The Alberta Party isn't going anywhere, but they do have a lot of work to do.At their Annual General Meeting two weekends ago, it was obvious party members were not only interested in moving forward, but also that it would be best to do so as a political party.
However, in my Highwood constituency, it means absolutely nothing unless the Alberta Party can gain some footing here. And my hope is that it does.
For the first time in a very long time, April saw two parties duke it out in Okotoks and High River. If you look at the history of MLAs in our area, it comes as no surprise that the MLA chosen was one who had the highest likelihood of being easily recognized. John Barlow had little chance of becoming a Minister, but Danielle Smith had a great chance of being the Premier, and an even better chance of being the Leader of the Opposition. Policy had little to do with it.
However, the position that Danielle Smith is in is one of a megaphone. All she can be is a noise-maker, and honestly Rob Anderson and Shayne Saskiw have been doing more of that. Due to the fact that she did not form government, what she says does not go in the Legislature, and the next three years will prove no different.
Eventually, Highwood will realize that their interests are far from being well-represented. They'll look at the Wildrose and say "you're not cutting it". They'll look at the PCs and say "you're not representing us well, either." They'll have to entertain someone new.
They won't entertain anybody who isn't local. Okotokians and High Riverites hate the idea of being represented by anyone outside their area. Nobody else gets how special our area is, from the culture we breed to the increasing economic influence we sway (with both communities experiencing 20+% growth in the past year). Nobody else gets our challenges either, from our water shortages to our changing demographics. Anybody who represents us must know us.
Liberals and NDP have not been able to mount a local representative for a few elections now. The likelihood of them finding someone is slim.
Not true for the Alberta Party. The Alberta Party will not run anywhere it can't find a local candidate. It's part of their charm, as is their "Big Listen" process, where party members are in personal interactions with constituents about the issues that matter to them, and that any Alberta Party MLA is expected to do the same once elected. And I'm pretty certain finding a local candidate will not be hard. The Alberta Party just needs to help Highwood constituents know why they are relevant, and that will take a lot of work. (Writer's note, if you are interested in helping get started on that work, because you believe in the principles of the Alberta Party, let me know!)
Will Highwood entertain the possibility of the Alberta Party? That depends on whether or not they actually consider policy and principle.
Unless the Wildrose does a significant update of their policies in 2013, they run the risk of being the "Danielle Smith and the BoZo Eruptions" show, and soon the people of Highwood will realize that isn't enough.
Unless the PCs start showing they can actually listen to Alberta citizens, no amount of rhetoric will ever convince the Highwood constituency otherwise. They've already been down that path with the unceremonious removal of George Groeneveld as Agriculture Minister. It is a big reason why people started entertaining the idea of Danielle Smith.
So if Highwood residents really begin looking at policy, and the principles that they want their representatives to live by, the Alberta Party will be here waiting. The Alberta Party has lots of work to do, but are not going to shy away from it. That way Highwood gets the representation it deserves.