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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

My take on the Alberta NDP win, for what it's worth

Back when I started blogging, I used to dabble in political commentary so here's a throwback. My take on the NDP win in Alberta, for anyone who cares what my opinion is is that it is interesting, a bit surprising, but I wouldn’t use words like "shocking".

Over the past couple of decades Alberta’s population has swelled due to two reasons: international immigration, where having a leftish or labour governments is not foreign to them; or migration from other provinces, most of which have had NDP governments in recent memory. For either group an “NDP (or like) government” is not some strange anomaly. In fact, having a single party ruling for 40-something years and expected to rule for 40 more would only be familiar to those from places like China or the Eastern Block.

Off the top of my head, I can think of four or five friends who went out there as young 20-somethings to make gobs of money and party good portions of it away on the weekends. They had a ball. Now, those people are older, most are homeowners, some have kids. I’m guessing if you asked them to rank their priorities, “make gobs of money” and “great parties” probably don’t rank number one and two on their life lists anymore.

There are tens, surely, hundreds of thousands of people like them in Alberta and they simply supplanted what the rest of the country thinks of as the stereotypical Albertan.

Thanks to U.S. election coverage and U.S.-style campaign tactics and hate ads here, its been ingrained that there are huge differences between the parties. But I am guessing in Alberta, just as here, the differences aren’t as great as the bogeyman makes them out to be.

I am sure if you took three middle years from Filmon’s tenure, a couple of years from Carstairs’ Liberals and three middle years from Doer’s tenure and put them side by side, erasing any part names, you wouldn’t see many remarkable differences, just variations on a theme. That's the reality of politics - you can't just unleash your party's policy convention resolutions on a province. Alberta will survive this.

Some trivia: if you think Selinger’s 1% PST increase got people going, it was the TORIES that brought in the PST in the first place in the 1960s – from nothing to 5%! The last balanced budget the province had was under the Liberals. Duff Roblin had unprecedented spending levels during his reign - I would imagine record setting. He spent hundreds of millions, probably tens of billions if converted for inflation to today’s dollars, to construct university buildings, hospitals and the Red River Floodway.

Yet, if you asked people what the provincial parties traditionally stand for, they'd run off a list of what they THINK the parties stand for, not reality.

Good luck to the NDP in Alberta, they'll need it. Going from the wilderness to governing overnight is a huge leap and not all parties make the adjustment well. they'll also find out why its important to choose candidates wisely, even in seats that you think you would never, ever win !

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