By GPA Leader Janet Keeping
Opposition in the Legislature was dramatically reduced in December when nine more Wildrose MLAs defected to the PC party, including the then leader, Danielle Smith. With this extraordinarily cynical move, Albertans were left with a much weakened opposition in the Legislature and a significantly more fragile democracy.
The radical weakening of Wildrose has also reduced the chances that the Liberals, NDs, Alberta Party and Greens will elect MLAs in the next election, which may well take place this spring. With the political right largely united within the PC party, there will be in most ridings no middle to “run up” to victory. Hence, my title – “cooperate or die”.
What do the smaller political parties in the province have to do to be as successful as possible in the next election? The answer is not merger – that’s not going to happen. It is instead cooperation (or coordination), such as not running in all ridings – letting the progressive candidate with demonstrably much better chances take advantage of a less cluttered ballot – and joint nominations where the same person runs as the candidate for more than one party.
The Greens are already walking the cooperation talk. For example, Janet Keeping, leader of the GPA, has publicly announced her decision to run in Calgary-Fort, instead of her home riding Calgary-Mountain View, in order to avoid splitting the progressive vote that has been going to David Swann the current Liberal MLA for Mountain View. Swann has publicly thanked Keeping for her decision and has encouraged support for her in Calgary-Fort.
As well, in the recent by-elections the Greens decided not to run in Calgary-Elbow in part because Susan Wright, the Liberal candidate, was so impressive and the field was already crowded.
If the progressive parties cooperate, the results of the next election do not have to be a bloodbath.