Saturday, May 9, 2015

Unite The Alberta Right: What that should actually look like

The final chapter of the Progressive downfall in Alberta was precipitated by this very idea of uniting the right.  Prentice, Smith and Preston Manning himself helped engineer the scheme to destroy the opposition Wildrose Party so that responsible voters had no where else to turn.

They even appeared to have succeeded at one point.  I myself had left Wildrose for dead, at least mentally for a month or so.  I never took Prentice up on his limited time free membership for Wildrose members.  

But then Progressives were progressive, raising taxes and lording their perceived invulnerability over us.  I couldn't stand it.  I tried the Progressive brand on for size and it sucked.  There was no way I'd vote for taxes.  Strategic vote splitting and all that be damned.  I will never make that mistake again.

So here we are and Ken Boessenkool is trying to unit the right again.  I agree that vote splitting is a real challenge.  And while Progressives were keen to underhandedly wipe out the Wildrose outright for the purpose of unity, I don't see why they won't accept the same logic now and retire the PC franchise.

I don't mean a merger with the Wildrose.  I mean pack it in.  Close it down.  Spare us the needless years of NDP "darkness" that we saw when Reform and PC fought federally.  Are the Ken Boessenkools of the world willing to accept that?  Surrender or nothing.  Those are the terms.

If nothing else the last 6 months have proved that is Wildrose is incredibly resilient.  If losing the party leader and 8 more MLA's, then facing a snap election and increasing their seat count doesn't show fortitude then what will?  I doubt they'll face an existential threat like that again. Wildrose is a hardened player now.

I don't even care about the vote split all that much.  If the NDP lasts for 8 or 12 years, it just means that many more people are going to learn the hard way.  I wonder how many people would have voted for the Progs if they knew what kind of a blowout it would be?  Perhaps they were holding out hope for a coalition?  In fact, there is reason to believe that the Wildrose turnout was suppressed quite a bit with everything that went on in the last year.

Wildrose doesn't need to take the 9 remaining PC's either.  Derek Fildebrant said that the party is open to conservatives but not opportunists.  PC cronies, elected or otherwise need not apply.

Bitterness and resentment however don't belong in a good party.  I would recommend accepting refugee MLAs with some tight conditions.  They must publicly denounce the PC Party for starters.  They should sit as an independent MLA for a year perhaps.  And finally their recognition and acceptance into Wildrose be approved by a vote at the AGM.  They would not technically be "floor crossing" in this scenario.

In any case it's looking like it's going to be war.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Implications of the Alberta Election on Federal Politics

I've read most of the pundits opining on the Alberta election and the NDP.  Many of them are spot on. More than a few of them are the sort of fantasy wish that projects phoney conclusions onto real events.  They get away with it because nobody can test their opinions before the Federal Election and after the election it will all be forgotten.

It's disappointing however that none of the professional talkers and opinion makers actually considered the real implications federally.  Conservatives were not punished Tuesday night.  They, the Wildrose, were rewarded.  Progressives took a thrashing for their progressive governing.

The first myth is that the election has no implication on the federal scene.  This is a bipartisan belief but stems from different viewpoints.

On the left they don't want to get their hopes up at least not too high.  Many on the left are already emotionally invested in Trudeau and the idea that "Angry Tom" could beat their Dartanion is anathema because Harper is also a big meanie in their sad little heads.  The script is set.  It will be personality and charisma vs experience and success.  They may not put it that way but that's what it will be.  Mulcair being experienced and lacking charm interferes with this scheme.  Mulcair's place is to lose badly and pave the way for boy Trudeau.

On the right the fears aren't so nuanced.  They fear an orange wave exactly like the one in Alberta.  Nothing is impossible.  There are scenarios where this could happen but they belong in the realm of Black Swan events.  Everyone recognizes this and immediately dismisses any relevance of the Alberta election to Federal politics.

They are both wrong though.  This does have implications for Federal Politics.

The Federal NDP have been written off almost from the moment Jack Layton departed.  Everyone saw the last Federal Election where NDP surged in Quebec.  It was both a rejection of the Bloc and a sympathetic gesture to smiling Jack Layton.  Mulcair has none of that going for him.  All things equal the Orange Wave of 2011 should experience a neep tide.  Those seats would presumably going to the Liberals in 2016.

But hang on.  Is that really going to happen?  The biggest single factor will be the NDP themselves.  Alberta's NDP win was a needed shot in the arm.  A confidence boost that will propel them to at least try to keep all those seats.  I'm sure a few more votes will flow their way as a result of this weeks events.  As long as they are kept from Justin Trudeau it's a very good thing.  We have the makings of an excellent brawl on the left.  All the NDP has to do is show up.

Now look at Alberta next October.  Don't discount the confusion between the federal Conservative Party and the defunct Alberta Progressive Conservative Party.  Its a confusion enemy pundits are all too willing to exploit especially while Prentice was around.  It's "Tory" this and "Tory" that and the sad retort "they aren't Tory's" is all but vanished now.  It's a shame.

