After Alison Redford became Alberta’s Premier-Designate Sunday morning (and even before the results were official) some smaller-c Progressive Conservatives mused that the Alberta PC Party got hijacked by (scary, awful, terrifying, communist) non-tradidional PC members who bought a $5-membership and voted for the candidate that had more Progressive with her Conservative.
Some of those people might have even been in unions. Unions!
Those frightened and confused party members need to check their own membership card and refer to the “P” in PC Party of Alberta. Also, you don’t get to raise a bunch of money on $5-memberships without a hiccup or two in your plans.
After Gary Mar’s pitches on private healthcare and Alison Redford’s promise to stay with public healthcare, and also to instantly put $100-million into school board budgets, it is not surprising that Albertans who value a public health system and more stable funding for education decided to buy a membership with a party they may never have voted for in a general election. That’s not unions or liberals trying to rule from outside. That’s change.
I like to think this signals something important. Perhaps Albertans stopped seeing the leadership race as something just for the Tory party and got engaged in a vote that also impacts them.
My sunshine and rainbows view on this is that there were indeed lots of “two-minute Tories” because these people were looking beyond party lines. They may never vote for an Alberta Progressive Conservative again. Or maybe this will set in motion the option for them to do so.
It would be so nice to think beyond the colour of ones campaign signs.
If any of those extra thousands of people who showed up for Alison Redford are like me, they never had a PC Party of Alberta membership (or any party membership at all), they never voted for the PC party, but they are engaged citizens. They saw in Alison Redford someone who was at the cabinet table when dodgy decisions were made, but might have been on the outside of some of those calls.
Her lack of Tory MLA support signalled she was not part of the old boys club. Her support for an inquiry on healthcare queue-jumping and government transparency was refreshing. Rightly or wrongly, that pushed people to join the PC Party of Alberta, even for a day.
This leadership race says, to me, that party lines are not as solid as so many in partisan politics would like to think. People are after change, and, given the chance, people are going to defy party lines to make that happen.
Good luck to Alison Redford. Perhaps more than the last few Premiers of Alberta, she’s got an entire province waiting to see how things get done at the Alberta Legislature.