Political parties are the foundation of a functioning democracy. Alberta has nine registered political parties, five of which are represented in the 27th Alberta legislature. They are the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, the Alberta Liberal Party, the Wildrose Alliance Party, the Alberta New Democratic Party and the Alberta Party.
Joining a party offers you many opportunities and privileges. It makes you eligible to elect your party’s leader—who may turn out to be the next premier of Alberta. In 2011, the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, Alberta Liberal Party and Alberta Party selected new leaders. Sometimes, these leadership votes can be as important as an actual general election. In 2011, for example, the Progressive Conservatives' choice of Alison Redford as party leader meant that she also became the next provincial premier.
Joining a party gives you the right to attend their conventions, which is another way to help shape the future of the province. Government legislation often finds its roots in party policies. Conventions and other meetings such as annual general meetings also give you an opportunity to meet and influence Alberta’s current and aspiring lawmakers. Becoming a party member is also crucial to gaining the contacts and the knowledge necessary to running for office yourself.
Last, but not least, participating in a political party can be genuinely exciting—no more so than during the high-stakes, high-pressure environment of an election campaign.
Joining a political party is relatively straightforward. First, you must pay a membership fee. Fees vary, and at certain times in Alberta’s history, parties have even waived fees altogether. You will pay no more than $10 annually and possibly as little as $5. Second, you must be a resident of Alberta. However, you do not necessarily have to be a Canadian citizen.
Once you become a member, you will be notified of all important party events such as conferences, conventions, annual general meetings and leadership races. These events are usually open to members only. However, if you are not yet a member, you can usually buy a membership at the event.
Now is the best time to get involved. The period between elections is the best time to secure an influential position in a political party and make a difference, and a provincial election is in the offing.