Rejuvenated Alberta Party already dead in the water.

The first strategically questionable move made by the Redford era management who have taken over the Alberta Party was to push out the personable leader Greg Clark and to trigger a sudden leadership race. The next move was the choice to refuse to run a candidate in the Calgary Lougheed by-election.

The flaccid rationale for forcing a leadership race was that they needed it to create buzz and sell memberships. Isn’t that exactly what running a candidate in a high profile by-election would do too? The reality is that those who took over simply want Clark out. While leadership races do indeed create buzz and sell memberships, they are terribly expensive for the party to run and party donations dry up for months while leadership candidates tap traditional party donors for their own campaigns. Somebody like Stephen Carter already knows this of course.

By-elections tend to be good for the party. Running a campaign means regular media opportunities and ongoing activity while galvanizing volunteers and members as they participate on the ground. Profile is raised and memberships are sold as people knock on doors throughout the community. Valuable campaign experience for party members is gained in these events. Even without a win there is a clear net-benefit for a party in running in by-elections.

In an absurd release, the Alberta Party has said that they will not run in the Calgary Lougheed by-election because it is “a foregone conclusion”. 

With the logic demonstrated in this choice to deny voters a chance to vote for them in Calgary Lougheed, it only stands to reason that the Alberta Party will only run a candidate in Calgary Elbow in the general election. The party has difficulty passing the 5% support range in pretty much every other constituency in Alberta.

It is somewhat ironic that while the Alberta Party has been pushing the theme of being “A party for everyone” when that everyone apparently does not include the electors in Calgary Lougheed.

In what universe does a party only run candidates when they know they will have 100% chance of winning? The only parties that could possibly take such a bizarre stance are those that already enjoy some pretty broad popular support throughout the province. The Alberta Party certainly doesn’t enjoy that status at this time (nor will they as long as they are too callow to contest elections).

For political wonks like myself, it will be interesting to watch the strange actions of this party that is now built on a mound of sour grapes. The whole raison d’être of a political party is to run candidates in an election. I guess until the Alberta Party finds it in itself to do so, it will simply be a social club where they will reminisce about the good old days under the Redford Regime before she fell in disgrace.

So far no leadership candidates have burst on to the scene vying for the leadership of the Alberta Party. Not too shocking I guess when they so openly display electoral impotence right out of the gate.  I expect that Team Redford already has somebody they intend to anoint in the role that they forced Greg Clark to vacate last week. One has to wonder if the race will have more than one candidate running.

While the party constantly demands to be taken seriously, they seem to go out of their way to ensure that people can’t take it seriously. Greg Clark just said last weekend that he anticipates the Alberta Party will win the 2019 general election. Rather bold statement to make when they are too weak to even run a single candidate in a by-election.

It is sort of sad to watch. While never managing to set the electoral world on fire, the Alberta Party held a somewhat unique niche in our provincial list of parties. Now they seem to be determined to become little more than a footnote.

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By-election time.

In a surprise move, Dave Rodney has stepped aside to allow Jason Kenney to run for a seat in Calgary Lougheed.

The question now is, will Notley give a full campaign against Kenney in the by-election and risk a crushing defeat that will be viewed as a bellwether for the next general election or will she go by the old tradition of not running a candidate against a new party leader? Either way it puts Notley in a very difficult position.

Calgary Lougheed is solid conservative country and the NDP only ever came close due to a vote split in the last election. That will not be happening this time around and Lougheed is in Kenney’s stomping ground of South Calgary. No long parachute here.

This also puts the Alberta Party in a tough spot. They need to show that they are a force outside of Calgary Elbow. Can they win a seat in an area with a low concentration of hipsters?

David Khan, the new leader of the Alberta Liberals is in need of a seat as well. He really has little excuse not to contest this seat and will look weak if he doesn’t. Khan will look weak if he is soundly beaten in a by-election a year before a potential general election too.

This is going to be a fun race and I look forward to volunteering on the campaign however I can.

In Kenney’s first day as leader of the United Conservative Party he has managed to put the leaders of every other party in the province on the run. I expect a trend as we see a man preparing a government in waiting rather than maintaining an opposition.

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OMG! OMG! The media is biased!!

noesThe complaints from Harper supporters have been becoming increasingly shrill as they try to imply a national media bias is trying to hold their party down. Like seagulls shrieking at a garbage dump upon disturbance, they flap up and rage in frenzied social media circles every time a negative story about Harper is published. The indignant howls of “Media Party!” fill the air. Meanwhile the Harper Conservatives continue to slump in the polls.

Newsflash: media has been biased since the first town crier reported on a local incident!

