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Mov ers & Shaker s

featur ing DANIELLE SMITH

In March 2008, the Alberta election had the start-up

We believe ideas matter and we believe people want to debate ideas. We’re going to continue doing this and focus on a positive agenda.

–Danielle Smith, Leader of Wildrose

Alliance Party of Alberta

party Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta featured on

the ballot.

The party was considered a fringe,

break-away group of former Progres- sive Conservatives who had felt that their party and its leadership were set- ting adrift. Sound familiar. It should. Progressive Conservatives in Alberta cautioned the “malcontents” within their base that they need look no fur- ther than the rift that once existed with federal conservatives, the PC Party of Canada, that led to the emer- gence of the western Reform Party in the late 80’s, and then the creation of the Canadian Reform Alliance - be- coming the Canadian Alliance - span- ning the 90’s and early 2000’s, as an experiment that helped deliver three successive majority governments to the Liberal Party of Canada under Jean Chretien. The issue…vote split- ting on the right. It was only under the leadership of then Canadian Alliance leader Stephen

30 Politics | Canadian Edition

Harper and new PC Party of Canada leader Peter MacKay, and supported by a massive grassroots movement within both parties, that the family feud end- ed in 2003 and the right united under one party, the Conservative Party of Canada.

The 2008 election in Alberta deliv-

ered another massive majority govern- ment to the PC’s . The other right of centre party, the Wildrose Alliance, fin- ished with seven per cent of the vote and no seats. Using the federal example of what happens when political fami- lies feud, worked for the PC’s…at least then.

Fast-forward exactly two years. Determination, combined with real

local, grassroots, press-the-flesh, old-time politics and under the direction of a new, media and business savvy leader, has the Wildrose Alliance shaking the founda- tions of the once solid Alberta PC’s. Polls now have the PC’s at their

lowest in almost two decades, and the Wildrose Alliance at an astonishing 40% of popular support.

If an elec-

tion were held today, seat projections do not show a vote split on the right that would deliver a victory for the Alberta Liberals, as once feared. They show a monumental collapse of the PC’s to third place behind the Liber- als and barely ahead of the NDP, and a majority government for the Wildrose

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