04.25.2012 12:00 AM

In today’s Sun: not all of us predicted a Wildrose victory…

Campaigns matter. Stephen Carter, the election strategist who took Naheed Nenshi from nowhere to capture Calgary’s mayoralty, is the same guy who engineered Redford’s huge win on Monday night.

Carter is self-effacing and brilliant – and he showed, convincingly, that a well-run campaign can make all the difference on election night.
Redford and Carter undersold and overperformed. They were disciplined.

But, most of all, they understood modern Alberta better than their main opponent. While Smith had candidates saying gays would burn in hellfire, and white candidates were better than non-white ones, the Alberta PCs stuck to the middle of the road – which is where all the votes are.

They showed everyone that centrist, progressive politics ain’t dead. Not in Alberta, and not in Canada.

22 Comments

  1. kitt says:

    Yes and they had ground workers going door to door – phoning (not robocalls) and getting out the vote. Sunday I got a post card from the PC candidate telling me where to vote and it corresponded with election alberta info. The Monday someone rang my doorbell to ask if I needed a ride to the voting station – from the PC campaign. They don’t have my phone # 🙂 Again in my riding a Liberal MLA was elected.

    With the right leader and the right centralist platform Alberta would vote for a centralist Liberal party and kick the CON BOTS out. If Liberals don’t wanna do it the NDP in Alberta will step up and take all those centralist votes.

    • Michael says:

      I am not from Alberta, but my thoughts were along the same lines kitt.

      There is a lot of talk about the growing influence of Alberta and western Canada and how that bodes well for the Conservatives. But in my mind, a lot of these new Albertans are from eastern Canada, an area that has been more progressive and voted Liberal.

      With some many federal Conservatives lining up behind Wildrose, and Wildrose being soundly trounced, doesn’t this represent a chance for the federal Liberals? If only the powers that be would wake up to that fact.

      • Eric Weiss says:

        No it doesn’t. The Liberals are dead in Alberta. Provincially and federally. People here will vote NDP before they’ll ever vote Liberal again.

        • Michael says:

          You might want to tell that to the 5 ridings that got elected Liberals on Monday. Apparently they did not get the memo.

          And I wasn’t too good at math, but 5 was greater than 4 when I went to school. 😀

  2. Billy boy says:

    Centrism is just another word for “opportunism” “entitlement” “arrogance” and be all things to everybody. That’s well define in politics.

    “Progressive”, however, I find a little less well defined in politics. Could you please define “progressive” and outline what a “progressive” platform might look like? Crucially, what makes Alberta PCs “progressive”? Is it by being the fear mongering less regressive alternative to the resentful, hateful wildly regressive politics of Wildrose?

    • Pat says:

      How does centrism have anything to do with arrogance or entitlement?

      Do you not think that the CPC is arrogant and entitled? Was Bev Oda not acting entitled when she turned down one five-star hotel for another, more expensive one? Do you not call the decision to hide estimates for the F-35s from the Canadian people arrogant? Was the Wild Rose not incredibly arrogant before election night on Monday? How about Tim Hudak before Dalton kicked his ass in the last election. Arrogance and entitlement are the characteristics of people and parties, not places on the spectrum.

      I could understand the characterization of opportunism, but I would be much quicker to go with compromise, or moderation.

      • Billy boy says:

        I agree that The CPC is riddled with arrogance and self-entitlement, never more than after having taken over the centre of the political landscape. As for the middle as a space of compromise, not even under a minority but certainly less so under majority centrist governments. Neither the natural governing party nor Haper’s Conservatives have been conciliatory, humble or responsible governments.

        • Pat says:

          I’d say the arrogance and entitlement took over the CPC once they gained power. It is easy to lack arrogance and entitlement when you are in opposition.

          One of the biggest problems that the LPC has is that is STILL reeks of arrogance and entitlement despite being the third party…

      • Michael says:

        I want to know who Bev Oda has pictures of, because there is no way she is still a minister if she doesn’t.

    • James Bow says:

      Centrism can be opportunistic, certainly. In that situation, centrist parties listen to Canadians and advocate for those policies they think will most likely get them elected.

      But there is another wing of centrism. That’s pragmatism. That’s where centrists listen to all sides in a debate, and side with the side that makes the most sense. They pick the policies that, after careful review, best serve their constituents, regardless of whether those policies are popular or not.

      I’m a pragmatic centrist. I’ve no great love for the opportunistic ones.

      • Pat says:

        I think, to some degree, opportunism and pragmatism run hand-in-hand, at least as far as political parties go (that isn’t to say that you are an opportunist). Political parties at the centre may be pragmatic when it comes to policy decisions – choosing the best option rather than an ideological option – but they also must address the public perception of their actions. The fact that they are not bound by any ideology means that they are more open to opportunism than any ideological group, such as the CPC or NDP (both of which must stick relatively close to ideological principles).

        I too am a centrist, because I think that the best policy is made by reaching for moderate versions of policy from each side of the spectrum (pragmatism). But this doesn’t mean that the LPC isn’t opportunist (and I should say, it isn’t bad to be opportunistic if it is serving your constituents).

        • James Bow says:

          I used to say that there were two wings in the Liberal party: the opportunists and the pragmatists. The pragmatists — the Liberals I really liked voting for — tended to congregate at the municipal level. While they wanted to serve, their ambition wasn’t at a level that propelled them to higher office. Or they had other priorities than politics. The last Liberal I happily voted for, federally, was John English, MP for Kitchener Centre in 1993. I thought he served his constituents very well. But he didn’t run in 1997, because he wanted to spend more time with his family and care for his ailing wife. Of course, I respected that, but it robbed us of a damn good MP.

