By Emma Teitel - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 0 Comments
It only takes 140 characters to make a fool of someone. Exhibits A through H
Ann Coulter, conservative pundit
The professional firebrand made headlines after the final presidential debate in October when she tweeted this: “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.” President Obama didn’t seem to mind, but a Special Olympian with Down syndrome did. John Franklin Stephens, 30, asked for an apology to the special-needs community. “Come on Ms. Coulter,” he pleaded, “you aren’t shallow and you aren’t dumb.” She backtracked, saying it was just another word for “loser.”
Eat your words
Danielle Smith, Alberta Wildrose leader
The Wildrose Opposition leader was trying to do the right thing in October when she jumped on a Twitter follower’s suggestion that Alberta stop dumping tainted XL meat because the poor would appreciate truckloads of it. “I agree. We all know thorough cooking kills E. coli. What a waste. MT @lyechtel: Is there no way to cook it so it’s safe and feed the hungry?” The apology came shortly after. “I would have to say that if you can’t explain something in 140 characters, you shouldn’t try to talk about it on Twitter,” she told reporters. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 9:29 AM - 0 Comments
The report has provided fuel for critics of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway project, which would carry crude oil along 1,170 kilometres of pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia’s coast. Even B.C.’s premier has demanded answers.
But the report won’t change the opinion of the federal Conservative government, which has hailed the Northern Gateway pipeline as important for the country, said Environment Minister Peter Kent. ”Pipelines are still, by far, the safest way to transport petrochemicals in any form,” Kent said in an interview Wednesday.
Wild Rose leader Danielle Smith, on the other hand, is ready to consider alternative routes.
“I’ve heard that there are options that would go to the West Coast on a different route that might make more sense,” Smith told reporters during a break in the Wildrose caucus retreat in Chestermere. ”There may have been in the past an easier time going through virgin territory,” Smith said. “But something’s changed in the last five years. Landowners are far more active and concerned, environmental groups are more active and concerned. First Nations are more active and vocal about it.”
Land-locked Alberta must get its oil to new markets, she said. But it makes sense to look at existing rights of way “so that we can have the least amount of environmental damage.”
By Paul Wells - Friday, April 27, 2012 at 12:24 PM - 0 Comments
The Id vs. Superego of Tory revolts
What does Alison Redford’s Alberta election victory mean for federal politics? Well, let me tell you a story.
I haven’t spoken to a single Conservative who’s satisfied with the budget Jim Flaherty brought down last month, although to be fair I haven’t spoken to Jim Flaherty. Probably he thought it was tickety-boo. Everyone else, once they’re reassured the Prime Minister won’t hear what they think, says the budget was a timid, watery thing.
And mostly they think it’s just not fair. Conservatives have been so good. All they want is to shrink the federal government until it’s about the size of a dinner muffin. Instead, they’ve been biting their tongues while they watch brand-new office buildings spring up around Ottawa like mushrooms, each one chockablock with freshly hired bureaucrats. They walked on eggshells through half a decade of minority Parliaments. They crept up to their 2011 majority victory on little cat feet.
By Emma Teitel - Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 11:12 AM - 0 Comments
Forget Ottawa when it comes to political turpitude. The action is in two provincial capitals, one east, one west, where two very different villains are stirring up trouble. Both are suspected of harbouring, or at least enabling, backward beliefs. The eastern villain is Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who raised the ire of the ever-uppity gay community when he announced that he’s once again going to skip the annual Gay Pride Parade in favour of a weekend at his family cottage. The western bad guy (girl) is Danielle Smith, the leader of Alberta’s Wildrose party (now the official Opposition to the 41-year-old PC majority), who during the recent election campaign refused to chastise a party member and former pastor for his interpretation of the gay afterlife. (Hint: it involves a lake of fire and a lot of pain.) For these sins, Ford is branded a bigot, and Smith a willing defender of them.
However, they aren’t under attack because they’ve expressed an interest in revoking gay rights—but because they’ve expressed nothing at all; it appears that indifference is the new intolerance in Canada. Ford won’t attend Pride and Smith won’t apologize for her colleague’s remarks. Neither has really done anything yet. And consequently both, it seems, are equally benign—albeit distasteful to some.
There is, though, a critical distinction between the two. Take Ford first; the gift that keeps on giving. He has snubbed his city’s gay community, flipped off a Toronto mom who chided him for talking on his cellphone while driving, and all but abandoned his public weight-loss challenge with a very public display of Kentucky Fried Chicken. He is a man his people love to hate—so much so that they seem to get more pleasure deriding him than displeasure from his failed policies. Which makes all the outrage (or “barely contained glee” as National Post columnist Chris Selley called it) about his Pride snub, more than a little bit phony. (Like Whitney Houston’s obituary, the newspapers probably wrote their “Ford is wrong to skip the Pride parade” editorials months in advance.)
Nobody actually wants Ford to realize the error of his ways and attend the parade, because that’s not what villains do. It would be like the Penguin organizing a green initiative in Gotham City, or Cruella De Vil posing nude for PETA. There is no fun in a gay-friendly, health-conscious Ford. But there’s lots of fun in Ford as he is: the buffoon we love to hate, with very little power to introduce retrograde social policy when it comes to gay rights. He’s the perfect foil: cardboard bluster, no real danger.
Not so Danielle Smith. In her own subtle way, she’s substantially scarier than her eastern counterpart. A lot of people, even those who aren’t keen on the Wildrose party, regard her as a breath of fresh air, commending her “refreshing” refusal to give the knee-jerk politically correct response when the “lake of fire” comments came to light. But how refreshing would her restraint seem if the comments in question had been about Jews or Muslims? (Groups that are just as susceptible to the wrath of Christian hell as homosexuals.) There’s a kind of false relativism here that informs Smith’s Wild West morality in general—which could very well be why she wasn’t (as the majority of pollsters and pundits had us believe she would be) a shoo-in for premier after all. As for the fact that she’s come out publicly in favour of gay rights, and has recently been seen donning traditional garb at a Sikh temple, better an allegedly closeted homophobe like Rob Ford than a refreshing social progressive who would escort homophobes out of the closet.
