Sunday, June 7, 2009

WIldrose Alliance AGM - part III

During his presentation on Friday night, Dave Yager observed that Stelmach was dividing the province, pitting Edmonton against Calgary. When Tony Vandermeer took my Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview riding last year, he told a TV reporter on election night that Stelmach got him at least 1000 votes. This when his margin of victory was just over 300. So it is certainly effective politics on Stelmach's part, since it means his only serious threat is from Calgary and the rural areas, and that means no threat at all so long as David "Kyoto" Swann is leading the Liberals and the Wildrose Alliance faces a "first past the post" electoral system without fixed election dates etc. But should the party be contending that Calgary is getting the shaft? The Fraser Institute guy up on the platform behind Dave piped up to say pretty much exactly that. Given that the venue was Calgary, this was red meat.

I was seated next to Graham Sproule, a 20-something guy who has been eagerly involved with the Wildrose Alliance scene in Edmonton, for much of the conference and I think he was a bit uneasy about the direction this could be taking as well. I had been demoralized enough by how Stelmach's identification with north-central Alberta had crushed my party in the Edmonton area; we don't need to hear from Wildrose Alliance people that Stelmach is pro-Edmonton because I, of course, don't believe his government serves the interests of Edmontonians well and it just furthers the meme that means the WA has no chance at all to get off the ground in the centre of the province.

Now I can understand the argument for having the party advance the thesis that the south isn't getting its fair share. The thesis is self-evidently true in that an anti-corporate, anti-oil (other than the oil sands) government is going to be more negative for the south than for Edmonton just given the head offices in Calgary. I've seen first hand the political power of the P"C"'s implied message to Edmontonians that our guy is going to stand up for you against them. If the WA wins a seat, it will be in Calgary or south (although there is some chance in the Peace country). But it is going to demoralize the WA people in Edmonton and make it realistically impossible to organize genuine constituency organizations there. I was unable to mail out brochures to all the homes in my riding last election because I did not have the money, this while head office was pouring money (relatively) into Link Byfield's and Paul Hinman's ridings. In the final analysis, the $1000 I did get from head office should have gone into Hinman's riding (Hinman lost 4328 to 4367) . But there has to be a balance between going for the wins and leaving everybody who does not live in those targeted ridings out on a limb.

On Friday night it did not turn into a session of southern grievances, which I believed a good thing, because it would have left northerners sitting there as mute observers who might just drift away from the party in the future. When it comes to campaign resources, yes, money beyond, say, $2000 per each riding should be sent to ridings where there is the best chance to win. But when it comes to communications, playing up the idea that Stelmach is partial to the Edmonton area just plays into exactly the message Stelmach wanted to get out last election.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Exactly Brian! By accusing him of standing up for Edmonton and Northern Albertan interests, the party is playing right into Stelmach's hands!