|Wildrose Alliance Political Association|
Active provincial party
|Founded||October 25, 2002
Renamed Wildrose Alliance January 31, 2008
|Headquarters||601 10 Avenue SW
10707 100 Avenue
|Colours||Blue and Green|
|Seats in Legislature|
|Politics of Alberta
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
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 Smith 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.
For much of the run-up to the 2012 provincial election, it looked like the Wildrose would defeat the Tories in a landslide. Polling immediately before the election suggested that the gap had narrowed somewhat, but that the Wildrose was still poised to end the PCs' 41-year tenure in government. In the general election, however, the Wildrose took 17 seats out of 87, well behind the Tories. This was mainly because its support was confined to rural areas. The Wildrose only won two seats in Calgary (while losing the two seats it held there at dissolution) and were completely shut out of Edmonton. Nonetheless, it tallied 34.3 percent of the popular vote, a healthy increase from 2008. This was, however, enough to make the Wildrose the Official Opposition.
Policy and identity
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. Smith is also critical of international climate change treaties, believing climate change science remains inconclusive.
Danielle Smith identifies herself as a fiscal conservative. While she considers herself a libertarian on social issues, the party is home to many social conservatives. Smith stated that controversial social issues would not play a part in the party's election platform.
Polling indicated that the party 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 Wildrose was polling the support of four-in-ten Albertans, showing significant improvement and a credible challenger to the PCs.
- Rob Anderson – Airdrie-Chestermere (deputy leader)
- 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 (leader)
- Pat Stier – Livingstone-Macleod
- Rick Strankman – Drumheller-Stettler
- Kerry Towle – Innisfail-Sylvan Lake
- Jeff Wilson – Calgary-Shaw
Year by year summary
|||2004||Alberta Alliance||83/83||1||77,506||8.7%||4th||Randy Thorstienson|
|2008||Wildrose Alliance||61/83||0||64,407||6.78%||4th||Paul Hinman|
2008 general election
|Party||Party leader||Number of
|2004||Dissol.||2008||% Change||#||%||Change (pp)|
|Progressive Conservative||Ed Stelmach||83||621||60||72||+20%||501,063||52.72||+5.92%|
|New Democratic||Brian Mason||83||4||4||2||-50%||80,578||8.48||-1.72%|
|Wildrose Alliance||Paul Hinman||61||1||1||-||-100%||64,407||6.78||-1.92%2|
|Social Credit||Len Skowronski||8||-||-||-||-||2,043||0.21||-1.02%|
|Alberta Party||Bruce Stubbs||1||-||-||-||-||42||0.00||-0.28%|
- 1 Liberal Chris Kibermanis originally had a five-vote margin over Progressive Conservative Thomas Lukaszuk. A judicial recount on January 24, 2005, determined Thomas Lukaszuk the winner.
- 2 Results change is compared to the Alberta Alliance in 2004.
2009 Calgary-Glenmore by-election
|September 14, 2009 by-election results||Turnout 40.53%||Swing|
|Wildrose Alliance||Paul Hinman||4,052||36.74%||28.67%||*|
|Progressive Conservative||Diane Colley-Urquhart||2,863||25.96%||-24.71%||*|
|Social Credit||Len Skowronski||118||1.07%||*|
|Rejected, Spoiled and Declined||?|
|27,212 Eligible Electors|
2012 general election
|Party||Party leader||Number of
|2008||Dissol.||2012||% Change||#1||%||Change (pp)|
|Progressive Conservative||Alison Redford||87||72||66||61||–7.85||567,060||43.95||–8.77|
|New Democratic||Brian Mason||87||2||2||4||+100||126,752||9.82||+1.34|
|Alberta Party||Glenn Taylor||38||—||1||—||–100||17,172||1.33||+1.32|
|Social Credit||Len Skowronski||3||—||—||—||—||294||0.0228||–0.19|
- Results at the count.
- Results change is compared to the Alberta Greens in 2008.
- Elections Alberta lists Bart Hampton as leader of the Separation Party of Alberta, however the party's only candidate is party president Glen Dundas.