For the moment, with the PC victory in Alberta, the halls of power have dodged the doublespeak (think conscience rights) of the Wildrose Party. But those who would be scandalized by Rob Ford in Toronto would do well to remember how good they have it when it comes to demagogues. All villains are not equal. Lake Muskoka (or wherever Ford does his cottage bellyflopping) is not a lake of fire. Both politicians are indifferent, but one is more dangerous. The reality for Ford and Smith—and any other Canadian politician who favours avoidance in the face of an ethical conundrum—is a highly unpleasant one. There is simply too much room for thought in silence and restraint, too much time and space for constituents to assume the very worst of you. Canadian leaders can no longer afford to take moral passes, because in a tolerant age, saying nothing may be the very worst thing you can say.
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 8:14 AM - 0 Comments
1. Proportional representation just won itself a whole passel of new right-wing fans.
2. Alberta Liberal morale remained high throughout an election in which pollsters warned continually of disaster. And the pollsters proved to be almost exactly right about this (if nothing else). Yet even as the mortifying results rolled in, Alberta Liberal morale still remained high. Then their egomaniac not-really-Liberal disaster of a leader, Raj Sherman, won his seat by the skin of his teeth. This means he will not have to be replaced unless an awful lot of people smarten up fast. Alberta Liberal morale after this event? Easily, easily at its highest point in ten years. “Please, sir, may I have another?”
3. NDP leader Brian Mason’s first words on reaching the podium? “The phone booth [two seats] just doubled [four seats]!” Message: we like the phone booth. We’re never leaving it. Not us.
4. Total votes cast for Senators-in-Waiting, with complete results not quite yet in, are about 2,486,858. If everybody voted for three Senators, that implies about 829,000 ballots cast—which in turn suggests that around 458,000 eligible voters selected a candidate for the Assembly but refused or spoiled their Senate ballot. The practice was certainly widespread, and if these numbers are close to right, the Senate election has been boycotted quite significantly.
5. Those who did boycott the Senate election seem awfully proud of themselves, because it was a “meaningless” election. Why, one wonders, does it have to be meaningless? The “progressive” parties could have agreed on a single Senate candidate in advance; if they had done so, that candidate would certainly have ended up first in the queue, and provided an excellent test of Stephen Harper’s integrity, which I am told is much doubted.
The problem is that Harper might pass the test, you say? Then what’s the harm? You get some smart, popular left-wing independent speaking for Alberta in the Senate? That’s bad for “progressives” how?
6. It is not unusual for candidates to get 70%, 75%, or even 80% in Alberta provincial or federal elections. By this measure, however, the Alberta electorate is now unusually divided: the highest vote share earned by any candidate, of any party, was NDPer Rachel Notley’s 61.98% in Edmonton-Strathcona. (There was talk in advance of the vote that electoral redistricting would hurt Notley, though no one thought for a moment she would lose.)
7. Only one Conservative candidate received 60% of a riding’s votes cast: Human Services Minister David Hancock in Edmonton-Whitemud. PCs relishing their first-past-the-post “landslide” [see item 1, supra] would do well, I suppose, to realize that only 19 of the 61 victors have the approval of more than 50% of their fellow-citizens.
8. Voters don’t like turncoats much. There was a lot of floor-crossing in the 27th Legislative Assembly of Alberta: three PCs (Heather Forsyth, Rob Anderson, and Guy Boutilier) left for the Wildrose Party, one (Raj Sherman) bolted for the Liberals, and the PCs got one back from the Liberals in the person of Bridget Pastoor. Forsyth had a hideous scare in Calgary-Fish Creek, taking it by just 74 votes. Boutilier was turfed. Sherman, like Forsyth, narrowly escaped garroting. Only Anderson (in Airdrie) and Pastoor (Lethbridge West) got the usual easy ride that comes with incumbency.
9. Ted Morton’s widely anticipated whupping in Chestermere-Rocky View lived up, or down, to all expectations. His challenger, broadcaster Bruce McAllister, beat him 10,168 to 6,156; McAllister earned the highest vote share of any Wildrose candidate (58.4%) and, along with Danielle Smith, was one of only three to amass 10,000 votes.
10. There is this weird consensus among intellectuals and creatives that the progressive vote in Alberta will coalesce around the Alberta Party by 2016. All my techie and designer-y friends seem as convinced of this as if it were divine revelation (and, in truth, the Alberta Party’s election materials do look pretty badass, graphics-wise). I wouldn’t have thought anything of it, because these are the same people who were sure that a single-button mouse was a good idea ten years ago, but then the top young organizers in the Wildrose Party told me that the AP was full of smart, hustling people and that they, too, believed it would soon become Alberta’s party of the left.
Yes, there is plenty of embarrassment to go around this morning, but I still cannot understand why I was assured so often that the Alberta Party would win multiple seats; they were never above about 3% in the polls, and if there can be such a thing as a calamitous performance for a fledgling movement with not much of a platform and a kinda-fake leader, this must be it. The Alberta Party got 1.3% of the vote last night. If the NDP lives in a phone booth, what do you call this? A really tight pair of rubber underpants?
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 6:04 AM - 0 Comments
An Alberta astronaut returning from Titan and seeing the result of last night’s election would say “Meh, so what else is new? The PCs carried 61 of 87 seats? Kind of an off year for them, I guess.” Yet the ostensibly boring, familiar outcome wrong-footed much of the media and absolutely all the pollsters. Even PC insiders, correctly detecting a last-minute shift away from the Wildrose Party heirs-presumptive, envisioned a much smaller vote share than the 44 per cent Alison Redford’s party achieved. The public polling firms all botched the job, with none forecasting anything but a Wildrose majority even on the final weekend.
The Wildrose Party’s final count of 17 seats must surely leave its braintrust, heavily stocked with Conservative Party of Canada veterans, obliterated with horror. The CPC has built a pretty good electoral machine, but as old Ralph Klein hand and Wildrose supporter Rod Love reminded CBC, the Alberta PC brand is the most successful in the country. He probably could have gone even further afield if he wanted to. (On August 24, 2014, the PCs will officially become the longest continuously serving government in the annals of Confederation.) In 1993 the PCs were in trouble late, but succeeded in outflanking a popular Liberal opposition and running against their own record. They did it again in 2012. Redford succeeded in making herself the “change” candidate—though not without help from the Wildrose insurgents, who suffered late “bozo eruptions” of the sort the CPC itself has long since succeeded in extinguishing.
