Those Ignorant of History are Doomed to Repeat It

Yesterday, two members of Ed Stelmach’s Alberta PC caucus crossed the floor and joined Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Alliance. Two Calgary area MLAs, Rob Anderson and Heather Forsyth, left the PC caucus citing failed leadership and bureaucratic glut in the Premier’s office.

Today, Stelmach send an email to supporters addressing the news (emphasis mine),

Now, a quick review of history from Wikipedia,

Alberta’s second dynasty was the United Farmers of Alberta who rose from a minor party known as the Alberta Non-Partisan League, formed in 1916. Henry Wise Wood would lead the party into the 1921 election and form a majority based on winning rural seats. The party did not run in the cities and allied with Labour candidates. Henry did not want the job as premier so the farmers were forced to shop around. John Brownlee was asked first but declined. Herbert Greenfield, the second choice, became the new premier.

Greenfield would resign four years later because he was often absent due to illness. John Brownlee, who had previously been offered the job, succeeded him. Brownlee’s reign as government leader was troubled by the onset of the great depression. He resigned in scandal after he was accused of sexual acts with a minor in the Attorney General’s office. This and another scandalous divorce by Oran McPherson, speaker of the legislative assembly, gave the United Farmers an image of moral decay. In 1934 Richard Reid would replace Brownlee and lead the United Farmers government into total defeat at the hands of the new Social Credit party.

This, of course, happened during the Great Depression.

In recent history, Stelmach replaced Klein.

Back then, the decay was cited as moral, today it is financial decay and bureaucratic ascendance.

Albertan political history is marked by political dynasties. Is this the end of the Progressive Conservatives and the rise of the Wildrose Alliance?

Comments

comments

  • roblaw

    Stephen.

    I would, perhaps, suggest that the parallel, if there is one, is between the UFA who started out as a populist party, with little in the way of functioning knowledge of how to govern, and the WRA who is also seeking to govern based upon populist sympathies during a time of financial difficulty, but with an almost complete absense of functioning policy on any significant issues.

    Now.. if we want to build a more modern parallel, it may be that of the country turning on the PC party federally, as a result of the GST and the Meech Lake accord – only to have, after giving the reins to the Liberals for a generation- the government returned to a conservative party who, oddly enough, maintains the GST and has more or less handed Quebec what was proposed in Meech Lake. No real change – but now we have the headache of gun control and a Judiciary and Senate stacked with Liberal appointments running wild with Canadian social issues.

    Well done, Reform Party, well done.

    The lesson given us by history? Take care to split the right, as the result may be a generation of Liberal rule. But then, I'm sure everything in Ontario is being governed more than capably, no?

  • John

    In a word: yes. Albertan people speak. And they mean what the say. The Alberta politician that ignores the people and believes he has the authority to tell the people what they think as Stelmach continues to do, is a fool.

  • m123T

    Ed could maybe turn things around by-abolishing the HRC, cancelling cuts to funding for the disabled, and rejigging the royalty contract. Most important, he must get rid of all those experts from other lands, that are ruining our healthcare and send some ministers to the backbench. And he must do all those things NOW, not later, or just before an election. Giving up several thousand dollars in pay shows that those floor crossers think of Albertans first, not themselves.

  • real conservative

    The desired end result is this: politics in Alberta and in Canada moves another few degrees to the right.

  • http://www.invisiblehand.ca/ The Invisible Hand

    Rob: The UFA governed Alberta for 14 years, most of which was during the 1920's, when the economy was strong. At the time they were thrown out, they had plenty of “functioning knowledge of how to govern.”

    If experience governing is the only thing that matters, then the Alberta Liberals should be enjoying their 105th straight year in power, and no government should ever lose power, anywhere, ever.

    Also, given that the Reform/Alliance beat the PCs in every election that the Liberals won, it was actually the PCs who were splitting the Reform vote, not the other way around.

    And in Alberta (which is the jurisdiction that we're talking about here), there was no vote splitting, because Reform completely obliterated the PCs.

    Finally, it seems I wasn't paying attention to the news the day Harper gave Quebec a constitutional veto…

    PS- Shame on you, Stephen! I was planning on making this exact same point on my blog. You've deprived me of a post! :)

  • http://canadianconservatives.ning.com/ Craig Smith

    Stelmach announced he was postponing his cabinet shuffle today. I guess he didn't want to shuffle more MPs over to the Alliance.

  • Bec

    No the lesson is, CONSERVATIVES hold their parties accountable, sit out and rebuild. What you seem to be suggesting is that we stay in the status quo to retain power. That is simply, not okay. Trust me, if Alberta wants a Conservative govt but not ED, there will be no vote splitting. Look at the polls.

    If what I am hearing about the convention is true, Ed will be toast, Rob. That WILL get out.

  • jay

    Ed can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, he has the seats to do so. Albertans though, have already spoken. They'll just bide their time until the next election, then vote him and what's left of the CPC into oblivion.

  • east of eden

    From the get-go, I did not like Stelmach. He's weak and ineffective. You need a premier like Saskatchewan's Wall. And, to be honest, I kind of liked Ralph – like him or not, he was pretty darned real.

  • Omanator

    I am not an Albertan and my experience with Alberta politics is very limited. But from what I can see The new Wild Rose is standing way to the right but most importantly I get the impression that this Alliances is really fed up with Quebec. Maybe Ed St. should have a look at that.

  • roblaw

    Also, given that the Reform/Alliance beat the PCs in every election that the Liberals won, it was actually the PCs who were splitting the Reform vote, not the other way around.

    Ok.

    So that doesn't make any sense.