Bias whether conscious or inadvertent is natural in all reports. It can show in camera angles, the questions asked or in the stories chosen. Bear in mind though, the bias runs both ways. The Sun runs right, the CBC runs left and a myriad of other outlets sit all over the spectrum. People choosing to inform themselves can cut through the slant easily enough.

The best cure for negative media is to bypass it and reach right out to the voters. When Paul Hinman won the leadership of the Alberta Alliance (later Wildrose Alliance) there was virtually no coverage of the event aside from a Herald article that scornfully pointed out the presence of Craig Chandler. When we entered the Calgary Glenmore by-election we sat at 6% in the polls and any reports of our campaign tended to report us as an also ran fringe group at best. So how did we win despite the big bad media not giving us a fair shake? We worked our asses off door by door until we convinced enough people to support us. It really was as simple as that.

Had we sat on the sidelines and howled about how abused we were by the media, we would have been lucky to get 10% in that by-election and we sure as hell would not have won it as we did. The same can be said for the Alberta Party in Calgary Elbow. They won that seat through a massive ground game despite little general coverage.

Most of those who howl so loudly about the “media party” tend to be keyboard cowboys. They are rarely seen pounding the pavement for the party or listed high on the donor list (though there are exceptions). They do however clutter up social media greatly and often put people off as they try to play victim while not understanding why voters don’t see it that way.

Want to beat the “media party”? Put down the laptop and volunteer for your local candidate. Perhaps try to convince your party to stop being caught in scandals arrogance and hypocrisy as well. It is tough for the media to report bad things when those things don’t happen.

Screaming from the sideline will only ensure an NDP or a Liberal government. The media party cant be blamed if this happens. It is Harper’s government to lose and it’s the responsibility of his supporters to ensure that doesn’t happen. Excuses and blame don’t change outcomes. Hard work does.

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The Calgary Foothills by-election is critical for all Albertans.

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People who don’t participate in partisan politics (and even some who do) often don’t know one very important aspect about the New Democratic Party:

Federal and provincial NDP parties are all the same entity!

If a person buys a membership with the Alberta NDP, they automatically become members of the federal NDP. There is no choice in this matter. Just as the NDP likes forced union membership, they like forced party membership. Individual thought and choice don’t fall within the NDP ideology.

This reality has been depressingly evident as Premier Notley has all but vanished from the political scene so that she may aid her boss, Thomas Mulcair in his regionally divisive federal campaign which is modelling Alberta as a bogeyman that must be attacked.

While federal NDP candidates continue to attack Alberta’s core industries, Notley remains in a silent cowardice. It is clear that Notley views the hierarchy of her party as being much more important than the interests of Alberta. We all should be terrified if Mulcair manages to become Prime Minister. Clearly Notley won’t stand up for us in such a situation.

The Foothills by-election will be a critical opportunity for Albertans to send a warning shot at Rachel Notley. In that by-election, we will see if the election of the NDP was a desperate move on the part of the electorate in order to get rid of the corrupted Progressive Conservative government or if Albertans really want to embrace NDP style socialism.

The Wildrose Party is fielding Prasad Panda as a candidate in the by-election versus the parachuted Bob Hawkesworth for the NDP. While Notley has appointed an incompetent Minister of Energy along with a literal anti-energy activist as her Chief of Staff, the Wildrose is providing a voice of experienced reason in Panda who has been a senior manager in the energy sector for decades.

If the voters in Calgary Foothills strongly reject the NDP in this by-election, it will tell Notley to either shape up and defend Alberta despite her federal masters or prepare for electoral defeat in the next general election. Notley is being pulled and pushed from multiple directions as a new Premier. The best direction she could be pushed from would be the electorate and that opportunity looms.

Will Notley learn to put her province before her federal party’ interests? It is hard to say. Chances are much better though that Notley will prioritize Alberta if the voters in Foothills strongly push her to do so. That makes this by-election important for all of Alberta despite it being overshadowed by a federal race.

 

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Recall legislation would have settled questions with disgraced MLA Mike Allen

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There are few more effective ways to destroy a political career than to get busted in a sex scandal. Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Mike Allen pretty much eliminated any real political future for himself when he got arrested in a prostitution sting while on government business in Minnesota. Whether charges get laid or not, the damage is pretty much done at this point.

While Allen has resigned from the Progressive Conservative caucus and all committees (to save Redford the task of kicking him out of those roles), as of this writing Mike Allen is still sitting as a member of the legislative assembly.

In light of this scandal there really are only two possible paths in Allen’s future; he can resign from the legislature altogether or he can sit in shame as an independent lame member who gets the odd opportunity to ask a question during sessions.