It wasn’t all about the bozos, but they did help inspire a shift of progressive voters away from the Alberta Liberals—a party that is never quite healthy but now seems positively moribund. With overall turnout still fairly dismal (probably not much higher than 50%), the Wildrose was able to capture 34% of the vote. Almost all of that support, without any doubt, came from citizens who backed the PCs in 2008. But the Liberal vote share fell from 29% to 10%, and it seems almost all of those voters went PC, often reluctantly, in defence of Redford.
Redford seemed destined to be the Alberta PCs’ Kim Campbell for so long that it is difficult to do an about-face and assess her strengths. She played hardball when it came to the Wildrose “bozoes”, succeeding in making them a metaphor for a potential Wildrose caucus of uncertain size, ideological allegiance, and ability. That turned out to be shrewd, and the Wildrose campaign, which was rigidly committed to a tactical plan laid out before the election writ, did not react fast enough. (The WRP strategic doctrine has been that it is better not to get caught “reacting” at all. This is ideal if your preparation has been thorough. If there are weaknesses, look out.)
But what really strikes one now is the way Redford has emphasized Alberta’s national and international image from day one of her career as premier—indeed, from day one of her candidacy for premier. Whether or not Alberta is a particularly insular and self-regarding place (which, duh, it is), it has elected a few heads of government in a row who were far from cosmopolitan. With the last couple, you’d honestly be a little reluctant to let them use a really nice bathroom. Meanwhile, Alberta’s government has been guilty of neglecting or underestimating outside sentiment, most notably when it comes to environmental attacks on the tar sands.
Criticisms of Alberta began as an easily-ignored celebutard problem, but because of Alberta’s landlocked status, it grew to become a serious diplomatic one, one with a quantifiable impact on Alberta’s take from oil. Professional enviros went after pipelines connecting Alberta to U.S. and world markets because they are an easy choke point; Alberta business leaders and its government bean-counters are increasingly, unhappily aware of just how easy.
That means the province can no longer count on market-access issues to take care of themselves. Oil is not just a commodity anymore. It needs a sales pitch. And Redford has been preaching the axioms that naturally follow. Lord, has she ever. She hardly ever mentions Alberta without squeezing Canada, or the world, or both into the sentence. This turns out, as of tonight, to not just be the irritating vocal tic of a baggage-lugging, UN-certified internationalist.
Danielle Smith’s view on climate change—that the science pinning it on human activity is provisional, and it’s not clear that we really have power over the weather—has a broad constituency in Alberta. So does her view that people who literally believe in Hell are eligible for public office, provided they give a firm promise of religious tolerance. None of this is “radical”, per se. But the net effect of the last half of the campaign was to make Smith look defiantly “Albertan”, to appear to be an Albertan contra mundum and-to-hell-with-what-anyone-else-thinks.
In most years, in most Albertas, that would work. It may even work again in the future, when Albertans feel less insecurity about finding a way to force our boutique oil into foreign markets and more comfortable about reverting to “Let’s all get super drunk at the Stampede” mode. But in 2012 Albertans are feeling vulnerable about identity, and Smith’s problems provoked a late, instinctive counter-reaction. Herself a promising avatar of change and modernity, the Wildrose leader found herself endlessly defending men who looked and sounded like an old Super-8 film of Socreds at a 1968 ribbon-cutting for a curling rink. Redford, meanwhile, stuck to her game and got it right: keep reminding Albertans that the world exists, and is watching, and is very large.
Demographic change didn’t hurt Redford’s cause, of course. Alberta’s fast growth should, in theory, make old political axioms and patterns untrustworthy, as new Albertans remake the electorate every decade. Alberta remains the youngest of all provinces, and it’s now far from the whitest. But when I look at the vote totals from here in Edmonton, for example, what I see is Edmonton actually reasserting its classic liberal identity, angrily. Friends my age and younger were able to accept the bizarre logic of the PCs as the party of “change”, and voted PC for exactly the same reasons they were once determined to keep the city PC-free.
Of the 19 core Edmonton ridings, 13 went PC; more surprisingly, the PCs made a clean 5-for-5 sweep of the bedroom communities of St. Albert, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, and Strathcona County. None of these were remotely close for the Wildrose; one of the highest vote totals in the whole province belongs to St. Albert PC Stephen Khan, who was running in a riding that has sent Liberals to the legislature at least once under every Alberta government. (At this hour, Redford herself has the very highest total—yet another surprise within the larger surprise.)
In the final weekend of the campaign, both Smith and Redford stuck close to Calgary, and in light of the polls, this looked for all the world as though Redford was desperately playing defence. Would she ignore rural Alberta if she thought there was any hope there? Redford did lose a few Conservative stalwarts in the hinterland, but, frankly, she is probably not too unhappy about losing golf-mad Ray Danyluk or Wildrose-in-all-but-name Ted Morton.
The Wildrose took no seats at all north of Lacombe (which is a little less than halfway from Edmonton to Calgary), apart from Danyluk’s northeastern Franco-Ukrainian fiefdom (Lac la Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills). Basically, the Wildrose is left with a dryland/foothills caucus and a couple of Calgary outposts. Urban Alberta has regained the upper hand in the electoral calculus after more than three decades of control by plain-spoken, half-animist, multi-tentacled PC county bosses of the Danyluk type.
And Redford has gained what no one expected her to have: a big winner’s unquestioned dominance of her caucus, with a generous helping of like minds replacing the old dinosaurs. Hopefully she will be conscious of this and enforce a regime of positive urban values, starting with honesty and transparency in government, social tolerance, and respect for innovation. (I am not convinced that throwing billions of dollars at an improvised “innovation” project like AOSTRA-2 is a good example of the latter, but in that case the goal isn’t wrong, just the old-school centrally-planned execution.) There are also negative urban values Redford needs to avoid: impecuniousness, laziness, and the eternal temptations of social engineering. But the idea of making Alberta a place people think of as cool is not a bad one. I live here, I already know it’s pretty cool: we apparently need to convince you.
