Like the passing of a torch, it is an old Canadian tradition for old (in this case literally aged) leaders to confer sage advice upon a new incumbent. Less so upon an incumbent of a party they disagree with, but nevertheless, Rachel Notley, Alberta’s Premier-designate (for god knows how long), accepted a conference with the man she gave the proverbial bum rush too – Jim Prentice, last week. Now she is finding advice coming from other sides, including some more from the right of Canada. Which is only right considering 54% of Albertan’s voted for right wing-ish political parties; coincidentally the same number of seats she won in the legislature with only 40% of the popular vote. So this majority of right-wing Albertans should have a say, right?
Electoral reform seems to be off the table for Notley’s NDP right now, sifnce it didn’t come up in the campaign and her office has been mute on her Harper-esque majority since she won it. Not dissimilar to Mulcair’s approach to reform, mention it in passing but neglecting to put it in their policy manual. Apparently Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau aren’t the only ones with “vague” ideas. The NDP has quite a few of them. You really have to use your imagination to figure out what they might mean! Whatever works, eh?
Following in the footsteps of another Premier (Prime Minister Harper), Notley could effectively mute the majority of Albertans’ opinions until 2019. Only time will tell. However the right is wasting no time in making their voice heard from major players. The Prime Minister that never was, and son of an Albertan Premier, Preston Manning wrote a letter in the Globe and Mail last week offering “advice” to Premier Designate Notley, which amounted to “watch it” and called for the Conservative movement to rebuild in Alberta. Danielle Smith and Ed Stelmach had reiterated the latter since the results came in.
While recommending the Premier be careful in choosing her next moves, Manning oddly warned her against taking too much advice from the Federal NDP, who had sent former leadership candidate Brian Topp out to help Notley with the transition from a caucus that could meet in a car to a 54-seat majority. If Manning wants Notley to fail, as David Climenhaga (a left wing blogger) insists he does, then why the hell is he telling her to not take advice from the Federal NDP? If she draws too many parallels between herself and Mulcair (who himself is more Trudeau than the original Trudeau was to Albertans) then she’s doomed; good for the right. Right? Why would Manning warn her against doing so? Perhaps it’s simply that she already knows NOT to draw too many parallels from Mulcair and crew – having distanced herself from the Orange Scare from Quebec – during the election campaign. Or maybe he’s becoming somewhat addled in his old age.
Of course advice from the son of a former Social Credit Premier (believe me, very little was “social” about the Social Credit Party), who was only opposition leader once and never came close to becoming Prime Minister, must be much appreciated. He’s a conservative loser, and everyone loves a loser from the other side; just like how Tories’ hearts flutter when they hear the name “John Turner”.
Mr. Manning, who has appeared surprisingly progressive lately (speaking out against protege Steve and supporting a carbon tax), may actually be going around the bend! There’s this advice to Notley which is actually good advice (which she likely already knows) and a rather half-hearted plug at uniting the right on the provincial stage à la Canadian Alliance style, which would probably ensure an NDP dynasty for three decades or so; just long enough for some of those new MLAs to graduate university and learn the ropes. At least which ropes direct them in majority land.
For someone who presents himself as an expert on Alberta, Manning’s statements about the Alberta Liberal Party (while typical of a conservative jab) run into the realm of inaccuracy more than usual. Manning insisted that the Liberal Party of Alberta was tossed from office in 1921 after only one government because they were tied too closely to Laurier’s Liberals in Ottawa. Despite writing a stirring critique of Manning’s Editorial, David Climenhaga failed to note the errors and actually reiterated them – that the Liberals were tossed out in 1921 after one term because they were too close to Laurier’s Liberals. Apparently it isn’t just conservatives who don’t like to check their facts.
If the Alberta Liberals were tossed from office in 1921 because of their relationship with Laurier, then that bond must have been incredibly strong, especially since Laurier had been dead since early 1919. And the Alberta Liberals were one of the first ones to break from the federal Liberal Party, because they supported the Union Government of Sir Robert Borden on the issue of conscription, which Laurier’s Liberals didn’t. [Stephen Harper can insert scripted phrase about Justin Trudeau here]. In fact, that likely helped them win the provincial election in 1917, which was the Liberal Party’s fourth successive electoral victory in Alberta. They had governed with majority governments since the province was created in 1905, often with only two members of the Conservative Party being elected in opposition. Technically Manning did say one Liberal Ministry, but the Liberals were led by three different Premiers during that time. Three different leaders, three different ministries.
Having shared his wisdom with us, gained from years of political “lived” experience, I recommend to Mr. Manning to take his own advice; be careful as he does things. He really should check his facts if he’s giving advice. I know it’s not a conservative thing to do, but Alberta isn’t Conservative anymore (not in name in any case, but we’ll see what the next few months bring).