|Posted on December 16, 2014 at 6:00 PM|
I never thought I’d see this day.
In Alberta, it’s becoming clear rumours of a Wild Rose Party/Progressive Conservative marriage of convenience are a reality, despite the party leader’s refusal to speak to it’s members.
And though some Albertans might tell us Ontarians to mind their own business, I for one won’t. Like many Ontarians, I have been jealous of Albertans having the option of voting Wildrose .
That’s because in our sleepy little province, run by a government who is nothing short of blatantly corrupt, we looked up to the spunk and passion the Wildrose represented.
You gave us hope.
I call Wildrose leader Danielle Smith’s choice a marriage of convenience, rather than a merger, because I continue to believe in the principles that led to the creation of the WRP. Unlike the PC’s, who have grown elitist and self-important after decades in power, the WRP membership held loyal to the principles of grassroots democracy. I see it nothing short of a betrayal to those grassroots members for any WRP caucus member who decides to cross the floor.
When Stephen Harper and Peter McKay united the Conservatives federally, it was for a noble cause; for the purpose of forming a party that would eventually govern and lead Canada back to prosperity. The merger of the WRP and PC’s is not about governing. It’s being proposed to advance the personal ambitions of Jim Prentice, Danielle Smith and others. Their excuse about concerns over how Alberta deals with falling oil prices is nonsense. All parties in the Alberta legislature are concerned about oil prices.
The WRP caucus seems to have forgotten that they were given the privilege of representing their riding via the support of their local membership and the votes of the people. The people of Alberta elected a legislature that was to have the PC’s govern and the WRP act as the Official Opposition. Did voters get it wrong? Of course not. Nobody sees the provincial Liberals as worthy or capable of fulfilling the duties of the Official Opposition. The WRP has done a brilliant job of keeping the government accountable and on track. Has Alberta forgotten this is the party that removed two premieres from office?
That’s an outstanding achievement.
Unlike many other pundits, I personally know what it means to sit in opposition. I know that it can be very hard work and for very little reward, or even recognition in the media. I understand how it feels to be told by constituents that I am always too negative and too aggressive in my criticism. I also understand how it stings to lose an election.
Being on the government side is a whole lot easier and, frankly more enjoyable. To use a sports analogy, the linemen do all the hard work while the quarterback gets to date the head cheerleader.
Yet, when the WRP caucus was elected, they were given a great privilege by the voters of Alberta to do the toughest job in the legislature. Is it tough to be in opposition? Absolutely. But is it important work? Without a doubt it is. The legislature does not function properly without a strong, principled, and loyal Official Opposition.
There’s no shame in sitting across the aisle from government either. Holding governments to account is one of the most noble of tasks. It can take decades to build a party and win over people. The Wildrose just shot themselves in the foot.
In Canada, the true north strong and free, opposition in government is the fundamental principle behind democracy.
If you think opposition is beneath you, then elected office might not be such a good vocation for you after all.
It’s a simple tenet of free market economics that competition makes us all improve and thrive. By being an effective Official Opposition, the WRP made the PC’s become a better government with all Albertans benefitting.
If the merger goes through, although some current WRP MLA’s may find themselves enjoying their career more, Albertans will see an end to effective debate, as they see themselves suddenly left with ineffective opposition lead by the 5-member Liberal Party.
What a disaster.
It’s my hope that WRP MLA’s will forego their personal ambitions and re-commit to fulfilling the jobs they were elected to do until the next election.
If at the time of the next general election they wish to change colours and run for the PC’s, they are free to seek a mandate from the voters.
And from a party that is known for it's common sense, transparency and grassroots respect, this makes complete sense to me.