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Wildrose Party

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For the unregistered 2007 party, see Wildrose Party of Alberta.
Wildrose Political Association
Active provincial party
Leader Brian Jean
President Jeff Callaway
Founded October 25, 2002[1]
Renamed Wildrose Alliance January 31, 2008[2]
Headquarters 601 10 Avenue SW
Calgary, AlbertaCoordinates: 51°02′36″N 114°04′28″W / 51.0434°N 114.0744°W / 51.0434; -114.0744
Suite 202
10707 100 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
Ideology Conservatism (Canadian)
Political position Centre-right[3]
Colours Blue and Green
Fiscal policy Conservative
Social policy Conservative
Seats in Legislature
22 / 87
Politics of Alberta
Political parties

The Wildrose Party (legally Wildrose Political Association,[4] formerly the Wildrose Alliance Political Association) is a conservative[5][6] provincial political party in Alberta, Canada.[7] 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, resulting in a surprise win by outgoing leader Paul Hinman in an October by-election. In the fall of 2009 Danielle Smith was elected as leader and by December the Wildrose was leading provincial opinion polls 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.

In December 2014, nine Wildrose MLAs including leader Danielle Smith left the party to join the Progressive Conservative caucus under its recently elected leader Jim Prentice.[8] (All of the defectors to the PC who sought re-election in the 2015 general election lost their seats.)

Effective February 3, 2015 the party's registered name was changed from Wildrose Alliance Party to Wildrose Party.[9]


The original Wildrose Alliance logo 2008-2010

Founding and 2008 general election[edit]

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.[10] The name officially changed to Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta after being approved by Elections Alberta on January 31, 2008.[2]

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.[11] Paul Hinman, the party's only sitting Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) remained leader after the merger.[10] 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.[12]

An anticipated backlash against the governing PCs failed to materialize, as Premier Ed Stelmach extended his party's seat total to 72 from 60.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15]

2009 leadership election[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Wildrose Alliance Party leadership election, 2009.

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.[16] Former Canadian Federation of Independent Business provincial director Danielle Smith and Mark Dyrholm, a chiropractor in Calgary, announced their candidacy at the June convention.[17] 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.[18]

Growing opposition to the government's oil and gas royalty program, a record $4.7 billion deficit in 2009,[19] and the PC's "liberal spending" facilitated the growth of the party.[20] 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.[21][22] Using the slogan "Send Ed a message" as a rallying cry,[23] Paul Hinman sought to take advantage of public discontent as he ran in a September by-election in the Calgary-Glenmore riding.[24] 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.[25] 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.[26]

Every 30 or 40 years, we get tired of the government that’s in power and we sweep them out and we look to a new alternative. I think we have an opportunity to catch one of those historic waves.

Danielle Smith upon being named Wildrose Alliance leader[27]

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.[28] 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.[29] Smith was elected the new leader at the convention held in Edmonton on October 17.[30]

Danielle Smith leadership[edit]

Danielle Smith
Wildrose Alliance logo 2010-2011

Upon her election, Smith sought to continue the party's growth, focusing her efforts on fundraising and a search for strong candidates.[27] 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.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33] The party revealed at the same time that it had grown to over 13,000 members.[34]

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.[35] The defections moved the Wildrose Party past the New Democrats to become the third largest party in the Legislature,[36] 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.[37] He was unveiled at the party's annual conference, which was attended by 700 people: up from 175 the previous year.[38]

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.[39]

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 for the first time.