    • tfalcone86 says:

      “Centrism is just another word for “opportunism” “entitlement” “arrogance” and be all things to everybody.”

      No its not. You’re talking about completely different ideas that have no direct relation to one another.

    • Billy boy says:

      No one wants to touch the “progressive” question? Considering it has much more bearing on the future of the LPC than it does for the Alberta PC’s? The CPC, for the foreseeable future owns the centre, especially in the crucial battleground of Ontario.

  3. Pat says:

    So are you advocating for a strong LPC at the centre of the spectrum, now? Neither the CPC or the NDP occupy the centre, so you must be…

  4. dave says:

    Oh, I dunno…looks to me that Petro Province Party Medium Rare edged out Petro Province Party Rare, the difference being that the latter gaffed on two or three bigot errors. I didn’t see that much close analysis of competing economic policies.
    Same oil people (increasingly foreign owned) are still in charge.

    57% voted, tho, that is a nice turn around from previous Alberta elections. And if there is any substance tothe guess that fear drove ND/Lib/Alberta Party votes to the Medium Rare Party, then maybe there is something that a more transparent, democratic, Alberta people centred party could build on.

  5. smelter rat says:

    In other news, the BC Libs are contemplating a name change, in the hope that this will boost their fortunes in the next election. Warren should sponsor a contest!

  6. Andy says:

    Good column Warren. I live in Edmonton and I found it amusing watching all the pundits fall over themselves predicting a Wildrose victory. All the people I know hate the Wildrose and what they stand for, and were scared about the prospect of them forming government. I knew many long time supporters of the NDP and the Liberals who were going to vote for Redford either because they wanted to stop the Wildrose and they liked Redford’s policy orientation. I had heard that there were many people in Calgary who were going to do the same. I was a little surprised the Tories won 62 seats, but I was not surprised they won a majority, nor were most of the people I knew. In fact during the entire campaign most people I talked to thought the Tories would get back in, even though the pundits were almost universally saying the opposite. Most Albertans just want sensible, middle of the road government and don’t like extremism of any form, nor do they want government to advance a radical social agenda. The PC’s offered that, while the WRP did not. The WRP will only advance to government if they move to the centre, I think they have probably already done significant damage to their brand because people won’t forget the bozo eruptions and Smith’s failure to condemn their hate. If the Tories are beaten it will be from the centre. In my opinion the group that has the best chance to do that is the Alberta Party. It will take some work for them to get there, but the Liberal brand does not sell in Alberta and Alberta is not an NDP province. Nevertheless, there is a lot of room in Alberta for progressive ideas. The old grey headed men who write for the Sun, and Toronto columnists may have been shocked, but they don’t understand Alberta.

  7. Dan says:

    The Alberta PCs are neither progressive nor centrist. It was only a few years ago that the PCs wanted to defund abortion, and rail against the “feminist-gay agenda”.

    Don’t misread the result.

    • Kelly says:

      Except Ted Morton got his ass whipped and he’s no longer in government to cause trouble for Ms. Redford — who is now in control and represents the views of most Albertans. This is the ONLY good thing that Wild Rose managed to achieve on election night. Thank you, Wild Rose.

  8. Kelly says:

    Having gone to school in Alberta for a time and having grown up next door, and having relatives there, and work colleagues, I can tell you that Alberta isn’t nearly as conservative as the punditocracy — and certain no-nothing reporters — would have you believe. Election results are heavily distorted by our phony first past the post electoral process. There were 5 parties running that had some profile — three of them are obviously progressive (the idea that democratic government is a good and important instrument to achieve more just and equitable social outcomes) and one is fairly progressive (especially now under the current leader.) The regressive Wild Rose (Wild Ass?) party, run by a libertarian disciple of the kooky Ayn Rand, and a cover for all kinds of bigots and angry old men, only got about a third of the vote — much of it in confused rural areas.

    The Progressive Conservatives actually have done a fairly good job in Alberta. They have invested more heavily in health, education and infrastructure than any other jurisdiction in Canada. With the ascension of a legitimately progressive conservative in the Joe Clark mold (Oh Harper must be furious) and a beat back of some of the knuckle draggers — many of whom jumped ship to the Wild *** party — they are set to actually make some additional investments and make better, generationally responsible use of royalties from irreplaceable resources. Contrast that with the Ayn Rand party that would have simply pissed the money away at the mall.

    In short, almost 70% of Albertans voted for parties with platforms that said a democratic government is a good thing and the best instrument to achieve important social goals. They believe everyone is better off when a bigger proportion of a GDP is invested in health, infrastructure, education — you know, things that set the stage for wealth creation. The other party thinks a bigger proportion of GDP should be spent on stuff like 80 inch TVs, Chia Pets, Big Macs and T-shirts that say “Im with Stupid”.

    However, there is one good thing that the Wild Rose party did for Alberta — they kicked Ted Morton out of government. He’s gone and won’t be around to make trouble for Ms. Reford.

  9. Anne Peterson says:

    I lived in Alberta during the Peter Lougheed years. He poured money into education, health care and wonderful roaads. And he took care of the less fortunate. He had a government lab test every kind of substance possible for surfacing the Edmonton Calgary highway and it has paid off big time. He realized that some things should be done by the public sector to be done right for the public.

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