Friday, April 20, 2012

Alberta Preview

Monday night, Albertans go to the polls to elect who will lead the province for the next 4 years. There are a few things to keep an eye on, I'll start at the bottom and work up to the top.

Alberta Party
The new Alberta Party is running nearly a full slate in Edmonton. What is interesting is how well the party will do in that traditionally moderate city. The party also has a leader running in an interesting riding. Yellowhead has seen a federal race between Joe Clark and Preston Manning. Provincially, the party was won by the Liberals in '93. If there is any riding that the Alberta Party could win in rural Alberta, it is this one. With a Leader who is a former Mayor, the chances only increase. The real answer to how well they do will depend on how poorly the PC Party does. If the Tories do poorly, voters in this riding will not go Wildrose, but rather will go to the Alberta Party. The party also has a chance to pull out a shocker in Edmonton with some 4-way races, where they could win with only a quarter of the vote. Personally, however, I do not see either of these happening.

If there is ever a green to win a Senate seat, it will be here. The chances however, are very low.

Alberta banned the Green Party a few years back. While it makes for a funny redneck joke in Toronto, it was a serious issue with the provincial Greens being unable to provide proper financial documents due to a split in the party. This is the same split that exists in Green Parties from Canada, to Switzerland, to Australia, the battle between traditional left-wing Socialist anti-war, anti-nuclear Greens, and the modern small l liberal, Capitalist, middle-class business Eco-Greens.

The EverGreens are on both sides, but lean a bit to the left. One of the key players in getting the Greens banned in Alberta is running for Wildrose this election. The EverGreens have no chance of winning a single riding, but have a wildcard in the Senate election. The EverGreens are fielding only a single candidate. Neither the Liberals nor the NDP are fielding any candidates. There is a chance, however small, that this gamble will pay off. If every progressive voter in Alberta voted for that single candidate, while all small-c conservatives split their votes, a Green could get elected to the Senate.

Keep an eye on the Senate race.

It is sad, truly. Polls are showing that voters do not really care who they are voting for in Wildrose, they just want someone who is not the PC Party. I truly believe that had Smith not won the Wildrose leadership, that Sherman would be preparing for the Premier's Office as we speak. Sadly, the polls are bad for the Liberals. The ridings they could win are fought for by the PC Party, the NDP, and Wildrose. It is my opinion that the party will not win a single seat.

Sherman will likely finish 3rd in his own seat, and the Liberals may not even manage a single second-place finish. They will, however, present many strong 3rd place finishes in Calgary and parts of Edmonton, but 3rd place does not win you an election. With a PC leader that would be a Liberal in any other province and a new moderate party in the Alberta Party, the Liberals are getting squeezed out.

What happens to the Alberta Liberals is still up in the air. The party could surprise me and win a handful of seats. Keep your eye on the ridings the currently hold, because they will not be gaining any new ones.

New Democrats
The Alberta NDs are not your typical New Democrats. First of all, they do not like the term NDP, rather calling themselves NDs. They also once chose to eschew the Orange colour and use Purple as their official colour, something that the current leader, Brian Mason, put a stop to. While still clearly a branch of the NDP, the Alberta NDs are very moderate and can best be compared to Premiers such as Gary Doer and Darryl Dexter. With poll numbers showing an increase from last election, and a steady showing in Edmonton, the party can expect a "good showing".

Good that is, for the NDP in Alberta. There are half a dozen ridings in Edmonton where the NDP has such a strong base of support, that they will pose a real threat to both the PC Party and Wildrose. This strong base also will be part of the reason the Liberals will struggle. The NDP has the best chance of representing the "pox on both your houses" ideals of non-conservative voters. With solid debate performances, and positive approval numbers, Mason could lead the party to it's highest MLA total in a decade - which sadly for the NDP is 4 seats.

Despite the controversy, Wildrose still leads the polls. Voters, it seems, want a change so bad, they are willing to allow in a few nutters to get that change. Wildrose will win the election, but they will face strong opposition from the PC Party. The odd thing is that this campaign has nothing to do with Wildrose at all.

Danielle Smith has done an excellent job being the face of the party, and with that kind of presence, the crazies in her party mean less. Smith has always been the favourite of the media, managing to win the leadership of Wildrose at a time when the party was full of people who thought there was a risk she was too far to the left. Since then she has been able to build the party into a force that might bring down a dynasty.

A lot has been made of the fact that this is the first time that the only two real contenders for the top job are female. This is not the case. Prince Edward Island did that in 1993 when Catherine Callbeck defeated Pat(ricia) Mella. Even last year, in Newfoundland, Premier Kathy Dunderdale defeated the NDP's Lorraine Micheal. This is the first time, however, that we have had such a race in one of Canada's 4 largest provinces.

Progressive Conservative
The longest serving dynasty in the history of Canada. That is something the party would love to be able to say. They can make that claim for the last 100 years, but sadly for them, the post-confederation Nova Scotia Liberals held office from 1882 to 1925, a total of 43 years. The Alberta PC Party is but 2 years shy of that record, and a victory in this election would have caused them to beat that record. Looking at the polls, the Tories will have to settle for second place in more ways than one.

This election is one simple story. It is not about new premier Allison Redford. It is not about the Alberta Party winning a seat in the Legislature. It is not about the EverGreens winning a Senate Seat. It is not about the collapse of the Liberals. It is not about the NDP monopolizing the progressive vote. It is not about Danielle Smith. It is not even about Wildrose winning. It is about the PC Party losing. When people go to vote on Monday, they will be asking themselves, "Do I want the PC Party to lose?" Polls say the answer is yes.

What is about to happen to the PC Party has not happened since 1935. A sitting government is going to lose to a party that elected 0 members in the last election. Not just a minority, BC's Social Credit did that in 1952, but a Majority. 1935 was so bad that not only did Alberta's Social Credit Party win a majority, but the government party lost every last seat, and now is best known not for politics but for running 100 gas stations in Alberta. While I doubt the PC Party will be hawking fuels by the year 2100, there is a real threat of the party being stamped out. Even if they win a strong official opposition, there is little justification for continuing to elect a PC opposition in the face of a Wildrose government. Even in a minority situation, the PC Party would likely collapse as MLA's who had joined the party just to be in government, suddenly find that another party is where they want to be.

Canada will be watching to see just how blue the map of Alberta is on Tuesday Morning. They will want to see how many PC MLA's are left.

I, of course, being a sucker for maps and numbers, present this, my final personal projection. Note that this is Teddy's projection and not the official Blunt Objects projection, which you can find on the right side of the page.

Wildrose - 47
PC Party - 35
NDP - 5
All Others - 0

Wildrose - 2
PC Party - 1
All 3 would sit as federal Conservatives

Please note that for reasons of visual clarity, the NDP is displayed in RED on this map.

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