Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith is following a plan former Progressive Conservative leader Peter Lougheed used to knock off the ruling Social Credit Party.
A full slate of strong candidates and its own policies that solve problems facing Alberta are two ideas Smith is stealing from Lougheed’s playbook.
“I do intend to lead the party to a majority government in the next election,” Smith said.
Smith toured the Livingstone-Macleod riding on Thursday, meeting with residents in Pincher Creek and the Crowsnest Pass.
On Thursday night Smith told 30 people at New Hong Kong Restaurant in Fort Macleod the Wildrose Alliance is steadily gaining support.
“I believe Albertans are creating the Wildrose Alliance to replaced the Conservatives,” Smith said.
History has shown Albertans have an appetite for sweeping political change.
The Liberals ruled from 1905-’21, when they were swept out of power by United Farmers, who won 38 out of 61 sets.
United Farmers ruled Alberta for 14 years until they were knocked out by the Social Credit Party, which won 56 out of 63 seats.
Social Credit held power until 1971 when Lougheed’s Progressive Conservative Party won 49 seats to begin a reign that continues in 2011.
Smith said in the early days of building his party Lougheed once flew to Cold Lake on a blustery day for a meeting that attracted just one person — the fellow assigned to open the hall.
Smith attended a Wildrose Alliance meeting in Grande Prairie where the hall was set up for 200 people. Just six people turned out, and two of those were Smith’s family members.
“Every political party that has started up in this province had had very modest roots,” Smith said.
The Wildrose Alliance is studying Alberta’s history, and will emulate the Progressive Conservatives of 1971 by fielding a strong slate of candidates.
Thirty-three candidates are in place now, and the rest will be ready by the end of the year.
“We need to have a solid team of candidates,” Smith said.
Smith said Lougheed’s Progressive Conservative Party in 1971 realized it was not enough to argue against the policies of the Socreds — it had to put forward its own ideas.
“We believe that you can’t just complain, you have to offer positive solutions,” Smith said.
The Wildrose Alliance is doing just that, and has released policies in 11 of 16 identified areas, including education, environment, advanced education, municipal affairs, health care, democracy and accountability, property rights, social support, seniors health and benefits, energy and federal relations.
“We start out talking about our principles and the proper role of government,” Smith said.
No. 1 on that list, Smith explained, is that government is elected by the people an should work for the people of Alberta.
Government should set the rules, enforce them, and then get out of the way, Smith said.
“We believe an MLA works first and foremost for the people who elected him,” Smith said.
Smith cited the example of former Progressive Conservative MLA Guy Boutillier, who was kicked out of caucus for criticizing the government’s decision not to build a promised long term care facility in his riding.
Boutillier later joined the Wildrose Alliance to become its first MLA.
Smith said the Wildrose Alliance stands for free enterprise, less government and personal freedom.
“Albertans share these values,” Smith said.
The Wildrose Alliance is preparing to offer Albertans a party that represents their values.
Albertans, Smith said, are ready to make a change in the next provincial election.
“What people really want is MLAs in the Legislature who represent the best of us,” Smith said.