Leadership Selection in Alberta, 1992-2011: A Personal Perspective

Leadership Selection in Alberta, 1992-2011: A Personal Perspective

In 1991, the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta changed its rules for selecting its party leader. They abandoned their traditional method of a leadership convention (with delegates drawn from each constituency), and instituted a new one-member, one-vote system. Under this new system, the Alberta PCs have elected three new party leaders: Ralph Klein in 1992; Ed Stelmach in 2006; and Alison Redford in 2011. In each of these leadership contests the winner immediately became the Premier of Alberta. This article looks at the impact of the new selection procedure for politics in Alberta.

The 1991 leadership reforms can best be described as creating what the Americans call an “open primary.” Not only is it based on the one-member, one-vote principle, but the membership requirement is essentially “open”. That is, there are no pre-requisites such as prior party membership or cut-off dates for purchasing a membership. Memberships can be bought at the door of the polling station on the day of the vote for $5. The system allows for two rounds of voting. If no candidate receives an absolute majority (50% +1) on the first voting-day, then the top three1 go on to a second vote one week later.2 Membership sales remain open right up until the polling stations close on this second day of voting. Finally, in the second round, the vote is by preferential ballot.3 For the three remaining candidates, voters indicate their first and second choice. If no candidate receives a simple majority, the third place finisher is dropped, and his supporters’ second preferences are redistributed to the top two finishers. This guarantees that one will then have a majority. Taken together, these new rules gave the Alberta PC’s the “most democratic” (i.e. open and transparent) leadership selection process of any political party in Canada., perhaps in the entire Parliamentary world.

Initially the Party was quite proud of its new democratic credentials.4 But as these rules were put into play in three leadership contests over the next two decades, they have had significant and unintended consequences. I have tried to summarize these in the following six propositions:

  • The rules favour “outsider” candidates over candidates supported by the Party Establishment.
  • The rules create an incentive for the Second and Third Place candidates to ally themselves against the Front Runner in the second round of voting.
  • The rules weaken the influence of Party Regulars.
  • The rules create an incentive for non-party members– “gate-crashers”—to purchase memberships and vote for the “least worst alternative”.
  • The rules reward candidates that cater to organized interests whose members can be quickly mobilized by email, direct mail, telephone banks or social media. In the Alberta context, this has primarily been public sector unions.
  • The rules have facilitated the growth of a second conservative party by pushing disillusioned Blue Tories into the Wildrose Party.

Proposition 1. Outsiders win, Establishment favourites lose

This is the most obvious consequence of the new leadership selection rules. In all three contests, each of the early favourites lost to a candidate that was considered an outsider, a long-shot, or both.

In the 1992 leadership, Edmonton MLA and Cabinet Minister Nancy Betkowski was beaten by Ralph Klein, the former mayor of Calgary. Betkowski had a long history with the Party and substantial Cabinet support. Klein was a relative new-comer to the Party. While Klein had the support of many back-benchers, he was not endorsed by a single Cabinet minister. Klein campaigned against Betkowksi by labeling her as “part of Tory Establishment.”5 In the first round of voting, Klein surprised Betkowski by tying her, each receiving 31% of the votes.6 Cabinet Minister Rick Orman was a distant third with 15%, and withdrew, endorsing Betkowski. Indeed, six of the seven defeated first-round candidates endorsed her. These endorsements notwithstanding, Klein buried Betkowski in the second round of voting, 59% to 40%.7 The number of “new” voters surged by over 35,000, and they supported Klein by a large margin.

In the 2006 contest, Jim Dinning was the overwhelming favourite of the Party establishment. Dubbed by the media as “The Prince” and the “Premier-in-waiting,” he had held Cabinet positions under both Klein and Getty. Dinning had the support of 37 Caucus members, raised over $2 million dollars, and in the early stages of the campaign his team confidently predicted a first round victory.

The rest of the crowded field of eight candidates—none of whom were given a chance of winning—included Ed Stelmach, a likeable but undistinguished Cabinet minister under Klein. Stelmach was endorsed by 13 MLAs, but was virtually unknown south of Edmonton. I was another one of the long-shots. I had only been elected as an MLA two years earlier. While I had been active at the federal level with the Reform Party, I had no PC Party history, no caucus supporters, and no experience as a minister. At the outset, the Calgary Herald gave me “500-to-1 odds of winning”.

