More on the 2015 Alberta election see also Elections: Your Vote Matters
Wildrose 2016, I was certain they had my vote, but that changed. Now with the election coming up on May 2nd and after spending a short period volunteering on behalf of a local candidate I can safely say that there is no certainty in my vote for the Wildrose Party this cycle.
Alberta is unique, in that its two leading parties are 'conservative,' what kind of scrutiny may contradict this is not under discussion at this time. However, this duality in conservative parties makes for a great deal of fluidity in voter preference.
I found myself adamantly in support of the down and out Wildrose Party who had just experienced a defection of nine MLA's to the Progressive Conservatives, a likely bait and switch, which crippled the opposition.
During a further conversation with a local candidate, it was acknowledged that Social Conservatives in the Wildrose Party were presumed, not unjustifiably, to have lost the party the 2012 Alberta election. Fear mongering on behalf of the Redford campaign led to a windfall of votes by public sector workers and youth distressed by the proposition of a social conservative party in power. The, 'I never thought I would vote PC,' slander campaigns and the, 'not your parents conservative party' slogans were emblematic of the skill in which the PC party manipulated strategic voting to their advantage.
Sure a few comments, dug from Alan Hunsperger's website years previous indicted the party, but I admired Danielle Smith's willingness to stand up for the religious freedom of her candidate and statements made in the capacity of religious leadership. I do not condone the remarks, but I understand the unwillingness to condemn them; however, Albertans' didn't the Wildrose, won 18 seats, but barely made a dent in Calgary or Edmonton.
Wildrose withdrew from any open social conservatism in its caucus and in turn, Albertans are left with little to distinguish the two conservative parties contending for leadership. What this meant for me was that I was now watching a presumed race to the bottom as between the two parties. I expected an austerity budget from the PC party under Jim Prentice, and likewise an austerity response from the Wildrose party, but instead Jim Prentice came out with a relatively logical and measured response to increasing revenues independent of the now minimal price of oil. As a Red Tory I was happy, but I do not trust Prentice.
This leaves me with a libertarian party divorced from social concerns, or even the debate of them; lest they lose contention in the leadership race, and a Red Tory administration, which is mired in corruption and excess, but at least has generally speaking, maintained some sort of mandate and ability to discuss social concerns.
This leaves me concerned about the Wildrose Party going forward. Virtually the entire party platform consists of maintaining the flat tax and reversing the new budgetary measures introduced by the PC party. A winning strategy if you want to be elected in rural Alberta and the boardroom, but one that leaves me deeply skeptical about whether or not your party can balance the budget. The fact that no alternative revenue sources are being investigated by the Wildrose leadership is concerning and shows an idealistic streak strongly divorced from reality. Even a cursory mention to of a sales tax and incentives for value added industries in Alberta would go a long way to ensuring my support, but it will not happen.
This leaves myself as a voter deeply disappointed once again. Why? Because the Wildrose party, out of fear, is not playing hardball politics anymore; they are not brave; they are playing it safe. Savvy, sure, but they have lost their edge and in turn, many skeptics as well.