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?

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