In 2014, Allison Redford stepped down as PC leader following numerous scandals, and polls began to show a resurgence in Wildrose support. Jim Prentice then won the PC leadership and called four by-elections to get his new cabinet, which included former Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel, seats in the Legislature. The Wildrose was expected to win two out of the four seats; however the PCs retained all four. The by-elections are seen as a test of both the PC Party under its new leader and Wildrose.[40] As a result of the by-election losses, Smith asks the party to conduct a leadership review.[41] On November 2, 2014, after Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Joe Anglin leaves the Wildrose caucus to sit as an independent due to the party's "turmoil" and after making criticisms of Smith's leadership team internally.[42] The remaining members of caucus unanimously pass a resolution asking Smith to withdraw her request for a leadership review; Smith agrees.[41] At the party's Annual General Meeting on November 15, 2014, Smith pledges to resign as Wildrose leader if the party does not win government in the next provincial election.[43] Also at the AGM, members vote 148-109 against a resolution supporting equal rights for all minority groups, regardless of race, religious belief, sexual orientation or other differences. This vote reverses a party policy supported by Smith which had been adopted the previous year and signifies a shift by the party towards social conservatism resulting in resignations by more moderate party members.[44][45]


On November 3, 2014, Joe Anglin (Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre) quit the caucus to sit as an Independent MLA stating that he had found out he was out to be expelled due to his public criticisms of Smith's advisers. Anglin had previously lost his bid to be renominated in his riding as Wildrose's candidate for the next provincial election.[46]

On November 24, 2014 Kerry Towle, (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake), and Ian Donovan, (Little Bow) crossed the floor to join the ruling PC Party's caucus giving the turmoil within the Wildrose Party, uncertainty about Smith's leadership and confidence in Prentice as reasons for their move.[47]

On December 17, 2014, Smith confirmed she and eight other Wildrose members — Rob Anderson, Gary Bikman, Rod Fox, Jason Hale, Bruce McAllister, Blake Pedersen, Bruce Rowe and Jeff Wilson — would cross the floor to the Progressive Conservative caucus, with Smith saying "Under Premier Prentice’s strong leadership, I believe we can work together to lead Alberta with a renewed focus on the values and principles that we share." The action followed several days of rumours and a PC caucus meeting in which that party agreed to accept the Wildrose members on terms which have not been officially disclosed.[48] This leaves five MLAs still affiliated with the Wildrose Party. In a letter to the party executive, Smith asks that all party members vote on a "reunification resolution" to merge the Wildrose and PC parties; a request which the party executive rejects.[49] This development angered many party members and provoked widespread controversy.[50][51][52][53] Wildrose has stated that "At no time has the Wildrose Party been approached by any representative of the PCAA regarding a merger, combination, partnership or alliance. Yesterday’s events are confined to nine former Wildrose MLAs who opted to cross the floor without consulting the Wildrose Party."[54]

The defections placed Wildrose in a tie with the Liberals for the second most seats but the Speaker ruled that Wildrose would continue as the Official Opposition based on prior precedent. Official Opposition status comes with additional funding and privileges.[55]

2015 election[edit]

Brian Jean was elected Wildrose leader on March 28, 2015. Days later, Premier Jim Prentice called a provincial election for May 5, 2015 which resulted in an upset victory by the Alberta New Democratic Party under Rachel Notley, returning an NDP majority government. Despite its lack of preparedness, due to the caucus defections and having to organize an election campaign on the heels of a leadership election, Wildrose was able to rally and win 21 seats, 16 more than the five seats it had at the dissolution of the legislature, and four more than it had won in 2012, allowing the party to remain the Official Opposition. Prentice's Progressive Conservatives, however, collapsed and lost 60 of the 70 seats it had at dissolution and returning only 10 MLAs, losing power for the first time since 1971 and coming in third behind the NDP and Wildrose.[56] Wildrose's popular vote fell by one-third, however, from 34% of the vote in 2012 to 24% in 2015.[57]

Policy and identity[edit]

Danielle Smith and the Wildrose Official Opposition Caucus, 2012

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.[58] The party also plans to introduce a bill giving voters the right to recall their MLA.[59] 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.[60] Smith is also critical of international climate change treaties, believing climate change science remains inconclusive.[61]