When the first ballot came, we surprised Dinning (and ourselves) by coming in a close second and blocking Dinning’s path to a first-ballot victory.8 Dinning tallied only 30% of the votes. I received 26%, while Stelmach was a distant third at 15%. One week later, Stelmach shocked Dinning (and everyone else) by vaulting from third to first on first preferences. There was a 50% surge in new voters from a week earlier, and they went overwhelmingly to Stelmach. With Stelmach and Dinning then in a virtual tie (36% to 35%), I was eliminated and my supporters’ second preferences were re-distributed to the two front runners. This was the end for Dinning. Of my supporters that indicated a second-preference on their ballots, 86% chose Stelmach. With this new wave of support, Stemach crushed Dinning by a margin of over 22,000 votes.

The 2011 PC leadership displayed a similar pattern. Gary Mar and I were the early favourites. Mar had held numerous important Cabinet positions during the Klein years. During the Stelmach years, he has served as Alberta’s trade representative in Washington, D.C. Mar was the choice of the PC establishment; enjoyed the endorsement of 27 MLAs; and out-fundraised all his closest opponents by a two-to-one margin—raising over $2 million dollars. I was the first to declare my candidacy and enjoyed high name-recognition because of my role in Stelmach’s decision to resign in January, 2011. I had also served as Stelmach’s Minister of Sustainable Resources Development and Finance Minister. I was supported by 10 MLAs, and expected to build on my strong showing in the 2006 Leadership.

First Ballot Second Ballot Preferential Ballot
Dinning

29,470

51,272

55,509

Morton

25,614

41,243

Stelmach

14,967

51,764

77,577

Others

28,639

Total

98,690

144,279

133,086

Among the other four candidates was Doug Horner, another experienced Cabinet minister from the Edmonton-area and the son of a former Cabinet minister. Like Stelmach in 2006, Horner was viewed as mainly a regional candidate. Ten of his 14 MLA supporters were from Edmonton and Northern Alberta. Last and, at the outset, probably least, was Alison Redford. Redford was a little-known feminist human-rights lawyer who had worked for former Federal PC Prime Minister Joe Clark and had stuck with the PCs during the 1990 civil war on the Right between the PCs and the upstart Reform Party. With a reputation as a Red Tory, Redford tried unsuccessfully to win a nomination to be the federal Conservative Party’s candidate in Calgary-West in 2004. She then went provincial, was elected as a Calgary MLA in 2008, and was immediately appointed as Minister of Justice. Redford had the support of only one MLA and was seen as running to position herself for future influence. However, late polling in September predicted Redford as a contender.

None of the six candidates was expected to win the 50%+1 needed for a first ballot victory, but Mar came close. He took 41% and left the rest of the field in the dust. His strength was not just wide but deep—winning pluralities in 52 of the 83 ridings. Redford was a surprise second-place finisher at 19%, with strong support in Calgary, while Horner finished third with 14%. I finished fourth at only 12%, my anticipated support failing to materialize in either my old rural strongholds or in my MLA supporters’ ridings in Southeast Edmonton and Northeast Calgary.

First Ballot Second Ballot Preferential Ballot
Mar

24,195

33,233

35,491

Redford

11,129

28,993

37,101

Horner

8,635

15,590

Others

15,402

Total

59,361

77,816

72,592

When all three of the eliminated candidates—Orman, and Griffiths and myself—endorsed Mar, he seemed like a shoe-in to win the second ballot outright on first preferences.9 But this was not to be. Again, the number of new voters surged—this time by 31%. Mar’s percentage—at 43% — hardly budged from the first ballot. By contrast, Redford nearly doubled her share of the votes to 37%. Horner took only 14%, and was thereby eliminated, throwing the outcome to the second preferences of the Horner supporters.

The “curse of the front-runner” then struck again. Over three-quarters of Horner’s supporters (n=10,366) gave their second preference to Redford, allowing her to sneak past Mar with 51% of the redistributed votes. For the third time in a row, an underdog candidate had burst from the pack to take down the Party favourite. While these results have surprised both participants and observers, the reason is not not hard to discern.

