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Thread: Alberta's Changing Politics

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    Default Alberta's Changing Politics

    There is an increasing sense that the 40 year-old Progressive Conservative government of Alberta is on its last legs. Rather than wondering whether a change in its leadership can save the disintegrating regime, many Albertans are now asking who will succeed it.

    Perhaps the Wildrose Alliance Party (WAP), which is more popular currently than the Conservatives? But many Albertans may be only temporarily lending their support to WAP, while they assess its leadership, policies and organizational skills. And while the growth in WAP support has been fast, it appears to have plateaued - the combined support for the (temporarily defunct) Greens, Liberals and New Democrats exceeds that of either the Conservatives or WAP.

    So, how could those three progressive parties work together to win in 2012? First, we have to acknowledge that most Albertans do not see the NDs, Liberals or the Greens as a potential government. Surveys consistently show the Alberta NDP has 8 - 9 % of the electorate in its camp, but that of course means that it has no chance whatsoever to win by running alone against the other parties. Yet it stubbornly rejects the idea of electoral cooperation.

    As for the Liberals, the name itself, although a proud historic one in other parts of Canada, is unfairly associated with the much-maligned “National Energy Policy” of the federal Liberal Party, which is, of course, completely separate, temporally and organizationally, from today’s provincial party. Furthermore, the party’s leader, Dr. David Swann, has so far been unable to electrify the province with any compelling new vision for Alberta.

    Although Albertans are more supportive of environmental concerns than many other Canadians, no opposition party has been able to own this issue. So what's a progressively inclined voter to do? Green Party supporters, disappointed that the party has been disqualified from running next time, are hoping their Vision 2012 movement can present enough independent candidates (50% of the seats plus one) to morph into an official party.

    Some people think that the newly revived Alberta Party can attract the moderate majority and win government. They think they can organize from scratch, raise money, find a charismatic leader and attractive candidates, and create exciting policies in time give them a chance in the next election, which is expected for 2012.

    This is optimistic, to say the least. Where will the Alberta Party get its votes? The obvious answer is that it will fragment even further the existing middle-of-the-road vote and guarantee a conservative party’s victory.

    Surely centre-left voters don’t want a repetition of 2008, where 12 victorious Conservatives won with less than the combined total of their Green, Liberal and New Democrat opponents. In other words, if those parties had worked together, today’s opposition would be twice as big. So had twice as many opposition members been elected as a result of a cooperation strategy in 2008, more otherwise apathetic or hopeless voters might go to the polls in 2012 believing their votes can make a difference.

    Traditional party members may say that the number of opposition members doesn’t matter - the only goal that’s relevant is one more than half the seats in the Legislature (i. e., a majority win). But we know that many voters will not support perceived fringe parties: they tend to stay home instead of casting a futile ballot.

    New party supporters insist they won’t bleed off Liberal or New Democrat votes. They say they’re after the 60% of the electorate who didn’t vote. But so is everybody. The idea that another party won’t further fragment the non-right wing vote and help the Conservatives or Wild Rose win is preposterous.

    There is another way - combine rather than split the progressive vote, as the Democratic Renewal Project has suggested. A “non-compete” agreement among the progressive parties to allow the strongest of them in each constituency to run unopposed by the others could work. If this can’t be negotiated – and things aren’t looking good for this option at this point – then DRP would recommend the progressive candidate in each riding who has the best chance of winning and voters could place their support strategically to produce a new Legislature with more progressive MLA’s than conservative ones. Then a coalition government could legislate mutually acceptable policies, including electoral reform - some form of Proportional Representation - to bring about a permanent democratic renewal for Alberta. Never again would we have, as at present, a government winning 87% of the seats with only 52.6% of the votes!

    And where does the Alberta Party sit on cooperation? It has no interest in political cooperation - their organizer told me that he thinks the DRP’s strategy is deeply mistaken. Vision 2012 (the unaffiliated Greens) agrees in principle with a cooperative approach, but their only hope of finding 44 candidates (50% of 87 ridings plus 1) lies in many of the constituencies where other progressive parties also are strong. Unless they reach some sort of agreement with the Liberals (recall the NDP still opposes cooperation), we’re doomed to more conservative seats because of centre-left vote-splitting.

    There are other groups who want political change, but it’s unclear how they would fit into a cooperative, progressive electoral strategy. For example, RebootAlberta. The impetus for this reform movement first came from disillusioned “Red Tories” who discovered that changing the sclerotic, regressive government party from within was impossible. Their initial efforts focused on changing the political culture of Alberta so that progressive ideas and political change become respectable in this province, which has an image as a right-wing monolith. Some of their supporters hived off into the Alberta Party, but many of us hope that the “Reboot3” conference in November will discuss other avenues for electoral action, including DRP ideas.

