I witnessed the death of a dynasty this past week. The 44-year reign of the Progressive Conservatives in Alberta came to a crashing, embarrassing end on Tuesday night as their majority government turned into dust. They got their asses handed to them by a socialist party — the NDP. This was such a monumental political shift that I liken it to Bernie Sanders winning the gubernatorial election in Texas.
Given their lack of relevancy in Alberta politics until last Tuesday, the NDP party has many rookies, some of whom appear to be inappropriate to lead the economic engine of Canada, and the best performing economy in North America for the last decade.
For example, Deborah Drever, the new NDP MLA for Calgary-Bow, posted a picture of herself on Facebook enthusiastically rocking out with some cannabis attire. Another picture showed the Canadian flag being fingered… how patriotic. When asked about the one finger salute to our nation’s flag, she said it wasn’t her. Regardless, posting it is an endorsement in my opinion. Canada’s forefathers would be ashamed.
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Then there is Rod Loyola, the NDP MLA/rapper/Hugo Chavez aficionado who seems to think the Venezuelan oil nationalization idea is a decent strategy. Originally from Chile, Loyola was quoted in Metro News stating “When a country like Venezuela gets over 80 per cent of its petroleum back – for us this is a foretelling of a socialist future to come. Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba. They all want more for their people.”
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Well that’s reassuring… maybe he sees nationalization in the future for Alberta’s oil sands? I’m sure that would be good for the economy.
There’s also a yoga instructor, more than one post-secondary student and the youngest MLA in Alberta’s history, all of whom were elected for this socialist party. These are some of the new leaders of Alberta, a staunchly conservative region that has more entrepreneurs per capita than any other province in Canada.
A few years back, when I moved to Alberta (Canada’s version of Texas) from beautiful British Columbia (Canada’s version of California), I took comfort in three inherent constants in Alberta: friendly people, the Rocky Mountains and conservative politics.
While the first two are still here, the third is no longer…
My first response was to blame it on all the ‘transplants’ from back east who moved to Alberta over the last decade in search of jobs. Clearly the ‘transplants’ had something to do with this election, I thought. They must have kept their socialist political beliefs, despite running from their lagging economies years ago…
But that isn’t why Alberta is now a socialist province. Nope. Not at all.
The reason Alberta is now a socialist province is because of Albertans…
I’m ‘socially inappropriate’ according to the rules of social etiquette. I really enjoy talking about things like religion and politics with people, particularly if we hold different viewpoints. This is, after all, how one learns. So when the Conservatives lost the election on Tuesday, I went searching for answers as to how this happened. I was hoping to simply blame it on all the Eastern ‘transplants’ (solidifying my suspicions) and call it a day… but my recent conversations revealed a much different result.
I have friends in Alberta who are transplants, as well as those who were born and raised in this wonderful province. To my surprise, most of the transplants — predominantly those from BC and Ontario (even a Quebecer!) — were as shocked and disappointed with the election result as I. You see, being from BC, Quebec and Ontario, we are well aware of the NDP party’s track record and their atrociously anti-business platform. (I’m hoping and praying Alberta’s NDP will be different…)
During the 90s, those living in BC and Ontario experienced the destruction of the NDP’s economic policies first-hand. BC went from first in economic growth just prior to the NDP takeover to last in the nation a few years into the socialist reign. Since then, the NDP has never been back in BC. And that’s saying a hell of a lot about the NDP given that BC is as socially left as any province in Canada. Ontario experienced a similar result during the NDP’s Reign of Error in the 90s as well. And they too have never gone back.
It was when I started talking to born and raised Albertans that I figured out how the NDP won a majority in this historically conservative province…
An unprecedented amount of Albertans voted NDP because they were fed up with the Progressive Conservatives’ years of mismanagement. One friend even explained to me how he had voted PC or Wild Rose (Alberta’s version of the Tea Party) his entire life, until this year. He voted NDP solely because he was pissed-off at the Progressive Conservatives for “not being honest.” It was an emotional vote, strictly out of anger and was meant to stick it to the party he had supported almost his entire voting life. After learning about his turncoat vote, I asked him if he knew the NDP’s track record… he didn’t. Shockingly, he had no clue about the damage the NDP inflicted on neighbouring provinces of BC and Saskatchewan in prior years. In fact, he thought Saskatchewan was still ran by the NDP! (it has been a conservative province for nearly a decade and has thrived ever since).
When quizzing other Albertans about the NDP, after they told me they voted for the socialist party, I discovered that not one person truly understood their political platform! Yet every born and raised Albertan who voted NDP did so for the same reason: to stick it to the Conservatives.
Shockingly, one friend said she voted for the NDP because her teenaged daughter informed her it was the best decision! What more can I say…
While I understand their frustrations, many Albertans, and much of the country for that matter, appear to have little knowledge about what political platform they are voting for. Many people often vote based on semantics and emotion. And that’s probably why Alberta, the once epicentre of Canadian Conservatism, is now a socialist province.
Things such as how the politician looks and what beer they drank at a cookout resonate more with many disengaged voters than what the leader actually believes is right for the economy.
In four years, when it’s all said and done, this vote will undoubtedly wake Alberta up. The lesson may be painful, but it should educate the province’s voters and encourage them to do their homework before letting their emotions get the best of them at the ballot box again. On the flip side, Rachel Notley (NDP leader) could prove all the peanut gallery members (myself included) wrong, and, dare I say, start an NDP dynasty in Alberta…
Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives became a party that tried to please everyone and, in the process, lost their identity. They lost grip of their party principles and no longer reflected the values of conservatism; not to mention all the corruption allegations against the party over the last several years. Previous leader Alison Redford all but sealed the party’s fate with one rumoured scandal after another.
In short, after 44 years, the PCs became a party of complacency, entitlements and waste. Resting on their laurels, the Progressive Conservatives blew through a good chunk of the Heritage Fund and other critical savings Albertans had worked hard to accumulate for the past 30 years; then proceeded to blame Albertans for the financial downfall of the province… zero accountability.
The PCs got cocky and stopped focusing on the things that Peter Lougheed and Ralph Klein instilled in the party’s platform. They deserved to lose. It’s just unfortunate that because of their mismanagement, Alberta will be “brought to its knees” according to Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary. He continued, “Alberta was the shining light of capitalism in North America. Now it’s falled off the cliff into a socialist bog.”
Socialism doesn’t work. It never will. However, as seen with Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives, resting on your laurels, forgetting where you came from, and trying to please everyone never works, either.