Its completely real, folks - the Wildrose Party, a party formed out of the perceived slights towards conservatives of the Klein era that built up its movement during the more flagrant Stelmach and Redford regimes, is about to be history, as its executive and membership will vote on merging with Jim Prentice's Progressive Conservatives.
According to Sun News' Rick Bell, its being called a "reunion." Its essentially like a replay of the 2002 merger of the federal PCs and the Canadian Alliance, except without any obvious reason as its clear the PCs are not in danger of losing to a left-wing party anytime soon. Supposedly the merger is happening because Prentice has agreed to a laundry list of right-wing policies, including creating more latitude for private healthcare intrusion, "parent choice" in education (read: no GSAs, more support for homeschooling, etc.), and some other things that, frankly, if Prentice never bothered to lift a finger for, no one could do anything about because he already had a majority!
Clearly the Wildrosers and their pronouncements about integrity, accountability, and change meant nothing if, in the end, they just end up assimilated back into the PC fold. I don't agree with Danielle Smith's politics, but I certainly agreed with her when she talked about the excesses of the PC government in Alberta, how its hegemonic hold on the province has, in the end, just produced a giant sense of entitlement for a government that is way past its prime. Part of the problem has been the lack of effective opposition to the PCs, until Wildrose showed up that is... but now look where they are. Good job, guys.
Well, give Prentice credit, I suppose - this is a major coup. Even if a tiny conservative caucus remained (WildRump, as my co-blogger Teddy said, which is hilarious) separate, it will be nowhere near as organized or effective as the current Wildrosers are. He has essentially killed off his main opposition with barely any effort - and lets not pretend the centre-left opposition parties are anywhere near a state called "election ready" or "effective." I have immense respect for current Alberta Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman, but he is unpopular and already proven to not be up to the task of making the ALP useful. The Alberta NDP have a new leader who I think could really prove popular, but outside of a few extra ridings in Edmonton and Lethbridge, they won't be going far. The Alberta Party and Greens are minor parties whose impact will continue to be minimal, at best. Maybe this will change, but I won't hold my breath.
So, slow clap for Prentice, and a slow end to Danielle Smith's career. Amazing. Who says Alberta politics is boring.