Friday, March 27, 2015

The Farce That Is Alberta Politics

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.

17 comments:

  1. I had a dream that the Liberals and NDP ran on a joint list.

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  2. Agree with every word you said here. The upcoming election will see a low turn out and Prentice walking to victory.

    I think Prentice is a competent guy. He will probably be better than the last three or four premiers Alberta had. I feel he could be a bit more bold on policy. If income taxes are being increased then corporate taxes should be looked at too.

    The NDP will become official opposition. Notley and her party will be the moral conscience of the legislature but with no threat to power. The Wildrose rump will likely be the voice of rural Alberta and "old" Alberta.

    The PC free reign will not last forever. I believe the next party to govern Alberta will be to the left of the PCs. Progressives should not rely on a messiah like Naheed Nenshi to save them. But they should work on the ground up, attract and nurture talent.

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  3. I've been watching this about Albertan politics for decades now, and I do not understand it at all. For a society that supposedly has a sophisticated political culture it more closely resembles watching the old time Iron Block nations or even the USSR when it comes to how their actual reality of Provincial governments go. As much as I found Wildrose repugnant personally, I was happy to see them appear to be finally breaking that stasis lock within the Albertan Provincial context. I still remember when Conservative voices federally from Alberta were denouncing the strength of the Chretien Liberals for looking like a one party state with far Far FAR less to actually base it on that what Alberta was already living without once appearing to notice that inherent hypocrisy with their own home.

    Being a Bluenoser I have no say in Albertan politics nor do I think I should. I am though a political observer for all of my life and it is only Albertan politics that I find I cannot understand the existence of. BC politics, while occasionally on the weird side I can make sense of, same with Quebec even though it infuriates me from time to time and the other Provinces are fairly straightforward. Alberta though, they I don't get, and their smug attitude about how their excrement doesn't smell and the rest of us should be thanking them for being our saviours, well that got really grating a long time ago. Now that the oil bust has happened again though I expect suddenly we we hear how important the rest of us are for them again now that they don't have that shield called the energy sector from the reality the rest of the Provinces have to deal with.

    Scotian

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  4. It should be the time....However, the Liberal party idiotically picked Raj Sherman as leader. He is able and qualified but, in the most conservative and redneck province in the country picking a brown guy as your leader is an exercise in stupidity and ultimately futility. It doesn't help that he really is a one trick healthcare pony.

    As for Danielle Smith-she is a PC now. I don't have any great insight as to why she crossed the floor but, the poll numbers were not predicting a Wildrose governmment. Obviously given the last 8 weeks and budget the next set of polls may be quite different but, the numbers weren't their for Smith and one presumes neither was her stomach.

    As much as Albertans should blame the PCs they really need to point their fingers at themselves. They continually elect Legislative Assemblies with weak oppositions. The Westminster system works well and performs at its optimum when Government is held to account-that has not been the case in Alberta and so the rot imperceptibly set in. Our system is meant for legislation to be amended yet, once again without an effective opposition educating the public and allowing the public to become inform and put pressure on the Government, poor legislation and governance is the inevitable result. Albertans hold blame for this for their disinterest in their own governance and blind following of a party and ideology. Unfortunately, it will take a long time for the culture to recover and become one of an informed and educated citizenry.

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    1. Sherman resigned, didn't you know?

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  5. No I didn't know. Thanks for the update. It's too bad in a way because he was quite personable but, he was the wrong fit for Alberta politics and he was holding the party back in my opinion. The only danger is if a snap election call comes before they are able to select a new leader. However, David Swann is more than capable of running a campaign even as an interim leader.

    All-inall a very positive development but, for my money I would bet on Wildrose remain the Official Opposition.

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    1. Have the Liberals been able to re-register the 53 riding associations that were dissolved by Elections Alberta due to the party not filing financial statements?

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  6. I don't know why Liberal should be upset about what is happening in Alberta. You guys are in power! Redford and now Prentice have governed no differently than Liberals in BC, Ontario, Quebec, or the Atlantic Provinces. The most recent budget was certainly more progressive than anything to come out of the BC or Quebec Liberal governments and, overall, given the Alberta PCs are not privatizing Crown corporations, I'd say the Prentice government is more progressive than Wynne's outfit, too.

