Even for Alberta, three right-of-centre parties may sound like an impossibility. But not this summer.
On May 28, 2011 Glenn Taylor won the leadership of the Alberta Party, a centrist party of which former interim leader Sue Huff has said:
“We’re a centrist, pragmatic party that builds on the common sense of Albertans. We’re in the middle somewhere —fiscally prudent but socially quite progressive. Albertans want a compassionate government that takes care of the pennies as well.”
The day after the Alberta Leadership was determined, on May 29th, the Alberta Liberal Party was holding a General Meeting in Calgary. Liberal Party membership voted overwhelmingly in favour of a by-law amendment that welcomes all eligible electors in Alberta to cast a ballot in the Liberal leadership contest, regardless of membership status in the Party. According to the Alberta Liberal Party website:
“The Alberta Liberals are the most open political Party in Canada, and we welcome all eligible Alberta voters who support us to participate – no membership required.”
Any Albertan of legal age can register as a “supporter” at no cost and can have a say in the
direction of the future of the Liberal Party in Alberta.
There are five contenders for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Alberta
including: MLA Laurie Blakeman and MLA Raj Sherman, Hugh MacDonald, Bruce
Payne, and Bill Harvey.
Bill Harvey, however, is not a typical Liberal. Instead, he has branded himself
as a Laurence Decore Liberal and advocates on his site “Restoring Liberty, Accountability, and Fiscal Responsibility to the Hall’s of Alberta’s Legislature.” Decore was the most successful Alberta Liberal candidate in a generation, and competed with Ralph Klein in
Reading Harvey’s “solutions” on his site may cause one to wonder, “Isn’t Bill Harvey in the wrong party?” However, having a right-of-centre candidate running for the leadership of the Liberal Party presents an interesting scenario for Albertans, especially now that any eligible elector in Alberta can cast a ballot in this leadership race. There is always an outside chance that if the right-of-centre contingent in Alberta registers on the Alberta Liberal Party website en masse and follow with a vote, that the next leader of the Alberta Liberal Party could be right-leaning Bill Harvey. The next Liberal leader could become a Laurence Decore to the next Tory leader.
The six candidates for leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of
Alberta — Doug Griffiths, Doug Horner, Rick Orman, Gary Mar, Ted Morton, and
Alison Redford — are busy on the campaign trail this summer as well. The first
ballot for the PC Leadership in Alberta is on September 17, 2011, with October
1, 2011 scheduled for the second ballot, if required.
Ted Morton was one of the six prominent authors of the Alberta Agenda, an open
letter written ten years ago to Ralph Klein to set forward policies to
strengthen Alberta. The policy direction set out in the Alberta Agenda has been
adopted by the up-start Wildrose Alliance. If the Progressive Conservative
membership chooses to elect Ted Morton as leader of the Party, then the Alberta
Agenda and the principles that it contains may come to the forefront in Alberta
Danielle Smith is the leader of the Wildrose Alliance Party that has significantly grown in support. Smith is touring the province on a summer tour with quite the intense itinerary.
Usually summers are politically quieter than during the rest of the year, but this is certainly not the case in Alberta this summer.
There is the potential for three right-of-centre leaders in Alberta. Of course,
a strong, legitimate opposition is an excellent thing. As we have seen most
recently at the federal level, electors often vote based on the leader of a
Party and on a Party’s brand, so these next few weeks will be an important
series of events to follow. Stay tuned!