He surprised us all on his arrival as party leader a little over four years ago, and he now surprises us all in announcing his departure. Ed Stelmach has called it quits, and with that decision he has altered the already-changing political landscape of Alberta.
He will not run again
Stelmach’s move changes the game for those nipping at his political heels in the last few months, the Wildrose Alliance. Like most of us, they were expecting to fight an upcoming election against the increasingly unpopular premier. Ed Stelmach was Danielle Smith’s greatest weapon, and now she has lost it.
A new Progressive Conservative leader will trigger a new electoral strategy for Wildrose, but Stelmach will not escape unscathed. Already fearing the worst for himself, the premier alluded in his announcement today to the attacks that the next election will direct against him. He is prophetic on this score. Wildrose will have to remind the electorate again and again that the PC is the party of Steady Eddy.
Stelmach’s announcement will reinvigorate small opposition parties, new and old. They will see this development as an opportunity to advance and grow.
Stelmach’s move today will also change the Alberta PCs. The party will need a new leader and their new leader will have to be decisive in his or her policies, and in the resolve to renew the party. If they don’t squander this opportunity, it might be a renewed party.
Change is coming one way or the other. Wildrose will have a new electoral strategy, and the Alberta Tories will have a new leader, a new image, and may be even a new, reinvented party. The next Alberta election might be a dandy.