Is Alberta About to Witness a Generational Shift In Provincial Politics?


February 24, 2011 :: Peter McCormick
Moderated by Alex Masse

In the course of a week, Alberta’s political landscape changed dramatically. First, Premier Ed Stelmach announced he would not run in the next provincial election. Then David Swann, leader of the Alberta Liberal Party and leader of the Official Opposition, also announced his resignation. On the one side: a new party with a dynamic young leader is scoring high in the public opinion polls. On the other side: the two major parties in the legislature both face leadership races. And there may or may not be a new center option in the form of the Alberta Party. More than it has for decades, the political landscape appears open for major change -- but what kind of change will it be?

The speaker will argue that the door is now open for a new kind of politics to emerge, a politics that reflects the demands and the priorities and the style of a new generation. In 1971, Peter Lougheed's surprise win marked the political arrival of the "Baby Boomer" generation -- but the first baby boomers turned 65 in January. The last generational shift obliterated the long-lived Social Credit party; what will the next one look like? After the upcoming leadership races and the provincial election that will probably follow in 2012, there will be new faces wall to wall -- and the odds are they will be younger faces. The critical question, the one that will drive our politics for the next decades, is how the parties -- the old ones, and the new ones just emerged or trying to emerge -- will cope with this new reality.

Speaker: Peter McCormick

Dr. Peter McCormick is Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Lethbridge, where he teaches Canadian Government and Politics and Constitutional Law. He holds degrees from the University of Alberta (BA 68), the University of Toronto (MA 69) and the London School of Economics (PhD 74). Dr. McCormick is heard regularly on CBC radio and is often quoted in the national news media.


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