Voters in Alberta in general have been used and abused by our provincial government for quite some time now. Few have been democratically abused more though than the party members of the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party (pre-crossing) in the last 12 months.
The very essence of the party system is to facilitate organization and election of like minded people to office. At the core of this system is the nomination system where members will campaign and choose who will represent them in elections. This of course is the very area where the unprincipled in politics (alas there are many of them) choose to meddle the most.
The Wildrose Party under Danielle Smith’s leadership and with Rob Anderson’s constant interference was brutal in their efforts to manipulate nominations. Members in constituencies around the province were getting increasingly infuriated with the delay of nominations and arm twisting of potential candidates as they sought to get their chosen ones in. It is this sort of thing that led to member blowback against Danielle Smith and was a contributing factor to her callow departure from the leadership of the party.
Anderson and Smith were truly delusional and lost in their own bubbles in thinking that the party membership would follow them when they organized their brutal act of treachery and joined the Prentice Progressive Conservatives.
The membership of the Wildrose Party was actually renewed and emboldened by the departure of Smith and her compatriots. While it hurt the party in the short term, the core is stronger and more dedicated than ever as the worst of it’s unprincipled members are now no longer with it.
Rob Anderson was the first to recognize that he was politically finished and he figured it out in rather short order. Having screwed the membership and supporters in Airdrie from both parties in two different floor crossings, Rob Anderson found himself utterly alone and despised by the membership in both the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party. Knowing he was politically finished, Anderson scurried off into the sunset to try and work on a new and less public career. Jason Hale and Bruce Rowe quietly fled the mess of their own making soon afterwards.
Danielle Smith maintained her delusion right up until the Progressive Conservative members got the chance to kick her out of office which they eagerly and overwhelmingly did. Smith’s treachery and abuse of the members who supported her led to the utter end of what had appeared to be one of the most promising political careers in Canada. Word is that Smith didn’t even attend the first Progressive Conservative constituency association meeting in person after having crossed the floor. Had she a clue how powerful the members are and how enraged they could be, perhaps she could have salvaged the nomination (though I doubt it). Smith will now fade into well earned obscurity as an odd footnote in Alberta political history.
When livid party members tossed floor crossers Gary Bikman and Rod Fox out on their self-serving asses in nomination races along with Smith, Prentice panicked. It was clear that there was no way that Bruce McAllister was going to survive an open nomination race. The PC party jumped in and disqualified party loyalist Jamie Lall in hopes of maintaining at least one of their floor crossing trophies of prominence.
A rightly enraged and motivated Lall entered the race for Chestermere-Rocky View as an independent candidate along with his considerable local support down there. The Progressive Conservative constituency association is now in utter disarray as the President and other board members resigned in disgust with the party actions under the guidance of Prentice.
With Lall pulling from the Progressive Conservative base and with most voters being repulsed by the actions of the floor-crossers, it is very likely that Bruce McAllister will be joining his unprincipled colleagues as a disgraced and unemployed political has-been on May the 5th.
Of the 9 MLAs who betrayed the membership of the party in December only perhaps a couple will still be employed a mere few months later. Perhaps none of them will make it through the election.
Will MLAs and party operatives learn from all of this? I doubt all of them will but I sure hope many of them will have learned a lesson here:
You can only fuck with the party membership for so long and so much before they lash back!