|Wildrose Alliance Political Association|
Active provincial party
October 25, 2002|
Renamed Wildrose Alliance January 31, 2008
714 1 Street SE
|Colours||Blue and Green|
|Template:Infobox Canadian political party/province||Template:Infobox political party/seats|
The Wildrose Party (registered as Wildrose Alliance Party, and legally Wildrose Alliance Political Association) is a conservative provincial political party in Alberta, Canada. The party was formed out of the Alberta Alliance Party in early 2008 following its merger with the unregistered Wildrose Party of Alberta. The wild rose is Alberta's provincial flower.
It contested the 2008 provincial election under the Wildrose Alliance banner, and was able to capture seven percent of the popular vote but failed to hold its single seat in the Legislative Assembly. Support for the party rose sharply in 2009 as voters grew increasingly frustrated with the Progressive Conservative (PC) government and a cooling economy, resulting in a surprise win by outgoing leader Paul Hinman in an October by-election. The party's popularity continued to rise when in the fall of 2009 Danielle Smith won election as leader. By December 2009, the Wildrose Alliance was leading provincial opinion polls with 39 percent support, 14 points ahead of both the governing PCs and the opposition Liberals. Wildrose's caucus grew to four members in 2010, after two former PC members of the Legislative Assembly defected in January and an independent MLA joined the party in June of that year.
In the 2012 election, while the party failed to have the breakthrough predicted by most media pundits (many predicted it would become the government), it did increase its vote and seat totals and become the official opposition.
Founding and 2008 general election
The Alberta Alliance Party voted to change its registered name on January 19, 2008 to the Wildrose Alliance after it merged with the unregistered Wildrose Party of Alberta. The name officially changed to Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta after being approved by Elections Alberta on January 31, 2008.
The two parties had similar policies and the Wildrose had key personnel previously involved with the Alberta Alliance. They hoped that a union would allow the new party to present a stronger front for an anticipated election in the spring of 2008. Paul Hinman, the party's only sitting Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) remained leader after the merger. During the 27th Alberta general election, the Wildrose Alliance attempted to position itself as a conservative alternative to the governing PC party, and released a platform that promised fixed election dates, increasing personal tax exemptions, elimination of health care premiums, the creation of an Alberta Pension Plan, and a reworking of the controversial changes the PC government made to the oil and gas royalty regime.
An anticipated backlash against the governing PCs failed to materialize, as Premier Ed Stelmach extended his party's seat total to 72 from 60. While the Alliance finished second in eight ridings across the province, they failed to win any seats as Hinman lost his Cardston-Taber-Warner riding by just 39 votes. Running candidates in 61 of the province's 83 ridings, the Alliance took 6.78% of the vote, fourth behind the PCs, Liberals and New Democrats.
2009 leadership election
Template:Details Hinman announced on April 20, 2009 his intention to step down as leader. He remained the party's leader in an interim capacity until the leadership convention. Former Canadian Federation of Independent Business provincial director Danielle Smith and Mark Dyrholm, a chiropractor in Calgary, announced their candidacy at the June convention. Author Jeff Willerton stood as the third candidate in the election until he withdrew in support of Dyrholm. The party viewed the leadership campaign with optimism, announcing that its membership was growing rapidly as Albertans grew increasingly frustrated with the Stelmach government's performance.
Growing opposition to the government's oil and gas royalty program, a record $4.7 billion deficit in 2009, and the PC's "liberal spending" facilitated the growth of the party. The party began to attract former Reform Party of Canada supporters along with high profile former members of the provincial Progressive Conservatives, including former premier Ralph Klein's father. Using the slogan "Send Ed a message" as a rallying cry, Paul Hinman sought to take advantage of public discontent as he ran in a September by-election in the Calgary-Glenmore riding. He surprised political observers by capturing 37 percent of the vote, narrowly defeating Liberal opponent Avalon Roberts to win the election and gain the Wildrose Alliance its first seat in the legislature. The Tories, who had held the riding uninterrupted since 1969, fell to third place. Political observers argued the result was more a protest against the Stelmach government than firm support for the Alliance, though it gave the party momentum as it prepared to vote for a leader.
Smith and Dyrholm both attempted to capitalize on the party's election win, proclaiming that Albertans wanted change and that each of them would lead the Wildrose Alliance to a victory in the next general election. The party experienced a considerable growth heading into the leadership election, announcing it had 11,670 members at the beginning of October, compared to 1,800 in June. Smith was elected the new leader at the convention held in Edmonton on October 17.
Danielle Smith leadership
Upon her election, Smith sought to continue the party's growth, focusing her efforts on fundraising and a search for strong candidates. The party hopes to form constituency associations in each riding and have a full slate of candidates selected by 2011, though a general election does not have to be called until the spring of 2013. She announced the creation of task forces to develop a detailed energy policy, and to independently determine elected Members' wages and benefits.
The party faced controversy when Smith's chief of staff, Stephen Carter, was forced to apologize after earning criticism for a Twitter posting that mocked the way Premier Stelmach speaks. Carter resigned a week after the posting, though he claimed the controversy was not the reason behind his decision.
The Wildrose Alliance's growth was evident in the polls. Shortly before Smith's election, a Return on Insight poll found that the Alliance had the support of 22 percent of respondents. By early November, the party had improved to 28 percent according to an Environics poll, firmly in second place and six points behind the Conservatives. By December, they topped the Tories, leading with 39 percent support according to an Angus Reid poll, while the Conservatives had fallen into a second place tie with the Liberals at 25 percent. The party revealed at the same time that it had grown to over 13,000 members.
