THUNDER BAY – It is an exciting time for Alberta right now. For 41 years, the Progressive Conservatives have rule Alberta. Elections were won by the PCs in such large majorities that it was often easier to weigh the votes rather than count them. Right now there is an honest to goodness horse race happening in this election. It is looking, if the polls are right, like the PCs have run out of steam and Albertans are ready to elect Wildrose.
PC leader Redmond has appeared throughout the campaign like she is being directed by the people who ran the federal Liberal campaigns that saw three succesive minority governments form power. The trouble is that attacking Alberta’s Reform roots and calling the Wildrose party ‘scary’ isn’t likely to go over well in Alberta.
It is a silly approach to running a political campaign for the PCs. The campaign appears to be trying to distance itself from former Premier Ralph Klein as well.
The basic rule in politics is that people don’t elect a new government, they simply toss out the old one once it has become too out of touch, too arrogant and too self-serving. That likely is going to be a realization that more and more Albertans come to as the campaign enters the home-stretch.
If the Wildrose form a majority government, it is entirely possible that the party that ruled Alberta for the past 41 years could be headed to the scrap heap. Albertans have never re-elected a government once it has been in power and lost. For defeated MLAs, chances are they will not be all that prepared to start what will likely be a long process to re-build the party.
That is the usual process after a defeat. The defeated candidates have a period of mourning, and so too will the party. Re-building may be far harder than many think too. In some cases, candidates like PC Finance Minister Ted Morton, who tried for the party leadership as a right of centre candidate would if defeated be seen as a logical direction to head. The trouble for Morton now would be that he is tagged with the baggage of the ‘Redmond Years’.
What likely happened to the Progressive Conservatives this time out was they misread the Wildrose province, and are about to pay the ultimate political price for that mistake.
There are thoughts that the excitement of this Alberta election are likely to spill over into British Columbia. It is unlikely that much of that Wildrose excitement will make it across the prairies into Ontario. That is a debate for another day.
Likely should the pollsters have it right, and the voters toss out the PCs in Alberta, the downfall of the party will be examined for decades in the political science classes across Canada.
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