Alberta Politics

“United” Conservatives Will Never Agree to Fund Smaller Parties

There is little incentive for Kenney to offer to fund the three conservative spin-offs from his "unite in spite" project but there is much less incentive to fund the Party that could actually unite Alberta for realzies. 

Stephen Mandel, the Alberta Party leader, made a bold request over the weekend: vowing to lobby the government to fund smaller parties for votes received. 

The problem.. well, the least controversial problem, I suppose, is that a  Kenney government can’t afford to support smaller parties. Not because the Alberta government doesn’t have the money, but they don’t, rather, Kenney has no political capital to make such a grand gesture; especially to a rival… and every Party in Alberta is a rival.

“Unity” spawned not one, not two, but three conservative Parties. The Freedom Conservative Party was formed because the “Tories” went from grassroots, free-market principles to, well, the UCP. The UCP was supposed to be membership driven, free-enterprise-loving, small-government but instead was top-down management, cherry-picking winners and losers, supporting government-mandated market interference and promised to make government bigger in order to make it more efficient.

The Alberta Advantage Party was formed by Wildrosers who saw the Kenney-Harper machination for what it was and whose founders and supporters were never able to get behind the takeover in the first place. 

And the Alberta Independence Party just had one issue but they were all in agreement that Alberta would be much better off if it just “said no” to confederation. The Alberta Party though, proved to have the beginnings of the perfect storm.

There is little incentive for Kenney to offer to fund the three conservative spin-offs from his “unite in spite” project but there is much less incentive to fund the Party that could actually unite Alberta for realzies. 

Yep; I have one foot in the millennial camp and another in the boomer camp and sarcasm and satire are my intellectual stimuli.

In the 14 close races between the UCP and NDP, exactly seven went to each where the Alberta Party vote was the upset. Technically, the vote was so close in Shannon Phillips’ Lethbridge West riding that both the Alberta Independence Party and Alberta Liberal Party were upsets if you didn’t want the winner. 

172,000 Albertans voted for the Alberta Party even though they might have upset the chance of getting a representative they wanted less. Many more didn’t risk it, I’m sure.  

To put those numbers in perspective:

  • the Alberta Party placed third overall in 2019
  • the Alberta Party tripled their support from 3% in 2015 to 9% in 2019
  • the Alberta Party received 15% of the support the UCP received
  • the Alberta Party received 30% of the support the NDP received

No, Kenney’s government will not start funding its opponents because its hold on government is vulnerable. 

Albertans didn’t vote for special interests but that’s what they received. Albertans didn’t vote for austerity but that’s what they will receive. Albertans voted for a return to prosperity and it is unlikely the UCP will be able to deliver because they considered the root of the problem to be an NDP government; and they were wrong. 

The root of Alberta’s problem is the same as it was under a PC government: pandering for votes with the hope of another oil boom. The PCs were lucky but it is unlikely the UCP will have the same fortune.

I’ve often said the best thing to happen to the conservative parties in 2015 was not forming government. They will not take the voters for granted in 2023 and there is no way they will allot any funding to their chief rival; the Kenney government cannot afford it.

This post contains fact and opinion… and maybe a teeny bit of incredibly optimistic laurel resting. 

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean

contact: dmaclean@countersign.ca

Twitter: @Mitchell_AB for all the commentary, @thisweekinAB for posts

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