Danielle Smith identifies herself as a fiscal conservative. While she considers herself a libertarian on social issues,[62] the party is home to many social conservatives.[63] Smith stated that controversial social issues would not play a part in the party's election platform.[60]

Polling indicated that the party retained the support of a quarter of the electorate throughout 2010[64] 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.[65]

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.[66]

In the wake of the mass floor crossing, new leader Brian Jean stated that each candidate must sign a contract, or pay a $100,000 fine if they intend to cross the floor to another party. [67]


Current caucus[edit]

Electoral results[edit]

Election Banner Leader Candidates Votes % Seats +/- Position Government
2004 Alberta Alliance Randy Thorsteinson 83 77,506 8.7
1 / 83
Increase 1 Steady 4th Fourth party
2008 Wildrose Alliance Paul Hinman 61 64,407 6.78
0 / 83
Decrease 1 Steady 4th N/A
2012 Wildrose Danielle Smith 87 442,429 34.29
17 / 87
Increase 17 Increase 2nd Opposition
2015 Wildrose Brian Jean 86 360,101 24.23
21 / 87
Increase 4 Steady 2nd Opposition

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Twenty-sixth Annual Report of the Chief Electoral Officer" (PDF). Elections Alberta. p. 8. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "2008 Annual Report of the Chief Electoral Officer" (PDF). Elections Alberta. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ Tom Lansford (8 April 2014). Political Handbook of the World 2014. SAGE Publications. p. 242. ISBN 978-1-4833-3327-4. 
  4. ^ "Wildrose Party Constitution" (PDF). Wildrose Party. 2014. 
  5. ^ Duane Bratt (2012). Canada, the Provinces, and the Global Nuclear Revival: Advocacy Coalitions in Action. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. p. 244. ISBN 978-0-7735-4068-2. 
  6. ^ Kleiss, Karen (April 9, 2012). "Alberta election pits PC's 'red' versus Wildrose's 'blue' conservatives, experts say". National Post. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  7. ^ "Wildrose drops 'Alliance' from name". CBC News. 26 June 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  8. ^ "9 Wildrose MLAs, including Danielle Smith, cross to Alberta Tories". CBC News, December 17, 2014.
  9. ^ . Elections Alberta Retrieved 2015-02-21.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ a b "Wildrose Alliance Party born in Alberta". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008-01-19. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  11. ^ "Alta. parties could merge for anticipated election". CTV News. 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  12. ^ "Wildrose Alliance unveils Alberta election platform; targets premier Ed Stelmach". Canadian Press. 2008-02-09. Retrieved 2010-01-03. [dead link]
  13. ^ "'Ed, Ed, Ed,' chant triumphant Tories". Calgary Herald. 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  14. ^ "Wildrose Alliance shut out". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  15. ^ "Participants and results of the 2008 election" (PDF). Elections Alberta. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  16. ^ "Paul Hinman will step down as Wildrose-Alliance party leader after losing seat". Canadian Press. 2009-04-21. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  17. ^ Dormer, Dave (2009-06-07). "Alberta Wildrose party to name leader". Calgary Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  18. ^ Cotter, John (2009-05-06). "Former Canadian independent business leader considers Alberta party leadership bid". Canadian Press. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  19. ^ Steward, Gillian (2009-05-12). "Wildrose watches its garden grow". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  20. ^ Libin, Kevin (2009-07-09). "Wildrose Alliance sets sights on Alberta conservatives". National Post. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  21. ^ McIntyre, Doug (2009-09-10). "Ralph's dad 'changing stripes'". Edmonton Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
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  23. ^ Kohler, Nicholas (2009-09-10). "Sending Ed a message". Macleans Magazine. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  24. ^ Bell, Rick (2009-09-13). "Ed no help to Tory candidate". Calgary Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  25. ^ "Wildrose Alliance wins Calgary-Glenmore by-election". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  26. ^ Audette, Trish (2009-10-09). "Wildrose success attributed to governing Tories". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  27. ^ a b White, Tarina (2009-10-19). "Wave of change could topple Tories". Calgary Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  28. ^ "Wildrose Alliance leadership candidates face upbeat crowd". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-10-17. