One is beginning to get the sense that the tides are going out on the Wildrose Party’s dreams of provincial leadership.
Last week, at their annual general meeting, the party decided to vote on a motion that stated the party would recognize the rights of all Albertans, regardless of race, religious belief, colour, gender, and sexual orientation.
The motion was considered largely symbolic and was not part of their official platform, but it looked good on paper and to progressives and centrists looking to the party as an option to the ruling PCs, it sounded good.
It also allayed their fears that the ghost of Allan Hunsperger was haunting the House of Wildrose.
Hunsperger is the pastor from The House church in Tofield who blogged about his belief that gay men and women were going to burn in a “Lake of Fire” in the afterlife.
Only problem was, at that AGM, they voted not to make that motion official Wildrose policy. The motion was defeated 148-109.
That, in spite of not even voting on the same statement mentioning sexual orientation. Instead they kept a policy that put everyone under a single safe, non-controversial blanket and have been busy trying to wash their hands of the whole thing ever since. That vote, by the way, was the reason that Terrence Lo, the vice-president of communications for the party’s Calgary-Glenmore constituency association, resigned in protest, stating the party had taken “a dangerous step back.”
“This vote confirmed to me that the misguided angry beliefs of a minority of the rank and file holds actual sway in party policy,” Lo later wrote in a blog about the issue.
The “minority” Lo spoke of would appear to be hardcore social conservatives, the kind WRP has been trying to distance itself from for the past two years.
And it’s easy to understand that need to move on to other topics, what with leader Danielle Smith telling the party flat out she would either win the next election or (politically) die trying – that is, she would either be the next premier or the Wildrose would be looking for a new leader.
Smelling blood in the water, the PCs are no doubt circling the Good Ship Wildrose and biding their time.
They needn’t bother.
MLAs Ian Donovan and Kerry Towle have already jumped ship like harbour rats fleeing a smoldering barge, swimming for shore that is the new and improved Prentice PC leadership team. One gets a sense this is just the beginning of dim days for the Wildrose party, and that more public infighting is coming down the pike.
Towle has remarked publicly that she likes the direction of this new Prentice-fuelled government. After all, he kept Red Deer’s Michener Centre open, something she had called on him to do back when he was still a premier-designate.
She must have been equally impressed with the way Prentice washed his hands of the entire Redford airplane scandal, when just three months ago she called him a hypocrite for not moving forward on an inquiry.
“It appears Jim Prentice’s belief in accountability ends where his political ambitions begin,” she said. She also claimed the reason Prentice didn’t make a lot of statements about where he stood on several touchy issues during his campaign, including Michener, was so he would not have to break his word later. She called it a “crass” move at the time.
Crass: an adjective describing something “lacking sensitivity, refinement, and intelligence.”
Donovan is a little harder to peg down. He has been against extending workplace safety laws to the agriculture industry, something Prentice has yet to come down in favour of or against.
Prentice has stated publicly it may be time to extend those rights to workers on corporate farms, but is still not saying whether family farm workers would also be extended that protection. Although, there are plenty of family farms which are also corporations. He’s also an enthusiastic supporter of faith-based schools getting to decide for themselves which students need protection and which ones are already protected. This seems to fall in line with PC values as well.
Interestingly, Donovan was tapped as PC MLA Steve Young’s drinking buddy in a Calgary Herald column back in February, and a person could wonder if this leap of faith from pink and green to orange and blue has been a long time coming.
With the War of the Wildroses well underway, all the PCs have to do is sit back and let the official opposition party eat itself.
That, and start buying champagne for their win in the next provincial election.
Albertans may be divided on what kind of right wing their politics are, but one thing they’re not divided on is their aversion to voting for anything other than PC.