Monday, January 4, 2010

PC MLAs defect to Wild Rose

The news this morning that Rob Anderson and Heather Forsyth were leaving the Alberta PC party and joining the Wild Rose Alliance party and caucus has, predictably, generated a lot of commentary. In light of that commentary I think a couple of points need to be reiterated.

First of all during the last election the Premier, his staff and advisers were hoping to win somewhere in the area of 55-65 seats - a massive majority of the 83 total. They wound up with the unwieldy total of 72, a majority of exotic magnitude. At this point the PC government still commands more seats than they had hoped to win in the past election. It is also over two years to the next election - we're still in the first period of this game so let's not jump to conclusions.

Secondly the defections hardly constitute major losses to the PCs, or game-changing additions to the Wild Rose. Given the changing dynamics of Alberta politics and the inflated size of the PC caucus some defections to the Wild Rose were almost inevitable. If the government is able to keep the losses to such minor figures and Mr. Anderson and Ms. Forsyth then they will have done well. Neither of them has the stature to constitute a significant threat to the PC's standing.

Finally I think it is worth noting that the Wild Rose and the two defectors have certainly not gained the maximum political traction from the opportunity this move created. Had they paired the news of the defections with a major policy platform announcement they would have had the opportunity to fix both the event and Mr Anderson/Ms. Forsyth in the public mind. Instead they are likely to be forgotten or simply remembered as 'the defectors'. Another idea would have been to pair the announcement of the defection with the news of the cabinet shuffle or a major news story negative to the PCs. Whether this opportunity has gone begging due to a lack of vision or simply lack of discipline I certainly cannot say, but the fact is that done in this way the defections will have less impact than they could have had.

Mr. Anderson's Statement:

Calgary Herald Article:


  1. I'm thinking it is a big deal. I'm thinking this is along the line of the Reform Party when they split the right. I think it will have momentum to the federal side sooner than later as well.

  2. I don't disagree that it is significant, but I don't think this is the death knell of the PC government either. As for the federal implications that is an interesting question. Mr. Harper has steadily moved away from the transparency & accountability elements of the Reform plaform while positioning himself to really cut deeply in the federal government. It looks like he is more likely to lose the moderate wing of the party now, though there isn't much sign of resistance to him in the party, much less revolt.

  3. Heather Forsyeth is respected in her community. I don't think either will translate into votes for the WildRose that weren't already there.

    I agree with James Curran. This is evidence of a movement to the right that Harper prefers. With both Danielle Smith and Harper declaring that they represent the centre and true conservatives, the discontent with Harper may be delayed in the CPC. In the end it is only spin and they are far to the right of the Alberta PCs and most other provincial PCs across the country.

    Together with the Saskatchewan Party, Harper has more far right troops gearing up. I don't see Alberta electing WildRose but I have been wrong before ("Ralph Klein will not be mayor of Calgary" comes to mind). I expect Danielle will happily step down as leader on a loss (Morton to step in) I have no doubt that Danielle Smith will be an MP for Harper if he manages to maintain his leadership of the CPC.