No Mergers, Choose Wildrose
A lot of commotion has been made about the need to “Unite the Right” in Alberta and merge the Wildrose Party with the Progressive Conservatives.
Don’t do it.
The PC Party of Alberta made $15,575.50 in the third quarter of 2015. This indicates that they are a dying party. We as conservative voters need to encourage this dying process.
A little history…
The 1993 Federal election saw the near wipe-out of the Mulroney/Campbell Progressive Conservatives. The Reform Party exploded onto the scene and stole conservatives from the dying federal PC party.
PC cheerleaders had the same arguments then that PC cheerleaders in Alberta are using now. They said the popular vote wasn’t that bad and the seat count doesn’t reflect the true levels of support etc. etc. Those arguments were weak then and they are weak today. In both cases the PC party was in ruins and their continued existence only served to enable their opponents.
But wait! Didn’t vote splitting force Canada’s two right-of-centre parties to eventually negotiate? Isn’t this WHY the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance/Reform party eventually decided to merge? To break the stalemate? To overcome the Liberals?
No, not really.
After Jean Chretien won his second majority in 1997, it became clear that Canada couldn’t support two right-of-centre political parties without splitting the vote. Uniting the right was attempted by Preston Manning in the late 1990’s because of pressure by grassroots conservatives to avoid vote splitting...and it failed badly. The reason Preston Manning’s United Alternative didn’t take off when it did was because the Progressive Conservatives were still financially viable enough to believe they could make a comeback.
What happened next?
In the 2000 Federal election the PC’s dropped from 20 seats to 12 seats and their share of the popular vote was down to 12%. They were a failed 5th place party. The money the PCs raised that election year amounted to $6.2 million. The money the Canadian Alliance raised that year was $22.9 million (The Canadian Alliance moved up to 66 seats with 25% of the vote).
Flash forward three years later...it’s 2003. Paul Martin is leading the Liberals and is generally expected to win the biggest majority in the history of Canada. The Progressive Conservatives just got a new leader in the form of Peter MacKay. An election is around the corner and this is what the PC balance sheet looks like…
For a point of comparison, the NDP had $11.8 million in revenue for 2003. The Liberals had almost $29 million for 2003. The Canadian Alliance wasn’t really doing that well either, with infighting and leadership changes hurting the public’s trust. They still managed to out-raise the PCs at $6.5 million in 2003.
On top of this the PC’s were heavily in debt…
To launch a serious national election campaign in 2004, it cost about $10 million. The PC Party was also scheduled to begin debt payments on their long-term debt (note 6 above) starting at $600,000 in 2004.
The last piece of the puzzle?
In 2004, Jean Chretien (possibly out of spite towards Paul Martin for pushing him out of office) passed Bill C-24. This legislation put a $1000.00 political donation cap on corporations and unions. For the PCs, this was devastating, as a huge percentage of their income was corporate (much like in Alberta).
The reason the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives merged was because the Progressive Conservatives simply ran out of money.
“The party was bereft, with too little traction or relevance in the business capitals to mount a campaign.” - Hugh Segal
The quickest way to solve the Alberta right-of-centre vote split dilemma is to throw financial support behind the Wildrose Party exclusively.
Thus, I present...
5 Reasons PC Voters In Alberta Should Switch To The Wildrose
#1. The ascendancy of the Wildrose and the decline of the PCs
Wildrose is on the ascendancy. They went from 1 seat to 4 seats to 17 seats to 21 seats and now 22 seats. The party is revitalized and still moving forward. Their ridings span from the top of the province, down to the U.S. border. They now have four years to build experience and gain the public’s trust.
What does the PC Party have?
They’ve spent ten years squandering the credibility of the party and now they’re left with 9 very random MLAs, a big debt, no permanent leader and anemic fundraising.
#2. Clear political choices
Alberta now has a more natural two party system...just like the rest of the West. BC has the NDP and the (blue) Liberals. Saskatchewan has the NDP and the Saskatchewan Party. Manitoba has the NDP and the Progressive Conservatives.
Alberta has joined the two party club.
Two big tents that meet in the middle and govern either to the left or to the right. This is natural and mature. Wishy-washy political dynasties, like the PCs in Alberta, have tried to appeal to everybody and ended up appealing to no one.
#3. Political power now eludes the PC Party
The main attraction of the PC’s was their power. They were the party that ran things and if you wanted a say, you needed to go through them. Now that they don’t have power, they’re just another brokerage party without a mandate. The past ten years have seen a PC party hollowed out, corrupt, incompetent and painfully adrift. The chance to refashion was in 2007 and again in 2011, but they wasted the opportunity. They’ve lost their constituency little by little. Power now eludes them, and so they’ve lost everything. There is nothing valuable about the existence of the PC party anymore, it’s simply coasting on nostalgia.
#4. End the donations or the NDP will benefit
Merger talks will fail until the money dries up. Sitting around tables and discussing the mechanics of mergers, year after year, is pointless. Wildrose needs to thoroughly pull away in fundraising and the PC party needs to be starved to financial death. It doesn’t require a huge sum of money to allow a political party to exist and remain a thorn in your side. In 2014, the Alberta NDP only made a million dollars. A million bucks is all it took to position themselves to win a majority. If the PC party keeps getting crumbs from the “Lougheed was great wasn’t he?” table, it will entrench a false hope that will allow them to be spoilers for multiple election cycles.
#5. No upside for an Alberta under the NDP
The NDP is going to try to be moderate, but they’re still the type of party that is filled with people who naturally hate business, capitalism, and entrepreneurship. The best you can hope for from the NDP is that they don’t make life too difficult while placating their base of unions, environmentalists and grievance mongers. In other words, the elimination of the NDP needs to be top priority and you do that by backing a political winner, not a hollowed out has-been.
What must be done:
Let’s dispense with the talk of merging the parties. A better, quicker way to proceed is to starve the PCs to death and then focus on defeating the NDP under one conservative banner.
The Wildrose party is that banner. The Wildrose party is the party of business, capitalism and entrepreneurship. This is what inspired the formation of the party in the first place. By the time 2019 rolls around the Wildrose Party will be the only mainstream alternative to the NDP. So give the Wildrose money but, more importantly, withhold money from the PC party. The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can get Alberta back on the road to recovery.