If it hadn't dawned on the voters of the great province of Alberta that they became totally screwed near the tail end of last year, it surely must have hit them yesterday with the bringing down of the Progressive Conservative government's latest budget. In Canada's conservative heartland, taxes are going to rise and the debt is going to increase, and there is no one else to blame except the party that has governed the province for the last four decades in a row.
Crow all you want about $40/barrel oil, it matters not. A supposedly fiscally conservative government should have the wherewithal to think ahead and prepare for a drop in oil prices. This province of economists and chest-thumping balanced budget promoters should have at least considered that markets and prices fluctuate (no, really?), and in the meantime it may be a good idea to not spend like drunken sailors on social programs and infrastructure projects you couldn't afford if your pot of gold started to run low.
This is about the time where the people of Alberta start to smell the rot, and throw out a government so past its prime that Methuselah is looking at them cockeyed. This should be the time when the Wildrosers are so far ahead in the polls that a sweep of the province's 87 seats could be within reach, and Danielle Smith would soon be on her way to the Premier's office. It sure as hell should be the moment when Albertans take a look at the centrist and centre-left alternatives that do most certainly exist in their province and say, hey, what have you got to offer that these fools aren't?
Yet these choices are not what Alberta has. Instead, they get a mess and no viable leadership among any of the other parties.
Premier-presumptive Smith is not measuring the drapes in the Premier's office, but is instead sitting as a backbencher in a government caucus she may not even be re-elected to. I mean, I can't even talk about her without laughing at the uselessness of the decision made by her and her fellow defectors. Just watch this video for what I expect the backroom reaction was.
The remaining rump of the Wildrose Party is just that - a rump, and that is what it will remain, if it does at all.
The Liberal Party is not seizing its moment in the sun, but instead is so bereft of appeal and a coherent strategy that I fear for its very survival in the upcoming election. I love David Swann and I'm glad Sherman is gone, but I just don't see where they go from here. The less said about Laurie Blakeman and her pointless "three-in-one" campaign, the better.
The New Democrats are not in any position to challenge the PCs for government, let alone force a minority government, and Notley will likely end up as another footnote Opposition Leader, at best. Its also a sad day when I find the bloody Dippers to be the best-placed alternative party, despite the fact that I know they'll go nowhere.
Don't even get me started on the Alberta Party or Greens, who can only hope to become the next useless third parties in the legislature.
It honestly just kills me to think about this mess, about this farce. All Albertans get to do whenever the next election comes up is rubber stamp another four years of an inept government, or just not bother to come out and vote at all. I will not be surprised if turnout goes below 40% in a provincial election, in the middle of an budget crisis of the government's own making!
Just, crazy. Absolutely crazy.