State of Albertan Politics

Having just got back from vacation (we visited the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida), it’s time to get a bit more back into blogging. I posted the following as an extended comment for Crommunist who recently discussed the Alberta election.

Premier Alison Redford is a red-Tory. Once thought extinct, this political species truly represents the “Progressive Conservative” brand. Socially liberal but fiscally conservative, these politicians have no desire to restrict human rights, while also want to keep deficits small and let business operate more freely. Redford won her party’s leadership by promising to support teachers and doctors.

Danielle Smith is a pure libertarian, direct from the Fraser Institute, and seems to legitimately have no interest in legislating along morality. Unfortunately for her, her party comes from a combination of fringe far-right parties (Wildrose and the Alberta Alliance) which sought to push these socially regressive policies. Smith, believing that free speech means speech should have no consequences, refused to distance herself or her party from the racist and homophobic views that were all too common in a slate of fringe nutcases, and consequently her party was trounced in the city that recently elected a brown Muslim university professor as mayor and in the other city that has a popular Jewish mayor.

The Liberal Party of Alberta is cursed by their name, despite being entirely independent from their federal cousins who forever tarnished the big red brand in Alberta. Their leader, Raj Sherman, is a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, who was kicked (or quit, I forget) from caucus for openly criticizing the government over its handling of health care. He joined and then became the leader of the Liberals, but failed to make a break through. Many thought with a PC leader that the Liberals would curve right and attempt to bleed soft PC support from the left while the Wildrose tore in from the right. Instead, he released a platform to the left of the NDP, promising new taxes on the rich (Alberta currently has a flat income tax) and free university tuition.

The NDP doubled its caucus and nearly won in Lethbridge with a popular local candidate. Its leader, Brian Mason, was the only veteran leader, but he has yet to break through in quite the way that Jack Layton did for the federal NDP. They almost sadly consider getting 11% of the vote and 4 seats to be a rousing success.

Finally, the Alberta Party started basically through Twitter and Web 2.0 fads, focussed on “doing politics differently”, nominated and targeted only a few ridings, and failed to even make a dent in any. The Alberta Greens were de-registered after the previous election for failing to file their paperwork, and their former leader was just elected as a Wildrose MLA (basically the Greens were really big on property rights which aligned with the Wildrose). In place of the Greens was the EverGreen Party that failed to even register on the radar (can anyone name their leader?).

Party loyalty and tribalism being what they are, there is little to no chance that the Liberals, NDP, and other left or centre alternatives will make efforts to cooperate or merge. Therefore, under first-past-the-post, these parties will continue to split the vote in many ridings and the best hope for progressive policies in Alberta in this election was in many of the PC candidates.