The Alberta Party's History
Here you will find a detailed history of the Alberta Party's history in Alberta, including their origins, significant moments, and significant figures. It is important to note that while this is a fairly comprehensive history, it is not the entirety of the story, nor is it necessarily perfect. If flaws are found, they will corrected as soon as possible. These histories are the best presentation of the facts as APAH could find, but will be updated and improved as time goes on and more resources become available.
The Alberta Party is a party who has existed in name since the 1980’s, but has gone through a significant evolution in its political stance in recent years. To begin with, it was an alliance made up of the fragmented right-wing in Alberta post-NEP - a situation that saw nearly a half-dozen parties that were all unhappy with how the Progressive Conservative government at the time managed the economic crisis. Eventually, this would evolve into the Alliance Party of Alberta (not to be confused with the Alberta Alliance Party, or the Wildrose Alliance Party - alliance is a popular name in politics), a right-wing political party with official standing itself, rather than just an alliance of various parties. After changing its name to the Alberta Party Political Association (or Alberta Party for short), they attempted a merger with the Alberta Alliance Party, only for the deal to fall through. After the Wildrose Alliance rose, the conservative members of the Alberta Party moved over to join them, and the Alberta Party fell into the background as it became more centrist - a move that was solidified when they merged with the centrist Renew Alberta organization. After several leadership changes, the Alberta Party would win its first election with one MLA in 2015, and by the end of the session, would gain two more members as NDP and UCP members crossed the floor.
To begin with, we need to look at Alberta’s politics in the 1980’s. After the implementation of the National Energy Program by Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal Party of Canada, there was a lot of frustration and anger with the way Peter Lougheed’s PC government had handled the situation, leading them at risk to being overthrown by a party who would promise to bring the province properly back to the right. With the Socreds having been decimated in the 1971 and never really recovering, and the Liberals being wildly unpopular in the province due to the federal government, there was room to strike in the upcoming election. Lougheed, sensing this, called a snap election to catch these new parties off-guard. This strategy worked incredibly well, giving the PCs 75 of the 79 available seats, and leaving the NDP as the only other party to win a seat (the NDP won two, with two independents also being elected).
With this, several parties who’d hoped to cash in on a lack of faith in the current government were instead slapped down, most notably the Western Canada Concept, a party that supported the four Western provinces separating and becoming their own country. However, by 1986, the new right wing was coming for the PCs again. While the WCC would turn up again, they were joined this time by the Confederation of Regions (an offshoot of the Socreds who ran on anti-bilingualism), the Heritage Party, and the Representative Party (another offshoot of the Socreds, this time running the same platform minus the social credit monetary policy). The Representative Party was the only one of these four to actually elect any candidates, winning two seats in the election. Combined, the other three parties couldn’t manage to break ten thousand votes.
In 1990, these parties opted to combine to become one party, which ran under as the Alliance Party of Alberta. The Confederation of Regions chose not to become a part of this new party, and instead chose to run on its own in 1993 against the Alliance Party. The two parties placed extremely close to one another (with the CoR only beating the Alliance Party by a total of eight votes) but neither party could reach success. In fact, both were beaten out by the new Natural Law Party - a party whose whole platform was based around the concept of Transcendental Meditation. The Alliance Party chose to not contest the 1997 election, and in the following year switched their name to the Alberta Party Political Association, or the Alberta Party.
Before the 2004 election, the Alberta Party tried to make a move by pushing for mergers with the Alberta Alliance Party and the Socreds. This ultimately failed on all fronts after the election - the Alberta Alliance didn’t want to merge with the Alberta Party while they were dealing with legal troubles, the Socreds voted against the merger to focus on the upcoming election, and the Alberta Party supposedly refused to give up its name. That year, the Alberta Party would field four candidates and secure 0.3% of the popular vote, leaving them firmly on the fringe.
In 2008, the Alberta Alliance Party merged with the unregistered Wildrose Party of Alberta to become the Wildrose Alliance Party, a socially conservative alternative to the PCs who by now had governed for thirty-eight years. This merger drew many of the Alberta Party’s more conservative members away, leaving the party to be controlled by a variety of centrists and leftists. In 2009, a former Alberta Greens member named Edwin Erickson was trying to form a new party called the Progress Party when he was invited to run for the Alberta Party’s leadership, which he did and then won in 2010. In that same year, the Alberta Party would merge with Renew Alberta, another centrist group that had been planning on launching a political party of their own.
With the merger, the new party agreed to scrap their old platform and start from scratch in order to move away from their old right-wing identity. This began with a campaign called “The Big Listen”, a campaign to essentially crowd-source a platform by asking all Albertans to weigh in on what they believed should be priorities for the new party. By the end of 2010, the party created a platform centered on five elements (economy, health, environment, democratic renewal, and education), and early in 2011, the Alberta Party got its first MLA when Dave Taylor, a former Liberal MLA, crossed the floor.
Taylor would lose his seat in 2012, leaving the Alberta Party out of the Legislature. The next year, Greg Clark would become Alberta Party leader, and in 2015, he would become the first person elected under the modern Alberta Party’s banner. With this, the Alberta Party became tied with the Liberal Party for fourth place in the Legislature - then they would tie for third with the Liberals and the PC Party after the PCs and Wildrose merged to form the UCP (Richard Starke remained the one PC MLA after the merger), only for the Alberta Party to absorb an NDP MLA (Karen McPherson) in 2017 and a UCP MLA (Rick Fraser) in early 2018. This left the Alberta Party with three seats, putting them in third place behind the NDP and the UCP, but ahead of the Liberals, the PCs, and the new Freedom Conservative Party.
The Alberta Party contested the 2019 election with Stephen Mandel at the helm, a former Edmonton mayor and Minister of Health under Jim Prentice's PCs. The party fielded a full slate of candidates, with a centrist policy at the core of the party's new platform. The party was shut out of the Legislature, though, as they failed to win a single seat despite getting nearly 10% of the popular vote.