Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Wildrose Alliance and the Future of Alberta's Left

"Unite the left" campaign reemerges in Alberta

When Paul Hinman unexpectedly won the Calgary-Glenmore by-election, virtually everything was said to have changed for conservative politics in Alberta.

Amidst reports that up to 10 Tory MLAs may defect to the Alliance and that Guy Boutilier may join, the Alliance has jumped to second place in the polls.

Clearly, with all of this going on, the Wildrose Alliance clearly believes the Tories are vulnerable. But they aren't alone.

Speaking in Red Deer, Alvin Finkel, the co-chairperson of the self-styled group calling itself the Democratic Renewal Project has renewed calls for a united left-of-centre alternative to the Stelmach Tories, insists that uniting the Liberal, NDP and any willing independents is the only way to defeat them.

Moreover, Finkel must recognize that time is of the essence. If some kind of arrangement -- be it a merger or a Manning-esque electoral coalition -- isn't reached, the improving fortunes of the Wildrose Alliance could leave the provincial Liberals and NDP simply facing a new conservative monoliith, with the same dim prospects of defeating it as before.

Fellow DRP member Phil Elder argues that contention between the Alliance and PCs could lead to a tremendous opportunity for Alberta's left-of-centre parties.

Moreover, he takes NDP leader Brian Mason to task for arguing at the recent NDP convention that the party could overcome vote-splitting with the Liberals by working hard over future election campaigns.

"Did Mr Mason mean to imply (wrongly) that under his leadership NDPers have merely not worked long and hard enough to win?" Elder asks. "Or, after eleven consecutive Conservative majority victories, have Mason and the New Democrat executive not yet learned the obvious lesson that splitting the vote is fatal?"

Indeed, the NDP convention rendered cooperation between the two parties to be a dead issue, even after Hinman's unexpected victory.

The quickly-shifting political atmosphere in the province, courtesy of the Wildrose Alliance's improving fortunes, should provide further impetus for Brian Mason and the NDP to reconsider their options on forming an electoral coalition.

In Alberta, the political game could be changing for the first time in nearly forty years. Whether or not it changes in the Liberals' and NDP's favour will depend entirely on them.


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