By Colby Cosh - Sunday, April 22, 2012 at 2:03 PM - 0 Comments
I was chatting with Éric Grenier of ThreeHundredEight.com Saturday about Monday’s Alberta election. Grenier’s seat projection from late polls predicts a slim Wildrose Party majority for the next Alberta legislature, with 45 seats for the insurgent WRP and 37 for the incumbent Progressive Conservatives. I don’t really know the details of how he gets from the polling numbers—which show the PCs closing somewhat in recent days—to the seat counts. But because he treats the cities as homogenous metropolitan areas, as he is forced to by his commitment to a purely numerical method (that is how they are handled by the pollsters themselves), I tend to think Éric has the WRP just a tad low. He is implicitly mixing in urban-core ridings, where there is a lot of “progressive” vote to be skimmed by the fearmongering Tories, with ones that are “urban” only in the slightly demented eyes of the census, and are straight WRP-PC fights that will be hard for the WRP to lose given the polling numbers.
Four important words there: “given the polling numbers”. This Alberta election is a case in which an educated guess that incorporates local knowledge is certainly better than a purely automated model. But the educated guess can also fail in a million ways, and that is especially true here. The Wildrose Party is going stronger with “certain to vote” survey respondents, but a late break toward an incumbent is a bad sign for the opposition. Amongst individuals, the act of voting will carry high emotional stakes, and almost nobody, it seems, will be repeating his own 2008 vote.
Liberals and New Democrats who have waited long lives to throw out the PCs are now being asked to protect that very regime, and they’re obviously considering it, given that the polls show two-thirds of the 2008 Liberal vote vanishing. I haven’t seen local news reports of any mass suicides or Raptures, so some of those people will be backing Alison Redford, who would have been their dream leader anyway. I don’t mean this as a gratuitous shot; I mean literally that if the Liberals could fashion the perfect leader of their fantasies from Frankenstein-like parts, they would certainly end up with a lady lawyer who had done loads of international development work and favours Hillary Clinton pantsuits and pearls.
Conservative voters, meanwhile, will have to decide whether they are truly ready to abandon a brand they have supported since Apollo 15 took off. But there’s a third component to the electorate here that nobody’s talking about: “progressive” switchers to the Wildrose.
Madness, you say? The PCs have been making the case that the Wildrose must be stopped at all costs because a couple of its candidates have questionably acceptable views: one is a Christian who believes in the reality of Hell, and another is a guy who’s worked amongst ethnic communities for years—a gentleman not seriously suspected of capital-R racism by anybody, as far as I can tell—who was willing to say to those groups in their own media, repeatedly and in an admittedly awkward way, that his being a white dude is probably a practical electoral advantage. (A third is Alberta Report publisher Link Byfield, whose conservative political views are so freaky and far-out that he could only amass a quarter-million votes in Alberta’s 2004 Senate election.)
Social liberals who want to vote for the Wildrose must be prepared to tolerate the possible presence of such people in a Wildrose caucus, just as social conservatives who want to vote for the Wildrose must somehow be prepared to tolerate voting for a pro-abortion, pro-gay premier. Meanwhile, anybody at all who wants to vote PC must be prepared to tolerate the perpetuation of a government that has taken, and aggressively hidden the evidence of, well-documented illegal kickbacks for party purposes from schools, municipalities, and healthcare. Indeed, they must not only tolerate it: they must accept a share of moral responsibility for it, must stand up and applaud it. Some unknown number of voters will reach the conclusion that the PCs must be humbled as the Liberal Party of Canada was humbled—their offence is objectively worse than Adscam—and that a Wildrose vote is the most effective way of doing this. If you have to hold your nose, why not at least hold your nose for change?
Under the circumstances, the election is nearly impossible to handicap, with genuine four-way races likely in parts of Edmonton. What one notices is that the leaders are spending the last day of campaigning in outer-Calgary city ridings that would otherwise be rock-solid for the PCs. The ridings in question would, I think, be somewhere in the low 50s on a Wildrose wish list and maybe the low 30s on a PC one. That is what I expect to see in the seat counts on Monday, because I know of no stronger evidence apart from the polls, and the polls, interpreted properly, agree with this seat distribution. I can almost get to Grenier’s outcome if I assign everything close to the Conservatives, but the sum of individual voter decisions in the booth is impossible to foresee; that’s why we go ahead and have these election thingies. On this sunny Sunday, Alberta voters are writhing in the private hell of the potential parricide, and must grope their way toward peace with themselves.
By Colby Cosh - Friday, April 20, 2012 at 10:52 AM - 0 Comments
Inside Danielle Smith’s campaign to topple Alberta’s most powerful political dynasty
In a Calgary hotel bar, a long-time newspaper and TV pundit sips white wine and plays the favourite sport of the Alberta literati: arguing about the province’s weird political history. She has a theory. (Everyone has a theory.) It is not a bad one.
“The sudden regime changes that Alberta is famous for seem to follow the evolution of new media,” she explains. “The 1935 election, the Social Credit election, was a radio election. [William] Aberhart won because he mastered a new medium. The 1971 election was a TV election. The baby boomers responded to a young leader, Peter Lougheed, who looked like them.”
“And now,” she says, “I think we are looking at a social media election.”
By Richard Warnica - Friday, April 13, 2012 at 6:37 PM - 0 Comments
Not a single question about the oil sands or natural gas
Nothing matters more to the Alberta economy than oil and gas. Nothing matters more to the Alberta environment than oil and gas, either. You could argue, really, that nothing matters more to Alberta writ large, to its people or its future, than oil and gas and how those resources are developed. These are not particularly right wing or left wing things to say. They’re just facts. But you wouldn’t know anything about oil and gas from having watched Thursday’s leaders’ debate in Edmonton.
By the standards of an Alberta election, Thursday’s event was a lively one. The main candidates, Premier Alison Redford and Wildrose challenger Danielle Smith, sparred gamely, and the also-rans were by turns punchy (Liberal Raj Sherman) and serious (NDP Leader Brian Mason). The four leaders fought over health care, deficits and low-level corruption. They touched on no-meet committees, seniors’ issues and education. They debated everything, really, except the one thing that really matters in Alberta, energy and energy policy.
Over 90 minutes of back and forth, the four all but ignored climate change, upgrading, the local environment, resource royalties or what exactly would happen to their plans if oil prices were to tumble again. They were helped in this by the media panel running the event, which asked, all of no questions that directly pertained to the oil sands or natural gas. (They ignored cities, too, which must have had Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi in a tither).
