For those of you who don’t know, the province of Alberta was ruled by conservative governments for 80 consecutive years. There was a switch in the middle where one conservative party (the Progressive Conservatives) took over from the other (Social Credit) as the go-to conservative party, and govern they did for the next 44 years.
Then the shocker of all shockers in 2015 when the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) formed government. This was precipitated by the ruling Progressive Conservatives who became arrogant and entitled with their power. Voters were so upset that they were willing to experiment with the never-tried-in-Alberta NDP over the government they have always known. Wildrose, an upstart right-wing party, also took a sizable number of the ship jumpers. When the dust settled, the 44 year old government was reduced to third place.
Much of the blame, especially from the outgoing government, was pointed at Wildrose for “splitting the right.” In reality, the arrogance of the Progressive Conservatives lead to the NDP win, for had a significant number of their historic voters not cast an NDP ballot, the NDP would not have won. But fear is a great motivator among politicians tossed from power, so they fear a divided right will lead do another NDP win. Conservatives in Alberta do not want the NDP to gain a foothold in the province so they strive hard to program in the minds of voters that this was a one-off fluke win by the NDP. Alberta is conservative country, and always will be.
This is why I think there’s such a strong push to unite the right. Rationally, there should be no push to unite the parties since the polls have the NDP well back in 2nd place behind Wildrose. But still, a divided right does leave the door open to another “fluke” by the NDP, and that must be avoided at all costs.
Enter Jason Kenney.
Jason Kenney is one of the most well known and experienced federal conservative politicians in Canada, and he has surprisingly decided to seek the Progressive Conservative nomination in Alberta with the expressed purpose of uniting the right. Kenney is a smart guy and seems to act with integrity, but I think he’s doing the wrong thing here.
Over the past 44 years the Conservative dynasty in Alberta would crush their nearest rivals so thoroughly that it took a tremendous level of disgust with the government before they were removed from office. This does not serve democracy well. A united conservative government that crushes the opposition will be allowed to grow entitled and corrupt (as all governments eventually do). Voters are better served when there are two conservative parties sweating it out tooth and nail, even if it means the odd NDP government gets thrown into the mix. This gives the voters real choice over when they decide to toss the government to the curb.
Many conservatives fear that the NDP will cause irreversible damage, but there’s really no policy that can’t be undone. Besides, a tired old corrupt conservative government can do a lot of damage too, especially if it can keep winning without listening to the people.
“If we take the widest and wisest view of a Cause, there is no such thing as a Lost Cause, because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause.”
~ T.S. Elliot