Alberta is named after Prince Albert husband of Queen Victoria it’s that Western Province of Canada which has more oil and tar than Saudi Arabia and a population of about 4 million people in a territory the size of Europe. The oil wealth until recently gave the Province a lot of clout, it’s population for its territorial size is about that of the City of Montreal and smaller than Toronto. Now that the price of oil is around $55 dllrs a barrel, Alberta is bankrupt, its government having spent just about everything it could on various projects.
In the last 44 years it was governed by a right wing Conservative government, think Tea Party with a strong fringe of extremists, gun lovers, white supremacists etc…. We think of Alberta as the Texas-Alabama of Canada, not a pretty picture.
In the last 20 years Alberta though was changing in terms of population mix, immigration from the Middle East and Asia changed the make-up of its cities Calgary and Edmonton, though some of the rural enclaves where still very White red-neck. The Conservative government had been in power for such a long time with a weak opposition that it had taken the population’s support for granted and had become very arrogant.
Last night all that changed, the polls had predicted a sweep by the New Democratic Party (NDP) but that seemed almost impossible given the history of the Province. However recent political/financial scandals with Premier Allison Redford and the dramatic fall of oil prices, rapidly rising unemployment and all the social problems that come with it created the perfect political storm. This morning Canada woke up to discover the Conservative Party of Alberta gone, it is leaderless, Jim Prentice, a former acolyte of Prime Minister Harper, resigned in the face of defeat and the 70 seat Conservative majority in the Legislature reduced to 10. The majority is held by the NDP and the new Premier is Rachel Notley whose father was the NDP leader many years ago.
Ms. Notley now has a strong majority and a four year mandate to make Alberta a normal Province more in tune with the rest of Canada. It also spells the end of all the pipeline talk XL and others, Oil companies will start paying their share of taxes and royalties. This is a severe blow to PM Harper and a very sharp warning of things to come in the Fall has we enter the Federal Election Campaign. Today Wednesday is Caucus day in the Federal Parliament in Ottawa, the Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and his party who form the Official Opposition in the House were Jubilant over the victory of the Alberta Provincial NDP. In the room down the corridor where the Conservatives of the Harper Regime met the atmosphere was described as a morgue. Coming out of the room at the end of Caucus, Stephen Harper simply told the Press Corps that he really had nothing to do with the Conservative Party in Alberta and really these results had nothing to do with him, no relations, as he described it. Funny how Harper ditches old friends and colleagues when the wind turns, but then again this has been his way of doing things all along.
This is quite a shift in Canadian politics and for many of us, we are still in disbelief but at the same time happy for the change this will bring. It is somewhat like if the GOP had disappeared from Congress and the Senate in the USA and the Koch Brothers had died and gone to Hell. We got rid of Rob Ford in Toronto, now the Conservatives in Alberta and all that is left is Harper and his corrupt government in Ottawa. If this election says one thing it is that Right Wing Conservatives should never be so arrogant as to take the electorate for granted. Canada is and remains a Centrist political country and Alberta like the Prodigal Son has rejoined the Canadian Family.
Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta