I’ll start by saying that Derek B. Cooper is a pseudonym. It just seems like the sensible thing to do today. There will be people who will disagree with some or all of what I will be posting, and I could do without the grief of receiving threats, and don’t want to subject my friends and family to that either.
The Early Years
I was born in Calgary in the late 1960’s, and have lived here all my life. This makes me part of a pretty exclusive club in a city where most people have moved here from somewhere else.
I grew up in Eau Claire, long before it became a sought after community on the Bow River. From Kindergarten to Grade 4, I went to McDougall Community Elementary School, which closed in 1981 and was declared a historic site and purchased by the province.
I moved to Killarney in 1979, and over the years have lived in a number of communities across the city. I’m back in Killarney again, and plan on being here for a while.
Right after I moved to Killarney as a kid, Pierre Trudeau was re-elected Prime Minister, thanks to Joe Clark’s inability to perform basic math. In the months that followed, Trudeau, his Minister of Energy Marc Lalonde, and Finance Minister Alan MacEachen, introduced the legislation that would seal the fate of the Liberal’s in Alberta for a generation; the National Energy Program. It would also be the catalyst for the explosion in the growth of the separatist movement in Western Canada, Alberta in particular.
I come from a generation of voters in Alberta who wouldn’t vote Liberal if you pointed a gun at their head (ditto the NDP). I have voted in every election since I turned 18, and have yet to mark an X beside a Liberal candidate. Having said that, this does not mean that I just automatically vote for the C(c)onservative candidate either.
For example, few years back, I really didn’t like the Conservative candidate in my riding (it was Rob Anders). Now, bear in mind this is probably one of the biggest strongholds for the Conservatives ANYWHERE in Canada. A ham sandwich would win if it ran as the Conservative candidate in this riding, and frankly would have been a better MP than Anders. Rather than holding my nose and voting for him, like so many other would, I spoiled my ballot (it as against the law to spoil a ballot, and I do not endorse any illegal activity).
The Voting Years
Brian Mulroney was PM when I reached the age of majority, and the first election I voted in was the federal election of 1988. I was excited to finally be able to vote for the Reform Party, which had formed in 1987 with Preston Manning as its leader. Western Canadian had grown tired of the “old way” of doing politics, and flat out rejected the Progressive Conservatives, who suffered the biggest electoral loss in Canadian history. They would go from leading the government with 156 seats, to losing party status with only 2 seats in parliament.
I voted for the Reform Party, because they offered an alternative to the P.C.’s, who many now saw as no better than the Liberal’s. The Reform Party represented me, as a Western Canadian. Sadly, this would prove to be to the party’s disadvantage, as they were seen by many as a regional party, and unable to gain popularity east of Manitoba.
For a while, the conservative movement went through a painful transition process, hitting a low point when Stockwell Day led the Canadian Alliance. It would not be until 2003, when Stephen Harper and Peter McKay formed the Conservative Party of Canada, that a truly national, conservative party would appear. Finally in 2006, Stephen Harper would become Canada’s 22nd Prime Minister, and would hold office until 2015, the year Canada’s political landscape would change drastically, and bring devastation for many.
2015: The Unbelievable Happens
In May of 2015, something happened that nobody in Alberta would ever have thought even remotely possible; the NDP won the provincial election and would be forming government.
After holding office for over 40 years, Albertan’s were looking for a change from the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. That had happened before, in the early 1990’s, when Don Getty led the party, and ultimately to’s downfall in popularity. In 1992, Ralph Klein, now party leader, won what many see as a miraculous victory, and a mandate to lead the province.
Because of Ralph, I joined the Alberta PC Party, and became active during campaigns, volunteering for the candidates in the constituencies I lived in. I was proud to carry a membership card in the party. That changed in 2006, following the party convention, where he would receive the support of only 55% of members in a leadership vote. On September 20th, 2006, Ralph Klein resigned as leader of the Progressive Conservative party of Alberta. I tore up my party membership card the same day.
On December 2nd, 2006 Ed Stelmach won the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, becoming known as the “Accidental Premier” after beating out perceived front-runners Jim Dinning and Ted Morton in an election plagued by controversies, including the manner of voting that was used. Perhaps one of his bigger accomplishments was eliminating premiums for Alberta Health Care, which were equated to a provincial health tax. In early 2011, he announced he would be stepping down later in the year, and on October 7th he submitted his resignation.
If it were possible to put a face on everything that is wrong with politicians and political parties, that visage would belong to Alison Redford. After taking over as party leader in October of 2011, Alison Redford would receive a mandate in 2012 after winning the Alberta provincial election. She would resign in controversy two years later, making her the shortest lasting elected premier in the province’s history. Her tenure will be remembered for its corruption, misuse of government aircraft, and a proposed $10 million “sky palace” in Edmonton for her and her daughter to live in.
Jim Prentice had been my Member of Parliament for a number of years. I can still remember seeing the newsletters sitting on the kitchen counter, the ones sent to his constituents on a regular basis that let us know what he was up to in parliament. It was a surprise to me when he resigned, and subsequently made the jump to provincial politics. That said, I thought he stood a decent chance of rebuilding trust in the party among Albertans, but I had already made up my mind to vote for the Wildrose Party, led by Danielle Smith. To me she seemed to be the best choice to not only lead the province, but to unite Alberta conservatives under one party. Then, something happened which would end in catastrophe, for Albertans, and for one man in particular.
Danielle Smith became leader of the Wildrose Party of Alberta in 2009, winning a seat in the legislature in 2012. To me, she was the ideal candidate to both win the provincial election, and ultimately unite the right. My thoughts changed on December 17th, 2014, when she crossed the floor to join the PC’s. Her leadership of the Wildrose Party was being challenged from within, and it was widely seen as an opportunistic move. The resulting turmoil would be enough to split the vote among conservatives, and give Alberta another “accidental premier”. For many Albertans, the idea that the NDP would ever form government in their province was absolutely unheard of, so when it did happen, we were completely shocked. Unfortunately. the disastrous results that Albertans have had to live with, are not a shock.
Despite winning his seat, Jim Prentice would resign as both as leader of the party and as an MLA. On October 13, 2016, Jim Prentice and three other were killed in a plane crash while en route to Springbank airport from Kelowna.
Later that year, another thing happened in Canadian politics that I thought (actually prayed) would never happen. Can you guess what that was?
In part 2, local politics and why I’m doing this.