Teaming up to beat the Tories

Stevens’s departure could mean a political shakeup


Teaming up to beat the ToriesWhen federal New Democrats—and some Grits, under a Liberals-for-Linda banner—door-knocked for Linda Duncan in Edmonton-Strathcona last fall, it wasn’t policy that won over voters. “Most of us couldn’t tell you the difference between cap and trade and carbon taxes,” says Alvin Finkel, an Athabasca University prof who campaigned for the NDP candidate. Instead, the team presented stats showing how Duncan won twice the number of votes in 2006 as the Liberal. “What we emphasized,” says Finkel, “is that she could beat the Tory.” Today, Rahim Jaffer—the Tory in question—is no longer in Parliament. And Finkel, of Alberta’s Democratic Renewal Project (DRP), hopes the same approach will work for Alberta provincial politics, dominated by the Tories for 40 years: the group proposes a non-compete strategy among opposition parties and has identified a by-election in Calgary-Glenmore this fall as a possible test case.

The gambit does complicate what already promises to be a tight race. Abandoned by former deputy premier Ron Stevens for a judgeship last month, Glenmore opens up just as excitement heightens around the Wild­rose Alliance, a right-wing party benefitting from growing conservative anger over Premier Ed Stelmach’s swollen deficit and upped oil and gas royalties. Paul Hinman, Wildrose’s former leader, will run; so will popular city alderman Diane Colley-Urquhart, a Tory.

The DRP is backing Avalon Roberts, a Liberal who finished a healthy second in the last two elections. The campaign isn’t perfect—the NDP will run a candidate, the Greens will not—but the race may echo the Calgary-Elbow by-election of 2007, an upset Liberal win. This time, the Wildrose will siphon votes from the Tories. Yet the fact the NDP refuses to play ball throws a bit of a spanner into the DRP works—a symptom of what the group’s Phil Elder, a law prof who has himself run for the NDP, calls “the narcissism of small differences.” The NDP and the Liberals share much and could weaken the Tories, if only they joined forces. Thus the Alberta Tories prevail.


Teaming up to beat the Tories

  1. What good is another liberal going to do? The Leg is already full to the top of them. We need a conservative there. Go Paul!!

    • The Leg is full of liberals? You must use a very interesting definition of liberal. The PC Party has the interesting distinction of no longer being either progressive or fiscally conservative. And as for being liberal, I can tell you that a very large proportion of them are not liberal either by the American definition (left-wing), the Canadian definition (moderate taxation, significant spending on education and programs) or by the classical definition (which would equate to transparent government, perfectly equal rights for every citizen including gays, and importantly, neither deficits nor subsidies for favoured sectors.
      I'm not a great fan of the Alberta Liberals and I have some respect for Danielle Smith, but I can say without a doubt that we do not need more ideological conservatives.

    • Amazing. There should a test before you are allowed to vote.

  2. The Wildrose Alliance? Shouldn't it be the Wild Rose Alliance? "Wildrose" looks like the title of a David Lynch film.

    • Wildrose – one word is correct. When they first formed they agreed to having it combined. When we merged, we kept their spelling of it.

      • It is certainly distinctive.

  3. In trivial news, the spellcheck used by Maclean's does not recognize Canadian spelling. Fail.

    • I don't think it's trivial. The little things add up and if we don't protect Canadian spelling, who will?

  4. Could possibly create a party called…. Reform-a-tory. That's what the feds did??