Why the Wildrose Party is not long for this world

The Wildrose Party Whip gets ready to get the Opposition caucus under control. Alberta politicians may not be exactly as illustrated. Below: Danielle Smith, Tom Flanagan, Joe Anglin, Dr. Gilles Tourette.

The Wildrose phenomenon will disappear from the Alberta political scene almost as quickly as the party’s leader took a powder after her concession speech at the golf club in Okotoks on Tuesday night.

Sure, we’ve all heard the promises about what a great opposition the Wildrose Party is going to make, how well leader Danielle Smith did to build it out of nothing in jig time, and how they’ll be back in 2016 to really kick Tory ass. All talk, of course.

There are several reasons why the Wildrose is likely to quickly wither on the vine – an appropriate enough metaphor for such a delicate little flower in Alberta’s harsh climate. The principal one is simply this: Uniting the right has worked too long and too well for the people who bankroll right-wing governments to allow this to continue.
Oh, sure, they might think about letting Wildrose strategist Tom Flanagan have one more kick at the cat before he retires to Palm Springs – but he’ll be what in 2016, a hundred and two?

Seriously, people, if the Wildrose Party can’t make any inroads as the opposition, and that seems unlikely in the unforgiving new world of Alison Redford’s huge and smart Progressive Conservative majority, it’ll blow away on the Prairie wind for the simple reason its funds will dry up.

Corporate donors who benefit from a united right just aren’t going to pay to keep it divided. So if Wildrose donations were way up when it looked like they just might form a government, you can expect them to be way down hereafter.

The Wildrose Party was a clever gambit thought up by some of the uber-rightists surrounding Prime Minister Stephen Harper to repeat the trick of the neo-Con Reform Party’s hostile reverse takeover of the federal Progressive Conservatives. They got seed money from some junior oil companies, lined up the mostly compliant media and pollsters and were off to the races.

The only problems turned out to be that the population of Alberta was paying more attention than anyone gave it credit for, and the 41-year Tory dynasty – by which the right has done very nicely in this province over the years – had deep roots in the community and didn’t just roll over and surrender.

In other words, the plan didn’t work and the people who paid to work it will soon return to more effective strategies.

It’s said here that if the Wildrose flops in Opposition – which seems pretty likely given the shallow talent pool of its caucus and the fact it doesn’t really disagree with the government on most issues anyway – their bagmen will quickly fold up their empty bags and trudge home.

Big Business will go back to trying to get its favourite candidate elected to leader of the PCs, and the Wildrose is likely to become increasingly attractive only to the kinds of kooks whose “bozo eruptions” sealed its fate the week before the general election.

The fly in the ointment with the traditional approach is that Ms. Redford is likely to be around for quite a while now. So to make it work its corporate sponsors will need sufficient patience to play a long game.

What’s more, their most likely replacement candidate, Ted Morton, is almost as old as his pal Dr. Flanagan. Worse, Doctors Flanagan and Morton, along with that Harper guy, were the trio of neo-Con boobs from the University of Calgary who dreamed up many of the Wildrose policies Ms. Smith now says she must reconsider because they sent voters screaming for the exits. You know, like sending the Mounties packing and dropping the Canada Pension Plan. They also advocated completely opting out of the Canada Health Act.

Meanwhile, if you thought bozo eruptions were a problem for Ms. Smith when everyone figured she was about to form a government and have cabinet portfolios to hand out, just wait till she starts trying to control this gang on the wrong side of the Legislature!

Seriously, do you think the likes of Joe Anglin, the American-born ex-Green ex-Marine from Rimbey, is going to pay any attention to Ms. Smith when she tells him to button up? Good one! And heaven only knows what other surprises lurk in her caucus. Bitter people with extremist views who a week ago were imagining measuring the drapes for their cabinet offices.

Mark my words, before long we’ll be calling the Wildrose opposition the Tourette Party. Caucus members with an ounce of sense will be quietly petitioning to rejoin the Tories every one of them used to be a member of. And all the ambitious little Harper neo-Cons who helped out with the campaign will drift back to Ottawa.

No, it will soon be apparent that the real opposition in the Alberta is coming from the same place it always came from – the NDP and Liberal benches.

Just to make it perfectly clear how things work, Ms. Redford’s Natural Governing Party will likely subtly and deniably ensure that a few rural municipalities are firmly reminded of the foolish decision they made on election day.

What’s more, a certain governing federal party will be made to deeply regret its aid and comfort to Ms. Smith and the coup plotters. Indeed, the Redford Tories may very well conclude there’s nothing wrong at all with a strategy that’s worked well for Ontario and Quebec over the years – doing what it can to ensure a different party entirely thrives in Ottawa than sits on the government side of the provincial Legislature.

Well, maybe that’s too much to hope. But for all these reasons, the plucky little “upstart” Wildrose Party is not long for this world.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

15 Comments on "Why the Wildrose Party is not long for this world"

  1. Zee says:

    After watching the results of the election Monday night I was thinking that the Wildrose Party would implode and that would be the end of it. Wishful thinking or cynical wisdom? These ruminations gather about ideas like what will happen to the huge mining town that Alberta is becoming with the development of the tarsands. We have an Albertar around our necks and in forty years from now a lot of people will be looking for another place to live.

