Many Albertans may be surprised to find out one thing: many Alberta Party and Alberta Liberal Party members belong to the same federal Party – the Liberal Party of Canada. It might also be a big surprise for many of those same people that the biggest bone of contention between these two parties is their name.
The Alberta Party – in its present form – is largely due to one belief: no one in Alberta thought that a “Progressive” Party could be elected in Alberta. After more than 30 years of Progressive Conservative Rule, a few people had a simple idea: let’s merge the various left and centre leaning parties. Consequently, in 2010, this present version of the Alberta Party had its “Big Listen”. It was supposed to be the beginning of something big.
However, that grand vision never came to be. Just take the 2012 election. In that year, when Alison Redford became Premier, there were a number of things that conspired against the Alberta Party. The most important was fear. The Wildrose Party simply scared potential Alberta supporters, along with traditional Alberta Liberal supporters, into the hands of Alison Redford.
By the end of 2012, while I had not been scared, even I admitted defeat. I called for a merger of “Progressive” Parties because I thought it was the only way to have a different voice in Alberta. If one had asked me at that point if I could imagine a world where the NDP governed, I would have said no. I believed the hype. I believed that the NDP or Liberal moniker could not work in Alberta. I believed that structural change was necessary.
Yet, in spite of my beliefs, Rachel Notley and the NDP formed government in 2015 and Alberta now has 4 Liberal MPs and 1 NDP MP. Or put differently, I was wrong.
That error in many ways has brought me much needed clarity. For example, I have a hard time with the idea that the Alberta Liberal Party’s chief problem is its name. Equally so, I have difficulty listening to Alberta Party and the Alberta Liberal Party partisans argue about the name debate or a merger of those two parties.
Or put differently, if Rachel Notley could overcome two conservative parties to become a government in unfertile grounds, could something else be at play? According to ThreeHundredandEight.com, in 2010, the Alberta Liberal Party was polling at more than 20%. When polling firms started to add the Alberta Party to their tallies in 2011, they had 5% support. While, the NDP at the same time ran between 10% and 15% support. Fast forward to today. The NDP is governing, while the Alberta Liberals and Alberta Party cannot get into the double digits.
That’s right; the socialist party in Alberta is running far ahead of their more centrist rivals. So maybe the name of a party is not the problem. Maybe the reason why the Alberta Party and the Alberta Liberal Party might not have any traction is the fact that they have not provided a vision to Albertans?
I came to this realization in a swearing fit with a friend of mine. I am glad I did because it tells me that those who wish to have more balanced, pragmatic solutions in government need to spend more time thinking about those solutions and finding new ways to explain them to every Albertan. If Rachel Notley and Peter Lougheed could explain themselves to Albertans, why can’t other parties do the same?