Alberta Conservatives call for a vote for the NDP | Alberta Elections 2023

Alberta Conservatives call for a vote for the NDP | Alberta Elections 2023

Alberta Conservatives call for a vote for the NDP | ÉAlberta Elections 2023

In their eyes, this election is an existential choice for the ;future of Alberta.

These three former Tory MPs, Lee Richardson, Thomas Lukaszuk and Doug Griffiths, today oppose the United Conservative Party and call for a vote for the NDP.

Several prominent figures in the Conservative movement openly call for voting for the Alberta New Democratic Party (NDP) in this election. They are uncomfortable with Conservative leader Danielle Smith and the direction the United Conservative Party (UCP) is taking.

Former Conservative MPPs and MPs Doug Griffiths, Jim Foster, Lee Richardson and Ron Ghitter have all endorsed NDP candidates over the past week. Others, like ex-MP Cathy Olesen and strategist Ken Boessenkool, have expressed serious doubts about Danielle Smith's judgment.

The former Deputy Premier Alberta Minister Thomas Lukaszuk even campaigned for the NDP in several ridings, such as Calgary and Medicine Hat. He describes this election as an existential choice for the future of the province.

“I can't think of a bigger election in our recent history. So I made the difficult choice to give Rachel Notley my vote, roll up my sleeves, and start campaigning again. »

— Thomas Lukaszuk, former Progressive Conservative Deputy Premier of Alberta

Danielle Smith (left) convinced MPs Rob Anderson, Heather Forsyth and Paul Hinman (left to right) to join the Wildrose Party in 2010.

I was an MP at the same time as Danielle Smith and Rachel Notley. I got to know them well. With Rachel Notley, we sometimes disagreed, but we shared values, such as democracy, the judicial system, freedom of the press, science and decisions based on facts, says Thomas Lukaszuk.

Danielle Smith is a populist who has always had a difficult relationship with truth and facts, constantly changing her mind and saying what is practical politically. I don't trust Danielle Smith to govern the province.

Doug Griffiths resigned from the Progressive Conservative caucus in 2015, a month after Danielle Smith, then leader of the Wildrose Party, joined his ranks. He says he has three problems with her and the United Conservative Party: the Alberta sovereignty bill, Danielle Smith's lack of integrity, and Take Back Alberta's influence on the party.

The leader of Take Back Alberta [David Parker] said that the place of women is not at work, but in the kitchen, and that they should have as many children as possible. It is an archaic, fanatical point of view. It's disturbing. I believe there are many other fundamentalist and nationalist Christian beliefs within this group, says the former municipal affairs minister.

“This group [Take Back Alberta] is radical, excessive and dangerous. He takes credit for getting rid of Jason Kenney and putting Danielle Smith in power. She owes them.

—Doug Griffiths, former Alberta Minister of Municipal Affairs

Lee Richardson notably served as chief of staff to Premier Peter Lougheed, still revered by many Albertans. He says he no longer recognizes himself in the PCU today and will support his local New Democrat candidate, Samir Kayande, impressed by his candidacy.

The biggest group of undecided people are people like me who are worried, but aren't satisfied with just being worried. For many, it is a big step to vote [for the] NDP. I find it ridiculous, explains Lee Richardson, recalling the socialist and collectivist roots of the province.

Rachel Notley, leader of the NDP (left), and Danielle Smith, leader of the United Conservative Party (right).

It's not a big step for me to vote [for the] NDP. There is no big difference between the parties for me. No one has ever promised to spend more than Danielle Smith, but people see the NDP as a bigger spender. That's not true, he continues.

“People are really fixated on their preconceived notions of what is conservative and what is is a New Democrat. They have lost touch with reality.

— Former Conservative MP Lee Richardson

Thomas Lukaszuk puts this down to the 44 years of Progressive Conservative government, which he says has made the idea of ​​voting for another party alien to Albertans.

Being conservative or progressive-conservative has become their identity, like their family name or their religion. I tell them, “You weren't baptized conservatives. You can change your perception and accept another person's ideas if they are better.” It's new to Alberta, he says.

University of Alberta Campus Saint-Jean political scientist Frédéric Boily says they are mostly former Conservatives from the more progressive branch of the party who are sounding the alarm.

They were already disappointed with the development of the whole conservative movement, but they are even more so today under Danielle Smith, since the party is taking a more radical direction, he explains.

Frédéric Boily wonders, however, how important this movement is within the PCU and if it will have a significant impact on the result of the election on May 29.

He draws a parallel to last year's federal Conservative leadership race, in which Jean Charest tried to rally more moderate Tories against a much more vindictive Pierre Poilievre. Pierre Poilievre won easily with 68% of the votes.

Jean Charest and Pierre Poilievre were the two frontrunners in the federal Conservative leadership race.

The political scientist does not believe that the party will really fracture for the moment. The marriage of convenience between the Wildrosers and the Progressive Conservatives holds as long as power is within reach, and it still seems within reach, he concludes.

In the If Danielle Smith wins, Thomas Lukaszuk and Doug Griffiths believe the Progressive Conservatives are likely to drop out of the party for good, either to form a new one or side with a more centrist NDP. /p>