    Only if progressives in Alberta unite rather than fight with each other, can we win: working together can ensure a secure, sustainable future for all Albertans.

    -- Phil Elder

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    I was speaking to an individual who moved from Ontario to Alberta recenty. He was a bit disiullsioned by the poor goverment there. His comment was "Alberta is such a breath of fresh air. Where else in Canada, when people get sick of the conservative party, would they create and support a more right wing one?".

    Where else indeed? This is Alberta, the reason we are the most financially succesful province isn't our "luck", its from good government and smart people who understand that individual responsibility and hard work are what makes a province great.

    I don't think enough people are attracted to wish washy "on the fence" politics for a "centre" or "centre left" party to suceed here, if anything, this is what is turning people off the PC's in droves right now. The proof is in the pudding though, I don't see it changing anytime soon, and I'm glad that's the case.
    Last edited by moahunter; 16-10-2010 at 05:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    I was speaking to an individual who moved from Ontario to Alberta recenty. He was a bit disiullsioned by the poor goverment there. His comment was "Alberta is such a breath of fresh air. Where else in Canada, when people get sick of the conservative party, would they create and support a more right wing one?".

    Where else indeed? This is Alberta, the reason we are the most financially succesful province isn't our "luck", its from good government and smart people who understand that individual responsibility and hard work are what makes a province great.

    I don't think enough people are attracted to wish washy "on the fence" politics for a "centre" or "centre left" party to suceed here, if anything, this is what is turning people off the PC's in droves right now. The proof is in the pudding though, I don't see it changing anytime soon, and I'm glad that's the case.
    Give us a break – the only reason Alberta is " the most financially succesful province" is because of a quirk of geological good fortune – tar sand/gas – don't kid yourself it's anything else. With the resources this province has it's actually shocking how backward it has remained.

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    ^There is just as much natural resource wealth in Bolivia, Sasketchewan, North Korea, South Africa, Russia, you name it, not to mention the natural industrial and geographical advatages of being in locations like Ontario. There is a reason why Oil sands investment happened here first, and not in Venezuela, but if you think good government and hard work / free enterprise has nothing to do with it, u are welcome to go on deluding yourself.
    Last edited by moahunter; 16-10-2010 at 06:50 PM.

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    Considering Alberta became a province in 1905 we are a relative new entity on the political scene. Considering how far we have come in 105 years is an achievement considering there have been two world wars and a couple of recessions in that time.
    Stacked up against countries that have had settlements in some areas for over a thousand years we have been able to build viable cities and created a province that thousands of immigrants have come too and made Alberta their home. In part this province has been shaped by the people and their politics for the last 100+ years. For close to 40 years it has been the PC's. Sure oil and gas wealth have helped this party stay in power but we will never know if any other party would have done the same under the same circumstances. As for people who don't like the province or it's politics maybe they should return to whatever ancient civilization they came from.
    Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
    Considering Alberta became a province in 1905 we are a relative new entity on the political scene. Considering how far we have come in 105 years is an achievement considering there have been two world wars and a couple of recessions in that time.
    Stacked up against countries that have had settlements in some areas for over a thousand years we have been able to build viable cities and created a province that thousands of immigrants have come too and made Alberta their home. In part this province has been shaped by the people and their politics for the last 100+ years. For close to 40 years it has been the PC's. Sure oil and gas wealth have helped this party stay in power but we will never know if any other party would have done the same under the same circumstances. As for people who don't like the province or it's politics maybe they should return to whatever ancient civilization they came from.

    I have to keep reminding people that while Alberta is perceived to be a free-enterprise, right-wing province...

    MOST OF ALBERTA'S RESOURCES ARE STATE-OWNED. That's "SOCIALIZED", NOT PRIVATELY OWNED. This is not Texas.

    I'd say Gemini is 'bang on' in terms of our accomplishments compared to many much older cultures, in terms of schools, literacy rates, health care, infrastructure, businesses, etc. but we can't ignore the impact of these massive and easily attainable and overwhelmingly socialized, state-owned resources.

    However, that last comment suggesting people should leave, fails to recognize that for the last hundred years people that didn't like the province or its politics have been changing it to better suit themselves.

    Alberta's oldest heritage and many of its accomplishments were attained by a group of mainly british immigrants plus many from other parts of Canada, the Ukraine, Germany, USA, Japan, China, etc. So many of the earliest immigrants were from ancient, non-british countries with very different politics. I suspect many weren't comfortable with the province or its politics from day one. Though in order to live here they all agreed to be british subjects and later to be citizens of Canada, many said, screw heritage and the screw the past, lets now change this province to suit our own needs and desires. Hence many of our accomplishments.