Amidst this wave of popularity, Smith announced on January 4, 2010 that two former Conservative MLAs had crossed the floor. Rob Anderson and former cabinet minister Heather Forsyth announced that they had joined the Wildrose Alliance after growing frustrated with Ed Stelmach's leadership, accusing the Conservative government of being undemocratic. The defections moved the Wildrose Party past the New Democrats to become the third largest party in the Legislature, Guy Boutilier joined the Wildrose Alliance on June 24, 2010. The fourth Wildrose MLA, Boutilier took the party over the threshold for recognition as an official party in the Assembly. He was unveiled at the party's annual conference, which was attended by 700 people: up from 175 the previous year.
In late July 2010, a controversy developed between Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel and the Wildrose Alliance leader over the future of the city-centre airport. Smith argued that a vote on closure of the airport should be added to the October civic elections ballot. Alberta Liberal and NDP politicians also opposed the closure.
Smith has been criticized for a plan to “ensure conscience rights for marriage commissioners and health professionals.” However, she has refused to say whether she personally believes in the concept of “conscience rights” that would allow a marriage commissioner to opt-out of wedding a same-sex couple or a Catholic doctor from prescribing birth control.
Policy and identity
Danielle Smith identifies herself as a fiscal conservative and while she believes in libertarian principles, the party is home to many social conservatives. Opponents have often characterised the party as extremist: former Liberal leader David Swann, in congratulating Smith on her election as leader, argued that Albertans would be "uneasy" with the "rather extreme, socially conservative, economically irresponsible vision of the party". Smith stated that controversial social issues would not play a part in the party's election platform.
Two task forces were created in late 2009 to help build party policy. The energy task force was announced first with the mandate to review the government's controversial changes to the provincial oil royalty scheme and the process for energy transmission, both of which the Wildrose Party argues has damaged Alberta's economy. The second task force was created to scrutinize the pay and benefits of MLAs and government employees. The party plans to launch additional task forces early in 2010, including those focused on agriculture and health care.
Election reform is a focus of the Wildrose Alliance. The party proposes to set fixed election dates rather than the current format which allows the Premier to call an election at any time. It would allow more free votes in the legislature and would seek to elect the province's Senators rather than have them appointed by the Prime Minister. The party also plans to introduce a bill giving voters the right to recall their MLA. The Wildrose Party proposes numerous changes to how the province delivers health care, which it claims will remain compliant with the Canada Health Act, as well as controls on government spending. The party is also critical of international climate change treaties, believing corruption and politicization have surfaced in the scientific peer review process, thus climate change science remains inconclusive. Opposing politicians have criticized the Wildrose Party's policies as vague and undefined (including the topic of gun ownership), while supporters have praised the party under Smith as "refreshing".
Polling indicated that the party has retained the support of a quarter of the electorate throughout 2010 as the party further attempted to define itself as not just a protest party but a party capable of forming government. By July 2011, the Wildrose's support had fallen to 16 percent, while PC support had risen to 51 percent.
However, by March 2012, the Party was polling the support of four-in-ten Albertans, showing significant improvement and a credible challenger to the PCs. In the 2012 Alberta election, held on April 23 of that year the Wildrose took 34.3% of the popular vote, and 17 seats. Despite this fourfold increase in seats from the previous election, Alison Redford's Tories still formed a majority government, with 44% of the popular vote and 61 seats.
- Rob Anderson – Airdrie-Chestermere
- Joe Anglin – Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre
- Drew Barnes – Cypress-Medicine Hat
- Gary Bikman – Cardston-Taber-Warner
- Ian Donovan – Little Bow
- Heather Forsyth – Calgary-Fish Creek
- Rod Fox – Lacombe-Ponoka
- Jason Hale – Strathmore-Brooks
- Bruce McAllister – Chestermere-Rocky View
- Blake Pedersen – Medicine Hat
- Bruce Rowe – Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills
- Shayne Saskiw – Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills
- Danielle Smith – Highwood
- Pat Stier – Livingstone-Macleod
- Rick Strankman – Drumheller-Stettler
- Kerry Towle – Innisfail-Sylvan Lake
- Jeff Wilson – Calgary-Shaw
Year by year summary
|Template:Canadian politics/party colours/Wildrose|||2004||Alberta Alliance||83/83||1||77,506||8.7%||4th||Randy Thorstienson|
|Template:Canadian politics/party colours/Wildrose|||2008||Wildrose Alliance||61/83||0||64,407||6.78%||4th||Paul Hinman|
|Template:Canadian politics/party colours/Wildrose|||2012||Wildrose||87/87||17||442,429||34.29%||2nd||Danielle Smith|
2008 general election
Template:Alberta general election, 2008
2009 Calgary-Glenmore by-election
|September 14, 2009 by-election results||Turnout 40.53%||Swing|
Template:Canadian politics/party colours/Wildrose Alliance/row
|Wildrose Alliance||Paul Hinman||4,052||36.74%||28.67%||*
Template:Canadian politics/party colours/Liberal/row
Template:Canadian politics/party colours/Alberta PC Association/row
|Progressive Conservative||Diane Colley-Urquhart||2,863||25.96%||-24.71%||*
Template:Canadian politics/party colours/NDP/row
Template:Canadian politics/party colours/Social Credit/row
|Social Credit||Len Skowronski||118||1.07%||*
Template:Canadian politics/party colours/Independent/row
|Rejected, Spoiled and Declined||?|
|27,212 Eligible Electors|
2012 general election
Template:Alberta general election, 2012
- Wildrose Party candidates, 2012 Alberta provincial election
- Political parties
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