The PC’s could lose because the Calgary Base is still miffed about Stelmach beating out their boy in the Leadership convention. It’s ironic that disenchantment may down poor Ed’s short reign after Albertans kept that total turd Klein in power for years.
However, Taft is a big zero IMO - I’m NOT voting Liberal for the first time in years.
A bit of history… The Tories governed Ontario for 42 years, from 1943 to 1985. Especially during the Bill Davis years, nobody thought Ontario would vote anything other than Tory. But in the 1985 election, party leader Frank Miller only managed a minority government, and his government fell in a vote of non-confidence. David Peterson of the Liberals formed a government, and then in 1990, Bob Rae and his NDP were elected to government. It is arguable whether Ontarians actually wanted an NDP government; the feeling at the time was that people voted NDP as a protest against the directionless Tories under Larry Grossman and the tax-happy Peterson Liberals, never expecting the NDP to get in. But enough voters voted for them to make sure they did.
To call Rae’s government a “cluster-fuck” is perhaps a bit unkind. It was elected just as Canada was heading into a recession. This did not help matters, especially when the NDP tried implementing its platform, which depended on good economic times and a healthy tax base. The more Ontarians who lost their jobs in those days, the more the NDP had to tax those who were working. Easier qualifications for welfare and social assistance meant that Canadians from other parts of the country who were victims of the recession could come to Ontario, which stretched the province’s funds even more. To save money, Rae gave provincial employees 12 days off without pay in a year, which did not endear Rae to these folks or their union. It also helped to alienate Rae from the NDP’s traditional union support–if a party that makes a lot out of its support of organized labour can run roughshod over OPSEU, what’s next?
Rae (and his finance minister, “Pink” Floyd Laughrin) made many mistakes, but a country-wide recession was beyond their control. Their inability to govern was more a function of their belief that Ontario was not affected by outside economic pressures; or that if it was, they could fix those problems, at least within Ontario. I’m not defending Rae–I certainly suffered during those years due to his policies–but I’m just pointing out that any party who formed a government in 1990 in Ontario would have had the same troubles that Rae did: high unemployment, a shrinking tax base, and a tax-weary population.
What does this have to do with today’s Alberta? Alberta is currently in a similar “Tory dynasty” period, and economic times here are good; conditions are much like the Bill Davis years in Ontario. Moreover, the word that means most to Albertans at times like this is “taxes,” and who will keep them low. So even without looking to Ontario’s Bob Rae experience, Albertans who hate taxes (which seems to be most of them), will vote Tory. But there’s more to it than just that: the conditions that gave rise to Peterson in the 80s and then Rae in 1990 in Ontario just don’t exist in today’s Alberta. So there is unlikely to be any change to the status quo; from what I can tell from the word on the street, Albertans are pretty happy with things the way they are and see no need for change. Just like Ontarians did for 42 years.
Alberta is more conservative than Ontario was. Alberta is more conservative than most U.S. states, including a lot of the red states. And the fact is, under the continuous rule of the Alberta PCs, Alberta has by far the lowest taxes in Canada, the strongest economy, the fewest regulations, the highest amount of internal immigration, etc. And it’s not just because of resources - Alberta has had the strongest economy in Canada for a long time - long before the oil sands took off.
Saskatchewan under the NDP has been moribund. Until very recently, its population was actually shrinking. Health care sucked, taxes were high. And Saskatchewan has huge national resources just like Alberta does. The difference is that Alberta went out of its way to embrace business, diversify the economy, and when times were tough we cut government spending ruthlessly rather than raise taxes.
That’s why I say Alberta will not vote for anything but PC until the PCs give us a reason to vote for someone else. So far, they haven’t.
Well let’s be fair about Saskatchewan - the Tories didn’t do a great job there from 82 on, and I say this as no fan of the NDP. Saskatchewan’s population has been fixed at 1M people, +/- 20k, since the early 1980s.
