Naked appeals to geekiness can narrow an audience considerably. Be prepared for a column that touches on two disparate geekdoms. Science fiction geeks, more narrowly fans of the Star Wars franchise, revel in the term geek. People with political interests bristle at the term. I say it’s time for political types to revel in their specific brand of geekiness.
Lorne Gunter recently wrote a piece in which he referred to the recent re-birth of the Alberta Party as The Empire Strikes Back. As a member of both geekdoms, albeit much more on the political side, I’ll continue the analogy with a few ground rules. The fourth movie in the franchise is Star Wars. Not a New Hope, but Star Wars. Anyone who refers to the start of it all as a New Hope is lost in a fog of millennial revisionist thinking and just doesn’t get it.
In his piece, Gunter says of the Redford politicos helped her hijack the Alberta Progressive Conservatives only to hasten its demise.
It is largely an effort by old Redford Tories (the Empire) to take back the power they see as their birthright, the power they lost in 2015 due to their own arrogance and sense of entitlement.
Gunter is a little off on the reference to the Star Wars franchise. Some elements of the franchise do fit, while other elements are reversed The dark side is truly represented by the Redfordistas. However, the seemingly guaranteed victory of the UCP in 2019 will be interpreted as the Empire returning to its roost.
Opportunism Defines the Alberta Party
The Alberta Party has become more prominent recently because of the announcement by Stephen Mandel that he will join the leadership race. Gunter also writes of ‘the folks who ran Redford’s 2012 election campaign’ as being involved in the reboot of the Alberta Party.
The common theme among Mandel and these other people is opportunism. The group as a whole was never conservative.
These people were members of the Progressive Conservative party because they saw it as the only path to power in Alberta. Redford won the leadership of the PCs with a coalition of decidedly non-conservative voters who she signed up in the 2012 PC leadership campaign.
Redford outworked the old centrist faction of the party and their candidate Gary Mar.
Redford’s opportunistic method of winning the leadership of the PCs ultimately crippled her as premier. While Redford won the premiership she did not have the base of support within the party to manage the conservative elements of her caucus. She was forced to accept concessions in government that lead her coalition of centrists to abandon her.
Stephen Mandel may well be more opportunistic than Alison Redford. Mandel was named an un-elected cabinet minister by Jim Prentice in September of 2014. Mandel then won Dave Hancock’s former seat of Edmonton Whitemud in a by-election. Mandel was defeated in 2015 and played no further public role in the PCs.
The takeover of the Alberta Party by unprincipled opportunists is concurrently good for the province while being bad for the opportunists.
The higher public profile of the party will steal votes from the NDP and basically ensure Rachel Notley will be one and done. The opportunists will learn that much more of their previous success was due to hitching their wagons to the PC brand than to any talent or ability on their parts.
Principles matter and the Redfordistas will soon learn that lesson, again.