merge that party into the Wildrose Alliance, won the leadership of the combined party, and promptly lost his Deep South (Alberta) seat to a Progressive Conservative.

The Cardston riding, by the way, was once held for the Social Credit Party by Mr. Hinman’s grandfather, Edgar “Ted” Hinman. Ted Hinman was the elder Mr. Manning’s Provincial Treasurer, from 1955 to 1964.

In 2009, Paul Hinman surprised everyone, including himself, but especially the Liberal candidate, and got elected in a by-election to represent the Calgary-Glenmore riding. Once again by merit of his lonely status in the Legislature, he became the Wildrose Alliance’s acting leader until Danielle Smith came along vowing to lead the Wildrosers to the electoral Promised Land. We all know how that worked out.

As for Mr. Hinman, he was not reelected by Calgary-Glenmore voters in 2012.

Mr. Hinman, having been a Mormon missionary to the Philippines in his youth, is a pretty unabashed social conservative, although a likeable enough guy in a slow-spoken way if one doesn’t think too hard about the kind of society he would prefer us all to live in.

Since his announcement the day before yesterday, a lot of people have been speculating on social media that this is part of a devastatingly clever plot by UCP leadership frontrunner Jason Kenney’s strategists to keep former Wildrosers from voting for former Wildrose leader Brian Jean and win over the extreme social conservative vote.

The problem with this notion is that it assumes former Wildrosers would vote for Mr. Jean as leader, which many of them won’t, and that Mr. Kenney doesn’t already control the social conservative vote, which he does.

So, personally, I think Mr. Hinman was likely just feeling bored and ran the leadership bid up the virtual flagpole to see if anyone would salute.

We’ll know tonight how that works out. I’ll get back to you.

Join the Conversation


  1. I always appreciate the historical political context of Climenhaga’s pieces. Context you’re never able to obtain from Alberta’s Frankenpapers. Well done David!

    As for Hinman and others like him, the fix was in once the UCP brain trust raised the financial bar to stratosphere level to keep out the riff raff. The strategy has apparently worked, as only four are likely to contend for the UCP leadership, with only two really bona fide contenders — so much for grassroots participation “Kudatah” lovers.

  2. I think you are right with regards to Brian Jean. I heard one of the Wildrose founding members interviewed on the radio a few weeks ago. She said that one of their Wildrose members signed up many new members, all with the intention of voting to merge the PC and WR parties, simply because that would then force a leadership vote, so they would have a chance to vote Brian Jean out.

  3. With so many name changes over the years the UCP/Wildrosers or whatever you want to call them, it’s starting to remind of one of theose small town mall front stores that keeps changing lease operators. This month it’s Wildrose Used Furniture. Next month it’ll be United Furniture Discount or Progressive United Clearances or something like that.

    Evetually somebody will put a match to it on a cold winter night and burn the whole place to the ground and put up a Tim Hortons.

    1. Although it was a federal entity, don’t forget their ideological cousins, the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party. Perhaps they’re all badly in need of a good evacuation.

  4. I am oh so tired of the lot of them. The socially conservative leaders who place their faith views above those of others. The far right who rail against any Government involvement or regulation of our lives. I have little time for the leaders that believe in far left socialism.

    Alberta is changing. It has changed. More of us are so very close to the fulcrum. Yet we still have politicians who are practicing dog whistle politics. When Harper’s Conservatives did it again, and again during the last election it backfired on them. They were soundly defeated. When Kellie Leitch did it she was soundly trounced in their leadership race. Her reward…both she and Trost have been kicked to the curb by Andrew Scheer. And rightfully so. Chris Alexander got kicked futher than the curb by his own constituents.

    I am not holding my breath but I am hopeful that some Albertans will wake up, smell the coffee, and realize that they are being conned by some chameleon like politicans who will say anything to anyone in order to get elected.

    1. Brett, this happens federally as well, look at Justin Trudeau. How many campaign promises has he fulfilled? The best salesman wins the prize.

  5. Regardless of Mr. Hinman’s interesting history, I think this will be a case of money talks. It seems he is quite a bit short of the hefty deposit required, so I think that will be the end of it. If he does some how miraculously manage to raise such a large amount in such little time, there may be a great deal of speculation about who bankrolled him and perhaps what promises were made to the generous donor(s).

    I also don’t see what Kenney would have to gain from Hinman’s candidacy except perhaps a distraction or perhaps he is tiring of being seen as the most social conservative candidate. Of course the easy solution to that problem for Kenney would have been to have gone to a Pride Parade (for which an invitation is not needed) or maybe take in a kd lang show (for which he was invited to and offered free tickets). Alas, unfortunately for Kenney he seemed to have “scheduling difficulties” – in Calgary the day of the big Edmonton Pride Parade and in Edmonton for the day of the big Calgary Pride Parade. Maybe its just me, but I am suspicious of all of his scheduling difficulties. They seem like the type one might try to create when they don’t want to visit in laws – “oh I would love to go, you know, but can’t make it due to scheduling difficulties”.

    If anything, Hinman’s potential candidacy should remind us how the party of the grassroots has turned into the party of big money. Given his history and experience (he was an elected MLA, a claim that only one other candidate of the four existing candidates can make), it actually would be reasonable for him to be a leadership candidate. Now if only he had a bigger cheque book.

  6. Regarding the Mannings’ 1967 agenda proposed in Political Realignment, I think there’s an argument to be made that it was only the somewhat serendipitous timing of the emergence and success of the younger Trudeau that actually thwarted that Manning agenda of bifurcating Canadian federal politics into one party on the right and one on the left, and eliminating the middle party, i.e. Justin’s resurrection of the Liberals, his defeating Harper and thereby prevented national politics from having the NDP as a dominant and the primary national party in opposition to the cons/CPC. Crushing the party of the center, the Liberals, seemed to be Harper’s strategy according to more than a few pundits.

    The Manning’s book, Political Realignment, is in the libraries below. According to the source that put me onto it,(which I can’t recall), the thesis was Ernest’s, but Preston did the writing.


    Political realignment : a challenge to thoughtful Canadians
    Manning, Ernest C. (Ernest Charles), 1908-1996.

    5 copies available at University of Alberta Augustana, King’s University, University of Alberta Book and Record Depository, and University of Alberta JA Weir Law

    Note: A public library card can obtain add on access to these libraries at no charge.

  7. Speaking of AB’s ‘strange brew’ on the right, and Mormons, Climenhaga could have also mentioned the Western Canada Concept and Gordon Kesler…


    excerpt: His stunning victory in the February 1982 by-election for the Western Canada Concept received national media attention. After the win Kessler became leader of the party. He won the Olds-Didsbury electoral district defeating Stephen Stiles of the Progressive Conservatives and Lloyd Quantz of Social Credit and three other candidates.[1]

    During the 1982 general election, held only months later in November, Kesler lost his seat despite Western Canada Concept fielding a full slate.


    The Mormon Presence in Canada – Page 233 – Google Books Result
    Brigham Young Card – 1990 – ‎Religion
    … in general and Alberta’s predominantly right-wing political culture in particular. … as the leader Gordon Kesler) suggests a stronger right-wing orientation than the … A History of the Mormon Church in Canada (Lethbridge: Lethbridge Stake …’

  8. I grew up in Quebec.

    We had a saying.

    When the church and politicians get in bed together it is the public who gets screwed.

    Still very true today….in all geographies. These groups place their own self interest above all else.

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