Conservatives upend the political system in Alberta

What if I told you Canada has a province known for oil, cowboys, and conservative politics? It’s true, Alberta is like that. What if I told you that conservative activists in Alberta got sick of the establishment party of that province, and so stood up a new party that stands for, in the words of Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean, “smart spending, balanced budgets, and lower taxes,” would it sound familiar?

And last night, after the Progressive Conservative establishment ruled Alberta continuously for 44 years, winning 12 straight elections, they lost big and in fact became the number three party in the province.

The left today is cheering in Canada because the New Democrat Party (as bad as it sounds) united the left in Alberta, winning 41% of the vote and a shocker majority in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. But it wouldn’t have happened without the conservatives of Alberta finally saying enough is enough, the establishment party is raising taxes, borrowing money, and engaging in massive programs of waste and cronyism.

That’s what the 40 years of Progressive “Conservative” rule had led to in Alberta, and why conservatives of the Wildrose Party were standing up to the establishment party, much as the Reform Party of Canada took down the national Progressive Conservative party in 1993.

In the previous election to that earthquake, the national PC (fitting abbreviation) party won a clear majority of 169 out of 295 seats. In 1993, the sitting Prime Minister Kim Campbell was defeated along with all but two members. That’s right, the establishment right party went from a majority to 2 seats, ending as a force in Canada. The Progressive Conservatives milled around for another 10 years, but never seriously threatened to take power, and eventually gave up to merge the upstarts, forming the current Conservative Party of Canada.

So now we’ll likely see the same in Alberta. In 2012, Alberta PCs won 66 seats, and in fact had climbed up to 70 out of 87 by the election yesterday. They’re down to 10 today, all in the Calgary area. Alberta PCs are now a regional party within Alberta.

The right is not dead in Alberta though. The PCs and Wildrose combined for 52% of the vote to the NDP’s 41%. If Alberta goes as Canada did 20 years ago, we’ll see a Wildrose government soon enough. Hold on for now, but better times are coming.