Though the voices are in a tiny minority, they are already becoming annoying.
Led by Danielle Smith and some other now homeless political types who found themselves politically homeless due to latching their careers to the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, this small chorus is trying to convince people that the Wildrose Party must merge with the dying PC party to stop this perceived split in the right. I guess that laying your own political downfall at the feet of an imaginary ideological split among the province is easier on a person than accepting that one’s own political instinct was crap. It is weak rationalizing and it simply doesn’t add up.
I will lay it out in simple terms as math is hard for some!
Here are the vote gains/losses in this election compared to 2012:
Progressive Conservatives: loss of 154,357
Wildrose Party: loss of 82,224
Liberal Party: loss of 65,455
NDP: gain of 476,387
In 2012 the two parties that some consider to be right wing made up 78% of the vote in Alberta when combined. In 2015 this fell to 52% of the vote.
Let those numbers sink in. There is no split of the perceived right here. This is a collapse in support of the two right of center parties.
The 2015 election was not about right and left. This election was about trust and principles and it was won by populism. The folks foolishly muttering about merging parties had better realize this or we will see an eight year term of the Notley led NDP in Alberta. People don’t want to see a merged party of one ideology or another. They simply want to see a party that they feel they can trust for a change.
I spent about 13 hours per day on one of the campaigns in Calgary for the entire election. Right from the beginning of the campaign, the feedback and feel we were getting was disconcerting to say the least. Folks would call and ask what we were seeing on the ground and the best answer I could give was “it’s really weird out there”.
The anger of the electorate at the doors was palpable. People were outraged with the Prentice PCs and disgusted with his self-serving actions whether from drawing in the Wildrose floor crossers, the wretched budget, the never ending internal scandals or I think most of all an early election call that was clearly only done to serve the party in power. People were making it more than clear that they wanted to punish the Progressive Conservatives and they wanted to do it badly.
This led us to think we should be the clear second choice for people but that wasn’t the case. While people at the doors made it clear that they didn’t want to vote for the PCs, they became quite reticent when we would ask them to support us instead. While they loathed the PC party under Prentice, they were not exactly endeared by the Wildrose Party either. Whether fair or not, we were still suffering under the hangover of the floor crossings and people simply didn’t know the new leader. At best most doors in the early part of the election appeared angry but undecided.
The debate was the turning point. People were waiting to get a clear look at who the alternatives for governing our province really were and they watched the debate closely. The contrast in the debate could not have been more clear between the leaders. Prentice came across as an arrogant weasel. Swann came off as the has been that he is. Jean came across as wooden and repetitive and Notley came across as dynamic, principled and energetic. In that 1.5 hours the minds of the electorate went NDP and it was folks from all sides of the spectrum. Not right or left.
When the election is about trust, it is a clear handicap having a brand new and unknown leader. While people do not dislike the new leader, they are not yet ready to embrace him either. Jean’s opportunity to get to know a large segment of Albertans was in that debate and to be blunt, he blew it catastrophically. Jean had been coached to stick to a simple script and to never deviate. He was coached to dodge specifics on questions by repeating a stock line and he was coached to avoid thinking on his feet. The Wildrose needs to fire that coach!
In watching that debate, even I as a hardcore, partisan Wildroser had to wonder if I could vote for a party led by this robot. One columnist best described Jean’s debate performance as “ghastly” and I think that hits it on the head. Nothing irks me faster than seeing a leader dodge questions. It makes them look untrustworthy and there was no worse time than during that debate to appear so. Even being wrong on a couple specific facts yet appearing sincere and energized would have been better for Jean in that debate.
Policy specifics meant nothing in that debate to voters. People were looking for energy and a sense of sincerity. Notley won it by all accounts.
A silver lining here is that Brian Jean’s debate performance was out of character for him. In following rallies and events Jean showed a fantastic and genuine energy and wit. When seeing Jean at other gatherings, it is tough to imagine that this is the same puppet like fellow that we observed just a few weeks ago at the debate.
Inexperience and a simply harrowing series of events in this last three months really do explain much of Jean’s appearance as a leader in the 2015 election. From a whirlwind leadership race, to the death of his son to the call of the general election Jean simply never got a moment to breath and adjust to these changes. With four years as leader of the opposition Jean now has the time and will have the resources to grow into the role that he has earned. I am confident he will do so and as Albertans get to know him, that trust will grow.
While time and genuine effort will help grow that trust that Jean and the Wildrose need, embracing the remnants of the corrupted and withering PC party through a merger would have the opposite effect. Alberta’s most despised party has now been packaged in a neat 9 seat rump and a growing and invigorated Wildrose Party would be insane to embrace the baggage and mistrust that comes with that party.
Navel gazing about a right wing split will do nothing to displace the NDP government. Notley won on trust and will only lose when a party that has gained trust shows up to challenge her.
Bear this in mind, almost every person who claims that the Wildrose and PC parties must merge now were of the same chorus of people who loudly and confidently declared the Wildrose Party as being dead last December.
Sort of says worlds about their political instincts doesn’t it?
