Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wildrose Party stuck in a rut?

I notice that the Alberta Spectator has a post up entitled Wildrose Party moving ahead. In his post, Werner Patels reproduces a rather desperate sounding email from the Wildrose Party:

Albertans are in a remarkable political mood

An astonishing poll this week from Cameron Strategy in Calgary shows that undecided voters are now the largest group in Alberta (37%).

The Stelmach Conservatives have dropped to 32%. That's down from 54% in January. Liberals, NDP, Greens and Alliance are all stalled. Highest place are the Liberals, unchanged at 16%. The Alberta Alliance remains at 5%, down from 9% in 2004 election.

This poll does not bode well for anyone -- except the Wildrose Party.

An "undecided" response above 20% is considered high -- politically, it means things might change. Thirty-seven percent is virtually unheard of. It means there's a huge political vacuum which no existing party has been able to fill.

"Now is the time," says Wildrose president Rob James of Calgary. "Now is the time for our members to spread the message that the party Albertans want is on the way."

Spreading the message is easy.

It starts with signatures to register the party. Go down your street, into your office, or through a nearby apartment building, and gather signatures to register the party with Elections Alberta. (Apartment blocks are easy and very fast. Just ask any resident to let you in, and go from door to door. Remember, you are collecting signatures for a government form, not selling or soliciting.)

Follow the easy tips below.

1. Download a form from the Wildrose Party Web site
(Or click on "petition form" in the Web site's left margin.)

2. Door to door signature gathering

You: Hi. (BIG smile) Are you an eligible Alberta voter? (This is the only question that you need answered – if this is yes, it starts the conversation on a positive note. If the reply is no, it allows you to say "thanks, have a nice day" and move along right away.)

Prospect: Yes.

You: We are in the process of registering a new Alberta political party. The Electoral Office requires 6000 Alberta elector signatures to complete this registration. Your signature does not commit you to anything and you are not endorsing anything. You are just helping us to complete this requirement. Do you mind helping us out? It will only take a second of your time.

You: (After they have signed): Just in case you want to know more about the new party here is their website address (have it on a slip of paper). They have a really nice website.

Thanks very much. Have a great day.

It's important not to give them an opportunity to use the word “No”, and not to engage in lengthy discussion. If you notice, they only have that chance once, after “help us out”, but all you have to do is move to the next friendly, encouraging line really quickly. For example, if they say, "Why do we need another party?" just say, "We're just getting the party registered. Democracy is about choice, right?"

Try it on your friends and ask them how easy it is for them to say “No” to this approach.

Unless you know the person personally, little purpose is served in political discussion. If they are genuinely interested in the party, they will visit the Web site. Your purpose is to gather signatures, not sell party memberships to strangers.

What a farce! The Wildrosers' registration drive has degenerated into something resembling a sleazy, door to door, vacuum cleaner sales pitch.

One has to question why such tactics are necessary, given that Wildrose Party President Rob James was quoted in a July 7 National Post article saying that the Wildrose Party had been greeted by an "overwhelming positive response":
"We're getting overwhelming positive response to this," reports Rob James, president of the Wild Rose party. "We're hearing from all over the province, both rural and urban, from people in the PC party," disgruntled, he says, by a party seen as ruled by elites and neglectful of its grassroots.
The Progressive Conservatives recently had a leadership vote, in which well over 100,000 Albertans took out a membership in the PC Party and voted. If the Wildrose Party was making such "overwhelming" inroads amongst PC members, they would easily have obtained the 6,004 signatures necessary for their petition by now.

I also found this interesting:
Apartment blocks are easy and very fast. Just ask any resident to let you in, and go from door to door. Remember, you are collecting signatures for a government form, not selling or soliciting.
Seems like soliciting to me. They are breaching apartment security, knocking on the tenants' doors without an invite, and then soliciting signatures after giving a sales spiel.

Furthermore, I note that at no time in the example dialog contained in the email, do the Wildrosers admit to being "conservative" or "right wing". In fact, the email warns against wasting time with "political discussion". Part of the propaganda surrounding the creation of this party is the idea that there is a vast pool of non-voting Albertans out there who are staying away from the polls because there isn't a true right wing party to vote for. If this is so, why not state up front what the Wildrose Party is all about?

So, I see things rather differently than Werner Patels. In fact, based on the tactics they have been adopting lately, it appears to me that the Wildrose Party is going to miss their own self-imposed deadline of August 30, 2007 to submit their petition. That deadline was set out in the July 7 edition of the Wildrose Weekly:
We want to submit our 7,000 names to Elections Alberta by August 30, so we can be a duly registered party in good time for our founding Wildrose Party General Assembly October 26/27 at the Palace Banquet hall in south Edmonton.
In fact, I will go on record now and officially make this prediction.