Deconstructing the Wildrose Effect

So what happened in Alberta’s election yesterday, other than people telling pollsters that they want change, then chickening out when it came time to mark an X.

The Politics, Re-spun crew deconstructs the Wildrose effect here:

Are you surprised that the Wildrose Party did not win?

No. Discontent polls well, but people sobered up when they cast their ballots. - Stephen

Surprised – no. Even Alberta isn’t quite ready to drink that special purple Kool-Aid tonic that Wildrose was offering up. Clearly they have a large number of sympathizers, and had the potential to do some damage in traditional PC strongholds, though. - Tia

I’m not. And I’m not arguing that I had a good, well-educated reason for my belief, either. I just like to think that we, as Canadians, are dignified enough to avoid electing a party that travels in a Boobie Bus. - Anna

Not one bit. It was abundantly clear with the obsessive media coverage of Wildrose/PC horseracing that the newsmakers didn’t know anymore what was actually happening in the province. All of it got sensationalized. Talking a lot about boob bus versus the @WhatSmithSaid account doesn’t translate to an understanding of public opinion, let alone accurate vote predictions. - Alex

I was at the time that I heard the returns last night; now, sort of, kind of, but maybe not really.  The media speculation was that the polls were really close and that it could have been a minority government.  This is after it was supposed to be a Wildrose majority. Stuff changes, I guess.  Most interesting to me is that there was 20% undecided going in to the election – which may have been the shift – and the apparent abandonment of the Liberal Party in support of the Progressive Conservatives. Very intriguing. - Kevin

What parts of the Wildrose Party were their biggest handicaps?

Their extremist candidates and policies are appealing, but enough voters looked for more balance. - Stephen

The average person isn’t going to be drawn in to rally around a political group who are overtly denying climate change and trying to put lipstick on the pig of their anti-abortion, anti-gay sentiments. There seems to be a large sense of  “I like my Alberta the way it is” which left the door open for Redford and more status quo. - Tia

I’d say it was their candidates, but the bigger handicap was probably Danielle Smith’s continued support of every inflammatory, racist, bigoted thing her candidates said. - Anna

Their viciously homophobic candidates, their racist candidates, their anti-science leader who thinks that the “science is still out” on climate change (uhh, what?) and more. - Kevin

How much is the Wildrose Party like the Reform Party?

They seem to have similar extremist tendencies and a need to muzzle the radical radicals. - Stephen

There are definitely shades of Reform colouring Wildrose. This is the same political primordial bitumen ooze that they both crept out of, after all. If you could see me gesturing, I’m currently pointing one hand towards Ottawa and one hand towards Calgary, and sitting on a stack of sweater vests which I would like to submit as evidence. *Cough* Harper *Cough*. - Tia

Very similar, minus the advantage everyday Canadians had in being able to make light of Preston Manning’s pronunciation of “Reform”. Am I the only one that gets nostalgic for “Refoooooooooooorm Party” jokes? - Anna

See above. Racist candidates, homophobic candidates, anti-science. - Kevin

Will the new PC government really be much of a Red Tory party that is able to be progressive?

The Wildrose opposition may require the PCs to slide to the right and cut down on Red Tory rhetoric/policy, but they may also go the other way and represent a cohesive centre to solidify opposition to the Wildrose. - Stephen

When contrasted with the folks riding the Wildrose Boobie Bus, these Tories are definitely going to look very red. How hamstrung they’ll be by Ottawa and the thrust to move energy policies to over-drive to appease the Federal overlords and corporate investors is going to factor into how much blue starts seeping into the red. Is advancing the oil company agenda “progressive”? It might be for Albertans. - Tia

Given how much of the Liberal’s support base voted for the PCs, it would be a prudent move for the newly-elected government to move in a progressive direction. Whether or not they will remains to be seen. - Anna

Maybe. There’s a strong challenge from the conservative side in Alberta, so there will likely be a not-inconsiderable amount of conservative drift, but maybe there will be something that happens. - Kevin

What do you hope will happen with the tarsands?