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    1. Because if Liberals had done thing right they would be knocking on the door of Government, instead they are a long shot! Prentice and Redford my be on the left side of the PC party but, they are also a long way off from being truly liberal. The difference between the tansit system of Vancouver and Calgary or Edmonton are good example of how that difference between Liberal governemnts even blue ones a la Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark and Progressive Conservative governments place emphasis of very different priorities.

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    2. Um, Vancouver is much larger and denser than Edmonton or Calgary - that is why it has a better transit system.

      Do you have any other examples of who Liberal governments are different from the current Alberta one?

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    3. Jordan,

      30 years ago when Vancouver had the same population as Edmonton or Calgary the transit system was better. But one can look at tax rates which are lower in BC for anyone making approximately $72,000 or less yet, are still progressive. Or one can look at the antiquated education system in Alberta where for some strange and discriminatory reasons a certain religion has their own school system that is funded by tax payers!

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    4. Um, Vancouver has always been bigger than Calgary or Edmonton.

      Alberta has two school systems because of the historically large Francophone and Metis populations.

      A big reason BC policies are more progressive overall is because of the strong NDP presence in the province.

      The BC Liberal Party is essentially Social Credit after the Tory, Gordon Campbell orchestrated a reverse-takeover of the Liberal Party. On economic issues, they are almost indistinguishable from the Alberta PCs. Ralph Klein and Gordon Campbell were both right-wing and privatized and cut very deeply. Clark and Stelmach, Redford, and Prentice have all been more moderate, but still conservative overall.

      And in Ontario, the Liberal Party right now is being even more conservative than the Alberta PCs or BC Liberals are they are planning to sell-off Ontario Hydro. Wynne is taking a page right out of Mike Harris; book and finishing what he started in 1995.

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    5. Cute, but I dislike any government that I find incompetent, no matter the colours Jordan. That includes even my own here in Ontario.

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  8. Jordan,

    Yes vancouver has always been larger, more asethetically pleasing and filled with more intelligent and better looking people than Edmonton or Calgary-simply put better-there is no denying these facts. However, when Vancouver had a million people roughly the population of Edmonton and Calgary today, we had a better transit system even though it was mostly buses.

    It is strange you use language and the Metis to justify what is essentially preferrential treatment for a particular religion. In the first place Francophones account for 2% of Alberta's population. Secondly, the Metis are not homogeneously Catholic, French speaking or primarily descended from a single European or Aboriginal culture. I worked for Metis in Alberta some years ago and my direct boss was Metis of Norwegian and Cree descent and my indirect boss was of English descent and raised an Anglican. So it is incorrect to assume Metis are a homogenous community or population, they have just a full and diverse population as Canadians in general. Discrimination is discrimination and a large reason it still exists in the publicly funded Alberta education system is due to conservative governments over the last 84 years. Other than Ontario where the Catholic school system is constitutionally entrenched you do not get separate school systems in provinces where Liberal governments are elected.

    It is very presumptuous to assume Gordon Campbell is a Tory, I am almost positive that is incorrect since, he at one point ran for a Civic party T.E.A.M that was affiliated with the Liberals. Secondly Mr. Campbell's approach to First Nation and Aboriginal issues and traties are notably divergent from Alberta. There is no treaty process in Alberta even though Metis for instance have at least partially unresolved claims. The Alberta Governemnt argues script has resolved these claims even though the Courts and common sense have come to a far different conclusion.

    On economic issues there are quite a few differences not least of which are the Governments' approach to income tax and consumption taxes. Even the 2015 Prentice budget keeps income tax at 10% for most Albertans and only slightly raises it in subsequent years to 11.5% for high income earners. By contrast the highest rate for BC personal income tax is 16.8%. BC has a consumption tax, Alberta does not. In terms of overall strategy or goal BC's goal is to return to a AAA+ credit rating, Alberta's goal seems to be to keep taxes low, I would suggest that is a significant divergence.

    Gordon Campbell did cut but, I'm not sure how deeply and for the life of me I can not think of a single thing that he priivatised. BC Ferries was nominally privatised with a single shareholder; The Government of British Columbia. So in fact it was not privatised at all- a new management team was brought in.

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  10. So Jordan, will you respond or are you simply one of those people who speak ill of former premiers due to a ideology not fact?

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