Proposition 2. Second Ballot Strategy: Take down the Front Runner10

When there is a front-runner, such as Dinning in 2006 and Mar in 2011, the only plausible path to victory for second and third place candidates is to join forces to prevent the front-runner from crossing the 50% threshold on first preferences. This rule did not apply to the 1992 Leadership race, as the third-place finisher, Rick Orman, dropped out before the second round. As noted above, in 2006, 86% of my supporters’ second preference went to Stelmach.11 In 2011, 78% of Horner’s Supporters’ second preferences went to Redford. Neither was by accident. My campaign’s “any one but Dinning” strategy in the second week was explicit and vigorous. I crisscrossed the province urging PC members, “Vote Ted and Ed, or Ed and Ted.” We didn’t care which, as we were confident that Stelmach would never catch up with me, and the we would need his supporters’ second preferences to beat Dinning. Stelmach did not reciprocate, but neither did he make any deals with Dinning. Publicly, the Stelmach campaign avoided the negative rhetoric and personal attacks that overtook the other two campaigns. Privately they launched a massive new membership sales initiative, reminding potential supporters that Dinning had been Klein’s hatchet-man in the painful budget cuts of the 1990s. Stelmach also received the support of the three candidates eliminated in the first round.12 Together, they positioned Stelmach as a moderate, likeable, positive candidate, a better alternative to the two warring “fiscal hawks.” This message played well with public sector unions and municipal politicians, both of whom depend on Government of Alberta largesse. Once I was eliminated, it was a foregone conclusion that my supporters would cast their second preferences for Stelmach. The second ballot became more about voting against a candidate (the front-runner) than voting for a candidate.

After the first ballot in 2011, Redford explicitly encouraged her supporters to give their second preferences to Horner. Her strategy was the same as mine had been in 2006. She needed to block Mar from passing the 50% threshold, and then take enough of Horner’s second prefences to win. Horner was less direct, but reciprocated in a widely circulated comment: “When you look at the policies, the platforms, the call for change, where we need to go with this province in the future, I think it’s pretty obvious where you would find my second ballot.”13 While these remarks may seem obtuse, the message obviously got through to his supporters, 78% of whom marked Redford as their second preference, and thereby made her the next Premier of Alberta.14 But the question lingered, who exactly had elected Alison Redford as the 14th Premier of Alberta.

Proposition 3. Party Regulars Displaced by Two-Minute Tories

Most commentators assume that an “open primary system” such as the one adopted by the Alberta PCs strengthens the influence of party members in choosing their leaders.15 The Alberta experience was the opposite. The influence of rank-and-file members was reduced. The loyal foot-soldiers who keep their memberships current between Leaderships, attend constituency association meetings, party AGMs and Policy Conferences, and at election time volunteer to stuff envelopes, man phone banks, and knock on doors—these party-faithful are swamped by the tsunami of “gate-crashers” that join just to vote in the Leadership and then disappear.16

In the summer of 2006, PC membership stood at 12,000. When Party “members” went to vote in the second round in November, 144,000 votes were cast. Of these 144,000, more than 45,000 had bought memberships in just the last week, and some in the last hour, at the door on voting day. Not surprisingly, it was widely reported that many of these “two-minute Tories” then tore up their new membership cards as they left the polling station. They had no interest in the PC Party, only the outcome of the second ballot.

PC Membership in Alberta by Year17

2011

78,176

2010

3,578

2009

4,365

2008

15,596

2007

28,352

2006

155,997

2005

6,550

In both the 1992 and 2011 Leaderships, there was a similar surge in Party memberships, between the first and second ballots. In 1992, there was a 48% surge in voters (n=25,538). 78% of these “gate-crashers” were newcomers to the Party, and 80% of them voted for Klein.18 Stewart and Archer’s study concluded that, “The rule allowing individuals to purchase memberships after the first ballot enabled thousands of new voters to cast a ballot on the final Saturday, and they played a major role in Ralph Klein’s victory.”19

In 2006, the number of voters jumped by 31% (n=18,455), with Redford the largest beneficiary. The Redford campaign used social media to mobilize professional working women. While hard evidence does not exist, her social media blitz appeared to work. At a Christmas party just after the 2011 Leadership, a friend of the hostess told me that she had never voted Conservative in her life, but while getting ready for supper on voting day, had seen a story on the evening news about Redford’s momentum and her use of social media to emphasize the historic opportunity to elect Alberta’s first woman Premier. She jumped in her car and drove to the local polling station to vote for Redford. The poll was about to close, and there were a dozen people still lined up, all but one women.