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  29. ^ Audette, Trish (2009-10-08). "Wildrose support blooms". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  30. ^ "Smith elected Wildrose Party leader". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-10-17. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  31. ^ D'Aliesio, Renata (2009-10-14). "Stelmach poised for speech amid sagging polls". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  32. ^ Fekete, Jason (2009-11-05). "Alberta Tories slide, Wildrose gains in new poll". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  33. ^ Liebrecht, Richard (2009-12-13). "Wildrose growing strong: party rep". Calgary Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  34. ^ "Albertans eyeing Wildrose Alliance". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-12-29. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  35. ^ "2 Alberta MLAs join upstart Wildrose party". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2010-01-04. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  36. ^ Fekete, Jason (2010-01-04). "Alberta Conservative dynasty erodes as Tory MLAs defect to upstart Wildrose Alliance". National Post. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  37. ^ "Wildrose Alliance gains official party status". CTV Television Network. 25 June 2010. 
  38. ^ McLean, Archie (25 June 2010). "Wildrose Alliance kicks off coming-out party". Edmonton Journal. 
  39. ^ "Wildrose Alliance, mayor square off over airport". 30 June 2010. 
  40. ^ "Alberta byelections swept by Jim Prentice's Progressive Conservative Party". CBC News. October 27, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014. 
  41. ^ a b "Danielle Smith asked to withdraw leadership review request". CBC News. November 2, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Joe Anglin quits Wildrose caucus, will sit as independent". CBC News. November 2, 2014. Retrieved November 2, 2014. 
  43. ^ "Danielle Smith will step down if she doesn't become premier in 2016". November 14, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  44. ^ "Wildrose party backtracks on statement affirming equal rights for all". CBC News. November 15, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  45. ^ "A timeline of the Wildrose party". Edmonton Journal. December 17, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  46. ^ "Joe Anglin quits Wildrose caucus to sit as independent". CBC News. November 3, 2014. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  47. ^ "Two Wildrose members crossing the floor to join Tories". The Globe and Mail. November 24, 2014. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  48. ^ "Nine Wildrose MLAs bolt for Alberta PC Party". Metro. December 17, 2014. Retrieved December 17, 2014. 
  49. ^ Wood, James (December 17, 2014). "Wildrose MLAs and leader bolt to Tories, leaving opposition decimated". Calgary Herald. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  50. ^ Braid, Don. 18 December 2014. "How could Smith do that to her party?". Calgary Herald. <>
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^ Coyne, Andrew. 2014. Ottawa Citizen. <>
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^ "Alberta election 2015 results: NDP wave sweeps across province in historic win". CBC News. May 5, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  57. ^ "NDP wins majority government in Alberta, ending PC dynasty". Globe and Mail. May 5, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  58. ^ "Wildrose Alliance policy platform" (PDF). Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 29, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  59. ^ McLean, Archie (2010-01-06). "Stelmach leadership vote 'little third world'". Global Television. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  60. ^ a b Fekete, Jason (2009-11-10). "Wildrose unveils its vision". Calgary Herald. Archived from the original on November 14, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  61. ^ D'Aliesio, Renata (2009-12-22). "Wildrose becomes unlikely contender". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  62. ^ "Wildrose party leader to run for Calgary seat". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-10-19. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  63. ^ Steele, Andrew (2009-10-19). "Safe change". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  64. ^ "Wildrose continues to make Alberta inroads poll". National Post, from the Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  65. ^ "Alberta PCs on track for another massive majority, poll shows". Calgary Herald. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 1 Sep 2011. 
  66. ^ "Wildrose Party would form majority Alberta government: Poll". CANOE. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  67. ^ "Brian Jean to move forward with $100K floor-crossing clause". 30 March 2015. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 

External links[edit]