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Alberta’s smallest political parties fighting the good fight, but face long odds of breakthrough

Edmonton Journal with Melanee Thomas 04 March 2019

A plethora of new parties has mushroomed across Alberta’s political landscape over the last two years.

The biggest player is the United Conservative Party, birthed from the marriage of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservatives, but smaller parties continue to pop up as the spring election rolls near.

There’s the Alberta Independence Party, which is yet to get official status,and the Freedom Conservative Party led by ousted UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt.

The new arrival list also includes the Alberta Advantage Party, created by a coalition of former Wildrosers who sided against unity with the PCs.

Despite the proliferation of new parties, University of Calgary political scientist Melanee Thomas doesn’t think they, or already established fringe parties, will play much of a role when voters head to the polls.

She attributes that to a few reasons, including the fact a majority of voters, when polled, identify with major, seat-winning parties.

Thomas said smaller parties sometimes do get a break, but a single-issue party is going to have a tough time gaining traction.

Even centrist groups like the Alberta Party are unlikely to break through unless there is significant voter discontent, she said, and the party speaks to the electorate on specific issues.

“There has to be a confluence of factors to get a minor party to become relevant, and you can’t orchestrate it,” she said.

Alberta Advantage Party

Raised $3,536 in 2018. Led by Marilyn Burns. The party was formed by a group of disillusioned Wildrosers who didn’t support conservative unity. Its constitution is based on that of the now-defunct Wildrose Party.

Communist Party

Raised $300 in 2018. Led by Naomi Rankin. As you might gather from its name, the party pushes communist values and is based on putting people and nature before corporate profit.

Freedom Conservative Party

Raised $27,376 in 2018. Led by former UCPer Derek Fildebrandt. It champions grassroots democracy and a freer, autonomous Alberta within Canada, but promises an independence referendum if Ottawa doesn’t change the way it treats the province.

Green Party of Alberta

Raised $16,426 in 2018. Led by Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes. The Alberta Greens share principles with their sister parties across the world, including non-violence, participatory democracy, respect for diversity, social justice and sustainability.

Pro-Life Alberta Political Association

Raised $0 in 2018. Formerly the Alberta Social Credit Party. Its major platform is opposing abortion.

Reform Party of Alberta

Raised $5,800 in 2018. Led by Randy Thorsteinson. The party’s policies are guided by conservative beliefs including parental rights, school choice, religious freedom, mandatory balanced budgets, fixed election dates and recall legislation.