    It doesn't really matter that they beat the PC's. That isn't the point. The point is they handed the keys to the kingdom to Jean Chretien, and by the time the conservatives got their shit together, we were looking at a seriously left-leaning Supreme Court of Canada, Gun Control, and a whole host of established and entrenched special interest programs that never should have been instituted in the first place.

    So.

    Pardon me if I prefer to work to impact the PC party from inside the tent, instead of outside of it.

    Pardon me if I'm not in a big hurry to start thinking about how “Premier Swann” sounds.

    But hey, que sera sera. What will be, will be.

    My personal situation is solid enough that I could deal with whatever government comes strolling through Alberta, just as I was able to deal with decades of Liberal rule federally.. so, if I'm suprised, and the WRA shows to be more than a bunch of whiners afraid to just face up to difficult times without having access to a drive-through window to pick up their “happy meal”, well, I'll admit I was wrong.

    Bet I'm not.

    Oh, and Bec, about the leadership review. I'm was there. I voiced an intention to vote in favor of a review. Didn't get tarred and feathered. Didn't get asked to “vet” my delegates in my constituency.

    So.. I'm not saying Anderson's full of shit. I wasn't in caucus, so I don't know what exactly got said by whom to who. I know, in my constituency, no one was asked what they were voting for. No one.

  • kenn2

    “The UFA governed Alberta for 14 years, most of which was during the 1920's, when the economy was strong. At the time they were thrown out, they had plenty of “functioning knowledge of how to govern.” “

    Well, ANY halfway moderate non-crackpot party can govern during the good times. The real test of a party is the bad times, when it's almost effortless to tar the party in power with the current woes, whatever they are.

    What's amusing is that Alberta's economy slipping from “Yee-Haw!” to merely above average precipitates a political crisis.

    Some hawt Alberta c-on-c action is a welcome diversion, anyway…

  • kenn2

    Provincially – maybe, federally – not…if the prorogue thread was any barometer of Conservative sentiment.

    (spoken from the squalid depths of Ontario)

  • http://www.invisiblehand.ca/ The Invisible Hand

    It doesn't really matter that they beat the PC's. That isn't the point. The point is they handed the keys to the kingdom to Jean Chretien

    Wrong.

    1993: Liberals 41.2%, Reform+PC 34.7%
    1997: Liberals 38.5%, Reform+PC 38.2%
    2000: Liberals 40.9%, Alliance+PC 37.7%

    As you can see, the Liberal vote beat the combined “right” vote every time… and that's before we consider how the idea that all Reform voters would have continued supporting the PCs is laughable. In reality, a large chunk of the Reform vote came from the NDP (especially in places like BC and Saskatchewan), and many would have stayed home or even voted Liberal had the new party not existed.

    Furthermore, I would submit that had the Reformers stayed with the PC party, the result would have been worse for implementing conservative values in Canada, not better. Based on the numbers above, the most likely result of elections during the 90's would have been Liberal minority governments, supported by either the NDP or the Bloc. Do you really think we would have gotten more right-wing judges, less gun control, and balanced budgets that way?

    (And let's not forget that it was the deficit hawks in the Reform Party who led the charge on balancing the budget in the first place.)

    Finally, you're ignoring the fact that the whole reason the Reformers left the PCs in the first place is because Mulroney/Campbell weren't governing any more conservatively than the Liberals likely would have. They left because they felt actual conservative policies were more important than just having the word “Conservative” somewhere the in governing party's name.

  • http://www.invisiblehand.ca/ The Invisible Hand

    Oh, and seriously, stop with this “Premier Swann” scare tactic. Even if the “vote splitting on the right allowed the Liberals to win” theory was true for Canada, it definitely wasn't true for Alberta.

    1993: Reform 52.3% (22 seats), Liberal 25.1% (4 seats), PC 14.6% (zero seats)
    1997: Reform 54.6% (24 seats), Liberal 24.0% (2 seats), PC 14.4% (zero seats)
    2000: Alliance 58.9%, (23 seats), Liberal 20.9% (2 seats), PC 13.5% (one seat)

    The results of the Calgary Glenmore by-election and the current province-wide polling numbers also bear this out: the PCs fall, Reform/Wildrose takes the lead, and the Liberals stay right where they were.

    In conclusion, “Premier Swann” isn't much more likely than “Premier Rankin.”

  • glenstromquist

    I'd say yes indeed.

    I attended one of Danielle's meetings last year in smalltown/rural Alberta, before she won the leadership. There was maybe 2 dozen people show up.

    FF 6 months later, yesterday she was up in this area again, unfortunately I could not attend but I'm hearing there was upwards of 250 people present.

    I'm sure Ed's first utterance when Danielle won the leadership so convincingly was something along the lines of “oh sh!t”..

    Had her opponent won he would still be in smooth waters now, but by and large, the people have had it with him and his party.

    The WRA won't be splitting the vote on the right, the Alberta PC's are so far left of centre now that that is where the vote splitting is going to be.

  • Oemissions

    Wild Rose has some intelligent people but they are NOT real farmers with a deep connection to the land who know economy doesn't always mean money and that care of the soil is everything.

  • rightwingbob

    Exactly why is it that you on the extreme side of the Conservative Party hate democracy so much? It is because you are so self righteous that you are not prepared to listen to anyone else? Canadians elect a 'Parliament' and from that parliament comes a government. Parliament is supreme … not the executive administration of the day.
    You have dug a deep hole for yourselves … and a Majority for Harper is now out of the question. Smarten up!

  • rightwingbob

    Exactly why is it that you on the extreme side of the Conservative Party hate democracy so much? It is because you are so self righteous that you are not prepared to listen to anyone else? Canadians elect a 'Parliament' and from that parliament comes a government. Parliament is supreme … not the executive administration of the day.
    You have dug a deep hole for yourselves … and a Majority for Harper is now out of the question. Smarten up!