If you don’t follow the political scene in Alberta, you might not know about the growing popularity of the Wildrose Alliance Party– a new, upstart party that is slowly but steadily gaining members and strength in Alberta since it’s birth two years ago.
What started as a joke to many and received sneers from political experts, the Wildrose Alliance is the result of a 2008 merger between two smaller conservative parties in the province. While they did not win any seats in the 2008 general election, as of today they hold three seats in the Alberta legislature, having just announced the crossover of two elected Progressive Conservatives to join their ranks yesterday.
Much of the party’s success fell to timing and the election of a new leader, Danielle Smith. In 2009, the party capitalized on the publics growing discontent with the current premier Ed Stelmach, and membership began to grow. Clearly, the people of Alberta were ready for a change in the status quo, and again the party began to attract some high-ranking PC party members as well as a large number of former Reform Party supporters. The rest,as they say, is history. Party leader Danielle Smith seems to have a realistic and solid approach to building the party, as she says, ” Brick by brick”- setting a firm foundation with solid riding associations and candidates in all areas.
It was sometime post-election last year,when I really started thinking about the possibility of how succesful a new political party would be in British Columbia and put it out there in a couple of posts. Those posts generated some very interesting reactions in emails and phone calls that lead to growing debates and discussions among many of my friends and colleagues, but for me, it was very simple. I wanted to run for MLA in my riding, but I have never been a member of any political party. Without a flicker of a doubt,the Liberals were never a consideration. There is much in the Conservative Party platform that I don’t agree with, and so of course, having supported the NDP with my vote for years, I automatically leaned towards the NDP.
Herein lies the problem. It’s not news to anyone that there are massive divisions in the party. Even a brief cruise through the blogosphere and political chat forums will show you there are several splinter groups within the party, each dissatisfied with party leadership and executive for different reasons. Members are leaving, this is as true for the NDP as it is for the Liberals,which to me, speaks volumes about the condition of both parties right now. Geez, in my own neighbourhood, many people are embarrassed to admit they are, or were, Liberal. Of course, the NDP are ahead in the polls now, but do they have what it takes to win another election?
The bigger question would then be, can what is so inherently wrong within the NDP, what has become so broken, be repaired and salvaged to create a unified, strong party again? One that puts the trust of the voter ahead of the hidden internal politics?
Moreover, can they overcome the baggage Sihota brings with him? I’m not so sure about that.
I, for one, do not support Sihota’s return to the party. I didn’t like him back in the day, and I don’t trust him, nor do I trust his motive – and I know a lot of people who feel the same way. People who may have hung in there and given the NDP another try, are now saying they won’t even vote if it comes to that, because anyone involved with Sihota must have rocks in their head. And that is a quote from one of my readers in northern BC. Regardless of his ability to bring in financial support – because voters honestly don’t care or think about that aspect very much -and really, Sihota’s ability to heal the rift between the NDP and environmentalists is questionable at best, in my opinion. Times have changed, but has Sihota?
Now, forgive me because I am clearly not a political analyst, by far, but I am just sharing ideas and thoughts that I think a lot of people might be thinking, but perhaps won’t voice for fear of being ridiculed or mocked. Where does the current situation leave someone like me who has a deep desire to make change in this province, but finds herself, in essence, party-less?
I care not only about the community I live in, but I also care very, very much about the future of this entire province. I was born and raised in the heart of BC , Prince George. My family worked on some of the massive construction projects that supported this province back in the sixties and seventies, and they still all work in what is left of the dwindling forestry sector. I have seen, first-hand as many others in this province have who do not live in the bubble known as Greater Vancouver, that this province is in dire straights. Dire because of what the Liberals have done so far, and for what they will continue to do, even with another leader. They must not get majority in the legislature again.
Let’s go back to that quote from Wildrose Alliance leader, Danielle Smith:
“Every 30 or 40 years, we get tired of the government that’s in power and we sweep them out and we look to a new alternative. I think we have an opportunity to catch one of those historic waves.”