By Paul Wells - Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 10:01 AM - 0 Comments
With Danielle Smith stomping across Alberta in the boots of history (OK, lousy metaphor), Pauline Marois richly earning the most awkward political nickname in memory (she’s la dame du béton, the woman of concrete, but whatever: she seems on track to win 85 of 125 seats at the next election) and the British Columbia centre-right hopelessly divided, it’s time to ponder the mess Canada might be in in a year.
Or not. You know, polls are for dogs, these are tidings of Christmases which may be, not Christmases which must be, etc. etc. blah de frickin blah. But let’s pretend.
Smith is likely to be premier of Alberta in two weeks. This is in some ways the least problematic outcome for Stephen Harper, not just because Smith and Harper agree on most things but because Smith has shown no tendency to want to run against Ottawa. She was in Ottawa several weeks ago and delivered a perfect snoozer of a lunchtime speech. Which may even have been the goal.
But one of the things Smith and Harper agree on is that Enbridge good, oil sands good, Northern Gateway good. BC premier-in-waiting Adrian Dix is not so sure about any of that, and seems likely to get elected on a platform of opposition to the Northern Gateway pipelines to Kitimat. The Harper government is doing everything to get oil sands products to port at Kitimat, a question Joe Oliver called “an urgent matter of Canada’s national interest.” In the first place, I expect Harper to deploy rapidly-escalating feats of ingenuity to stop Dix in advance of a B.C. election, but if it doesn’t work, it’s reasonable to expect epic confrontations between Harper and a premier-elect Dix. Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 4:50 AM - 0 Comments
To kick off the Alberta election, here’s Danielle Smith with some sheep, as featured on Wildrose.ca. This should not be taken as some sort of sly joke about voters, either on her part or on mine. It’s an excellent photo-op, and will be all over the news this morning; it is literally irresistible. In general, the early days of the campaign have me formidably impressed with the Wildrose tacticians. I imagine, if only because I’m used to pretty slapstick Alberta oppositions, that some snickering comic-book brain-thing in a jar is using servomotor arms to thrust and slam the levers of a great machine. But it’s probably nothing as romantic as all that; just Tom Flanagan dashing off a few memos.
Why is Danielle Smith messing about with mutton? Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 4:36 PM - 0 Comments
Behold: the first-ever extramural attack ad from an Alberta Conservative government. Don Braid says it’s the first, anyway, and if I didn’t know whether it was the first, he might be the person I’d ask.
Maybe it goes without saying, but the dearth of attack ads in recent Alberta politics is not special testimony to the politeness of those politics. It’s testimony to Alberta’s one-party nature. The Conservatives took over from Social Credit in 1971, in a youth-driven power shift: Peter Lougheed, in pushing aside a government that had delivered prosperity but was increasingly behind the times socially, was so civil and restrained and all-around decent about it that the whupped Socreds practically said “Please, sir, may I have another?” The federal Liberals and the radical ’70s NDP obligingly kept Lougheed in power for another decade and a half, and as Braid notes, the premier never so much as referred to the existence of other parties. Why would it have been in his interest to do so? Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 6:31 AM - 76 Comments
When Ed Stelmach shocked Alberta and won the Progressive Conservative leadership in 2006, he took the podium in the wee hours at Edmonton’s Aviation Museum and gave a speech so deliriously garbled, some PC attendees were thinking “Can we have a do-over?” Tonight, when Alison Redford stunned the province in much the same way and at a similarly obscene hour, she read her victory address from notes, moving on to scrum expertly with exhausted reporters and even to field, and answer, a question in French. Good French.
Not that French is an important qualification to be Premier of Alberta, mind you: but Albertans uneasy with the province’s slightly savage, anti-egghead image will sleep a little easier tonight, now that a leader who was most comfortable picking rocks in rubber boots has been replaced at the head of affairs by an honest-to-God intellectual. As so often happens, the appearance of a coronation undid the front-runner in the race to lead Alberta’s Perpetual Governing Party. Gary Mar, the prodigal son who was criticized for being a little too prodigal with the public treasury, was beaten by a razor-thin margin as “temporary Conservatives” rushed to the second phase of the party’s open primary to stop him.
The defeat was not regional, though Alberta politics are often interpreted through a north-south lens. Redford gained thousands of net votes in Calgary, in Edmonton, and in hinterland Alberta between the Sept. 17 first ballot (which eliminated three of the original six candidates for the leadership) and this evening’s runoff. After the ballots were counted for Mar, Redford, and Doug Horner, Redford trailed Mar by 33,233 to 28,993. Mar needed to be the second choice on just 5,856 of the 15,950 Horner ballots to finish the job. He fought bitterly for them, demanding recounts behind the scenes as results trickled in from the last of the province’s 85 polls (83 ridings plus advance polls in Calgary and Edmonton).
But ‘twas not to be for the returnee. Redford won the decisive showdown by an overall margin of just 1,613 votes—votes that Alberta taxpayers will be paying for in the form of a quick $100-million injection into the education budget. (Though it must be said that this is a cheap bribe compared to the $2.1 billion Stelmach delivered shortly before the last election.) Redford wooed public-sector unions overtly in the days between the first ballot and the final runoff, but she would have gained progressive “Anybody But Mar” votes anyway after Mar’s explosive comments contemplating private delivery of healthcare. There was also increasing excitement, as the days ticked by and Redford’s surprise second-place standing sunk in, over the prospect of Alberta’s first female premier.
And, of course, there was the attention Redford received four days ago for a reason nobody would ever choose: her mother Helen died Tuesday, short hours after the candidate had suspended campaign activity and raced to be at her side in High River. Redford was back on the trail in a trice, delivering a gutsy performance in a televised Wednesday night debate. Her unflappability persisted into the moments after her win: when a reporter asked her whether her mother was on her mind as she celebrated, she uttered an almost impatient-sounding “Oh, my mother,” before recalling, with no hint of tears, that it was Helen who had first set her on the path to political involvement. It will still be the case for a long time that women in politics need to be ten times as tough and invulnerable as the men. Redford passed that test, and unquestionably picked up votes because of it.
It’s worth remembering that Redford’s most important challenger in the next election—which she says will be held next spring, after a Throne Speech and another budget—will probably also be female. Wildrose boss Danielle Smith surely wanted a Red Tory to win this vote, and Redford was the Reddest of the possible PC leaders on offer. Redford’s win represents a belated triumph for the Joe Clark/Ron Ghitter tendency within the PC party, the segment of PC-dom that can talk about “social justice” without snickering. In his short farewell message to Albertans this morning, Stelmach underlined with relish that the PC party is a “PROGRESSIVE Conservative party.” It has always, at any rate, been a party that yokes together progressives and conservatives, usually pretty clumsily. With each open leadership contest in a fast-growing province, it’s the former, not the latter, that seems to gain in power.