I hope whatever rhetoric of science we heard will actually win out and people will recognize climate change is more important than all the petro-loonies. I’m not optimistic. - Stephen

*grumble *grumble* I would like to see responsible development and regulation of a really important resource, so that Canada and future generations of Canadians can own and control what is ours and use it to the best possible future economic advantage. I would like to see the product extracted from it processed here in Canada, not China. The current pace of development is detrimental to our economy and is a really lousy long term strategy, benefiting foreign corporations, foreign workers and a few politicians. Gordie and Gordette Canada aren’t reaping the long term benefits at all. - Tia

I’d say that I hope someone would kill them with fire, but… - Anna

That we leave them alone. - Kevin

The Alberta NDP got 4 seats and party status. Will they be able to grow significantly for the next election?

Yes, with cover from the NDP in federal opposition. It will be hard for them to get wedge issues against the PCs. - Stephen

Alberta has an NDP party? I mean, hey! Go NDP! I often pontificate on the ability of the NDP or a similar party to gain seats and membership in Alberta. I’ve come to conclude that if everyone who has ever lived in Northern BC continues to be led to the bitumen in order to feed their family, the answer is yes. At some point, blue collar, working class Albertans (and BC ex-pats) are going to have to say to themselves “How is this helping me in the long term? Who is looking out for our basic needs? This is untenable. I cannot be complicit in the deterioration of the environment and health of this province by silence/status quo.” - Tia

I suspect that depends now how far to the centre they move, and how much of the collapsed Liberal support they pick up. It’s heartening to see the NDP make it in Texas North, but I can’t see them sustaining long term gains without abandoning a lot of the core values the NDP espouses. - Anna

In my opinion, any growth for the NDP in Alberta is significant growth; I really don’t know what they’ll do for the next election. Maybe get some more votes. - Kevin

It appears that the Alberta Liberal vote collapsed to the PCs to keep the Wildrose out. What does that say about our electoral system and electoral reform?

Pseudo-proportional representation can occur with strategic voting, but looking at the popular vote, either a Liberal or NDP party would hold the balance of power for the PCs, which would have been better than a Wildrose majority. - Stephen

FPTP is archaic and needs to go. This scenario keeps playing out over and over and over. Unfortunately, it seems that people advocating for electoral reform are still on the fringes. Certainly the parties that continue to win majorities are not feeling the love for putting a bullet into the existing system. Nathan Cullen (federal NDP) has some interesting views on electoral reform that are worth looking into further. - Tia

That FPTP is a gigantic failure. But we all knew that already, didn’t we? - Anna

That First-Past-the-Post is antidemocratic. - Kevin

How will this election affect the political scene in BC?

The BC Conservative Party may look somewhat more like a chimera, but BC is different and they may learn from the Wildrose, along with maybe not having as much radical Reformistas in it so they may be risking less in the next 13 months. - Stephen

Since BC’s existing government has all but laid the province at the feet of Alberta, we’ll have the (dis)pleasure of watching Redford pressure the provincial and municipal governments to get off the fence about their support/lack of support for the Enbridge Gateway project. Between Edmonton and Ottawa,  they’ll apply pressure to try to speed up the project, hook or by crook. BC is going to continue to be divisive, and the activists/environmentalists and aboriginal groups will grow more angry and militant. Watch Clark and her gum chomping minion continue to offer thinly-veiled, lukewarm public support for whatever the puppet masters tell her to do. - Tia

I think a PC majority government with a Wildrose opposition will start leaning pretty heavily on BC to make with the Gateway Pipeline, already. - Anna

Truth: it won’t. Spin: Christy Clark will  have to become, at once, both more liberal and more conservative to emulate Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservatives / Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Party. - Kevin

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Upright, left-leaning.
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website, dgiVista.org.

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