Here in frigid Alberta this weekend is the Wildrose AGM. For those who aren’t from Alberta, the Wildrose Party is a political party that is supposed to be conservative. I remember before I moved to Alberta one of the things that drew me here was the fact that the long reigning Progressive Conservative (oxymoron) wasn’t conservative enough so an even more conservative party was formed. I remember thinking that a place that replaces their conservative party when it isn’t conservative enough is a place I want to be!
Back then the Wildrose Alliance (named after the federal Canadian Alliance, a federal conservative political party) was actually conservative. They were pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-conscience rights, pro-business and oil and anti- human rights tribunals. It was hardcore. And people loved it. Why? Because these were the values instilled in them by the grassroots.
The grassroots wanted to be left alone by a small government who didn’t involve themselves in the private lives of Albertans.
And with these values, Wildrose was ready to take power away from the PCs and restore Alberta’s conservative values. The more conservative they got, the better their poll numbers were. They were ahead by 10 points at the height of of their conservatism. Beating the bloated, aimless PCs should have been easy.
Except they didn’t beat them.
Danielle Smith. The photogenic, well spoken, but socially liberal and tone deaf leader of the Wildrose Party.
For starters, she dropped the alliance part of the name to the Wildrose Party. She didn’t want any association with the equally hardcore Canadian Alliance, a party that had virtually swept Alberta in years past.
Smith is not a Wildroser. She is pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, believes the hype about global warming and does everything she can to be a Progressive Conservative. Heck, she was PC booster until she ran for the Wildrose leadership. Every time she came out with another progressive policy, her numbers slipped. Why? Because she was ignoring her core supporters! For the most cynical and base political reasons she shouldn’t have gone against the base of the party.
She led the Wildrose party astray. They’ve abandoned their truly conservative grassroots and it shows. The party has no point, other than to win power. People see it. She lost every single by-election on October 28th after the PC Premier Alison Redford had to resign in disgrace for treating Albertan taxpayers like her own personal piggy bank. If you can’t win against Redford’s record you’re doing something wrong.
The day after the loss she came out and said she wanted a leadership review. I thought this was admirable. Give the party a chance to reconsider it’s direction after the loss.
Except a few days later she called it off. Gutless. This weekend at the AGM it seems the grassroots are giving her a leadership review anyway. Check out the Leadership Review Ballot at the top. We want a conservative party and we want a conservative to lead this party.
And as Danielle Smith rushes to make the Wildrose Party PC lite, she’s going to learn the hard way that if you don’t stick to conservative values you’re going to lose.
The new PC premier Jim Prentice recognizes this and is already outflanking the Wildrose Party on the right. He’s going to take the abandoned Wildrosers and give them a home. He’s put Gordon Dirks, a well known social conservative in as Minister of Education. As well, Premier Prentice is looking to strengthen property rights in the next throne speech. That takes Wildrose’s position. He’s appealing to Wildrosers. Come next election, Danielle Smith and Wildrose might find themselves relegated to the dustbin of failed political parties.
That is, unless we can put a real conservative at the helm of the Wildrose and reclaim our conservative principles.