I admit I am all for cooperation, and have been an advocate for merger, but then I reflect on my own political journey being left out in the cold as the “Progressive” wing of the old Progressive Conservative Party of Canada when they were backroom shanghied by McKay-Harper and taken over by the Canadian Alliance. Yes, almost 10 years on they are the majority government, but they took a schlacking to get there post-merger, and then they had to rebroaden the tent and attract different red Cons to big tent their party a bit, and borrow heavily from the American-style attack party, but the merger ended in the wanted political result, from 2 seats (from majority government in 1993), and then a Western based official Opposition circa 1997 with the Reform Party, and 10-12 PC’s to now 2012 a majority government.

But is this the route the progressives need to take in one party?

Would a big enough tent be able to bring together:

Provincially: Alberta, Evergreen, Communist, Liberal, NDP, Social Credit

Federally: Bloc Quebecois (take away the seperatist piece and they are socialist); NDP, Liberals, Greens, Communist, Marxist-Lenninist, First Nations, Animal Alliance/Environment Party, Radical Marijuana Party, Progressive Canadian Party of Canada, Peoples Political Power, Pirate, and Canadian action

Because let us be honest, if all are not in, then the one that is left the disaffected (ones who lose the referendum vote) will bleed there, or simply go and create a new party if we manage to unite all.

What would be best is an offical Memorandum of Understanding between all the Progressive Parties to let the party with the highest poll numbers run the candidate against the incumbent, so yes, if the incumbent is progressive, then there will be 2 progressive candidates, if it is Conservative, then there will be one strong “Rainbow Coalition” candidate.

But here are some thoughts from the Alberta Political Landscape, the Liberal house to be exact:

Uniting Progressives: Liberal MLA Kent Hehr Calls For Liberals, NDP, Greens To Merge

From:http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/10/uniting-progressives-liberals-ndp-greens-merge_n_2273135.html (please note the President of the Alberta Liberal Party’s thoughts follow Mr. Hehr’s).

The Huffington Post Alberta |                                                                                     Posted: 12/10/2012  6:17 pm EST  |  Updated: 12/11/2012  9:25

Kent Hehr

Prominent MLA and former Alberta Liberal leadership hopeful Kent Hehr is calling for progressive parties to put aside their differences and work in earnest towards unification. (Flickr: JMacPherson).

Prominent MLA Kent Hehr is calling for progressive parties to put aside their differences and work in earnest towards unification.

In a post on daveberta.ca, Hehr, a Calgary lawyer and popular Liberal MLA, said that bringing the Liberals, Greens and NDP together under one umbrella will give the coalition enough thrust to defeat the uninterrupted Tory dynasty that’s been at the helm of the province for the last 41 years.

And the idea of uniting the three parties isn’t that much of a stretch when one looks at the core values of each of the parties and realizes that the differences keeping them apart aren’t that profound, he states.

Commenting on what he learned from the Calgary Centre byelection, Hehr says the three candidates, like him, branded themselves as fiscally responsible, socially progressive and with a deep concern for the environment.

“What keeps us apart is rugged tribalism that leads to infighting between us and keeps our guns pointed squarely at each other instead of focusing our fire on the right-wing in this province,” he says on his daveberta.ca post.

“We tend to identify with our brands and not necessarily the values that we share. Let me be the first to say, I’m putting down my gun, and am open to all conversations with no preconditions.”

Huffington Post political blogger Alex McBrien says the benefits of uniting the three parties are obvious and points out how progressive voters greatly outnumbered the Conservatives in the Calgary Centre contest. Tory contender Joan Crockatt received only 37 percent of the vote.

“Such results are symptomatic of the Canada’s first-past-the-post system, which tends to reward the party or candidate who is able to put together a voter coalition capable of obtaining a plurality, not a majority, of the votes,” he said.

“When the progressive vote is split between three candidates, as it was in Calgary Centre, the Conservatives win.

“Anyone looking for further proof of this argument can look at the overall federal electoral results of the past 6 years.”

 

 

The idea of merging the centre and left has gathered momentum in the last year, as many see a progressive wave slowly overtaking the Conservative bastion that is Alberta.

The election of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi – who was seen as one of the more progressive candidates on the ballot, and Premier Alison Redford, who is widely believed to have won her majority thanks to votes from progressives fearing a Wildrose Party majority, are seen as clues that a political shift is afoot and that centrist parties can capitalize on the shift.

But the idea of a merger is far from being just that, an idea, says McBrien, citing that federally, the NDP are the closest to snatching government from the Tories and have no need for such coalition – being so close to the price – and won’t want to share the piece of the pie with the Liberals and Greens if they do win the next election.

“Much of this is wishful thinking. Both parties (Liberals and Green) are a long way off from any type of formal cooperation..  a lack of respect from both sides towards the differences in policy, brand, ideas, and political culture that the other embodies may ensure that a merger option stays off the table as talks progress on what needs to change,” he says, adding much of that bleeds into the provincial arena.

This is not the first time the idea of a union has been brandied about in Alberta, however.

During the run up to the Calgary Centre byelection, 1calgarycentre.com attempted, through discussions, debates and forums, to convince voters to put their support behind one progressive candidate but the initiative failed to achieve that aim and the vote was split.

It could be argued that the one time the Progressive voters were successful in recent months was during the last provincial election, when initiatives such as the YouTube video – I Never Thought I’d Vote PC – which asked voters to prevent a Wildrose majority by voting PC, despite of political stripes, may have swayed the popular vote. The majority predicted for the Wildrose, until mere days before the election, disappeared and the WRP came in a distant second. Voters gave Redford the majority that not a single poll had predicted.

