Monday, August 10, 2009

Wildrose Alliance appears in Edmonton Journal

The Wildrose Alliance made a rare appearance as the primary subject of an Edmonton Journal article this weekend about Edmonton. The party did so poorly in the Edmonton area in last year's provincial election that there is a good argument that significant coverage of the party has not been warranted in media covering the Edmonton market. That said, I believe that the media better serves society by adopting what marketing gurus call a "technology push" strategy as opposed to a reactive "demand pull" approach. Macroeconomic policy innovations are analogous to microeconomic innovations such that the media can and should play a constructive role in disseminating what comes out of policy shops. Political parties are (sadly) not policy shops on the same level as think tanks but they are an important vehicle for "commercializing" otherwise theoretical policy such that the media educates and informs by giving smaller non-populist parties attention that may be disproportionate to their popularity. It is the fact that most online-only media merely indulge populist prejudices instead of challenging them with new facts from investigative journalism or professional/academic research that makes me a defender of what bloggers dismiss as "the MSM".

The Edmonton Journal reflects its market more than I think it ideally should (and I don't just mean its editorial stance; - with respect to oil patch related stories like the Fraser Institute's Global Petroleum Survey, other media should have carried that as a wire story prepared by the Alberta capital's leading paper instead of the other way around). But for those of us who are concerned about developments like Newsweek's repositioning as an opinion journal (opinion always being a lower cost product that investigative journalism) it behooves us to pull some punches with respect to criticizing anything that makes money for traditional media (I could direct media moguls to the fact that the Economist is studiously avoiding populist compromises while making more money than ever, but we can't all emulate what John Ralston Saul dubbed "the Bible of the corporate executive").

But regardless of these considerations, the prospect of someone both urban and urbane (in striking contrast with our current premier) assuming the Wildrose Alliance leadership in conjuction with the buzz the party has been receiving in other Alberta media fully warrants Archie McLean's Sunday article.

My one objection to the story is describing the Wildrose Party as a "splinter group". The context suggests the Wildrosers split off from the Alberta Alliance. Although that is the case for some prominent and popular names like Eleanor Maroes, the Wildrose Party's President, Rob James, was a PC party stalwart, and Link Byfield, who was the most important player in the Wildrose Party (and who will continue as a respected elder in the merged party, not least for his critical role in advancing Danielle Smith's candidacy) had a negligible background in the Alberta Alliance as well, to my knowledge. For what it is worth, I was never a member of nor had anything to do with the Alberta Alliance.

Whither the Wildrose Alliance in Edmonton? If I learned anything from last year's election, it is that the party faces enormous obstacles in the capital region, principal among these being Stelmach's careful cultivation of the perception that he is the north's "native son". I believe job #1 at this point is to advocate for the cultivated Danielle Smith, who is marketable in a city that happens to be more cosmopolitan than many outsiders believe. Job #2 is to look at the October 2010 civic elections. The fact Mike Nickel could get elected as an alderman in Edmonton should be seen as evidence that while business-friendly candidates face an uphill battle in the capital city, it is possible to make a difference. Even an unsuccessful civic campaign would be a learning experience for those involved and would be serve as a valuable vetting process for the Wildrose Alliance in terms of candidates to recruit in the 2012 provincial election.


Mark Samborsky said...


Are you Mr. Practical?

Brian Dell said...

hey, Mark, thx for the link.

Mr Practical is a man after my own heart. However, it seems difficult to convince people that I don't have some sort of clandestine job working for the Mossad.

Alberta Altruist said...

Good or bad outcomes of the 08 election have no bearing. As an individual you were unhappy with the GOA you decided to do something about it besides bitch and moan.
With the GOA splitting the province north and south, and scaring the voters into thinking they would split the vote you fought an uphill battle with a fledgling party. Good for you, many could take note for standing up for what you believe. Hopefully people see now what you saw then and will advocate for change at the next election.