After more than four decades in power, on May 5, the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party was reduced to third-party status with just 10 seats as the pro-abortion NDP won a 53-seat majority and the Wildrose Party surged to second place with 21 MLAs.
Jim Prentice, who was both pro-abortion and pro-gay rights, was selected PC leader last fall and became the province’s premier. Although he won his seat, he immediately resigned as both leader and MLA, creating what some social conservatives hope will be a chance to reunite the right in Alberta. As former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith noted, the combined PC-Wildrose vote exceeded 50 per cent and therefore probably would have defeated the NDP and won a majority if it were not divided.
Wildrose had 17 MLAs after the 2012 election although all but four would eventually bolt to the governing Tories. Last month, under the leadership of former MP Brian Jean, they won 21 seats, returning them as official opposition. Jean was rated as pro-life and pro-family by Campaign Life Coalition, scoring a perfect 13 for 13 on votes and actions rated by the national pro-life group. In the Alberta election, Wildrose avoided moral issues.
Indeed, moral issues were not raised in the campaign which focused on Prentice’s budget, delivered in March, which raised taxes and froze spending in areas such as health care and education. NDP leader Rachel Notley appeared congenial and non-threatening, running a mostly issue-free campaign, other than raising royalties in the oil industry.
Last fall, Prentice introduced legislation which would have made it easier to create gay-straight alliances in schools but withdrew it after some gay activists expressed concern that it still did too much to protect the parental rights for those opposed to lessons that seemed to promote homosexuality and transgenderism. Wildrose did not raise the issue during the campaign. Notley’s NDP supported the Prentice bill, but are expected to water down the parental rights provisions.
Julius Yankowski, president of Campaign Life Coalition Alberta and former MLA for Edmonton, told LifeSitenews, “I guess all the parties agree now … They are all for everything—gay straight alliances, same-sex ‘marriage’, and abortion.” This is disappointing to CLC as Wildrose was founded as a conservative alternative to the provincial Tories, and one of the co-founders was the late Link Byfield, a noted pro-lifer. Yankowski explained that after several impolitic social conservative comments were blamed for sinking the Wildrose’s chances in 2012, they have been paranoid about any moral issue coming up. The party turfed one Calgary candidate, ostensibly over a seven-year-old blog post defending the right of a Christian church to not hold a gay pride event.
LifeSiteNews reported that “in 2010 the NDP issued a report complaining that abortions were not performed in enough communities,” which the online pro-life news service said, “raises the possibility the NDP would set up clinics or hire abortionists for outlying communities.”
Yankowski said that 80 per cent of the NDP caucus is “staunchly pro-abortion,” although that probably undersells their pro-abortion stance.
Meanwhile, the Tories turned to MLA Ric McIver, a former leadership contender and former Calgary city councillor, who has some social conservative inclinations.
One veteran conservative activist from the province said it was too early to speculate about whether the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties would unite, but said that it would be a mistake for either party to ignore the socially conservative base in large parts of the province.