The Wildrose Party wants to join forces with the Conservatives. Sure, it was only a few weeks ago that Danielle Smith was scolding now-former party members Kerry Towle and Ian Donovan for crossing the floor to the PCs, while this week she’s thinking of leading at least half of the party there herself. Words don’t mean much in politics; actions, however, speak volumes.
It seems the Wildrose Party has dealt with too many blunders to recover from in recent weeks: losing four byelections to Jim Prentice in October; Joe Anglin quitting the party before he could be fired for “secretly taping them”—which was never proved; party members voting to reject a policy to respect the rights of minorities—namely, the gay community; vice-president of communications in Calgary-Glenmore, Terry Lo, quitting the party after this policy was rejected.
Smith has even said she’ll quit as leader if the Wildrose doesn’t win the 2016 election. That doesn’t seem like a likely win, so jumping ship and teaming up with Prentice is one way of saving face.
But what does this mean for the rest of the province? The PCs already hold 63 of the legislature’s 87 seats. If they add even seven seats from the Wildrose, they’ll hold 80 percent of seats—that’s a lot of sway. There are just not enough alternate voices in the legislature with the Liberals’ five, NDP’s four and the now-independent Joe Anglin. This could possibly give the Liberals back Official Opposition status, which the Wildrose has had since 2012.
The Conservatives have been in power in Alberta since 1971, the longest time in power for any party in Canada, and a merger with the Wildrose will only make them stronger and harder to replace. They may be more Red Tory than right-wing Conservative in many respects, but the stream of political thought in Alberta for the last four decades has been dominated by this one party. At least with the Wildrose as opposition, there has been a continual check on the doings of the PCs. But if the party folds, the Liberals and the NDP will have a mega task before them to keep this new mega party in line.