Despite its youth, the Alberta election campaign is already one of the most interesting this country has ever seen. Mere days after PC Premier Jim Prentice called an election for early May, his party has tanked – but not how you might expect. While the PCs are shedding support to the Wildrose and Liberal parties, the real story in petro-land is the rise of the NDP. Some polls have them challenging the PCs for second place, only a few points behind Wildrose for first in line to form government. What are Albertans thinking? Evidence suggests even they might not know.
Rachel Notley, the leader of the Alberta NDP, wants to bring “better government” to Alberta. Apparently Albertans want that, because a solid number of them plan to vote for her. But Albertans want something more specific than that, too. Thankfully, the NDP is willing to be more specific. Leader Notley provides a frame of reference by promising to deliver an Alberta that “is better tomorrow than [it was] yesterday.” She also says that she is going to run a campaign unlike any NDP campaign in decades … she is planning to travel across the entire province. That’s a big commitment. But what does it really mean?
It’s hard to say what any of Notley’s claims mean, mostly because the NDP website doesn’t actually have a platform. A Google search for “Alberta NDP policy” turns up few relevant links …
… but two of the first three are dead.
Voters are welcome to infer whatever they like about NDP policy, but they’re in trouble if they disagree in their interpretations. This should be a problem – and it would be, if the party wasn’t enjoying unprecedented success.
The NDP’s success suggests that the most appealing political party may be the one that gives voters exactly what they want and none of what they don’t. Since voters want change, promise it to them! Since voters don’t want to read, especially concerning policy, don’t make them turn a single page! This is new politics (call it nypolitik to make it sound more European and sophisticated, but don’t choke on the irony), the sort that appeals to the average voter … you know, the one who barely bothers to vote at all. We’ll have to wait until Election Day to find out if the NDP is really on to something.