Friday, January 1, 2010

My History with the Alberta Liberal Party - Part V

July 1992 to October 1993

I was still heavily involved in Party organization during this period. I worked on the Calgary Buffalo campaign and we won Buffalo for a 4th consecutive time.

The 1993 provincial general election was held on June 15th, 1993. The Liberal Party was led by Laurence Decore, a former mayor of Edmonton. Despite being the smallest of the three parties in the legislature, the Liberals made major gains by criticizing the Conservatives' fiscal responsibility, the province's rapidly rising debt, and the government's involvement in the private sector which resulted in some companies defaulting on government loans.

Don Getty resigned as provincial premier 1n 1992 after polls showed that he would not win re-election. The party chose former Calgary mayor Ralph Klein to succeed Getty. Klein campaigned for the leadership in part by making arguments similar to Decore's. He favoured a near-immediate balancing of the provincial budget and rapid debt repayment thereafter, and declared his government "out of the business of business". By the time Klein dropped the writs, his party had regained the lead on polls.

Decore, facing a Premier with whom he agreed on many issues, argued that the Progressive Conservative party had no moral authority left on the issues on which Klein was campaigning. There were several televised debates; however viewership was low since it coincided with the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals.

Klein's efforts were successful in reinvigorating the Conservatives from certain defeat and they retained a solid majority in the legislature for its seventh consecutive term in government. The Conservatives increased its share of the popular vote marginally, and lost eight seats in the legislature.

The Liberals capitalized on the stagnant PC vote and the collapse of the NDP. Opposition to the PC government coalesced around Decore and the Liberals; they managed to win almost 40% of the popular vote and 32 seats in the legislature, including every seat in Edmonton. They formed what still stands as the largest opposition caucus in Alberta history. To the surprise of many, Decore stepped down as Liberal leader not long after the election, supposedly being pressured to resign by party insiders who felt that he missed the chance to form the government. The Liberals still eat their young.

The New Democrats went down to defeat by being shut out of the legislature for the first time since 1967 as the anti-PC vote consolidated around the Liberals.

The Federal election was held on October 25th, 1993 and I managed the Bob Blair campaign in Calgary Centre, taking the Party from a distant 4th and 11% of the vote in ’88 to a close second and more than 30% of the vote.

Surprising what can be done for the Liberals in Calgary...

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