Mar, who served the Klein government and has more of a family-values persona, had the cabinet, the caucus, and the organizational old guard of the party in his pocket two weeks ago. As in 2006, their votes, in the open-primary system, turned out to be worth exactly the same as those of any other schmuck. But this time, instead of being humbled by an agrarian challenger from the North, the machine lost by a whisker to an accomplished lawyer from Calgary—one who has been careful to keep the oil industry on her good side, as Stelmach wasn’t.
Redford, in budgeting and in social policy, will probably give Smith plenty of red meat to gnaw in an election fight. There may be more defections, and certainly some despair amongst those who invested in Mar. (Many of those rank-and-file PCs had also invested in Jim Dinning, the centrist/machine fave, last time.) Turnout on the final ballot was barely half the 2006 total. (Conservatives will tell you this merely reflects the strength of the field: who cares who won, they’re all terrif!) But as a woman Premier-Designate, Redford has also stolen a march on Smith and the Wildrose. That Joan of Arc storyline that has had editors across the country captivated for the last couple years isn’t going to play so convincingly now.
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 10:10 AM - 3 Comments
As the PC party soars again in the polls, a gang of potential leaders is scrambling for the top job
Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government turned 40 on Aug. 30. That first win back in 1971 was regarded as an upset, but one man saw it coming—Peter Lougheed’s rural boss, House leader, and political Merlin, Dr. Hugh Horner. In the days before the election, the tall, soft-spoken Horner circulated amongst legislature reporters, promising skeptical scribes that the upstart PCs would capture about 50 seats (the final figure was 49). Today Horner’s son Doug is part of a six-person field from which PC members will select a chief for an election fight anticipated next spring.
It’s the latest chapter in the tale of eternal Alberta PC renewal. This time last year there were many who didn’t think the Tories would make it to age 41. Premier Ed Stelmach, the compromise candidate who had succeeded Ralph Klein, had turned out to be a tongue-tied bungler. And the Wildrose Alliance, a right-wing alternative party led by young and eloquent Danielle Smith, was at the government’s heels in the polls. A January caucus coup led by Ted Morton forced Stelmach into a slow-motion retirement.
Morton is one of the candidates for the leadership, and whether or not he triumphs, his move seems to have been the best thing for the party. With a gang of possible leaders capturing media attention and shoplifting Wildrose policies, Alberta’s natural governing party has surged back into a commanding lead. A late July Environics survey gave the PCs a towering 54 per cent share of voters, with the Wildrose (renamed simply the Wildrose Party this summer) at 16 per cent and the NDP and Liberals even further back.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 7:35 PM - 103 Comments
Some of you will be reading my column on the resignation of Ed Stelmach as Alberta premier as early as today; some of you will have to wait until next week. In the meantime, I’ll give you some principles you can use to filter the hypotheses of other observers.
First of all, don’t believe anyone who tells you that Alberta politics is governed by some mystical tidal pattern of stagnation punctuated by revolution. Anybody who’s been here for the past 20 or 30 years should have learned to tune out the “massive change is just around the corner!” refrain by now, if only because advancing age has made him half-deaf. Preston Manning alone has been guilty of a dozen or so end-times prophecies of this sort (though, in fairness, prophecy is sort of a family tradition with him). News flash: pretty much everybody who voted here in 1935 is underground, and not because a basement suite was all they could afford. The Alberta electorate of 2011 in no way resembles that even of 1981; not ethnically, not culturally, not spiritually, not ideologically.
And the political spectrum itself has changed. As much as there might be a casual longing for a revival of “Peter Lougheed Conservatism”, Lougheed’s style of state corporatism, which led to budget disaster in the 1980s after his suspiciously timely exit, would probably now put any candidate who embraced it on the left wing of the federal NDP. Don’t believe anyone who tells you there is some unexploited, powerful hidden welter of Red Toryism in Alberta, waiting to spew forth into an appropriate channel. Even the reds aren’t that Red anymore.
There is no particular reason for Alberta politics to seek the same equilibrium in which our federal government is trapped, so don’t believe anyone who argues for realignment as some kind of cosmic axiom. Yes, I’m looking at Jeffrey Simpson here. Simpson is described endearingly by his employer as “a regular visitor to Alberta”, which seems like a deliberate invitation to scorn, but the man obviously is well-informed about the place. His characterization of the Alberta Liberal Party can only have come from someone familiar with it.
Simpson, however, believes Alberta politics is reverting to a “normal” shape (one it has never had) because the province no longer has any reason for hostility and suspicion toward a federal government led by a Calgarian. (With the bonus, one presumes, of a chief justice from Pincher Creek.) I think our visitor underestimates the ease of Ottawa-bashing in a world where Alberta farmers can still be jailed for defying the Wheat Board; where Alberta still pays toll upon toll for its presence in Confederation, layering pension and employment-insurance outflows on top of explicit fiscal equalization; where, as finance minister Ted Morton recently pointed out, Albertans are being billed specifically for the provincial sales tax liabilities of Ontarians and British Columbians. Morton’s a smart guy! He can find reasons to be upset with Ottawa almost as fast as Ottawa can come up with ways to screw Alberta!
I would tell you not to believe anyone who sees no difference between Ted Morton and Danielle Smith, but then, you barely have any choice aside from me. My column anticipating a personal tilt between Morton and Smith in the Calgary exurbs has been superseded with embarrassing speed by events, but at least it was written by somebody who can distinguish between various species of “right-winger” if given a pair of field glasses and sent out into the bush. The Morton-Smith personal combat, which already started when Smith announced a candidacy smack-dab in the middle of Morton Country, is more than superficial. Morton, by trifling with property rights as resource minister, has attacked the very principles Smith built her career around. She is physically moving to the rural south because Morton painted a target on himself; his core organizers and financial backers are gone, many directly to her, and they are not coming back. The Globe‘s Josh Wingrove is all over this, and understands it better than most writers for Alberta organs do; he, at least, is no mere visitor.