These three Leadership experiences suggest that under their new rules, the PC Party’s leader is elected by a new “virtual party” that is reconstituted every Leadership race. Stewart and Young draw a similar conclusion: “The second stage is in reality a completely separate election and with the first vote merely identifying a short list.” 20 But they don’t go far enough. It’s not just that the composition of the voters in the second ballot is qualitatively different from the first. The new virtual party’s membership may bear little resemblance to the PC Party that existed 12 months earlier, and even less resemblance to the virtual parties that preceded it. But it is not an accident. The new virtual party is the creation of the opportunities and incentives that flow from the Open Primary rules

Proposition 4. Non-Tories —purchase memberships and vote for the “least worse alternative.”

The lack of any requirements of prior party membership or a cut-off date for the sale of memberships opens the door to allow Albertans who are not traditional Tory members or even Tory supporters to participate. They are attracted to voting in these Leadership contests because the winner immediately becomes Alberta’s Premier, and given the Tories 42 year rein, is likely to remain the Premier for some time. In a “one-party dominant system” such as Alberta, “The primary is the election.”21 This then creates an incentive for non-party members to purchase memberships and vote-strategically for the “least worst alternative.”

In 1992, Federal Reform Party members bought provincial PC memberships and voted to block “Red Tory” Nancy Betkowski. 1992 was the year of the Charlottetown Accord Referendum, and the PC Leadership contest followed the Referendum vote by less than 5 weeks. Albertans voted overwhelmingly—60 percent—against the Accord. The Reform Party was the only political party in Canada to oppose the Accord. While Klein was officially “agnostic” on the Accord, his blue-collar, populist style appealed to grass-roots Reformers.22 Betkowski, by contrast, supported the Accord because it was the official position of the Getty government.

A subsequent study found that of the voters in the 1992 PC Leadership that indicated a federal party affiliation, 38% held Reform Party memberships, and 89% of them opposed the Charlottetown Accord. By contrast, 67% of Federal PC members that voted in the 1992 PC Leadership supported the Accord.23 The study concluded that, “The actual participation of Reformers and independents in the process appears to have facilitated the selection of Ralph Klein.”24

Like Klein in 1992, I benefited significantly from the participation of Federal Conservative Party members in first ballot of the 2006 Leadership. (The Federal PCs and Reform/Alliance parties merged in 2003 to form the new Conservative Party of Canada, led by Stephen Harper.) I had worked for almost a decade with the Federal Reform and Alliance Parties, and was well-known to Party members. I was also identified as being close to Harper, as we were both co-signers of the “Firewall Letter” sent to Premier Klein in 2001.25

Going into the first day of voting, the my campaign had identified 16,784 supporters and sold 11,230 memberships. By the end of the day, I had received 25,614 votes—more than double the number of memberships we had sold. In Canadian nomination elections, this kind of “conversion rate” (i.e. ratio of memberships sold to actual votes cast) is unheard of. We attributed this very pleasant surprise to the “moccasin telegraph,” the informal but tightly knit network of Alberta Reformers.

In the second round, it was the Stelmach campaign that benefited from the “gate-crashers.” Public sector unions were leery of both Dinnng and myself. Dinning had been Klein’s Minister of Finance in the mid-1990s when the Tories imposed an across-the-board 5% pay reduction to all public sector employees—including teachers and nurses. I had campaigned on the promise of fiscal responsibility and opening up Alberta’s health care system to more private delivery and contracting out to non-union providers. Not surprisingly, the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE), the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) and the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) did not warm to the idea of two self-proclaimed “fiscal hawks” leading the next government of Alberta. The Stelmach campaign privately exploited this anxiety to sign up thousands of new members.

2011 presented an equally dramatic surge of support from public sector unions for Redford. Early in the campaign she had publicly broken from the Stelmach government and promised to “restore” $110 million dollars to the education budget. She then promised to help out the under-funded Alberta policemen’s pension, which garnered an endorsement from the police association. When front-runner Gary Mar refused to rule out more privately delivered (but publicly paid) health care, Redford denounced him and promised “to keep public health care public.” She also promised new “family [health]care clinics” that would accommodate the crowded schedules of working mothers. Redford’s policy focus on health and education sent the message that she might well be the “least worse choice” for public sector union members that didn’t normally vote PC.

