Former Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason is predicting Alberta Premier Jim Prentice may call a snap election early in the new year.
The Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA made the bold prediction in a blog post Saturday. In it, he describes his concerns regarding the recent defection of nine Wildrose MLAs into the arms of the PC caucus and dubs Prentice as the “first Wildrose Premier”.
“This defection is more than “uniting conservatives,” writes Mason. “It shifts the balance of power in the Tory caucus, and prepares the political ground for a brutal restructuring of public services in Alberta. Jim Prentice it turns out, is Alberta’s first Wildrose Premier.”
Mason caps off his blog post, which can be read online at brianmasonndp.wordpress.com, by predicting Prentice will call a snap election prior to the 2016 fixed-election period, which states Alberta’s next election will take place between March 1 and May 31, 2016.
“A very big social fight is coming very soon, perhaps beginning with a snap election,” writes Mason.
Agreeing with the Mason’s prediction are prominent political bloggers, Dave Cournoyer and Dave Climenhaga, who went so far as to say a snap election called in January would send Albertans to the polls in February.
Alberta Liberal leader Raj Sherman says it’s conceivable that the premier could indeed call an early election but says, in the interest of democratic fairness, fixed-term election dates ought to be respected.
“It could happen. We don’t know, but the Alberta Liberals are gearing up for an early 2015 election. In the off chance that it doesn’t happen, we’ll be even better prepared for an election later in the year or in 2016, ” said Sherman.
One issue that might hinder an early election, Sherman explains, is that much of the current PC caucus is made up of MLAs from previous reigns — whether they’re leftover from Alison Redford’s time as Premier or MLAs who were elected under Ed Stelmach’s leadership in 2008. An early election may not give Prentice enough time to get candidates of his choosing into ridings.
“The question is, if the PCs are nominating new people in the seats that current PC MLAs have and are those candidates fully nominated — he can’t call an early election if his candidates are not fully nominated,” said Sherman.
With the Alberta Liberals and the Wildrose party boasting five MLAs the battle to be named official opposition is on. On Monday, remaining Wildrose MLAs will gather in Calgary to announce a new interim leader.
However, Sherman is adamant a Liberal opposition is what’s best for Albertans, adding that the Wildrose party is too too similar to PC party to be an effective opposition.
“It doesn’t make sense to have a right-wing, conservative government and a right-wing opposition that just agrees with everything,” said Sherman. “Democracy is best served when you have someone who can hold the government accountable and is ideologically different.”
Sherman hopes the Speaker of the House will name an opposition in the Legislature on Monday or Tuesday.