I am left wing and an NDP supporter. As much as I would like to disagree with :”The 2015 election was not about right and left. This election was about trust and principles and it was won by populism.” I cannot. I think you hit it bang on with this post.
I trust that Brian Jean learned from the mistake of sounding off like a robot during the debate. From the several speeches and interviews that I listened to from that point on, it was obvious that he became less scripted and more comfortable in talking off the cuff — like a leader should.
Unfortunately, it was difficult to shake the negative reputation he earned himself from the debate.
As far as talks of a merger goes, that’s ridiculous. That’s way too much work and not productive in the least. IMHO, true conservatives in Alberta are much better off simply buying memberships with the Wildrose Party.
Who does Danielle Smith think she is – Preston Manning? Wildrose does not need political advice from this turncoat and her mentor. I expect Wildrose to learn on the job – as will the NDP – and be a strong opposition to policies that do not put AB first. Brian Jean will have an opportunity to show himself and his MLAs worthy of the trust of Albertans. This was a down and dirty election orchestrated by smoky backroom antics and scheming. Cheers.
I agree, finally. the coach needs to be fired. Will that happen? If it does it will mend a lot of fences.
Thank you Cory! Your take on the debate helped me a great bit. I personally disliked Rachel’s lack of equity during the debate, but conversely find that it is what was needed to be like the public hand to slap down the latest leader of the Regressive Self-Servatives, who had gone off the rails decades ago, with incurring debt, while paying more than our fair share of the national funding. I am a great believer in the Wildrose grassroots struggle. While Danielle’s self-serving betrayal hurt me, I am profoundly excited to have Brian Jean as our leader. My goal and view is the uniting of conservative voters in Alberta, under the values and principles of the Wildrose.
It will be interesting to see what comes of the NDP in Alberta. May God bless Alberta.
We experienced exactly the same reactions in our campaign. Sharon worked very very hard to “walk them back from the cliff” as we called it. But the debate was just too hard to overcome. And I was going to blog your thoughts exactly in my blogspot. But you’ve done it, and eloquently so. So Fav and retweet it is. Thanks Cory
So true. The debate was the pivotal event of the election campaign. The PC’s were dead in the water and the debate galvanized people around Rachel Notley and the NDP and there was nothing that could change that.
Whoever Jean had to coach him should be packing his or her bags along with all of those PC staffers. His performance was one of the most catastrophic I have ever seen in a Leader’s Debate.
True and yet not. Wildrose was suppressed by all the nasty things that happened and still won a major victory where by all rights we should have been wiped out. Look how grumpy you still are. Do you think its going to get better? Do you think you’ll be attracting people to your banner acting like this now? After this amazing victory your as mad as the day Danielle left. Is this why she left? I really hope not, because I can’t go anywhere with people like this. If the enemy calls you extremists what am I going to say if you are actually internally made up of grumpy extremists? It’s just a few bad apples and you didn’t get any coffee something right. This isn’t the real you or the real Wildrose right? Get over it Cory.
Alex…what are you smoking? Cory told it like it really is for many of us who have worked hard for 2012, 2014 and 2015…are efforts were ruined by certain people and certain acts. Secondly, a conservative merger is it in my cards; I agree that we grow the WRP through memberships and grassroots activism.
Here’s Brian Jean: “How do you not feel great after this? We have been chosen by the fiscal conservatives.”
He’s right. That’s why I voted Wildrose. Are you telling me I made a mistake doing that? -because I lost hope in you before. I should not regain any hope in you ever?
I too was glad and at the same time shocked at what happened in the campaign. We saw something very odd in this campaign that had never happened for many years. Voters came out and voted. Voters voted for freebies and a bandwagon brand sold by a smile.
Prentice’s arrogance and their game plan hurt us because they wanted him gone. The voters picked a different horse because they were still unsure of who we are. “It’s on page 5″ was the answer. Page 5 should have been a full page ad in every major newspaper in Alberta if that is the message. I’m happy with 21 seats all things considered. It was a dammed if you do scenario as we could not afford to be over confident since we were neutered in December. We can build a reputation and grow membership.
In our campaign in McKay Nose Hill there was zero campaign by the NDP. We beat the PC incumbent, that was the enemy. Out of nowhere they win by 1,000 votes. All of them came from the couch, basement , universities, school, bus barns, office towers etc.
I believe we did really well especially when we had no time to prepare as a party. Had we had no leader going through this it would have been brutal. I am glad Jeff asked and took a ” straw poll” at the members meeting at the Delta in YYC. That was a good decision. I am glad we are going forward with 4 more seats from 2015!
The WRP is really where it wants to be now. We seem to have a solid 1/3rd support in the province. In 2012 we actually got 34% of the vote. I think the reason we got only 25% this time, was partly because some WRP supporters voted PC to keep out the NDP, and some voted NDP to keep the PC party from winning again.
I am assuming we should get at least 34% of the vote next election, sweeping most of the 36 seats outside of the two City regions. We will also win the 3 Calgary suburbs. The question is can we win about 12 seats in Calgary? I think so!
I don’t think there needs to be a unite the right movement in Alberta. We just need to remain loyal to the WRP.