In Alberta the
Official Opposition consists of MLAs
belonging to the party with the second highest number of seats in the
Assembly. Opposition parties present themselves as alternatives to the
government, criticizing policies, offering their own policies, and keeping the
public aware of what the government is doing or not doing.
The opposition is a government-in-waiting, and the Leader
of the Opposition is a Premier-in-waiting.
In Alberta, however, most
opposition leaders have waited in vain: the only Leader of the Opposition to
become Premier was Peter
Lougheed. Moreover, Alberta is notorious for
landslide elections that render the opposition a tiny minority in the
Assembly. Consequently, five Legislatures saw the Speaker decline to
recognize any Official Opposition, choosing instead to divide the leader's
allowance equally among several opposition members.
The 20th Legislature (1982-86) was unique. It had a
four-member opposition, two New Democrats and Two Independents. The two
Independents joined forces and then vied for Official Opposition status, which
brought extra funding and privileges. After hearing arguments for both
sides, Speaker Gerard Amerongen chose the New Democrats under Grant Notley, and
the party remained the Official Opposition until the 1993 election