But, really, is there any realistic doubt that Morton and Smith could stage a pretty interesting political battle? Forget even the intriguing stylistic contrast: one of them has been a rights advocate for her entire career and the other is the country’s leading intellectual opponent of liberal “rights” rhetoric. One of them is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage; the other made his reputation blowing raspberries at the Morgentaler and Vriend decisions. It’s literally not possible that any reasonable person could be equally comfortable with either of the two as premier.
Other myths to be wary of? Don’t believe anybody who talks up the Alberta Party, at least until it has a leader, some policies, and a history of contesting elections. The idea that an Alberta political movement can go from zero to government in 6.8 seconds, just because Social Credit did it 76 years ago, is just a variant of the “every X years Y happens” myth. (Hasn’t anybody in this province read The Poverty of Historicism?) Don’t believe anything you are told about low Alberta voter turnout unless the province’s young-skewing demographics are factored in; young people don’t vote anywhere in the Western world, and we have more of them than you do.
And don’t put too much stock in the election of Naheed Nenshi as mayor of Calgary. What he accomplished was remarkable, but it also required less than 40% of the vote in a race where the establishment favourite, Barb Higgins, turned out to have a bad case of China Syndrome. The people who got giddy over big bad Calgary electing a relatively liberal mayor apparently haven’t heard that the last time Calgary elected a non-Liberal was 1977.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 11:01 AM - 0 Comments
The Ontario Superior Court’s Charter finding against prostitution-related provisions of the Criminal Code has unexpectedly cast light on the new Alberta politics. The hard-charging Wildrose Alliance talks a good game when it comes to defending provincial rights; the logical corollary, one might suppose, would be for it to observe a dignified silence about matters reserved to the federal government. This is never how things work, of course, and the Alliance couldn’t move fast enough to issue a joint statement in the names of its two turncoat MLAs, Heather Forsyth and Rob Anderson.
Just as the mind of Newton was instantly discernible by contemporaries from his anonymous solution to the brachistochrone problem, so the corresponding organ inside Heather Forsyth is recognizable from the language of the press release. Forsyth never heard an idea for “protecting children” she didn’t like, and certainly never, as an Alberta cabinet minister, implemented one she would recognize as a failure.
“No little girl,” reads the statement, “ever dreams of growing up and becoming a prostitute, and no parent wants to see their child become a sex worker.” As an argument in favour of the existing prostitution laws, this immediately raises the question whether the parents of Robert Pickton’s victims dreamed fondly of their fate, complete with a soundtrack of swine gnawing bone. No little girl does foresee becoming a sex worker, any more than little boys imagine becoming garbagemen or sheet-metal cutters. (Hands up, all those of you who do have the job of their dreams! I’ll admit I’m relatively blessed in that regard, but then again I am not writing this note from the deck of the space shuttle.)
It is precisely the unpleasantness of such professions that demands we attend carefully to their occupational safety. That is the ground, for better or worse, on which Justice Susan Himel acted. The Wildrose statement does not object that Himel’s decision will fail to make prostitution safer; it concedes the point, and specifically rejects the idea that prostitution should be made safer for women. Why, one wonders, is Robert Pickton in prison at all? By the Forsyth standard, surely he should be freed, perhaps even subsidized as a public benefactor.
The fact is, Alberta already has a governing party that was happy to implement Forsythian ideas of justice and child welfare, dozens of them, before Forsyth became the victim of a geographic squeeze and left the PCs in a snit. The party’s statement thus leaves one wondering whether a vote for the Wildrose is a vote for ideological change, or just the same old formula with a different gang of ministers. It suggests tentatively that Danielle Smith’s “big tent” is going to fly the Oriflamme of social conservatism rather than the Gadsden flag of libertarianism.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 2 Comments
It’s politics, and it’s what politicians do.
“You can only be bloody and unbowed to a point,” grumbled a frustrated Liberal candidate, calling upon the opposition parties to stop splitting their vote against a monolithic right-wing governing party. “We have passed that point.” The Liberal brand, he complained in an election-night interview, should be abandoned in favour of uniting the parties on the progressive side.
“We would have to get by the personal pride of the leaders and the hollow speeches,” he ventured. But he had spoken with “high leaders” in opposition, he said, and “had found agreement with his views.”
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 4:41 AM - 15 Comments
Preston Manning holds a two-day beauty contest for Alberta’s governing Progressive Conservatives and the surging right-wing alternative, the Wildrose Alliance. PC minister Thomas Lukaszuk agrees to attend, but suddenly discovers a “family commitment” and “other work” that make it impossible for him to show up either day. Calgary backbench MLA Kyle Fawcett is sent in his place, but is stricken with illness after the Friday session. By all accounts, the root cause of the illness may well have been the beating he received in his head-to-head debate with Wildrose leader Danielle Smith.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 12:40 PM - 7 Comments
Mitchel Raphael on who’s bringing high heels to the mountain and prorogation cuts
NO SHOWERS FOR THE LABOUR MINISTER
Labour Minister Rona Ambrose is right now climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. She promised herself she would reach the peak the last time she was in Eastern Africa, which was in 2006 for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Back then, there was no snow on the peak; now, she’s been told, the snow is back. The Kilimanjaro climb takes six days and that means “no showers,” quips Ambrose, who packed and repacked her backpack, trying to be prepared for all sorts of weather conditions. One item she made sure to include was a Canadian flag: she plans to bring it with her to the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games as a good luck symbol for when she watches gold medal skier Jennifer Heil compete. Heil is from Spruce Grove, Alta., which is in Ambrose’s riding. Heil won Canada’s first medal at the Turin Games and Ambrose arranged for Stephen Harper to give her a congratulatory call. Ambrose is also bringing a pair of high heels she’ll put on when she reaches the top for a fun personal photo op.
By Colby Cosh - Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 9:40 AM - 35 Comments
Colby Cosh: Danielle Smith is no Sarah Palin. For one thing, she might win.
So what’s Wildrose Alliance Leader Danielle Smith reading these days when she’s not busy haunting the nightmares of Alberta Progressive Conservatives? Does she curl up with one of her favourite libertarian ur-texts—Atlas Shrugged, maybe, or Friedrich von Hayek’s “The Use of Knowledge in Society”? It turns out she’s enjoying a timely Christmas gift that has the attention of politicians everywhere: The Audacity to Win, David Plouffe’s memoir of the strategies behind Barack Obama’s leap from Chicago state politics to the presidency.
