I haven't been paying very much attention to Alberta politics, but I didn't really think change was necessary in Alberta. Given Alberta's relative success (relative to the other provinces) and conservative politics, the concept of "change" makes me uneasy. Will a less conservative premier more heavily regulate the oil industry, thus weakening Alberta's economy?
Here's a chilling passage from the Edmonton Journal:
Jacquie Eales voted for Alison Redford on her way home from her 13-year-old daughter’s basketball game.
The 47-year-old Edmontonian, a liberal at heart, didn’t vote on the first ballot. In truth, she says, the Progressive Conservative leadership race wasn’t on her radar.
Then, on the way into work one morning, she heard Redford on the radio.
“She talked about the importance of education and health care, and those are two things that are important to me,” Eales said Monday.
“It’s unlikely that there will ever be a Liberal leader in Alberta, so I thought, if I want to make a difference in terms of education and health care, perhaps I need to buy a PC membership and vote for a candidate who might have a chance.”
But she didn’t immediately buy a membership. That point came when a friend involved with the advocacy group Friends of Medicare sent her an email highlighting Redford’s support for public health care. “I thought, if I want to make a difference, I have to vote.”Redford might as well be a Liberal. The thought of a Liberal leading Alberta is frightening. One of my favorite things about Alberta is its relatively conservative politics. Here's an even more chilling passage (from the same article):
“I don’t think Mar did himself any favours musing about having a debate about privatizing health care,” Duffy said. “I don’t know which is worse, talking about it or trying to run away from it, but that’s the worst of both worlds.”
He said Redford’s campaign ran on a classic public-services platform.
“So here you’ve got Redford talking about education, reaching out to soccer moms, and then Mar starts talking about privatizing medicare,” he said.So, not only does Alberta now have a CINO (Conservative in Name Only) premier, but the favourite would have considered privatizing health care. Think about what Alberta could have had!
“At that point, you’ve got a classic set up between an in touch, family-responsive candidate who wants to deliver public services, and an out-of-touch business guy. ... It’s a perfect contrast.
Hopefully, Redford's premiership ends after the next election, which will apparently be soon. While the Progressive Conservative Party has governed Alberta for about 40 years, that is because Alberta is a conservative place. Fortunately, conservatives in Alberta have another option, the Wildrose Party, a formerly minor party, that has been making significant gains in polls, even winning one by a wide margin (in 2009). To me, this party resembles the Tea Party movement. It is a fiscally conservative, right-libertarian party with a social conservative branch. With the Progressive Conservative Party moving leftward, the Wildrose Party's niche is expanding, and the Progressive Conservative dynasty in Alberta may hopefully end soon. It is worth mentioning that the election Redford won had two parts. Voters wrote two names on their ballots. In the first part, only the first name on each ballot was counted. If there was not a majority, the third place candidate's votes were given to the candidate whose name appeared on the ballots that originally went to the third place candidate. After the first round, Gary Mar had a plurality of the votes, while Alison Redford gained a narrow majority after the second round. What this means is that Redford did not win the election convincingly, which is good for the Wildrose Party, which will likely attract disgruntled Conservatives next election. It is also worth mentioning that many people apparently joined the Progressive Conservative Party just to vote for Redford.
Here are some Wildrose Party ideas/observations that I particularly like:
Perhaps the election of Alison Redford is a blessing in disguise, as one-party dynasties tend to engender corruption. Hopefully, the Wildrose Party will continue to gain momentum and make Alberta politics more competitive.