As of this writing, Rachel Notley’s New Democrats have claimed 54 seats in the Alberta legislature, well past the threshold of 44 that allows them to call a majority government. With the Wildrose and Progressive-Conservatives trailing behind with 20 and 11 respectively, the hashtags truly do speak for themselves. #socialistalberta and #mothersands abound and the results are unambiguous.
Well, maybe they aren’t. Alberta has not embraced socialism any more than it would have embraced the right had it elected Wildrose. Yesterday, Alberta embraced change (through the end of a dynasty) not from a deep-seated love for social democracy, but from a deep-seated loathing of the Progressive-Conservatives. Brian Jean’s Wildrose polled high early on, after all. In any other election, voters switching from the ultra-right party to the NDP would suggest that the politics didn’t matter. Indeed, this election came down to trust, integrity, and those other squishy notions that no voter would associate with the PCs after Redford’s tarnished legacy of corruption and deceit. The shenanigans surrounding the Justice Minister’s marital affairs, the surprise early election, and Danielle Smith’s treatment after she crossed the floor only begin to explain how Prentice went from saviour to villain.
Ironically, the past six months have seen the PCs vault to the left. When the economy began tanking as the price of oil dipped, it was revealed that the PCs have steadily burned through incoming oil revenue without retaining a rainy day fund. What’s more, in light of the sudden spike in joblessness, Prentice responded as he might have if here were the leader of the CCF: he raised the income tax on the rich and added a spate of new service fees, as employment insurance claimants skyrocketed over the past year. The Alberta PCs had become the ultimate tax and spenders with no clue how to manage the economy, and who cozy up to their elite friends in high places. It’s no wonder that the NDP received endorsements from virtually everyone, including Ralph Klein’s daughter and Ezra Levant. If we’re going to have a tax and spend party, they may as well not be entrenched elitists.
— Ezra Levant (@ezralevant) April 30, 2015
Rachel Notley now has a tough time ahead of her. Some of the NDP candidates were yoga instructors and college students, picked in a hurry given the surprise election announcement. We should know soon whether Notley is able to train them as Nycole Turmel taught her 19 year old MPs after the last federal election. What is certain is that, questions of trust and integrity aside, there is still a province to run. If the NDP interprets this victory as a mandate on policy, Albertans may riot by the time the Stampede comes around. If they decide to focus on accountability and transparency while governing from the centre, the PCs may have a very hard time ahead of them rebuilding the party.
It was time for a change in Alberta and change has come. Let’s see what the Notley administration does next.