The writ has been dropped and we in Alberta will elect a new government on March 3. After the throne speech, yesterday (Feb. 4), premier Ed Stelmach called the long anticipated election, his first as leader of the Progressive Conservative (PC) party. It should be one of the most interesting elections this province has had in a while. For the past 70+ years, we have lived in a basically one-party province, where the population is reluctant to change horses. Up until 1971, it was the Social Credit (Socred) party that had led the province for 36 years. Then Peter Lougheed’s Progressive Conservatives took power and lasted through four premiers up until now. The result is that our opposition parties remain just that, in opposition, never getting the chance to seat a government and offer an alternative to the electorate–a one party state. Like in the old communist regimes, you have to be a member of the ruling party to have a say in who governs.
In 1971, Lougheed campaigned on the need for change. The Socreds were getting long in the tooth, had a laclustre leader who was basically a place holder until somoene better came along, and had run out of ideas. Lougheed swept to power in a landslide.
Today, the PCs are getting long in the tooth, have a laclustre leader, and have run out of ideas. They fail to see the changes that are coming thick and fast, and don’t know how to control an out-of-control economy that threatens all our futures.
But will those drawbacks be enough to keep the PCs out of power? The Liberals, who have the best chance of defeating the PCs, also have a laclustre leader in Kevin Taft. He’s well spoken, highly educated and I have no doubt would make a good premier. However, this province is wary of changing governments, and is especially wary of anything coming with a ‘liberal’ label (an unfortunate association with the central-Canada-oriented federal Liberals). That’s too bad, because if you look at the Liberal platform, it is a realistic look at what needs to be done.
But that’s the problem with Alberta politics. Although we promote ourselves as being free thinkers, we seem to be intolerant to political views contrary to those of the party in power. Thus, we often have to put up with the arrogance and paternalism of those in power.
To me, as an outdoor person and writer, the issues boil down to 1) the environment and specifically climate change; 2) the environment, water quality and quantity; 3) the environment, land-use planning; 4) health care, making it better; and 5) the economy and how it can be regulated to keep our prosperity longer.I will be visiting the web sites of all parties, including the PCs, Liberals, New Democrats, Green and the new Wildrose Alliance. I will evaluate the positions, but like many, my vote just may depend on the qualities of the local candidates. Party politics aside, I like to know the person representing my constituency understands the issues.
So, what’s wrong with that?