Former Alberta separatist turned Wildrose candidate Cory Morgan

It’s been said here that the biggest problem Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Alliance would ever have is the kind of candidates the right-wing party attracts.

Smith, after all, is a pretty smooth politician who intends to insinuate her market fundamentalist nostrums into the Alberta sensibility rather as Prime Minister Stephen Harper is trying hard these days to keep his worse instincts under control and take an incremental approach to moving Canada far to the right.

To achieve her goal, she needs candidates who don’t remind potential Wildrose voters of extras from a gothic horror flick set in the Wild West. So, as I wrote way back in January 2010, “the moment of maximum danger for the upstart political party will come … when it must choose local candidates to run in the provincial election expected in 2012.”

The party’s problem, I argued at that time, was related to its success up to that point. To put it bluntly, it was going to attract no shortage of potential fruitcakes from the party’s extremist fringe to its nomination races, and some of them would likely be chosen, because thanks to Smith the party now enjoys some credibility.

“Smith will find keeping those committed social conservatives singing from the same hymnbook and out of trouble is like herding cats,” I predicted then.

Well, we’re a lot closer to an election now and Smith’s Alliance party is starting to nominate candidates. While most of these people are complete unknowns to most Albertans, yet to reveal their true colours, a few of them have familiar names.

Likely the most prominent is Link Byfield, of course. Alberta’s sometime Senator in Waiting (say what?) is the Missing Link no more, but has resurfaced to challenge Alberta’s historically most successful politician, Speaker Ken Kowalski, in the Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock riding northwest of Edmonton.

The Wikipedia used to note that Byfield was the president of the Society to Explore and Record Christian History, although that factoid seems now to have mysteriously and conveniently disappeared into the cybervoid, although his brief Wikibio does still note that he was the founder of something called the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, which stands, among other things, “against expanding influence of the Charter of Rights.”

Well, OK!

As a matter of fact, Byfield has run for the Wildrose Alliance before, back in 2008, but that didn’t count for much in those pre-Danielle Smith days. Anyway, Byfield is old news by now, and in Alberta’s fermenting political culture, that amounts to being almost an establishment figure.

More recently we have learned, thanks to Dave Cournoyer’s useful Daveberta blog, that a fellow named Cory Morgan is among the candidates seeking the Wildrose nomination in the controversially renamed Calgary-Klein riding. In his online bumf, Morgan describes himself as a sort of neighbourhood guy who likes free votes in the Legislature, fixed election dates and health reform of the softly worded and undefined kind that is larded throughout Wildrose Alliance documents and websites nowadays.

Like Byfield, Morgan was a Wildrose Alliance candidate in the last provincial election, in the Calgary-Mountain View riding, where he captured close to 900 votes. But as previously noted, that was back in the day when the Alliance was just another loony far-right fringe party, as opposed to a loony far-right party that’s no longer on the fringe.

So, presumably, this means he might have a fighting chance of capturing the Wildrose nomination in Calgary-Klein.

There doesn’t seem to be any mention on his site, however, of Morgan’s past role in Alberta politics, including being a founder and former leader of an entity called the Alberta Independence Party and before that a member of the Separation Party of Alberta, a group whose agenda had little to do with the butterfat content of dairy products. (The Separation Party was once also known by the delightfully evocative moniker Alberta First Party, although thankfully it was never called the German-Albertan Bund.)

Morgan ran as a candidate for the AIP in Banff-Cochrane in 2001, bringing in 538 votes, and for the SPA in Highwood in 2004, capturing 299 votes.

But heck, why should this stand in his way? Well-known Alberta sovereignist Ted Morton attended the AIP’s founding convention in 2001 (in fairness, as an “observer”) and today he’s a credible candidate for the leadership of the Alberta Conservatives. And that Stephen Harper guy signed the sovereignist Firewall Manifesto with Morton in 2001, and all those facts long ago disappeared down the Memory Hole.

So with Smith’s nicely tailored coattails to ride on, it’s possible a candidate as far out as Morgan could nevertheless move his vote tally into four figures, or even into the winner’s circle!

Just the same, Morgan seems like just the kind of fellow Smith should be worrying about. He is the kind of politician, in other words, who might say exactly what he thinks during an election campaign, setting fire to the Wildrose Alliance’s electoral hopes.

It won’t take much, remember, as public opinion polls have already shown, to send nervous Albertans scurrying back to the comfortable old Progressive Conservatives once the accident-prone Premier Ed Stelmach is finally out of the way.

Politicians like Morgan and quite possibly Byfield as well sound like just the kind of fellows who could put paid to Smith’s hopes. And, remember, there are plenty more where they came from!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog, Alberta Diary. Thank you for choosing as an independent media source. Rabble is a reader-supported site — visited by over 315,000 unique visitors during the election campaign! But needs money to grow. Support as a paying member or by making a one-off donation .

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe...