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.