    Moreover the majority of those EXTREMELY HARDY, TRULY PIONEERING SOULS voted in Liberal governments for many years. That's a fact that's very hard for many of today's Albertans to reconcile with their dogmatic beliefs defining Albertans.

    P.S. I believe it was American and eastern interests that first got Albertans going on oil and gas development. We didn't do it on our own - the big money like Standard Oil and the CPR got it going (Pan Canadian and possibly Freehold Royalty trust I believe contained some of the old CPR private resource interests). And then academics like Karl Clark got the oil sands going.
    Last edited by KC; 17-10-2010 at 03:02 PM.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    Moreover the majority of those EXTREMELY HARDY, TRULY PIONEERING SOULS voted in Liberal governments for many years. That's a fact that's very hard for many of today's Albertans to reconcile with their dogmatic beliefs defining Albertans
    I think that's possible in the early years when the hardships of life must have made many pine for a better social safety net. But I think once people saw how successful conservative policies were in growing the economy, creating tax dollars to build fine universities and other luxuries, the attitudes changed. Also, I think the Ukrainian / Eastern European views (people who saw their communities destroyed by socialism / communism) have had a huge impact on the politics / governance / attitudes of this province, perhaps more so than English attitudes, and we are better off for it.

  8. #8

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    I think most Albertans have a deep distrust of Liberals because of the National Energy Policy. Albertans know that the province thrives when the oil/gas patch is humming. They tend to think that Federal Politics should not interfere with it. When Trudeau invoked the NEP it ticked Albertans off no end. To this day older Albertans still remember it. The Liberal Party is also perceived as a eastern party and what has the east ever done for us?.
    Most of the first wave of immigrants when the province was first formed (1905) were from Europe so politics were shaped by them. The two great wars shaped things even further. I can't see any other party except the P.C. ruling Alberta for quite some time. The Liberals/NDP/Wildrose just do'nt seem to have strong leadership. Not that I am saying Ed Stelmach is a Pied Piper I just think people will vote for the devil they know and not the one they don't.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
    I think most Albertans have a deep distrust of Liberals because of the National Energy Policy. Albertans know that the province thrives when the oil/gas patch is humming. They tend to think that Federal Politics should not interfere with it. When Trudeau invoked the NEP it ticked Albertans off no end. To this day older Albertans still remember it. The Liberal Party is also perceived as a eastern party and what has the east ever done for us?.
    Most of the first wave of immigrants when the province was first formed (1905) were from Europe so politics were shaped by them. The two great wars shaped things even further. I can't see any other party except the P.C. ruling Alberta for quite some time. The Liberals/NDP/Wildrose just do'nt seem to have strong leadership. Not that I am saying Ed Stelmach is a Pied Piper I just think people will vote for the devil they know and not the one they don't.
    Sadly you're probably right. The old “that'll do attitude” - nowhere I've ever lived has embraced mediocrity with quite the enthusiasm of Alberta.

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    Quote Originally Posted by andy8244 View Post
    Sadly you're probably right. The old “that'll do attitude” - nowhere I've ever lived has embraced mediocrity with quite the enthusiasm of Alberta.
    You should travel to the UK sometime if you want to see depressed cynical people living in mediocrity, depressed economy, and only past glories to keep heads up long enough to find a drink to gloom and doom some more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by andy8244 View Post
    Sadly you're probably right. The old “that'll do attitude” - nowhere I've ever lived has embraced mediocrity with quite the enthusiasm of Alberta.
    sorry andy8244 - your post probably reflects your particular view of the world and of alberta a great deal more than it reflects what is truly embraced with enthusiasm in alberta...
    "If you did not want much, there was plenty." Harper Lee

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    ^There is just as much natural resource wealth in Bolivia, Sasketchewan, North Korea, South Africa, Russia, you name it, not to mention the natural industrial and geographical advatages of being in locations like Ontario. There is a reason why Oil sands investment happened here first, and not in Venezuela, but if you think good government and hard work / free enterprise has nothing to do with it, u are welcome to go on deluding yourself.
    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    MOST OF ALBERTA'S RESOURCES ARE STATE-OWNED. That's "SOCIALIZED", NOT PRIVATELY OWNED. This is not Texas.
    But we give them away for a tiny fraction of their real value. Saskatchewan's royalty and taxation policies may have slowed their oil industry relative to Alberta's, but we'll see who has the last laugh when our oil industry is in decline and Saskatchewan sells their oil at much higher prices.

  13. #13

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    ^what, you mean when Oil is no longer the main fuel for the economy? Electric cars are just around the corner, oil will remain important, but not as critical as it is right now. Lets not forget, if Alberta could take back the huge equalization distortion it contributes primarily to Quebec (via Alberta Federal tax dollars being invested there), we would have a fund similar to Norways (Norway being a country that stayed out of the EU because they didn't want to share the wealth like Alberta has with the rest of Canada).

