Thursday, August 25, 2011

Alberta Liberals: 27K Members and Only 13% Pay Dues

Anyone else find something wrong with this situation?

I've mentioned it before - this entire idea surrounding "free", pretty much anonymous memberships has some serious drawbacks, including falsified names and the fact that simply having numbers doesn't equal up to much when they're just names on paper.

What's more is simply consider the scale of memberships floating around in Alberta right now.

If we assume that the ALP has 27K, the Wildrose Party with maybe 30,000, and the governing Progressive Conservatives with 150K, you would think, hey, the Liberals aren't anywhere near the PCs, but they're keeping pace with the Wildrosers at least (and these are just assumptive numbers based on old reports).

But that still doesn't make the ALP anywhere near competitive when they only have 3,600 dues-paying members, compared to the other two parties where all members pay some sort of fee.

Just consider if, at the bare minimum, all these members for the various political factions paid $10. That's 1.5 million for the PCs and 300K for the Wildrosers. The Liberals, meanwhile? Maybe 36K, despite nearly matching the Wildrosers in memberships.

That's a serious gap that frankly needs to be filled, and should be filled by a hefty leadership race, such as what is currently occurring. Yet, you have these non-fee paying members outpacing paying members by well over 7 to 1. That's ridiculous.

I don't know, you can claim there's interest in the Alberta Liberal Party but what exactly would be the point if they don't serve any other purpose but as names on a piece of paper, whether they vote or not? Involving people in democracy is fun, but you need to get serious too - you can't run a successful, competitive Opposition party when your competitors massively outstrip you on fundraising and dues-paying memberships.


  1. Your post is extremely misleading. The Alberta Liberals membership increased over 50% even with the promise of voting for leader with a free registration. You're attacking te high registration rate as if all those people would have paid for a membership otherwise. I suggest you look at the membersip of the Alberta Liberal Party in previous Leadership races and considering their poor seat count, they are doing really good.

  2. In New Brunswick, neither main party had fees for the longest time. The PC Party had some kind of limit on time, but they claimed, IIRC, near 70,000 members. FTR this is what the major parties tend to claim nationwide.

    The NB Liberals meanwhile claimed 370,000 members. I remember this because it is more than 50%+1 of the population. Apparently not only was it free to join, but once you did, you were in for life!! No auto-kick outs, even for joining another party, and once you were in you are in for life, unless you write a resignation letter.

    Needless to say, between Dion and Iggy, when the federal Liberals were debating going to OMOV, NB (which shares a member list with the federal party) was pressured to change their rules. Once they did, the provincial PC Party did too.

    The Alberta Liberals would be wise to look into the difficulties faced in NB by the Liberals and Tories before going too far forward.

  3. Scott,

    I don't deny they're not doing well, but when less than 15% of their members actually pay dues, there is something EXTREMELY wrong there.

    And the point is probably that a good portion of these people probably would not sign up if there were a fee or any sort of major commitment. They might have a good count for their paying members as compared to the past, but this isn't the kiddie leagues anymore - the Wildrosers are kicking ass, as are the PC's. Those 27K would make them competitive with the former if they paid something, but they don't.

    Hence, there's something wrong there. It's not working the way it should.

  4. Not to mention, the ALP is completely falling behind on every single measure of competitiveness, including nominations and donations. I fail to see how this free membership thing is doing them any good.

  5. And good points, Teddy. History lessons are always a fun thing to learn; even the PCs are realizing that, dumping Don Getty - er, Ed Stelmach.