- "The Twenty-sixth Annual Report of the Chief Electoral Officer". Elections Alberta. p. 8. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
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- "Wildrose drops 'Alliance' from name". CBC News. 26 June 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
- "Wildrose Alliance Party born in Alberta". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008-01-19. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
- "Alta. parties could merge for anticipated election". CTV News. 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
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- "'Ed, Ed, Ed,' chant triumphant Tories". Calgary Herald. 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
- "Wildrose Alliance shut out". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
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- "Wildrose Alliance leadership candidates face upbeat crowd". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-09-17. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
- Cotter, John (2009-05-06). "Former Canadian independent business leader considers Alberta party leadership bid". Canadian Press. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
- Steward, Gillian (2009-05-12). "Wildrose watches its garden grow". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- Libin, Kevin (2009-07-09). "Wildrose Alliance sets sights on Alberta conservatives". National Post. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- McIntyre, Doug (2009-09-10). "Ralph's dad 'changing stripes'". Edmonton Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- Diotte, Kerry (2009-08-12). "Many former Reformers backing Wildrose Alliance: leadership hopeful". Edmonton Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- Kohler, Nicholas (2009-09-10). "Sending Ed a message". Macleans Magazine. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- Bell, Rick (2009-09-13). "Ed no help to Tory candidate". Calgary Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
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- Audette, Trish (2009-10-09). "Wildrose success attributed to governing Tories". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- White, Tarina (2009-10-19). "Wave of change could topple Tories". Calgary Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- "Wildrose Alliance leadership candidates face upbeat crowd". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-10-17. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- Audette, Trish (2009-10-08). "Wildrose suppor blooms". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
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- Bennett, Dean (2009-12-14). "Alberta's Wildrose Alliance to hit rubber chicken circuit in 2010". Canadian Press. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- Liebrecht, Richard (2009-12-13). "Wildrose growing strong: party rep". Calgary Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- "Wildrose Alliance drafts two critics for energy task force". Calgary Herald. 2009-11-11. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- "Wildrose Alliance scrutinizes MLA pay". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-11-19. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- Audette, Trish (2009-11-21). "Wildrose staffer sorry for making fun of premier". Edmonton Journal. Retrieved 2010-01-04.[dead link]
- Kauffmann, Bill; Schneider, Katie (2009-11-25). "Wildrose staffer calls it quits". Calgary Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- D'Aliesio, Renata (2009-10-14). "Stelmach poised for speech amid sagging polls". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- Fekete, Jason (2009-11-05). "Alberta Tories slide, Wildrose gains in new poll". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- "Albertans eyeing Wildrose Alliance". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-12-29. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- "2 Alberta MLAs join upstart Wildrose party". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2010-01-04. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- Fekete, Jason (2010-01-04). "Alberta Conservative dynasty erodes as Tory MLAs defect to upstart Wildrose Alliance". National Post. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- "Wildrose Alliance gains official party status". CTV Television Network. 25 June 2010.
- McLean, Archie (25 June 2010). "Wildrose Alliance kicks off coming-out party". Edmonton Journal.
- "Wildrose Alliance, mayor square off over airport". 30 June 2010.
- Howell, Trevor Scott (Sep 1, 2011). "‘Conscience rights’ need protection: Wildrose leader". FFWD Weekly. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
- Gerein, Keith (April 4, 2012). "Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith deflects questions on "conscience rights"". Calgary Herald. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
- D'Aliesio, Renata (2009-12-22). "Wildrose becomes unlikely contender". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- "Wildrose Alliance policy platform". Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta. Archived from the original on December 29, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
- McLean, Archie (2010-01-06). "Stelmach leadership vote 'little third world'". Global Television. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
- Fekete, Jason (2009-11-10). "Wildrose unveils its vision". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2010-01-06.[dead link]
- "Wildrose party leader to run for Calgary seat". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-10-19. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- Steele, Andrew (2009-10-19). "Safe change". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- "Wildrose continues to make Alberta inroads poll". National Post, from the Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
- "Alberta PCs on track for another massive majority, poll shows". Calgary Herald. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 1 Sep 2011.
- "Wildrose Party would form majority Alberta government: Poll". CANOE. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
- "2004 General election report". Elections Alberta. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
- "Nominated Candidates". Elections Alberta. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
- "Unofficial Results". Elections Alberta. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
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