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Friday, September 25, 2009

will danielle smith ignite a wildrose fire in the pc caucus?

Alex Abboud and Trish Audette have already written about this, but an anonymous source reported in this week's subscription-only issue* of Alberta Scan has suggested that 10 Progressive Conservative MLAs could cross the floor to the Wildrose Alliance if potential game changer Danielle Smith is selected in the October 17 leadership vote.

How likely is this?

With 70 MLAs in the 83 seat legislature, the PCs have a broad-range of political diversity in their caucus ranging from liberals/Red Tories to hard-core angry social conservatives, with a large group of simple pro-government pragmatists filling the gap in between. While Ed Stelmach's tenure as Premier began three years ago with a number of funding increases and semi-progressive moves (like the creation of the now almost existent lobbyist registry), a number of recent events seem to suggest that the right-wingers in the PC caucus have been taking advantage of the current leadership vacuum to drive their own agenda.

A number of right-wing champions appear to have solidly integrated themselves into the PCs institutional machinery: Ted Morton is widely seen as a competent Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, and following Kyle Fawcett's very public apology to Premier Stelmach, it appears that the Stelmach loyalist's appointment to an important government committee was cancelled in favour of Bill 44 advocate Airdrie-Chestermere MLA Rob Anderson. Right-wing Calgary-Egmont MLA Jonathan Denis has just been appointed as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Energy, and Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Broyce Jacobs is now the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture.

Many of these MLAs are driving the agenda behind legislation like Bill 44 and pushing Stelmach's public shift to the right following Alberta's record budget deficit and Paul Hinman's victory in the Calgary-Glenmore by-election. It's hard to disagree that there is disgruntlement with Stelmach's leadership inside the PC caucus, it is difficult to understand why the more right-wing conservatives would leave the governing caucus to occupy the opposition benches.

This said, any PC MLA crossing the floor to the Wildrose Alliance could change the political landscape in the Alberta Legislature, especially if they are a cabinet minister. If only a hand full of PC MLAs joined a Danielle Smith-led Wildrose Alliance, they could easily replace the two-MLA NDP caucus as the third party. With only 9 MLAs, the Liberal Official Opposition could become the third-place party if the rumoured 10 PC MLAs joined what would become an 11 MLA official opposition.

*Anyone can read Alberta Scan and many other publications for free at the Legislative Assembly Library.


Anonymous said...

Dave you posted this at 4:20pm! Anyone that believes 10 MLAs will defect is probably already familiar with the significance of 4:20

k.w.m said...

Thank you Dave for making sense of the confusion in Alberta Politics, I still think anyone that changes sides is not to be trusted

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The numerous endorsements on Ms. Smith's website and this "leak" about at least 10 MLA's crossing the floor if she becomes leader are nothing more than spin by her campaign team to try and create the optics that she is the only one with enough support to become leader and that the Wildrose Alliance Party is going somewhere only if she becomes leader.

Pretty transparent.

Consider this:

24 Ministers
10 Parliamentary Assistants
15 Entrenched PC's
49 Total

Out of the remaining caucus members, which 10 do you really think are going to cross????

Got to give her campaign team props for trying, though! LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

Knowing Jonathan Denis personally, I'm quite offended that someone would suggest he's "corrupt to the core", but such is the language of internet tough guys.

He may not be the most inspiring person I've met, but thank god he won the general election over Chandler.

He believes in small government. He would make a good WAP'er. I don't think he would be so risky as to jump to the WAP under Smith... too many variables remain... but I'm pretty sure Smith's politics are closer to his than Stelmach's. He was a Dinning supporter on the first ballot. And the PC's I'm sure now wish Dinning would have won.

Anonymous said...

It is really amazing the untrue things people say.

I did a few searches. Turns out Denis was a Morton supporter. I checked his wikipedia and website and it looks like he worked in the private sector for about a decade, so it is not fair to say he didn't do anything out of politics.

