Friday, May 27, 2011

Lightning In a Bottle: The Alberta Party Leadership Race

Nation, something you may not know about me is that I agonize over the titles to my blog posts. I try to look for something relevant, funny, and/or understandable. Sometimes, an inability to come up with a good headline will stop me from writing a post altogether. And I always write the title before I write the body.

So, what's with the title to this particular post - "Lightning in a Bottle"?

Essentially, what the Alberta Party is trying to do this weekend with their selection of a leader is to find themselves the "next Naheed": Someone who can lift their party from obscurity and chase down the big dogs. Much as we saw Nenshi do in Calgary, the Alberta Party is going to have to overcome their relatively low profile to challenge the "establishment" parties of the PCs, Liberals, NDP and Wildrose (who, while new themselves, are completely stocked with politicians and operatives from yesteryear) for donations, media attention, and (ultimately) seats.

In order to do this, they need a leader who connects with Albertans. A leader who represents to Albertans exactly what the party membership feel is their most important attribute or focus.

If the membership feels their focus should be on party building, they'll vote a certain way in the leadership contest. If they feel their focus should be on the economy, they'll vote another way. And so on. In essence, we will know how this party defines itself and its priorities by the results of this leadership election.

Tammy Maloney will be elected leader of the Alberta Party if the membership wants to show the party as wearing its heart on its sleeve. Passionate and engaging, Maloney is impossible to dislike. She represents the progressive heart of this party's raison d'etre. She's a tireless worker, and boasts a very impressive resume. She's not afraid to say "I don't know the answer to that" - which would certainly be a change from the politicians of today. Her family's Albertan roots run deep, and the Vauxhall native would do very well at wooing potential party supporters in the rural south and the urban centres.

Glenn Taylor will be elected leader of the Alberta Party if the membership wants to show the party as eschewing "politics as usual". The only candidate to actually have been elected to public office in the past, the sitting Mayor of Hinton has developed a reputation for doing politics differently. He's about pan-generational planning, and building consensus. It also doesn't hurt that he has attracted some pretty high profile endorsements from within the party. The only candidate from north of Airdrie, Taylor would also be a boon to the party's fortunes in the north, particularly in Edmonton and areas to the west.

Randy Royer will be elected leader of the Alberta Party if the membership wants to show the party as being focused on the economy. His evocation of Bill Clinton's famous line "It's the economy, stupid" drew some ire from within the party, however Royer maintains that in order to get Henry and Martha onside with the new party, the focus has to be on ensuring that people can still make a living. It would also help silence the whispered criticisms of the party as being "re-branded Liberals". Royer's deep commitment to bettering Alberta for all of us is clear to anyone who's spoken with him, and he is convinced that his party can win the next general election in Alberta.

Lee Easton will be elected leader of the Alberta Party if the membership wants to embrace whole-heartedly their progressive mantle. His policy positions are clear and read like a progressive hymnal, though what's somewhat less clear is whether the party membership would fully endorse them even if he were to win the leadership. He's a teacher and academic with business experience, who would likely have a lot of appeal in the cities. I wasn't able to connect with Lee during the contest, but I'll try again when I get to the convention this evening.

I'll be doing a lot of posting from the Alberta Party Leadership Convention this weekend, and should be arriving around 8 tonight, so watch this space for updates.

(Rumour has it that Dave Cournoyer of daveberta has challenged me to a cage match. It's gunna get UGLY. Doesn't he remember how I crushed Alberta Tory? ;)

EDIT: The Twitter hashtag for the Leadership Convention is "#abpleader" - I'd suggest following it and #abparty if you prefer to get your updates via Twitter rather than waiting for prime rib-quality analysis from the Enlightened Savage. ;)

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