Is there any chance for a progressive resurgence in Alberta? I’m talking progressive as in giving a damn about the poor, aged, infirmed, disadvantaged, mentally ill, homeless, neglected, and minority
members outcasts of Albertan society that many pretend don’t exist. I’m talking about progressive as in giving a damn about sustainability beyond switching to coal after you have steam blasted and sucked every last barrel of oil out of the soil creating great lakes and frozen deserts of contaminated water and soil. One would think that somewhere in the province of Alberta there is a core of people who have some consideration of those who have been left behind, for cultural diversity or even for the natural legacy left for their own children.
In the 2006 Federal Election, every urban centre in Canada with the exception of Calgary and Edmonton elected at least one Liberal. The New Democrats are at least competitive in one or more ridings in every province except Quebec and Alberta. While the Liberals managed to get 4 members elected in 1993, their Alberta caucus was cut in half in 1997 and cut in half again when David Kilgore (who could never really decide what party he belonged in anyways) resigned and sat as an independent 2005.
In Edmonton, at least you can attribute the Conservative sweep somewhat to vote splitting as two Edmonton seats were won by the Conservatives with a close plurality (Edmonton Centre, Edmonton Strathcona). But in Calgary, there was not a single riding that was even close. This is pretty much the only province where you can basically send your neighbour to vote for you, because they all vote the same.
Provincially, Alberta has always been ruled by political dynasties and their federal voting record has pretty much followed the same pattern.
- 1905-1921 Alberta Liberal Party
- 1921-1935 United Farmers of Alberta
- 1935-1971 Social Credit Party of Alberta
- 1971-present Alberta Progressive Conservatives
The Progressive Conservatives, Reform, Alliance and Conservative Party of Canada have swept every rural riding in Alberta since 1972 and only lost 4 urban Edmonton ridings in 1993.
I know there are progressives in Alberta, so I personally do not believe that the answer for the Liberal party in Alberta is to become more conservative. The Liberals under Cretien and Martin were more fiscally conservative than the PC under Mulroney. While the “Stephen Harper is a scary SOB” strategy may resonate with some progressives even in Alberta, I don’t think it makes a compelling case to vote Liberal. I think the difference is leadership. Stephen Harper is not a great leader, but neither was Don Getty. Conservatives in Alberta do not need a reason to vote Conservative. Progressives in Alberta need a dynamic leader and clear vision for Canada that includes Alberta in order to vote Liberal.
That’s why I am excited about a meaningful wide open Liberal leadership race, and why I unofficially endorse Gerard Kennedy as the next leader of the Liberal party of Canada.
Okay - the last sentence was a bit of a non-sequitor, but I'll explain why Kennedy in some future post. Until then .....