I can only see two reasons why Allen would choose to remain in the legislature for the remainder of his term. Mike Allen may simply really really need the job and the money and is willing to endure the shame of sitting in there or Allen may remain in his seat as a favor to Redford to ensure a by-election does not add yet another Wildrose MLA to the opposition that has been so effectively bringing the Redford administration to task this last year.

If we had recall legislation in Alberta Mike Allen could have had a third option ahead of him. Allen could have legitimized his place in the legislature by withstanding an effort to recall him or even have won his seat again in a by-election triggered by a recall.

People usually view recall as a means to get rid of an MLA who no longer enjoys much support among their constituents but it should be remembered that recall can vindicate a member who is caught in a controversy as well.

Recall is a mechanism that allows the electorate to potentially get rid of an elected official should they have done something so odious while elected that a large segment of the electorate feels that this person should no longer be able to serve out the rest of their term. Mike Allen’s prostitution bust is a perfect example of this. The situation and perception of Mike Allen as a person has dramatically changed and many within Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo may now feel that they do not want somebody who indulges in such activities to represent them any longer. The package that was presented to voters in that constituency just over a year ago looks much different today and voters may want a new choice.

I have seen some people defending Mike Allen and speaking to how well he has served the community in a municipal role and then as an MLA. Some people have expressed the view that Allen’s transgression is not serious enough to warrant his resignation as an MLA. The decision of how serious this issue is can only be left to the electorate and not to straw polls and pundits. Recall legislation would have allowed for this.

Mike Allen may remain in his seat and weakly try to claim that he has heard from constituents that they want him to remain. I suspect that most of Alberta would look at such claims with a jaundiced eye at best.

Recall legislation must be crafted so that the bar is not set unreasonably high nor so low that it is done frivolously. This has been managed in many jurisdictions before and there is no reason that it couldn’t be brought into legislation effectively within Alberta.

Only though a full accounting to his electorate can Mike Allen now claim to be entitled to his seat as an MLA. It is too bad that we don’t have the means in an effective recall legislation to have given Allen the chance to have vindicated himself through his constituents. A failed recall effort would shut down any further claims that Allen is not entitled to remain in his seat as an MLA.

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The Calgary Glenmore campaign.

Well, this morning I decided I would post pictures from the campaign and how it progressed. What I have now realized is that I don’t have all that many shots of the campaign. The bottom line is that we were simply too damn busy to be thinking of taking shots.

Ahh well, I will post what I have.

The work began weeks before Ed decided to drop a summer writ in vain hope that a sleepy electorate would give his incompetence a pass. Paul was hitting doors for 12 hours per day while we had signs advertising for and building our local membership in the constituency.

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Construction and preparation of the signs was done well before the writ-drop. We intended to hit the ground running and we did so.

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Our first large volunteer event was on the Saturday after the election was called. The weather was beautiful and close to 60 volunteers participated throughout the day dropping literature throughout the constituency.

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Back in the campaign office we had some pretty late nights. While often enthusiastic, Stewie usually ran out of steam early. I can report that Stewie is thrilled with the electoral outcome and even more overjoyed that he no longer has to go to the office. Stewie’s bed at home is more comfortable to him than his station under the reception desk.

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Election night and victory!!! Yes, a big leap through the campaign but as I said, I have few pictures of that period.  We watched the polls come in and the excitement in the room grew by the minute. The media that had ignored us suddenly flooded into the room after having abandoned the headquarters of the other campaign (just one of many groups that underestimated both us and the wisdom of the voters in Calgary Glenmore). Below is Jane announcing that the Liberals have conceded the win to Paul. As you can imagine, the room went rather wild.

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Paul was rather happy as well of course. I really don’t know where that man gets his energy from. Late at night I would be fighting to keep my eyes open in the office. Meanwhile Paul would come in after another 12 hours of doorknocking high-spirited and wishing that there were more hours in the day. Nobody can deny that Paul worked incredibly hard for his well-deserved win.

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Pictured below are some of the key people who worked tirelessly on the campaign. Many other awesome volunteers are not in the picture unfortunately. It is hard to round everybody up in the midst of a victory celebration.

 

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The day after the campaign we discovered that somebody had gone throughout the constituency and speared many many of our signs as pictured below.

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If embittered losers such as that are the kind of people in opposition to us, I think we are well along the right track.

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Calgary Glenmore Forum.

 Well at least Diane came out and said it outright. Diane Colley-Urquhart will not take a stand on behalf of her constituents, she will take her orders from Ed Stelmach even if it adversely effects Calgary Glenmore.

 It is refreshing seeing a candidate being so open about her self/party interest.

 I think it can be safely concluded that it is rather pointless for the voters in Calgary Glenmore to send yet another hogtied seal from the Progressive Conservative Party to the legislature.

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