Proposition 5: The “two-minute Tory” window has a left-wing bias

The “two-minute Tory” window is not open for long: 1 week in the 1992 and 2006 Leaderships and 2 weeks in 2011. This means that there is an incentive for Leadership campaigns to target their recruiting efforts on organized interests that can be quickly mobilized, even if they are not normally Tory supporters.

The clearest evidence of this is the significant increase in new voters between the first and second ballots: 48% in 1992; 48% in 2006 and 31% in 2011. In each Leadership, the number of new voters has been larger than the total number of voters for the candidates eliminated in the first round. As Stewart and Young concluded, “The second stage is in reality a completely separate election.”26

But the targeting of easy-to-contact organized interests is not restricted to the second ballot. In 2006, my surprisingly strong second place finish on the first ballot was driven by an aggressive “ground game” strategy was only made possible by the use of old federal Reform/Conservative membership lists. Complete with names, addresses, telephone and emails, these lists allowed my campaign team to orchestrate a sophisticated phone-bank-direct mail-email campaign that delivered over 25,000 votes on the first ballot and over 41,000 first preferences on the second.

The dramatic increase in votes for Stelmach on the second ballot—from 15,000 to 51,000—was driven in part by a self-mobilization of public sector unions to block the Dinning-Morton “threat.” But it was also encouraged by the Stelmach campaign. Dave Hancock, one of the Leadership candidates eliminated on the first ballot, threw his support to Stelmach and used his ATA contacts to help. Stelmach’s other “secret weapon” was the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts, and Counties (AAMDC), the trade association for elected officials from rural Alberta. Stelmach had begun his political career at the municipal level. He was the former Reeve of Lamont County, and had been active in the AAMDC, as had several of his MLA supporters. Led by Sherwood Park MLA Iris Evans, they mobilized significant support through their extensive networks of rural office-holders and employees, most of whom already knew the likeable Stelmach.

What had happened somewhat spontaneously in the 2006 Stelmach campaign, became a conscious strategy for Redford in 2011. Her policy promises on health and education issues resonated well with nurses and teachers unions. In the last month of the campaign, this “pull” was turned into a “push” by a sophisticated social media campaign that targeted professional working women, a demographic that overlaps strongly with nurses and teachers.

To conclude, PC’s new Leadership rules advantage candidates that cater to organized interests whose members can be quickly mobilized. In theory, this bias may be ideologically neutral. But in the context of the 2006 and 2011 Leaderships, this has meant primarily the ATA and other public-sector unions. The result has been the election of the most “liberal” of the three conservative finalists in each contest. Not surprisingly, a growing number of disillusioned “small-c conservatives” began looking for a new political home and found it in the Wildrose Party.

Proposition 6: Disillusioned Blue Tories jump to the Wildrose Party

Anyone arguing the “two-minute Tory” window has a left-of-centre bias must begin by confronting the counterevidence of the 1992 Leadership. Betkowski was clearly the more liberal of the two finalists, and Klein just as clearly benefited from the support of many Federal Reform Party members who bought provincial PC memberships to defeat Betkowski.

The 1992 experience demonstrates that the PC’s leadership rules can attract “gate-crashers” from both ends of the political spectrum, and cautions against overly broad generalizations.

This caveat notwithstanding, Premier Redford and her PC Party now sit across the aisle from a second-right of centre political party, the Wildrose Alliance Party, which with 17 members, is the Official Opposition in the Alberta Legislature. It would be hard to find any informed person who does not believe that the results of the last two PC Leadership contests have not contributed to this new political reality.

The 2006 Leadership weakened the PC Party by electing a compromise candidate who turned out to be a weak leader. From the outset, Stelmach had low support in Calgary and Southern Alberta, and his subsequent oil and gas royalty policies pushed many Blue Tories and Federal Conservatives into the Wildrose Party.27 If either Dinnng or I had won in 2006, it’s hard to imagine that either of us would have mishandled the royalty issue as badly as Stelmach. And without the royalty debacle, it’s hard to imagine there would be much of a Wildrose Party today.

