this blog has moved to a new address:

Please update your RSS, bookmarks, and links to

Monday, January 04, 2010

will the wildrose alliance now recieve official party status?

According to Alberta's Legislative Assembly Act:

Allowance to leader of recognized opposition party
42(1) In this section, “recognized opposition party” means a party that:
(a) is represented in the Assembly by at least 4 Members, and
(b) received at least 5% of the popular vote in the general election immediately preceding the year in which the allowance in subsection (2) is to be paid.
Will Assembly Speaker Ken Kowalski allow an exception for the now three MLA Wildrose Alliance to be a recognized opposition party? While political rather than virtuous, from 1997 to 2004 and 2008 to the present, NDP leader Brian Mason has been recognized as an opposition party leader with a two MLA caucus. The Liberals currently form Official Opposition with nine MLAs and former PC MLA Guy Boutilier now sits as an Independent MLA.

On the March 3, 2008 election, the Wildrose Alliance received 6.77% of the popular vote, but did not elect any MLAs. Even though they now have more MLAs than the officially recognized NDP caucus, there is a possibility that they could be denied official party status because none of the current three MLAs were elected under their current party banner in the previous election.

A precedent for denying the Wildrose Alliance official party status may have been set in 1984, when former Social Credit MLAs Walt Buck and Raymond Speaker formed the Representative Party of Alberta. Both MLAs were elected as Independents in the 1982 election and they were denied official opposition status in the Assembly (their party also did not exist in the previous election). Denying the Wildrose Alliance the status would be a pure political attempt at squashing the insurgent party, but could backfire if it is seen as dirty politics on Premier Ed Stelmach's behalf.

If recognized as the Third Party in the Assembly, Wildrose Alliance MLAs will be afforded a daily spot in the Question Period lineup and will receive additional funding for caucus resources and support staff. Holding Third Party status since 1997, the NDP have be impressively effective at using their spot in the QP line-up to generate media coverage in the past.

(ht @shandro for the Act link)


Alberta Policy Options said...

"none of the current three MLAs were elected under their current party banner in the previous election"

Not sure how you figure that, Paul Hinman ran and won as a Wildrose Alliance member in the Calgary-Glenmore byelection.

Jonathan Williams said...

If the Speaker had been following precedent he should have awarded the Alliance some funding in 2004 as their own rules and quotes set that precedent in 1997.

In reality the speaker can do whatever he wants because he holds a majority on the member services committee with the PC friends.

Either way I think it would all be moot if Boutilier crosses over as well. Because they will then have official status as by legislation. Of course with the legislature not sitting until February I suspect that will give ample time for more possible crossers.

Kyle Olsen said...

Couldn't they just remove NDP status by setting the number to be official at 5? Then if any Liberals defect to a 'renew' type group, they would be denied aswell.

Anonymous said...

Hey, what's up with this Renew group? Their webpage, facebook page and twitter page have not been updated since Dec 14th. Is it dead already? I understand that the Alberta Party, and First Alberta party people are unwilling to relinquish the names to the renewers. Any news on this group would be appreciated! Thanks

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

@alberta police options

I assume Dave meant the last general election.

Christine said...

Sucks to be Brian Mason today.

LegeWonk said...

This flew around Twitter today, but I'm not sure wat the point is. I'm also not sure why I haven't seen somebody say this already:

I don't feel the section you linked is particularly relevant. It merely refers to the salary of other party leaders. In fact, it specifically limits the definition of "recognized opposition party" to that section.

More important is the funding each party caucus gets. My understanding is that this is set by member's services each year, and this year is actually higher per capita for independents than it is for caucuses - it is the lowest, in fact, for the PC Caucus.

Besides, Paul Hinmann has been recognized since his election as a member of a recognized party caucus, even if it was a caucus of one, and has enjoyed many privileges of such. So why would having two more caucus members reduce the party privileges?

So what are we really talking about here?

Lou Arab said...

For all the talk of party status, it doesn't mean much except to the pay cheques of politicians effected.

The NDP and Alliance already get Leaders' Office funding and research funding, and the per MLA funding that the LAO gives all caucuses.

When a party reaches the magic number of four, their leader gets additional pay, and their house leader and possibly whip, get more pay as well. That's about the only difference party status makes.

Otherwise, the funding formula is pretty much the same.

The only other issue is questions in QP. If anyone should lose questions, it should be the Conservatives. They are the ones with the smaller caucus now, and do we really need more slow pitches from the government back bench? I don't think that will be an issue, but I suspect there will be some wrangling over the order of questions between the parties.

Anonymous said...

NDP who?

C.Morgan said...

The Wildrose Alliance currently gets the research funding of a single independent member. That is not even close to the funding that a recognized party gets so to say that it will make no difference if the party changes status in the legislature in that regard is more than an understatement.

The larger issue that Lou brought up than the funding is the questions. Currently the Wildrose Alliance is limitted to one question per week. Now that the WAP is third party, the WAP should be entitled to quite a few questions per question period as the NDP has enjoyed for years.

Whether the PC party would grant such status to a three seat party (when they have for a two seat party for so long) remains to be seen.