Denis's politics aren't my cup of tea, and I wouldn't vote for him - but he reminds me of Jason Kenney, who was also a Sask Liberal 20 years ago.

kenchapman said...

I agree teh Jonothan Denis comments are unsubstantiated and way out of line. I don't agree with many of his political approaches and social values but he is worthy of respect.

Anonymous said...

Another thing - if he was such a ladder climber he'd surely have supported Dinning, not Morton.

Anonymous said...

Lucky for Jono he had the riding taken from Chandler and handed to him.

Anonymous said...

Why would Stelmach hand a riding to someone who didn't support him? I don't think that happened. Not even Eddie is that stupid.

Anonymous said...

To the above, Chandler did indeed win the Calgary-Egmont nomination, but Stelmach refused to sign his papers.

I've met Denis and he seems like a decent guy, but considering his work on Diane Colley-Urquhart's campaign, I think he's fairly committed to the PCs.

No word on yet on who will get the Deputy Premier post... my money's on Morton.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
daveberta said...

Ok. Accusing someone of being "corrupt to the core" without any evidence of corruption isn't cool. You can disagree with someone's political leanings, and even their political record, but let's please try and keep it civil. I've removed the comment from this blog.

Let's try and keep the hyperpartisanship to a minimum.



Carl said...

How about the former Klein ministers who were kicked to the backbenches when Stelmach beat Jim Dinning? Pearl Calahasen, Ty Lund, George VanderBurg, Heather Forsyth are distruntled enough. Would they follow Boutilier if he joined the WildRose? That would give the WildRose 6 MLAs from all around the Province.

Anonymous said...

As far back as February there was a suggestion that Ty was planning to retire and that would be the next by-election. Pearl is a very entrenched PC'er and not philosophically onside with the WAP. George is a Minister - very hard for those on the front benches to make such a move.

Heather is a possibility - there are a number of interesting people that don't show up on Danielle's WAP Facebook page, however, they do show up on her personal Facebook page.

Guy is in a really tough spot. His President, was a very big Ed supporter during the leadership race and the whole Constituency ASsociation is really PC.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Denis but for a guy who didn't support Stelmach and is in his first term he sure is rising fast. He's got something going on as many were passed over to give him his promotion.

Anonymous said...

It's because he's party guy!!!!!!

Ryan said...

I am disappointed that you are reinforcing these ridiculous, speculative media stories. This is worse than your silly question about Danielle Smith being a "game changer" in AB politics.

For someone who has criticized the mainstream media in the past, it looks a lot like you're trying to play the role of pundit with the same toolbox that they do.

Anonymous said...

Why is Denis always such a hot topic on this blog ? :)

I know him well and I also doubt he would go to the WAP. I'm not even sure he likes Smith for leader.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #19 again here, I just wanted to add that I know Kyle as well, and despite his recent verbal blunder against Stelmach, he isn't that right wing of a guy. I can't see him going WAP either. I agree with one of the first commentator's that this is all made up by the Smith team.

daveberta said...

Ryan: thanks for the comment.

There is no doubt that there is a lot of speculation around Danielle Smith's candidacy for the Wildrose Alliance leadership, but I don't think it is ridiculous to believe that she could be a "game changer" in Alberta politics - I actually do believe that she could be. As an intelligent, savvy, articulate, and young leader, I think that if she can put together a good slate of candidates, the Wildrose Alliance under her leadership has the potential to change what Alberta politics looks like after the next election.

While she may not form government in 2012 (nor would I endorse the idea of a Wildrose Alliance government in Alberta), she appears to have more potential to shake up Alberta politics than Ed Stelmach, David Swann, or Brian Mason.


PS. I'm really enjoying the New Resilient, keep up the great work! Hey everyone, you can read it here!

Anonymous said...

Denis is definitely one of the most right wing people in the PC caucus but I don't think he's much of a social conservative to go to the WAP.

Anonymous said...

How many of them has Ed bought off now?

Anonymous said...

Denis isn't "right wing". He doesn't have a wife and children. Someone without these is not conservative and has no place in any conservative caucus.