There are probably not many people left in Alberta who will still chuckle at this choice of reading material. In the province’s March 2008 election, the right-wing Alliance got seven per cent of the vote and no seats. Today, with the 38-year-old Smith as leader, it sits atop the polls as the governing Progressive Conservatives come unglued. This week, two PC MLAs from the Calgary area, convinced that Ed Stelmach’s leadership portends political annihilation, crossed the floor to sit with the Alliance’s Paul Hinman, who stole a Calgary PC seat in a September by-election.
Her remarkable ascent has some commentators talking about Smith as “Canada’s Sarah Palin.” It’s a clumsy (and, yes, sexist) metaphor. Smith’s electoral experience is even more meagre than Palin’s was in 2008, amounting to part of a term as a Calgary Board of Education trustee. But Smith is in no danger of not being able to tell you what magazines and newspapers she reads. And she is a creature of principle, not instinct. As leader of a party starting nearly from zero, her problem won’t be fighting against her own brain trust, but building one.
By Colby Cosh - Monday, January 4, 2010 at 9:20 PM - 31 Comments
I approve unreservedly of Colleague Kohler’s reaction to today’s defections in the Alberta assembly. As a former cabinet minister Forsyth may get the lion’s share of the attention in tomorrow’s papers, but Anderson is the more intriguing figure. His indignant, score-settling address to the media about his reasons for crossing the floor would guarantee that, even if there were no pre-existing reason to think so.
He has already established, in less than two years as a politician, a propensity for making jaws drop. Late last year he pulled a bizarre trick, requesting space for an op-ed in his riding’s local papers and essentially using it to say “You know those community lottery-fund grants that the opposition sometimes characterizes as a political slush fund, despite the elaborate pretense that they’re handed out according to objective criteria after a competitive process? Well, it seems I’ve got personal control of about $750,000 here and I’m telling you up front how I intend to have it spent.”
The Liberals promptly seized on Anderson’s op-ed as proof that Conservative politics in Alberta haven’t changed much since the more nakedly feudal 1980s, and Anderson’s loose talk didn’t win him any friends in the Stelmach inner circle. (It’s natural for provincial governments to become more dependent on a network of relationships, reaching down to the neighbourhood level, when the personality of the leader is weaker.) On the other hand, at least some of the lottery cash seems to have been spent according to Anderson’s agenda, even after he offended sensibilities by setting it down in black and white. It is still hard to tell whether his gesture was a matter of mere naïveté, a sincere expression of his philosophy of government, or part of a cunning plan to do as much damage to the PC brand before today’s exit. Maybe it’s a little bit from columns A, B, and C.
By Nicholas Köhler - Monday, January 4, 2010 at 3:47 PM - 20 Comments
Alberta’s Wildrose Alliance seems farther ahead than ever with the defection of two Tory MLAs
It wasn’t merely that the Wildrose Alliance, Alberta’s increasingly popular upstart conservative party, tripled in size today, thanks to the defections of two Progressive Conservative MLAs. It was that those floor-crossings were accompanied by a blistering denunciation of the inner workings of the Ed Stelmach government, delivered by a young, articulate former rising star within the Tory caucus.
Rob Anderson, the MLA for Airdrie-Chestermere, who left the Tories today along with fellow Calgarian Heather Forsyth, delivered the attack as part of a press conference this morning in Calgary, where the Wildrose Alliance still finds most of its support.
First elected in 2008, Anderson called the Stelmach Tories “dysfunctional” and described an atmosphere within the Tory caucus of vindictiveness, intimidation and cronyism.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 9:23 AM - 18 Comments
When I saw that Preston Manning had written an op-ed about Alberta for the Globe, I started a little stopwatch in my skull. Ah, let’s see how long it takes him this time to get to it. One paragraph, two paragraphs…
Is the pattern of Alberta politics about to reassert itself – a pattern characterized by long periods of one-party governance during which the governing party remakes itself several times, periods of political upheaval as Albertans become seized with a new idea and/or the need for change, and periodic replacement of the governing party (if it fails to renew itself), not by its traditional opposition but by something and someone new?
Yup, there it is. When it comes to Alberta, Manning always says the same thing in the same way. We may, in fact, be coming up on the 20th anniversary of his use of this evergreen. Here’s how it looked in an unsigned Reform Party commentary on/warning to Alberta’s Getty government, circulated in February 1990 and described in the Calgary Herald:
The document briefly outlines the history of politics in Alberta noting that it has been characterized by “long periods of one-party government” and “periodic replacement of the governing party, not by its traditional opposition, but by a new party. The governing party in Alberta must periodically renew itself from within if it hopes to continue in office,” it says.
So I guess we know who wrote that. The comic aspect of this, of course, is that lots of Albertans believe in the Explosive Change Hypothesis, and have spent those two decades looking to none other than Mr. E.P. Manning to either coach or quarterback the replacement squad.
The ECH is indisputably true—in retrospect. Every change of party identity in Alberta government, ever, has been brutally thorough in a Long Knives sort of way, has followed a long period of governing-party dominance, and has been executed by a party that never governed Alberta before. (One could add that Alberta governments have all seen their destruction coming in advance and tried to negotiate behind the scenes with the approaching revolutionaries, as Preston’s father is said to have done.) Things have reached the point at which the ECH may be something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Wildrose Alliance, the new right-wing alternative party led by Danielle Smith, was organized by malcontent ideologues and regime victims because everybody believes that an all-new brand is, on historicist grounds, the only possible means of putting the fear of God into an Alberta government.
The question is whether the ECH really has any predictive value. The last explosive change happened in 1971, and that Alberta doesn’t resemble the existing one very closely. (Just for starters, the Athabasca tar sands were still what engineers call vaporware.) Since then the province has occasionally had strong oppositions in the Legislative Assembly, and it almost witnessed a Liberal takeover in 1993. Show of hands: who knew that the Liberals got 40% of the vote in an Alberta election not all that long ago?
History doesn’t follow inexorable laws, although it has a rhythm. The ECH–an inherently unfalsifiable claim right up until the moment it is falsified–is starting to take on the character of the evangelical Christian’s wait for the Rapture. But then, come to think of it, Preston probably believes in that too.