I have an uncle in Ontario who has a nice TTC pension now.  You can imagine the debates we have.  He would bring up all kinds of nasty things Mulroney and the rest did and I could join in with him and say "this is a totally different Conservative Party, we turfed all those assholes and good riddance."  Wildrose gets to do that now.  Everyone should trash Progs at every level whenever possible.

I still meet people who drift from federal to provincial politics in the same conversation without quite grasping the real separation.  Progressives have been giving Conservatives a bad name for far too long.  It's nice to have another fragment of the old PC franchise out of the picture.

Notley's honeymoon should be over by summer.  I predict that nothing will be fixed.  Special interests are publicly lining up for their due already.  The Government will grow larger at an even faster rate while taxes and economic uncertainty will take their toll.  The palpable anxiety of the producer class can only grow in this environment.  How will those voters perceive the liability of a Trudeau or Mulcair government?  I think you know the answer, but note how many of these wise pundits are willing to lead you to it.

This should coincide nicely with Ontario's Liberal fatigue.  If Conservatives are still worried then that is good too.  It's great in fact.  My observation of the CPC is that it seems to perform better when the Party is scared.    Confidence and forthrightness should not be allowed to drift into deadly arrogance.  Honesty and humility as well should be the watchwords of every minister.  Nobody thinks you are perfect, so don't pretend.  Don't try to pull a fast one on voters.  Conservative voters are the savviest out there and they see and understand everything.   Next fall its going to be: here's our record; here's our plan; here's an axe and here's our necks; is there anything else we can do for you Sir/Madam?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Prentice: Gone. Wildrose: Ascendant. NDP Stomps Alberta PCs paralleling Mulroney's '93 Blowout!

Wildrose is looking up today.  The dark cloud left by Prentice and Smith has been cast away.  Neither of them will henceforth sit in Legislature.  The original 17 Wildrosers elected in 2012 was superseded yesterday by 20 happy scrappy MLAs.

Brian Jean, a humble seeming fellow of decent character, had the appearance of a "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington," about him.  You wouldn't know from his speeches that he spent several years in politics.  Go figure.  He's had a fine career.   There's a slight hesitance in his speaking that, while endearing, could seem like a lack of confidence.  With a month on the job and an outstanding campaign nobody can blame him but I must still recommend improvement in giving speeches.  As leader of The Opposition there will be plenty of ice time to work on it.

There are other problems too.  Wildrose was shut out of cities.  Voters went elsewhere in almost all notable cities in Alberta less Fort McMurray.    That has got to change.  Except for Edmonton, where the orange wave crested highest, vote splitting on the right allowed the NDP to exploit that fact to their advantage.

This leads to the other problem for Wildrose, the scattered remnants of the Progressive Party.  The NDP positively curb stomped the long ruling PC Party. None will mistake the fact that only the PCs stand in the way of a Wildrose majority government.  A slow and kindly adoption of PC MLAs by Wildrose would be best for everyone.  One can barely recognize a few of the PCs elected and that's good, because the ones that are recognized have still the taint of Redford on them.

It's amazing that Prentice quit his job immediately after the voters kept him.  Losing the Premiership and resigning from PC leader is one thing.  Quitting your seat on election night is a slap in the face to each PC voter in his former riding.

Get back here you!  At least Ignatieff was kicked out.

Sure it was embarrassing to lose so badly but if he can't just be an MLA he wasn't meant for the top job either.  Prentice left a very good job to be Premier and he'd probably like to go back to a good job now.  "Just visiting" as they say.  Not many people can put 'Premier of Alberta' on their CV.  He'll be alright.  Let's hope he takes the notes back to Joe Clark and Preston Manning.

It marks 22 years ago now that Preston Manning himself trounced the Mulroney PCs (yep, Kim Cambell, but not really).  And it was the same Joe Clark that blocked Conservative unity and allowed the Liberals to dominate as the NDP have done yesterday.  Will those characters work to block Wildrose now?  Pity Alberta if they do.

We've seen this scenario before.  Progressives fumbled badly in 1993 and now in 2015.  Will this be a "Decade of Darkness" for Alberta?  It doesn't have to be.  Wildrose has proven that it has what it takes to last.  It has defied crippling defections and a snap election to came out stronger than before.  Even your author gave up hope, but in end chose Wildrose.

As for Racheal Notley I must pay my respect for a well run campaign and a good performance at the debate.  Experience shows that left leaning politicians govern from the left and issue left wing policies.  We can hope that Alberta NDP are different than the rest of them but that hasn't been the reality in most places.  Whatever compensation the NDP grants to placate nervous conservatives be assured that it is only an attempt to ease them into more socialism later.  Cynical? Yes, it's what happens when ideals hit reality.  It would be nice to be wrong about the NDP but that reality is a pest.  You heard the boos for Harper at Notley's acceptance speech?  They will not make a good government, try as they might.

Raise your heads high Wildrose.  The worst is behind you but there is a lot more ahead.  Keep that plucky and happy attitude you all had through the campaign.  The NDP now heads the bloated and entitled public service the PCs built and they believe they have a mandate too.  Show them we won't tolerate the same government largess the last bunch was thrown out for.