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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 8:22 am    Post subject: Alberta Liberals stand by their name Reply with quote

TheStar.com | Opinion | Liberals stand by their name

Liberals stand by their name

Apr 28, 2009 04:30 AM
Comments on this story (6)
Gillian Steward

The Alberta Liberals have decided to keep calling themselves Liberals. In any other part of the country this would not be news. But in Alberta Liberals have been arguing with each other for several months now about whether to ditch the much reviled tag and choose a less provocative one.

There aren't that many Liberals in Alberta to begin with – only 4,500 mailed in ballots during the provincial leadership contest last December. The new leader, David Swann, openly suggested a name change might be in order but the raging argument that ensued threatened to destroy the party altogether.

Those who wanted to change the name looked to Saskatchewan, where the scandal-plagued Conservatives led by Grant Devine reinvented themselves as the Saskatchewan party and were eventually returned to power. Younger members, in particular, were convinced that the Liberal party would never gain ground in Alberta as long as it had the same name as the party responsible for the Pierre Trudeau's National Energy Program (NEP).

Many of them weren't even born when the federal Liberals introduced petroleum taxes and other measures in the early 1980s that infuriated many Albertans. But they got blamed for it anyway when campaigning for Liberals during last year's provincial election.

Then again, it's not surprising that Albertans are confused. During provincial elections, Liberal candidates often tell voters that they have nothing to do with the federal Liberals; that they are completely separate parties. Then as soon as a federal election is called they turn around and work with them. Before becoming leader of the provincial Liberals during the NEP era, Nick Taylor had twice been a candidate for the federal party. Jean Chrétien rewarded him with a Senate seat in 1996.

Whether they run as federal or provincial Liberals, not many of them get elected. Liberals lost seats in the last provincial election and are down to nine out of 83. Since then, the party has had to lay off staff, close offices and focus on fundraising in order to pay off its campaign debts. The Conservatives hold all the federal seats but one and that belongs to the NDP.

Diehard Liberals are hoping Michael Ignatieff will improve their fortunes in Alberta and the other Western provinces. He certainly seems to have them fired up. Eight hundred turned out in Edmonton in February to hear him speak. Ignatieff even managed to get a respectable audience at a fundraiser in Calgary.

He's been very careful to cast Alberta in a positive light. He has said the oil-sands operations are "awe-inspiring" and the key to Canada's future. He has referred to Trudeau's NEP and Stéphane Dion's Green Shift as mistakes. He has also said we need to clean up the tar sands.

But Ignatieff has been short on specifics; he hasn't spelled out how a Liberal government would ensure the tar sands remain a vital driver of the Canadian economy and get cleaned up at the same time. And if the Green Shift was a mistake, what is he planning to do about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change? At this point, he sounds an awful lot like Stephen Harper, who doesn't seem to have a plan either.

In the meantime, it's easy for Alberta Liberals to love Ignatieff. He hasn't said anything that would upset the oil industry, or the thousands of people who depend on it for jobs. Perhaps he'll make his intentions clearer at this week's Liberal convention in Vancouver. Whether that will quickly put an end to the romance remains to be seen.

Gillian Steward is a Calgary writer and journalist, and former managing editor of the Calgary Herald. Her column appears every other week.


Joined: 02 Mar 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i found this article on the provincial liberals in alberta to be interesting , they don't seem to know what to call themselves . they don't want to be know as liberals in alberta cause its seen as unelectable in many areas . but they work with the federal party and except senate seats when there available over elected senators from the province . they honstly come across as someone who says one thing then does another and is not being honest to the people about where they really stand .

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the real lesson here is to keep Provincial and Federal politics seperate. While there will always be some crossover between partisan activists, politicians and staffers should keep boundaries. I've found the PCPO leadership election very disappointing in this regard.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They see a federal surge with Iggy and hope it will carry over to them. If Dion was still the leader they would have ditched the name.
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Alberta Liberals stand by their name

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