The Alberta Party coup.

If you really believe the spin that Greg Clark willingly stepped aside from the leadership of the Alberta Party in order to help create buzz for the party, I have a bridge to sell you.

Let’s look at the facts in the matter.

With the polarization of provincial politics in Alberta, the Alberta Party may very well have found their opportunity to cut a niche for themselves on the provincial scene. Despite years of hard work, they have languished in the realm of 5% support and have never been able to quite catch the eye of Albertans. With the NDP using all of the fiscal acumen of Venezuela and with the UCP jumping head first into a social issue quagmire in Bill 24, the timing is perfect for the Alberta Party to jump into the scene and round up the people who find themselves frustrated with both the NDP and UCP. In light of this Clark decides now is a good time to resign and leave the Alberta Party leaderless for months? Bullshit.

The Alberta Party is scheduled to hold its annual general meeting in Red Deer on November 18. In something of an irony, the theme of the AGM is “A party for all of us”. I am saying this is ironic because the AGM has apparently sold out and will not accept any new attendees. Word is that the number is 396 and that was after expanding their venue once. With people paying $99 each and with such demand, it is very well possible though admittedly challenging to seek a larger venue even if a deposit is lost. If the true goal is grassroots democracy even a gymnasium will do. While VP policy of the Wildrose Party I organized an AGM at the Bearspaw Community center. It was a nightmare but with a lot of volunteer help we pulled it off. Somehow though, it is impossible to hold an AGM for the Alberta Party with more than a few hundred people.

This AGM will be important as a very important change is being proposed to the constitution of the party. 

There is a proposal to empower the provincial board with a 75% majority of attendees in a meeting to unilaterally force a leadership vote. This is a huge amount of power to bestow on a provincial board where they could bypass caucus and the membership at large in order to toss out a leader. Why the sudden need to bring about this change?

Another interesting part with this AGM is that half of the provincial board positions are up for election. These are 12 spots and there are 35 people vying for them.

With this sudden need to change the constitution coupled with this unprecedented surge of members who registered for an AGM, it simply reeks of an organized takeover.

Less than a year ago, the Alberta Party had less than 400 members in total according to their financials. Now they have more than 400 who want to pay $99 and go to Red Deer to attend an AGM? Astounding indeed.

The tiny membership base made the Alberta Party ripe for a takeover. While it still is no small task to gather a few hundred dedicated folks, it certainly is doable. Hell, Jason Kenney can pull that many to a simple town hall meeting. With the combined effort of politically homeless Redford era PCs working under a PAC such as Alberta Together, such a coup isn’t all that tough to pull off.

The influx of new and experienced faces must have looked great to the original Alberta Party organizers initially. Alas, the Alberta Party has always been the party of nice guys and they really weren’t prepared to handle the way the old PC organizers do things. They don’t pull punches and they don’t play nice. It wasn’t long before the party was dominated.

While bright and personable, Greg Clark was spinning his wheels provincially. The Mr. Rogers approach while appreciated, tends to leave one sitting on the sidelines as pressing issues come and go. The Redford refugees could not abide by that approach any longer. One of the most immediately evident signs of the new blood has been in the attitude of party communications as can be seen below.

While I am not all opposed to rough play in political communications, it sure is a change in tone from the party.

As a side note, I am not sure if the Alberta Party really wants to get into labeling other parties based on the actions of lone candidates. We would be forced to keep bringing up how the Alberta Party had not one but two different fellows who were charged as pedophiles run for them. One of them even ran in their last leadership race. They were Troy Millington and Terry Lo . 

Despite his best efforts, Greg Clark simply did not fit the mold for what the old Redford gang wanted to see. Clark is a nice guy, but he is no fool. Clark resigned rather than being forced out when he could see the writing on the wall. Being nice, he took one for the team and continues to do so.

Anybody in politics knows that when you want to release something bad, you do it on a Friday afternoon in hopes that it gets forgotten and lost from the news cycle over the weekend. If it is something really bad, you do it on the Friday before a long weekend. You can rest assured, if Clark was pumped and happy about his resignation and looked at it as a great rejuvenating move for his party he would not have meekly put it out there on a Facebook post on the Friday afternoon before Remembrance Day.

Clearly the new team taking the reins of the Alberta Party has a person or two in mind for the coming leadership. We likely will see hints at the AGM next week if not open campaigning already. The proposed campaign period is not terribly long by leadership standards. If they really wanted to build the party through a leadership race, they would have a long campaign period where they would solicit a large number of candidates. This is rushed as they don’t want to actually compete something.

Its too bad that the AGM is so full to the rafters. I would have been happy to spend the fee just to attend and watch the fireworks from the floor.

A sad end for a party that tried to do things the nice way.

 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

The new face of the Redford Progressives

Did you really think that the old operators who ran the Redford Progressive Conservative Party into the ground were going to sit on their hands forever? Of course not.

The likes of Thomas Lukaszuk won’t be forever satisfied just beaking from the political sidelines as he has been doing for the last couple years.

Stephen Carter has been homeless as a partisan operator since Sandra Jansen decided that a leadership run for the PCs was simply too tough to manage and subsequently fled to the NDP to finish out her final term in politics. You know he has been chomping on the bit for a new party project.

To their credit, Troy Wason and Katherine O’neill waited until the end of the last PC leadership race before heading for the political hinterland.

The old Redford guard naturally found themselves drawn to the only partisan bridge that they hadn’t burned yet with the Alberta Party. They needed a new home and with its mushy mix of self proclaimed “centrist” principles, the party was ready to be molded into whatever a person in control wanted to make it into.

It really wasn’t hard to dominate the Alberta Party. Despite their having a seat and having made a relatively decent splash for their size, their membership was tiny along with their management team. If the financials are to be believed, the Alberta Party had less than 400 members at the end of 2016. Perhaps more if some had purchased multi-year memberships in prior years but there really was not much of a base. The strength of the party executive is always a reflection of the member base.

A handful of determined, experienced operatives suddenly entered the Alberta Party scene and they brought all of the principles that they used to practice within the Redford Regime with them. The small, well meaning and idealistic group who ran the Alberta Party never had a chance.

The Redford refugees faced one obstacle however. The one shining point of strength within the Alberta Party was its congenial and bright leader, Greg Clark. While Clark made great inroads in his own constituency, he simply couldn’t break out from his niche and the Alberta Party remained in its moribund state of low poll numbers, funds and membership levels.

According to Don Braid with the Calgary Herald, Alberta Party executive meetings were held where the discussion point was on how to change the rules in order to force a leadership race. As pressure mounted, Greg Clark resigned as leader rather than finding himself forced out of his role.

Nice guys do finish last.

Ever the team player, Greg Clark refuses to lob bombs back at the party though he surely must be feeling pretty used. Clark even kindly did his resignation on a Friday afternoon in hopes of keeping it out of the larger news cycle. While Clark and others are trying to claim he is doing this to create buzz for the party, the timing puts lie to this. It would have been a Monday morning release in that case and would be much more than a quick resignation.

Surely Team Redford has a candidate or two in mind to lead the new incarnation of their old PC  party. These kind of backroom operatives won’t open a party void without a plan to fill it. It will be interesting to see who pops out of the woodwork in the pending Alberta Party AGM. It will be even more interesting to see who is backing the aspiring leaders.

Its ironic that Kenney is so often accused of wanting to turn the provincial clock back when we see such an organized movement trying to bring about the return of the disgraced Redford Regime.

A sad end for a party and its leader that tried so hard to do politics the nice way.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,