Trevor Harrison has written an interesting column that I read in the Winnipeg Free Press, headlined “Power Brokers Unwittingly Destroyed the Conservative Party“. They were certainly one cause of the destruction, but there were so many causes of the destruction, it is hard to know which blow rendered the party immobile and which delivered the coup de grace.
The power brokers he refers to were not ‘party loyalists’: they were corporate loyalists who had infiltrated and then taken the party hostage, simply because the party wasn’t strong enough to resist them. The party was not responding to well-meaning but misdirected party loyalists who mistakenly conflated corporate interests with the interests of Alberta and Albertans. It was responding to decision-makers who valued short-term corporate interests over the interests of Alberta and Albertans (and over the interests of the party which, presumably, would have been good government deserving of re-election).
Second, the entire party apparatus was so decayed (and dependent upon cash) that it couldn’t have responded to even masterful direction. Michael Keaton was lead in a movie (Multiplicity) in which a sympathetic scientist allows his character to create clones of himself. At first the clones vary only in that they have accentuated positive features (accompanied by subduing or eliminating other features). Even so, successive clones aren’t the real thing. Keaton’s character loses track of which clone has which characteristics, and when clones are patterned after clones, the intelligence level really falls off. It strikes me that the movie is a perfect metaphor for what happened to the P.C. Party and will inevitably happen to any party when it is the government for too long without a break. With each leadership campaign, with each election, the Party tried to present a clone, with the same D.N.A. as always, but just enough variation to appear to meet the needs of the moment. Eventually the Party completely lost track of its DNA, and so did the public.
In 2015 the P.C. Party came to a campaign when they needed to show they had public support, loyal workers, boots on the ground, and the boots on the ground simply did not show up. This was a campaign that money could not buy, and the P.C.s had nothing but money (and a history of ineffective clones) to fall back on.