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    It would indeed be ironic if the governing party had its knees knocked out from under itself just as it rediscovered the word "progressive" in its name.

    WildRose has shown its criminal sleaze and filth fully in the course of its association with EnvisionEdmonton.

    For the moment I choose to be vaguely optimistic there are enough Albertans not debrained enough to fall for it. I could be wrong, of course.

  15. #15

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    People forget that oil produces plenty of by-products that have nothing to do with running vehicles etc:
    Oil/Gas may be our main revenue but we still have the wheat fields/farming and forestry. Back to oil/gas, it seems Danny Williams has laid claim to what Newfoundland will do with it's off shore oil and gas. He seems to be a force to be reckoned with.
    Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by andy8244 View Post
    Sadly you're probably right. The old “that'll do attitude” - nowhere I've ever lived has embraced mediocrity with quite the enthusiasm of Alberta.
    You should travel to the UK sometime if you want to see depressed cynical people living in mediocrity, depressed economy, and only past glories to keep heads up long enough to find a drink to gloom and doom some more.
    Yes, look at where their politics have got them. A population that wants to live anywhere but there and a young generation that binge drink every weekend. Even on our worst day I dont think our politics are as fractured as theirs is right now. Unfortunately I think some of their policies might jump the pond. I can see Canada raising it's retirement age like they have.
    Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

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    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    It would indeed be ironic if the governing party had its knees knocked out from under itself just as it rediscovered the word "progressive" in its name.

    WildRose has shown its criminal sleaze and filth fully in the course of its association with Envision Edmonton.

    For the moment I choose to be vaguely optimistic there are enough Albertans not debrained enough to fall for it. I could be wrong, of course.
    Wildrose may have lost a few fans in Edmonton because of their interference in EE but I do'nt think the rest of Alberta will notice.
    Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

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    ^That may be enough. The PC collapse is not as total as the tea-bagger shills like to make out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kcantor View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by andy8244 View Post
    Sadly you're probably right. The old “that'll do attitude” - nowhere I've ever lived has embraced mediocrity with quite the enthusiasm of Alberta.
    sorry andy8244 - your post probably reflects your particular view of the world and of alberta a great deal more than it reflects what is truly embraced with enthusiasm in alberta...
    ...which is what exactly?

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    Moreover the majority of those EXTREMELY HARDY, TRULY PIONEERING SOULS voted in Liberal governments for many years. That's a fact that's very hard for many of today's Albertans to reconcile with their dogmatic beliefs defining Albertans
    I think that's possible in the early years when the hardships of life must have made many pine for a better social safety net. But I think once people saw how successful conservative policies were in growing the economy, creating tax dollars to build fine universities and other luxuries, the attitudes changed. Also, I think the Ukrainian / Eastern European views (people who saw their communities destroyed by socialism / communism) have had a huge impact on the politics / governance / attitudes of this province, perhaps more so than English attitudes, and we are better off for it.
    Excellent points. I fully agree. Also, basically once many of the harsh necessities of life were looked after (via infrastructure buildout and basic social programs) the populous tended to shift politically to the right.

    As one guy I worked with would say - 'notice that the harsher the environment the more socialistic the people'.

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    It would indeed be ironic if the governing party had its knees knocked out from under itself just as it rediscovered the word "progressive" in its name.

    WildRose has shown its criminal sleaze and filth fully in the course of its association with Envision Edmonton.

    For the moment I choose to be vaguely optimistic there are enough Albertans not debrained enough to fall for it. I could be wrong, of course.
    Wildrose may have lost a few fans in Edmonton because of their interference in EE but I do'nt think the rest of Alberta will notice.
    IMO their interference was less about their support for the airport and more about their support for direct democracy. I'm disappointed they waded into the debate but at this point I wouldn't lump them in with EE. I think their intent is to move on from their mistake and not revisit the issue. If they do, many would-be supporters (including myself) would probably side with Mandel and the CoE.

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    ^There is no such thing as direct democracy once the number of electors cannot fit a city market.

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    ^perhaps, in a way I think better to have good leaders making decisions. On the other hand, the way technology is evolving, I can see a time not to far away where everyone votes on issues from tv, phone, computer, or similar.

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    Alberta's Changing Politics? I love the title of this thread.

    In other parts of the world they chant “4 move years, 4 more years!” in Alberta they chant “40 more years, 40 more years!!

  25. #25

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    Electing the same inefficient, arrogant group of people who have never made any attempt to represent the wishes of Alberta voters is electing to be ruled by a dictatorship. So keep voting for majority, long term leadership.

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