As I alluded to in my previous post on the massive Wildrose MLA exodus, there are a lot of questions about the timeline that has people feeling like something's fishy.
During the byelections in October there was some grumbling from various Wildrose supporters who thought that the party's strategy was designed to fail. Several people, including me, didn't like the "Send the PCs a message" bit thinking that it meets the classic political error of "He who runs for the position of opposition leader will always win it". There were talks that money was overspent in ridings they didn't hope to win while neglecting Calgary-West and to a lesser degree Calgary-Elbow. At the Wildrose AGM, the strategy in general was viciously attacked and forced Danielle Smith to admit errors were made.
The news from this past week sure puts a new spin on those criticisms, don't they?
Did Wildrose executives deliberately throw the byelection? These are the same executives that are still anxiously insisting that they are still fighting for the party, but it's possible they aren't entirely honest. (if there's anything we can remember from what happened, it's that politicians cannot be trusted with being truthful). Did Danielle Smith talk them into a strategy that she knew was foolish and not in the Wildrose Party's best interests, and the executive just didn't notice? Not sure if the "we were easily duped morons" defense is better than the "we were actively doing something wrong" defense. It never tends to work out well.
For my money though, the real curious thing is that right after the byelection losses, Danielle Smith called for an immediate leadership review. The general consensus at the time was that she was "getting ahead of the story" Jian Ghomeshi style: knowing that there were criticisms of how she handled the byelections, she decided to be forthcoming and upfront and rather than wait for a groundswell of voices to grumble for her ouster, she would be up front about the review and allow for all sides of the party to debate and discuss. Ultimately it was a meaningless gesture, since the caucus under the direction of Wildrose House Leader Rob Anderson officially requested she call off the request in response to overwhelming support that the review was a waste. Instead, the review was done by the Wildrose executive and not at the AGM. (For a good movie reference, imagine the scene in Goldeneye when Defense Minister Mishkin refuses General Ourumov's resignation over the incident at Severnaya: it seemed to play out much like that).
Doesn't this all look a little fishy now? First off, can we question the Rob Anderson push to quash the demands for her leadership review now that we know while this whole thing was going on, both Rob Anderson and Danielle Smith were negotiating their break from the party? Was this pre-arranged from the start? Was the ploy to make it look like Danielle was under seige only to have her white knight come to the rescue? More critically with an eye for what just happened, was this Plan A to migrate over to the PCs? Was the original thought being that the anti-Danielle crowd would be much louder after the sting of the byelection losses, to facilitate her defeat at the AGM? If following such a defeat prompted her to sit as an independent, nobody would have batted an eye: they would have batted far fewer when she joined Prentice's team a few weeks/months later. If a loyalist or two went along with her, again the move could have done with much face saved. If it failed, as it apparently/possibly did, then Rob Anderson had the "get out of leadership review free" card queued up and ready to deploy.
That scenario makes far less sense than the one officially being flouted by Smith/Prentice/etc. Now the story is people like me pushed her out.
“But our members organized to vote against a direction I had set. We had our members make a decision to go in exactly the opposite direction I wanted to go.”So you're telling me that the woman who wanted a leadership review (and was "talked into" not having one) was then in a position where people would speak about where they wanted their party to go, and it scared her utterly shitless? How precisely does that work? If you want to square this circle, than either:
“I found out afterwards there was a group who came specifically to vote it down to teach me and some of my caucus colleagues a lesson about having walked in the gay pride parade.”
“And I just thought: Wow. After all this, we still have a vocal faction in our party who would rather fight internally and be destructive on these issues.”
“I’ve always been very respectful of the social conservatives in my party and my movement. I’ve just asked for the same in return.”
- Danielle Smith didn't want a leadership review, and the efforts to cancel her request was pre-negotiated before she made the initial request
- She wanted to lose the leadership review and use that loss to walk over to the Prentice PCs.
Of course, under both scenarios the "executive is clueless about how to sell the party" option remains on the table. That, sadly, didn't change when Danielle Smith crossed the floor.