Jane Morgan said...

@ Lou Arab,

Just for further clarification. The Wildrose does not get Leader's Office funding as our Leader does not have a seat in the Leg.

Her office is currently completely funded by the Party.

Jane Morgan
Director of Operations
Wildrose Alliance Party

calgary clipper said...

The Renew group was mentioned above and is apparently interested in forming a new political party. It also seems that they may be making a move to do some kind of a "takeover" of the already-registered Alberta Party - no doubt they are finding that the complexity, costs, numbers, etc. are awesome. The Renew group and the Reboot group are basically coming from the same place ideologically who probably self- identify as "progressives" (and perhaps even Libertarians). The Alberta Party has its roots in a centrist/a bit left of center ideology so what is the prognosis for all of this?

At the same time we have an AB Red Tory & former Solicitor General moving over to the Wildrose today where the leader of the Wildrose self-identifies as a Libertarian who apparently doesn't want to get into divisive issues.

The small c conservatives who will do the voting in the next election are having a really hard time in trying to find a home these days that is making any sense. After the cabinet shuffle, no doubt there will be more interesting happenings as players begin staking out their territory.

We have enough political parties now - the politicians just have to sort themselves out in terms of what is really the best fit for them - not what is the most opportune way to sit as an MLA.

Hopefully the basic question will be answered in the next election - is AB going to be ruled by the pretty far left crowd of Red Tories/Progressives/Libertarians OR a Small C Conservative Party - regardless of what this party is called PCs, Wildrose Alliance, or Alberta Party.

Out of all this may even come a minority government and perhaps this wouldn't be so bad. One thing for sure - this "Huge Tent" PC party has to be broken down into separate parties that offer voters a reason to get out to vote. The existing MLAs are going to have to declare rather soon just which party option they are going to support. To remain voting members of two or more parties from here to the election would be pitiful.

Lou Arab said...

For the record, when I referred to leaders' office funding, I meant the parliamentary leader, not Danielle Smith.

However, I stand corrected in stating that the Alliance received this and research funding when they had only one MLA. They should have gotten it then, and they are certainly entitled to it now.

Lou Arab said...

I've been thinking about this some more, and I'm certain that the Alliance caucus got committee research funding before the 2008 election.

I'd love to know from Jane or some other WRA activist how the Tories justified not giving it to Hinman when he was alone for the second time (post Glenmore by-election).

Anonymous said...

I suspect they did give it to him, as all the official documentation recognizes Mr Hinman as being the sole member of a caucus group.

All this talk of who gets what funding shows how completely opaque our democracy has become. Shouldn't Joe Average be able to quickly assertain from the LAO website which groups get which funding? In a healthy democracy that would be the case.

Quite frankly it was nonsense for the Speaker to ever be given the discretion to decide on these matters. The Legislation is clear as to who gets recognized party status and who doesn't. The NDP never should have had it with 2 members and nor should the 3 member WRA team.

Anonymous said...

I don't think they should "recieve" anything. Receive it, maybe. But not "recieve". Spell check = a beautiful thing.

Anonymous said...

OK, I just heard that 2 of the WRA MLA's are Mormon. We should all be greatly concerned

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it was Lou Arab, Rachel Notley, or Sandra Houston that told Brian Mason he should change his tune and call for by-elections. He sure flip flopped on that over the course of one night!

I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that the NDP would retain 3rd party standing while said by-elections occured and this is just the social democrats defending the honour of our Legislature.

Funny how when they try to pull some allowable shenanigans federally (Layton & Dion's attempt to take power) the problem is the voters lack of knowledge of how the system can work. But when some other elected officials make a move that's within their rights, the NDP cries foul and confuses the issue by calling for unneeded by-elections.

In short, I wish the NDP would go away. They're so close to being gone already... the remnants should just shuffle off into the trash bin of history.

Lou Arab said...

I wish the NDP would go away.


OK then. You should have said something sooner. I'll get right on it.

Wait until I tell Brian he's finally got time to follow Trooper on tour - he's gonna be so stoked!

Of course I can make it happen. Brian always does everything I tell him. Hell, I'm the one who told him to drive a bus for a living. And to think I was only a teenager at the time.

C.Morgan said...

there was no such funding prior to the 2008 election. I am not sure where you are getting that from. Hinman got the funding that every independent MLA gets and nothing more. No research funding nor leaders funding etc.

Not sure where you heard that. Rest assured that the legislative hamstringing we had in that sense has been and was well discussed at the time.

Lou Arab said...

I was Chief of Staff for the NDP Caucus prior to the 2008 election. My recollection was that the Alliance got half the Committee research budget we got at the time.

I've now checked, and you are correct that Paul Hinman's Committee budget was the same as the independent (Dan Backs). I was correct in that the actual amount was in fact half of what the NDP Caucus received (90K vs. 180K). I just didn't realize that's what any independent would have received.

Sorry for the confusion.

C.Morgan said...

Appreciate the clarification Lou. Looks like it was primarily a matter of semantics between us.

Now as for our current status and funding.... It will be interesting indeed to see how that is addressed.