...And lots of them
As the Alberta Progressive Conservatives look on at the Wildrose Allaicne leadership campaign they must be feeling a certain combination of fascination and trepidation.
As the Alberta Alliance and the Wildrose party, the Alliance is a party that has dwelled on the margins of Albertan politics. But as popular discontent with the leadership of Ed "Stalemate" Stelmach is spreading, so is the membership of the Alliance.
In June, the party had a mere 1,800 members. Now, the party's leadership has exploded, adding 10,200 members in the intervening months.
But amongst the masses flocking to the Alliance are conservative magnates such as Tom Flanagan and Betty Unger. And most recently, former Alberta Minister of Public Works and Agriculture Ernie Isley has joined the party.
Isley has, in particular, pointed toward the Stelmach government's approach to health care.
"[You] give up a billion dollars in revenue and then shortly thereafter you start coming up with a program whereby you're going to make your seniors pay more for prescription drugs. That doesn't seem to me to be the direction to go," Isley explained. "We appear to be going through the slash-and-burn era of the early '90s."
The vibrant conservative debate taking place between Danielle Smith and Mark Dyrholm has a lot to do with the new loyalties the party has been attracting.
Although sonme of the predictable themes of conservative leadership campaigns have emerged -- with each candidate accusing one another of either being too extreme or too uncommitted -- the campaign is attracting a great deal of attention for a party that holds only one seat in the Legislature.
This very much could be taken as a sign that Albertans are finally ready for a change.
Or, in time, it could be just another case in which the promise of political change was snuffed out by the status quo.