The Liberals actually had a breakthrough in Calgary last time around, winning a number of seats. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple more turn that way. The demographic shifts from all the new voters coming into the province (an estimated 300k) has to have an effect sometime. Especially if the Wildrose Party is effective in siphoning off votes from the right. They seem to be learning the lesson of some of the other startup parties in controlling/keeping out the nutbars.
Earlier this year I had thought we were headed towards a minority PC government, and while I don’t think that anymore, I think the PCs have a little bit more eaten out of their lead, down to around 55, 56 seats.
The last time I looked up the data, Alberta’s oil royalties were more than Saskatchewan’s total provincial budget. The idea that the differences between the provinces are predominantly due to the NDP/PC governments is largely a conservative fantasy.
I don’t know what the revenue projections are today, but the last time I looked it up a couple of years ago, Alberta was contributing about half its revenue to the federal government in equalization payments. And other provinces that weren’t doing nearly as well were earning more money per capita from equalization than Alberta was earning in royalties (after deducting the equalization payment). And yet, Alberta’s economy was very strong. There’s more to Alberta’s success than oil revenues. Alberta had the strongest economy in Canada back when oil revenues were very low.
I was just visiting my mother in Calgary and I saw signs for Arthur Kent, running for the PCs. It amused me.
From what I have been told, Klein left a bit of a mess. However, I don’t know if another government would have been any better off considering what Alberta has gone through in the last 10 years.
Are enough people fed up with things in the province to vote in the Liberals? I don’t know the answer to that. Can the Liberals or SoCreds or whoever else manage the province in a better way going forward? I don’t know that either.
You often hear about how the PCs have been in power since Lougheed in the early 70s, but people have been happy enough to keep the PCs in power even with a couple of lame, by comparison to Lougheed, leaders.
The tradition in Alberta has been for a party, after an explosion in popularity, to rule for a fairly long period of time. Of the three historic explosions, two have been rural (United Farmers of Alberta in 1921 and Social Credit in 1935), and one urban (Progressive Conservatives in 1971).
More telling, perhaps, are the reasons for the three explosions: the Liberals who ruled pre-1921 had alienated the UFA with their farm policy, the UFA in 1935 had suffered from scandals, and Social Credit in 1971 was an aging party that had ignored Calgary and Edmonton for too long.
Given that history, my guess is 1) that, unless something like one of these three issues (alienated base, scandal, or ignoring demographic changes) hits in on a large level, the Progressive Conservatives should continue to rule, and 2) Of the three major opposition party, Wildrose seems to be designed best to take over if the Progressive Conservatives crumble, as the NDP and Liberals have, even in their best years, not shown concerted strength outside of Edmonton.
Your first claim was that “Saskatchewan has huge natural resources, just like Alberta does” but that its economy is “moribund” due to high taxes & etc.
Now, I pointed out that Alberta’s natural resources are huge in a way that Saskatchewan’s are not - the Alberta provincial government receives vastly more in oil revenues than Saskatchewan’s does. Now you say “Oh, but that all goes to the feds for transfer payments”. Well, to a certain extent, sure. But that wasn’t what you were claiming. Still, even after Ottawa takes its cut, Alberta has significantly more $/capita to play with than Saskatchewan does (cites available on request). It’s easy to say that taxes should be lowered when you have so much non-tax revenue, but most other provinces simply don’t have that luxury. Our previous commu^h^h^h^h^hsocialist government was already spending 15% less per capita than your small-government conservatives are (the Sask Party hasn’t brought down a budget yet). If our government tries to operate the way that yours does, we’d be so deep in red ink the ag sector could use it to irrigate.
To repeat: the idea that the differences between Saskatchewan and Alberta are largely due to their respective governments is a conservative fantasy.
All that said, the economy is booming here too, so I think the “moribund” comments are a tad out of date.
You keep saying this, but never explain quite how you come to this conclusion. What’s your yardstick for conservatism? “Conservative” could mean any one of a thousand things.
I could quite reasonably argue that Ontario is the most conservative of all provinces. It is certainly the most resistant to political change at the federal level. I could argue that George W. Bush is the least conservative President of my lifetime.