If the 2006 Leadership created the opportunity for the Wildrose, then 2011 helped realize that opportunity. As others have pointed out, all three finalists were Red Tories (Mar, Redford, Horner). All three eliminated candidates were Blue Tories (Morton, Orman, Griffiths). And the “red-ist” of the three Red Tories won—Redford.28 Indeed, these results may mean that the shift had already occurred. The collapse of my support—from 41,000 votes on the 2006 Second Ballot to 7,000 in 2011—suggests that many Blue Tories/Federal Conservatives had already left the PC Party for the Wildrose Party.29

Whether cause or effect, Redford’s victory in the 2011 PC Leadership was wind in the sails of the Wildrose. Her transparent appeals to public sector unions with promises of increased funding for education and healthcare gave new credibility to Wildrose accusations that there was no longer anything conservative about the Progressive Conservative Party.

Will the Wildrose have staying power? Is this divide on the Right just a temporary aberration or more permanent? Evidence suggests that it is more permanent because it has a regional foundation. The early strength of the Manning Reformers was in Southern and Central Alberta. Klein did well here in 1992, and it is where I was strongest in 2006.30 On the first ballot, I carried every rural and small town constituency South of Edmonton except 5, and even won two rural ridings North of Edmonton. In 2011, this support disappeared. At the time, pundits speculated that this was because my supporters had already gone over to the Wildrose.31 The subsequent results of the 2012 General Election seem to confirm this.32 In the April, 2012 provincial election, the Wildrose Party won 12 of the 21 ridings that I had won in the first round of 2006 Leadership. Of the 17 Wildrose MLAs elected, 12 came from ridings that I had won in 2006. In some—such as Drumheller-Stettler, Airdrie, and Lac La Bich-St. Paul-Two Hills—virtually the same volunteers ran both campaigns.

So if geography matters—and in first-past-the-post electoral systems, it does—then the Wildrose Party is not going to evaporate anytime soon. It now has a beach-head in Southern and Central Alberta from which to mount future assaults on the Tory Dynasty.

Conclusions

Has open primary leadership selection strengthened the Alberta PC Party? If you had asked this question in 2005, the answer would have been a resounding “yes.” Ralph Klein had taken over a party that was 20 points behind the polls in 1992 and won 4 majority governments in a row. The “openness” of the new Leadership selection rules may have strengthened the PC Party by absorbing the populist energy stirred up by Preston Manning and pre-empting the formation of a provincial Reform Party, which then would have then split the right-of-centre vote.33 In 2005, the advantages of the new Leadership rules seemed obvious: they had facilitated party renewal by allowing the PCs to reflect changes in Alberta’s political climate.34

Today, the answer is hardly so clear. The “two-minute Tory” window between votes has allowed strategic “gate-crashers” from the Left to decisively influence the outcome of the last two PC Leaderships. The Stelmach and Redford victories appear to have transformed the PC Party into a centre-left coalition party, and pushed disillusioned Blue Tories toward the Wildrose Party. How this will end, no one knows.

What we do know is that coalition of urban and rural interests that has lifted the Alberta PC Party to twelve consecutive victories is deeply fractured. The Alberta Tories are an unlikely marriage between the oil and gas industry and the ranch-farm sector. This “odd-couple” coalition seems over, at least for now. Does this mean the end of the Tory dynasty? Not necessarily. But it does mean that the PCs will have to cobble together a different coalition of interests and groups—a more urban coalition— to continue to win majority governments. One of Alison Redford’s campaign ads in the 2012 Alberta general election boasted “Not Your Father’s PC Party.” She turned out to be right, but she may find that managing the consequences will not be easy.

Notes

1 At the Party’s 2012 AGM, this rule was amended to just the top two finishers.

2 At the Party’s 1999 AGM, this rule was amended to allow two weeks between votes.

3 At the Party’s 2012 AGM, preferential ballot was eliminated as no longer necessary, since only the top two finishers would now go to the second round.

4 David K. Stewart and Keith Archer, Quasi-Democracy? Parties and Leadership Selection in Alberta (Vancouver and Toronto: UBC Press, 2000), pp. 24,47

5 Stewart and Archer, Leadership Selection in Alberta, p.26.

6 Betkowski: 16,393; Klein: 16,392; Orman: 7,649.

7 Klein 46,245; Betkowski 31,372.

8 Our strategy was to finish third on the first ballot, and then try to benefit from second preferences in the second round. This seemed plausible, as there was a lot of ill-will between Dinning and Lyle Oberg, another experienced PC Cabinet minister who in the early months was considered Dinning’s strongest rival.