  2. Keith says:

    Two words. Link Byfield. I was astonished to not hear much out of him during the election, but that won't last. Any swaying of ideological purity by Smith will have Byfield baying and slavering about betrayal and selling out.

  3. Anonymous says:

    David, your blog posts throughout the campaign were simply the best of all the commentators. Keep up the great work!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Heather Forsythe isn't about to do anything that puts her transition allowance in peril. Other than Anglin, the new MLAs are unknown outside their living rooms and evangelical church and are no threat to the leader. My guess it will be Rob Anderson who drives a shiv between her shoulder blades.

  5. Anonymous says:

    David, you're awesome. Tom Flanagan age shot – killer funny. I just have one problem with your little theorem. When it comes to politics, the oil patch ain't that smart. Trust me. A bunch of CEOs (granted mostly of the little companies – these guys are pissed they had to wait an extra five years to dump their first wives, buy a Ferrari and get a trophy girlfriend) will never forgive the PCs for Ed's royalty review. This is the city that still talks about the NEP like it was yesterday. So, the money may dry up, but only after the Wildrose proves it has no ability to grow. A rapprochement is not in the cards this term. Danielle won't do it. And Rob Anderson, who is certainly sharpening his backstabbing knife in his lair at this very moment, loathes the Tories even more. Either or both of them will go down with the Wildrose ship and rich, bitter Calgary oil poeple will continue to throw money at them. You have to understand their reasoning. They are really rich, ergo, they must be really smart, ergo, they know more about politics than people who make politics their livelihood.

  6. Carlos Beca says:

    I could not agree more with you David. I feel exactly the same way and I push it even further. We will have more of the pastor's crisis at even worse level simply because they truly believe what they said. Furthermore I have to confess that I suspect the reason Danielle Smith never really said much about it has more to do with the fact that she does not mind those beliefs at all then to the fact that she is a libertarian. She is as much a libertarian as the ex-green is now a wild Roser.
    I believe there is a lot of opportunism in this party.

    People in general are starting to wake up to this failed neo-con revolution. Of course it has been one of most successful runs for the very rich and the elites, but for most of us, this is all just what really looks like – garbage.

    I believe what Jack Layton said just before he died will soon be one of the most important sentences of Canadian Politics and I repeat it here just in case.

    My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.

    I am sure this sentence looks pretty disgusting to Danielle Smith.

  7. Nordic says:

    You are likely correct when you point out the PCs will punish rural Alberta – it would certainly be consistent with their past behavior.

    So it will be business as usual in rural Alberta with wholesale land thefts by industry backed by bought and paid for government authorities, along with ground water destruction, and inchoate rage from the useful idiots of the Wildrose.

    No community or landscape should become collateral damage because of how some people vote and your observation about anticipated PC muscle flexing is a complete condemnation of this authoritian single party state.

    Maybe Cockburn had it right: “the trouble with normal is it always gets worse.”

  8. danikloo says:

    All the Wildrose proved is that they left school before the final lesson. They spent 2 years fanning the public angst through exposes & spin, only to be bested by the masters of the game in the final 2 weeks. [S]he who laughs last laughs best, and forms government.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hahaha, Tourette Syndrome! I get it, because making jokes about disabilities is so fucking funny!

  10. Marlin Schmidt says:

    David, I disagree with your assessment. I think Alberta politics has been realigned somewhat, with 1 party openly conservative (WRP) and one party that pretends to be progressive at election time but is conservative when it governs (PCs). This political alignment lasted a VERY long time in federal Canadian politics, so I don't see why it can't sustain itself in Alberta for the next few years.

    It's the Liberals who should be concerned. The PCs now occupy the territory that the Liberals should hold on the political spectrum, and there is nowhere for them to go. Unless they want to buy NDP membership cards. :)

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dave, I think you're full of shift. The Wildrose Alliance is 10 years old this year. People have been predicting their demise since day 1.

    If you think some progressives can call us all manner of despicable names and have a base of over 400,000 voters suddenly scare back to the PC's and if you think a caucus of 17 WRP is going to let the PC's push people around than you got another thing coming.

  12. Jae/Jennie says:

    Both my analytical brain and my gut feelings tell me that Marlin is right about this. The PCs are now the Paul Martin Liberals of Alberta politics, and the Wildrose is the upstart federal Conservative party. If the analogy holds, then the latter will have a bumpy road, but will eventually make it into government, at least for a while.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I thought you lefties where all about proportional representation. Arent you concerned the Wild Rose got 34 percent of the vote and only 17 seats, they should have at least 27 shouldn't they???

  14. Darren says:

    If a week is an eternity in politics, four years is unimaginable. That said, I suspect the WR will still be around. They have four years to get some experience under their belts and if they concentrate on fiscal issue, general spending and the lack of any real long term fiscal planning (re HTF) they will do well.

  15. DanoB says:

    The Wildrosers will be like the old Socreds after Lougheed beat them. The circumstances and numbers are relatively similar. If Redford can lead a marginally competent government with what is a much more competent caucus, the 'rosers will fade after a few elections. Only if Smith leaves them to run federally with the Harper Tories in the next election will they collapse.

    Redford has a few bozos, but if Redford can keep them quiet and not spending too much on foreign travel like Peter Sandhu she should sail through.

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