Monday, October 03, 2011

The Sleepy World of Alberta Politics Gets Another Jolt

Although 40 years of one-party rule and pre-ordained election results can make for dull politics, I will give Alberta's PC dynasty credit for tossing the occasional surprise towards us political junkies.

And surprise us they did on Saturday night. For the third consecutive PC leadership contest, the frontrunner fell in spectacular fashion. Alison Redford is Alberta's new Premier, and the third Canadian woman to take on that title over the past year.

Gary Mar defeated Redford 41% to 19% on the first ballot two weeks ago, and every candidate dropped from the ballot went to Mar. Yet somehow, Redford tripled her support and surged to victory.

So what happened?

For starters, this wasn't a case of Mar losing supporters - he received over 8,000 more votes than in round one, and his vote total only dropped in 5 ridings. Rather, it was a deadly stall for Mar, a candidate who should have had all the momentum, but who couldn't increase his share of the vote by more than one or two percentage points. There are many theories as to what went wrong - the most popular being this was a backlash to the "establishment" which had lined up en masse behind Mar.

If that is the case, it would certainly explain why Alison Redford was there to pick up the pieces. Although she was Justice Minister at the start of this leadership race and Mar had been out of the province for years, Redford was very much the race's "outsider". You could count her MLA endorsements on one hand...even if that hand were short a few fingers. She showed herself to be the most "mavericky" of the candidates, not hesitating to criticize the Stelmach government throughout the leadership contest.

While running as the outsider means Redford enters the Premier's office with few favours to repay, it also means she'll be greeted to rousing cheers at her first caucus meeting by MLAs who wish someone else were standing in her spot.

Ed Stelmach was done in by an unspoken caucus revolt - rather than unifying the PC family, Redford now inherits a party even more divided.



  • Can you comment on the supposedly centrist (or even centre-left) nature of the Redford campaign? What does a progressive mayor in Calgary and a moderate-centrist premier in Edmonton suggest about the state of political discourse in Alberta today?

    Have moderates and progressives abandoned the idea of getting anywhere with the ALP/NDP/AP and instead gone non-partisan (Nenshi) or held their nose and hopped on the PC bandwagon?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:27 p.m.  

  • Anon - I'll post tomorrow about what Redford's win means, but it certainly rebalances the political spectrum.

    The short version, in my opinion, is that this is good news for the Wildrose and bad news for the Liberals. But you never know.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:39 p.m.  

  • Does NOBODY believe in posting numbers? None of the major media stories, none of the pundits. Nothing. Sad.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:41 p.m.  

  • While these kinds of outcomes seem shocking, they aren't necessarily. If you're a third or fourth place contender, you may have a lot more influence over a leader with a weak base in the party, than one with a solid base. That is going to have a big impact on which candidate you push for.

    That is also important to consider in terms of whether Redford "re-balances the political spectrum". Like Clark and Dion she has a weak base within her own party. It may not prevent her from going in a new direction (Dion managed to launch the green shift, for instance), but it may prevent her from successfully doing so.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 5:52 p.m.  

  • That said, Redford's internal opposition isn't going to come from the right wing of the party, if Ted Morton's numbers are any indication. It looks like the right really has gone off to the Wild Rose Party.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 5:55 p.m.  

  • Fascinating CG; look forward to your next piece on Redford and her win, etc.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 7:52 p.m.  

  • How many of Redford's second choice votes were a result of sympathy for the unfortunate passing of her mother? A true run-off election with Mar alone would have had a decidedly different outcome.

    By Anonymous Sam Gray, at 9:10 a.m.  

  • Sam Gray,

    Your comment is groundless hypothesizing.

    A decidedly different outcome would have occurred if Mar had not been so eager to take his "Dingwall entitlements".

    By Blogger MississaugaPeter, at 3:03 p.m.  

  • This won't really have effect, I consider like this.

    By Anonymous, at 3:30 a.m.  

  • By Blogger jeje, at 4:01 a.m.  

  • By Blogger Unknown, at 9:42 p.m.  

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