9 “The second ballot begins with nearly everyone expecting Mar to win.” Don Braid, Calgary Herald, Sept. 19, 2011.

10 David K. Stewart and Lisa Young (“Leadership Primaries in a Single-Party Dominant System,” (2012), p.19) make this point differently: “The specific rules utilized by the Conservative party played a major role in the outcomes, permitting ‘come from behind’ winners and making second choice votes critical to the outcome. …In each of the Alberta PC primaries the first ballot leader was defeated.”

11 Of Morton’s 41,243 supporters, 11,193 did NOT indicate a Second Preference. Of the 30.050 that did, 25,813—or 86%–voted Stelmach. Only 4.237 supported Dinning.

12 Dave Hancock, Lyle Oberg and Mark Norris.

13 Calgary Herald, Sept. 28, 2011.

14 Of Horner’s 15,590 supporters, 5,224 did NOT indicate a Second Preference. Of the 10,366 that did, 8,108 –or 78%–voted Redford. Only 2,258 supported Mar. Stewart and Young (“Leadership Primaries,: p. 19) also note that second preference support from Horner was essential to Redford’s victory.

15 Susan E. Scarrow, Paul Webb and David M. Farrell (2002), write that under open primary systems such as the Alberta PC Leadership, “party members are gaining significant rights to elect their leaders.” (“From Social Integration to Electoral Contestation” in Russell J. Dalton and Martin P. Wattenberg (eds.), Parties Without Partisans: Political Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies, Oxford: Oxford Scholarship Online. As quoted by Stewart and Young, p. 1.

16 Stewart and Archer drew the same conclusion about the 1992 Leadership (p.27): “Obviously, the leadership decision was not made by long-term rank-and-file members of the provincial party.”

17 Adopted from Stewart and Young,” Leadership Primaries in a Single-Party Dominant System,”p. 10.

18 Stewart and Archer, Leadership Selection in Alberta, p. 63.

19 Ibid., p. 65.

20 Stewart and Young, “Leadership Primaries,” p. 14.

21 This is how American political scientist V.O. Key (Southern Politics. New York: Alfred Knopf. (49:407) explained the importance of Democratic Party primaries in the South. Stewart and Young (Leadership Primaries,” p.4) apply it—correctly in my opinion—to the situation in Alberta.

22 Stewart and Archer, Leadership Selection in Alberta, pp. 55-56.

23 Ibid., p.30.

24 Ibid., p. 48.

25 The “Firewall Letter” became the moniker for the “Alberta Agenda,” a public letter sent to Premier Klein in 2001 urging him to take specific policy steps to strengthen Alberta’s control over policy areas within provincial jurisdiction. It was signed by five Albertans, all with ties to the Federal Reform/Alliance Party: Stephen Harper, Tom Flanagan, Ken Bosenkool, Andy Crooks, Rainer Knopff and myself. The letter became popularly know as the “Firewall Letter” because of its call “to build firewalls around Alberta.”

26 Stewart and Young, “Leadership Primaries,” p. 14.

27 On the second ballot in 2006, Stelmach had only 14% of the votes in Calgary and did not win a single Calgary constituency.

28 Larry Pratt, Edmonton Journal, October 9, 2011: “The reddest Tory on the list, Alison Redford, took the big prize, the right wing was repudiated with Ted Morton and Rick Orman going down to defeat on the first ballot and the old guard was rebuffed with Gary Mar’s unexpected defeat.”

29 Cf. Graham Thomson, “The decline in Morton’s support suggest that the selectorate had changed dramatically between 2006 and 2011 and lends credence to claims that ‘the conservative flank of the party has deserted it.’” (Edmonton Journal, Sept. 20, 2011).

30 Stewart and Archer, Leadership Selection in Alberta, p. 40.

31 Stewart and Young, “Leadership Primaries,” pp. 18-19.

32 Ibid., pp. 8-9, draw the same regional parallel.

33 Stewart and Archer (Leadership Selection in Alberta, pp. 28,48) reach a similar conclusion.

34 Stewart and Young (“Leadership Primaries,” p. 19) seem to suggest that the PCs will benefit from the results of the 2011 Leadership: “The failure of the Conservative party to have a membership cut-off point may actually serve the party very well”.