In an interview with the Calgary Herald, NDP Leader Brian Mason said despite Hehr’s best intentions, the concept just won’t get the traction it needs from the membership of the parties.

“The memberships of both the Liberal party and the NDP have been quite clear that that’s not a direction they want to go,” Mason said.

I sympathize with (Hehr’s) intent. But having been around for awhile, I know what the political reality is.”

Former Alberta Liberal leader and current MLA David Swann also told the Herald the idea’s been tried before but it didn’t go anywhere.

We worked at that for a couple of years. And I certainly took a lot of hits over it,” Swann said.

“But there’s no question in my mind that the New Democrats are fully entrenched in their particular point of view and they’re not about to change.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated incorrectly that MLA Kent Hehr was a former Alberta Liberal leadership hopeful. Hehr did not run for the Liberal leadership.

From: http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=409ac47d9e70600da358a3245&id=928b749be1&e=1b698f30ed

(Text here):

Lib-NDP Merger: Not likely, says Todd Van Vliet

Alberta Liberal Party

If you have been following the news in the media about MLA Kent Hehr’s idea of a merger between the Alberta Liberals and the Alberta NDP, you will want to read our president’s response below. As Liberals we should pride ourselves in being able to have open and forthright discussion about issues that matter to Albertans.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE A response from Alberta Liberal Party President, Todd Van Vliet, regarding merger (EDMONTON, AB) A merger of the Alberta Liberals and the NDP? Won’t happen. Why not? Because politics isn’t simply about math. Politics is mostly about what voters will actually do, and combining polling numbers rarely works when it comes to mergers. In politics, adding 10 percent support to another 10 percent support never totals 20 percent. In fact, it could add up to far less (or more!) as voters make their real-life choices. That’s exactly what happened to the ‘left’ in the last election when Liberal voters slipped over to the PCs to stop a potential right-wing Wildrose avalanche. And what about all the voters who weren’t motivated to get out to the polls in the last election? This is a bit of math that Mr. Hehr has forgotten to count. Who’s going to speak for their uncounted numbers? So, what’s really going on when a Liberal MLA starts calling for a merger with another party? Not so much. MLAs have their own opinions and even can choose to cross the floor and join another party if they disagree with their own party’s directions. While Mr. Hehr may be working in good faith to create a stronger alternative to the PCs, working to eliminate one’s own party would not seem to be the best way to do that. Yes, the quest for power and to create a winning team is the business of all political parties. But politics has always been more than that. Politics, at its best, is about higher principles, about advancing values, which differ greatly from party to party. Yes, policies can be similar, even identical. But the paths are markedly different. And those paths matter. The means and the ends are never truly separate. The NDP used to be the party of labour, unions and social justice. It was and perhaps still is “solidarity forever.” But over the past few decades the party has worked diligently to move itself into the ‘centre’ with some success. The Liberals, on the other hand, have had a broader mission from the outset. The introduction to our bylaws states that it is “dedicated to the values that have sustained the party since 1905: public good, individual freedom, responsibility and accountability,” and that it puts “people first.” That is significantly different than putting labour first, or business first, as other parties do. Today’s Liberals work hard to represent the needs of real Albertans and work for their future. As we said during the last election, it’s not so much about “right” or “left.” It’s more about “right” and “wrong.” And we definitely think this province should be doing a lot better in that regard. So yes, even though both Liberals and NDs oppose the PCs, there are profound cultural differences between the two. For instance, it’s telling that the Liberal bylaws are open to the public. What do the Alberta NDP bylaws say? We don’t know. They’re not published. To be even clearer, the Liberal bylaws state that membership in the party is open to those who “subscribe to the principles, aims and objectives of the party.” Mr. Hehr, more than anyone, should understand that eliminating this party through a merger would not be within the objectives of the party. At the very least he must know that such talk would create uncertainty. So what’s actually going on with Kent Hehr and his advisers? Well, the idea of a merger certainly isn’t news. It has been raised at the last NDP annual general meeting and dismissed, and raised again at the last Alberta Liberal board meeting, and again dismissed. So who does this “merger” actually benefit? One would have to say, the PCs. The only logical outcome of a merger is a widening canyon between the party on the so-called left (whatever it might be named) and Wildrose on the right—with the majority of dispossessed Liberals moving to the nominal ‘centre’ with the PCs. Without the Liberals to balance the centre, the PCs gain a real possibility of staying in power for decades longer. As president I have regular discussions with party members, and I can say that nothing leads me to believe a merger option is wanted by our members. Nor would it benefit the Alberta public in the least. As a final aside, one can’t help noting that the former Alberta Liberal executive director helping Mr. Hehr is a PR professional working with the local branch of one of the world’s larger PR firms. And one of his closest colleagues recently worked as Alison Redford’s leadership campaign manager and former Chief of Staff. Coincidence? Well, maybe. At the end of the day this merger talk isn’t news. It’s just more back-room political engineering. To date, neither party’s leadership has picked up the phone to talk merger face-to-face, and I won’t be doing that. The real math is engaging Alberta voters. Our job is to attract existing voters, motivate new voters to exercise their democratic rights and to show Albertans that the Liberals have a lot to offer. The rest is just noise. Anyone interested in what we stand for should visit us at albertaliberal.com. Todd Van Vliet President, Alberta Liberal Party

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