Why Alberta NEEDS To Unite The Right; Lessons From BC
Albertans seem to have a seriously flawed understanding of BC politics. As a result, they are unable to realize that BC stands as a political lesson for them and their future. I’m born and raised in BC, but I lived in Alberta from 1995 through 2010. As my adult life has been almost equally split between the two provinces, I consider Alberta just as much “home” as BC is. This comes from that experience.
Alberta, up until the last election, and BC for probably 85% of it’s electoral history, have both been governed by centre-right parties. Both the BC Liberals and the Alberta PC’s are centre-right “big tent” parties. Albertans hear the word “Liberal” and immediately think socialist. Look, I fully understand how Trudeau senior screwed that up for you (and Trudeau junior is just reinforcing it), but it’s flawed thinking on numerous levels. Both the BC Liberals and the Alberta PC’s have members who lean left yet, in reality, they don’t lean too far left. Excepting one recent former PC member from Calgary who shall remain nameless, centre-left is a stretch for most of them. The only non-centre-right party that has managed to govern either province is the NDP. The big difference between the two provinces is that the NDP have been an at least somewhat “effective” opposition in BC for a good portion of the last 50+ years. Yet, Alberta hasn’t had an “effective” opposition in many decades. The NDP (and Liberals) in Alberta have rarely managed to get above 10%-15% of the vote (in some cases, COMBINED). A lack of an effective opposition leads directly to an entitled governing party. After Ralph Klein’s era ended, you can see how the lack of an effective opposition in Alberta created a sense of entitlement in the governing party. That entitlement led to the downfall of the Alberta PC’s.
It is that entitlement that led to the rise of the Wildrose Party. I’m not saying the emergence of the Wildrose was good or bad, but I will say that as long as there are two parties on the right in Alberta, you can expect the NDP to continue governing. The problem the Wildrose will always have, is they do not attract “centrists”, and as much as you hate to admit it, there aren’t enough on “the right” (the Wildrose “right”) to ever do more than keep “the right” split. It’s the same problem the BC Conservatives run into every time they try to have a go.
Like it or not Albertans, the NDP has somehow managed to get a bunch of support it never had, and the only way to get any of that back is to unite the right. You need one party that captures the “right”, “centre-right” and ideally “centrists”. This is what puts Alberta in a position much like BC’s. The BC Liberals were re-created as a result of uniting the right in BC (Google it). The party is comprised of “right”, “centre-right” and “centrists”…and probably some “centre-left”. They are keenly aware that, even with the large victories they’ve achieved, the NDP is always knocking at the door, because there are swing voters in BC who flip between the NDP and BC Liberals (see those “centre-left” types). It’s a reality of politics in BC, and it’s going to be a reality of politics in Alberta. Look at the election results of past BC elections and see how little of the BC Liberals votes going to, say, the BC Conservatives, puts the NDP in power. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot. Yes, the BC Liberals have some policies that “lean left”. They have to. It’s what keeps the NDP in the opposition benches. Do I support all those left leaning positions? Not the vast majority of them, but I recognize why they exist. A “united” right party in Alberta (be that under the PC banner, or whatever…a completely new name is not out of the question) will need to do the same.
Ultimately, be it BC or Alberta or Canada, “the majority” falls in the middle, politically. Somewhere between centre-left and centre-right (although I’m willing to bet that if push came to shove, the real majority is actually between centre and centre-right). If you’re pushing only right/far-right policies, you’re going to have a very tough sell, and will only appeal to a minority of people. The BC Liberal party knows that. The Alberta PC’s (and I suspect, Jason Kenney) know that. The Conservative Party of Canada knows that. The Wildrose should know that too.
Alberta PC’s and Wildrose members, for the good of Alberta (and thus, the good of Canada), PLEASE sit down and have an adult discussion. Take a look at BC and our political history, and learn from it. The days of a one party state in Alberta are over. You are now effectively a two party state, just like BC. Embrace it, and move forward. Or be prepared to give the NDP another term, or worse, more.