The Year That Was
Posted on by Richard Einarson
The past year caused many in our fledgling party a great deal of reflection. For most of 2011, we were on a roll. Our membership was growing by leaps and bounds. We were the hot topic of Alberta politics. We were poised for an amazing breakthrough.
Then Alison Redford won the PC leadership race, and many of the moderate, progressive people who had fled the PCs under premiers Stelmach and Klein, saw her as a beacon of hope that party would become fresher, more open and accountable. On one hand, I was glad to see an articulate, strong leader talking about openness and inclusion. On the other hand, it knocked the Alberta-Party wind out of me. Going into an election against such a leader was going to be more difficult.
We lost some oomph over the next few months. The new premier espoused many of the same values that motivated us. She talked about accountability in government… co-operation with others to build a better Alberta. She wanted to bring regular Albertans back into the decision-making process. She talked about listening. She sounded like the Alberta Party.
I wouldn’t say the wheels fell off our bus (not the way they fell off some buses), but we were up against a different challenge. We had a great leader in Glenn Taylor, an example of what public service should be and someone who lives and breathes Alberta Party values. But we didn’t have the money to buy advertising or jet Glenn around the province so people could see first-hand what a decent, capable and inspiring leader he was. The 2012 election was a competition between the anger encouraged by an aggressive new opposition party and the fear encouraged by the government. It became obvious a grander vision for Alberta was not going to be a motivating issue for voters.
The PCs may have gotten a majority in our new legislative assembly, but I believe nobody actually won, especially not Albertans. After we didn’t elect MLAs in our first election as a moderate party, some people questioned whether we should just throw in the towel. But many others in our party believe the PCs will never again recapture a true empathy with average Albertans. As much as the premier might wish it, even she won’t be able to move her party away from its demonstrated core value: remaining in power and protecting that power.
That’s exactly why the Alberta Party is still relevant. Although we are still small, we have a potential no other party in Alberta has. Sure, the official Opposition has shown itself more capable of harnessing anger and discontent. What we still aspire to harness is hope itself… the hope for a better Alberta… the hope for a sustainable prosperity that outlasts the Age of Fossil Fuels… the hope that ours will be a province that celebrates our diversity. We’re still the best idea in Alberta politics – a fresh start for all people interested in electing a government rooted in a culture of integrity and collaboration, a government that makes balanced decisions in the interest of all Albertans based on the best evidence and the best ideas, no matter where they come from.
We didn’t get our rocket into orbit this time, but we learned a lot. We moved our ideas forward. We began building a vessel for those who will increasingly want to escape the nasty, fruitless political practice of destroying rather than building. The next generation of voters will clamour for something more productive and positive. Those in the governing party who are sick of having to defend its entitlement culture will need a place to come. People who want their ideas and values to actually make it to elected office will need somewhere to come. Fiscally responsible, socially progressive people will need somewhere to come and pursue a common cause.
It wasn’t an easy year. There is no arguing that. But we’ve come a long way, regardless. We’re ahead of where we started… and we are still the best moderate option on Alberta’s political landscape today.
Alberta Party President