Alberta Tories Gain Nearly Entire Wildrose Party Caucus Including Leader Danielle Smith - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Alberta Tories Gain Nearly Entire Wildrose Party Caucus Including Leader Danielle Smith

What a difference nine months make. Back in March, the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party was at its lowest ebb in its 43 years in office. Alison Redford was forced to resign as Premier in disgrace after spending lavish amounts of government money for personal expenses, the most notable of which was the $45,000 spent to attend the funeral of the late South African President Nelson Mandela.

This should have been a boon to the official opposition Wildrose Party led by Danielle Smith.

But here we are nine months later and today Smith resigned as leader of the Wildrose Party and crossed over to the governing Tories along with eight of her caucus members. Three other caucus members had left Wildrose, two to sit with the Tories and one as an independent. In a matter of weeks, Wildrose has gone from 17 seats to five, the same number of seats held by the Liberals. It is likely that Prentice will appoint Smith and perhaps one or two other ex-Wildrose members to cabinet positions.

Since we don’t have a parliamentary democracy in this country, it is impossible to provide an American example. But in Canadian politics, it would be the equivalent of Justin Trudeau and the Liberals crossing the floor and joining Stephen Harper’s Tories. Or in Britain, it would be the equivalent of Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and his caucus joining David Cameron’s Tories.

So what happened?

Two words: Jim Prentice.

Prentice, who had been considered as a possible successor to Stephen Harper, resigned as Minister of the Environment to run for the leadership of the Alberta Tories which he won this past September and became Premier shortly thereafter. In his short time in office, Prentice has governed more honestly and conservatively than Redford. In late October, the Tories bested Wildrose in four by-elections. At the Wildrose Party’s convention in November, members voted down a resolution that supported equal rights for all minority groups including the LGBT community. The defections began shortly thereafter and reached their crescendo today.

In the days leading up to the Wildrose defections, there had been a discussion of a formal merger between the two parties. However, Wildrose is not going down without a fight. Although rough around the edges, Wildrose were an effective conservative opposition instrumental in bringing down Redford and Ed Stelmach before her. But with fewer ideological differences between Wildrose and Prentice’s Tories, Wildrose appears to have lost its raison d’être.

Although Prentice and the Tories are flying high things could be different in another nine months down the road. Oil prices have been falling and are expected to continue to fall. This could result in a return to deficits. Alberta consistenly ran surpluses during the Ralph Klein years, but deficits reared their ugly head in the middle of Stelmach’s term. An election isn’t due to happen until 2016 although one could be called in late 2015. Either way, if the economy continues to sag, Albertans may finally sour on the Tories that have governed the province since 1971.


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