Is This the End of the Tory Dynasty? The Wildrose Alliance in Alberta Politics


  • Anthony M. Sayers University of Calgary
  • David K. Stewart University of Calgary



The Alberta Tory dynasty begun by Peter Lougheed is now 40 years old. With only four leaders across four decades, the party has managed to maintain its hold on the political imagination of Albertans. It has weathered a number of storms, from minor party assaults during the tumultuous 1980s to the Liberal threat of 1993 and the stresses associated with the global financial crisis. Now it confronts a new challenge in the form of the Wildrose Alliance led by Danielle Smith.
Just as the Tories stole the centre ground from beneath Social Credit in the 1970s, the Wildrose leadership team hopes to take what was a fringe right wing party and turn it into a broad coalition capable of appealing to a large number of Albertans. What challenges do they face in repositioning the party? And how will the Tories protect their home turf?
In brief, the Wildrose Alliance must modify its policies and present them in such a manner as to be able to plausibly claim that it now reflects the core values of Albertans better than the current government.
For its part, the government must select a new leader capable of successfully painting Wildrose as outsiders who cannot be trusted to cleave to the values that Albertans hold dear.
What are these values? Strong support for individualism, a populist view of government – including wariness of the federal government – combined with a deep commitment to a role for government in providing core programs in areas such as health care, the environment, and social welfare.


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