So I was walking home from the Campaign Office – my daughter in her stroller – and I saw John Fletcher’s Wildrose Sign. The Blue and Green sign was catchy so I looked and read it. Then I saw another and another. Each time, there was a simple message at the top: Send the PCs a message. While seeing signs from the Liberals, NDP and Alberta Party, I saw and though about the Wildrose Sign. It hit me, repeatedly, so I started to think about the sign and its message. Over and over again, I saw it and I thought about it.
And then a question hit me: What message do the people of Calgary-Elbow want to send to Edmonton? The Wildrose Party likely wants you to think that a vote for them is a vote for change. However, I would argue that voting for them is voting for a return to the Ralph Klein Era. For, many present Wildrose Supporters were once Progressive Conservatives. With that being said, I get Wildrose Supporters. They want to bring back “Alberta’s Golden Age” because times were easier and better. Alberta was on the rise, our economy was starting its monumental ride upward, and the Reform Party was elected federally. Alberta’s Political and Economic Star was on the rise and the Federation was changing. It was a good time. So why not have the same governmental policies that reigned the province of Alberta between December 14, 1992 – December 14, 2006?
The answer is simple: Ralph Klein was forced out because of those same policies. If you want proof, just look at the National Post. Read an article entitled “Nobody likes a cranky Ralph Klein”. It was written before Mr. Klein resigned. In it the following was written: “He deserves a political death with dignity. But if the upcoming Alberta Conservative convention swings against his 13-year leadership, Ralph Klein will have only himself to blame for the forced exit.” Consequently, Mr. Klein’s policies did not find favour and the reason was simple. For, some he could not expand the government’s services fast enough. For others, the expansion came too quickly. Those Progressive Conservatives who were in the latter group left the party. Eventually, much of that base found a home in the present Wildrose Party.
For, in that party, those ex-Progressive Conservatives found a place to show their anger with the growing level of government. They didn’t want to have an expansion of health care and education to deal with the increased level in economic and population growth. In fact, many of them argued that all that was required was to make government more efficient and the elusive waste would appear. Funny thing is that as political watcher, I know that the same promises have been heard since the early 80s. In the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, those promises have been made, yet now one has been able to find these illusive cost savings. I think it is only a myth. Or maybe it is a campfire story that inexperienced and uncertain politicians tell. Personally, I don’t think the people of Calgary-Elbow want to hear fiction or send it to Edmonton. So that discounts the Wildrose Party.
Meanwhile, the Alberta Party wants you to vote for them because they say that they are “progressive change.” However, look at their policies and I would argue that that is not the case. Some policies are pretty inoffensive. For example, some of their Democratic Renewal policies include:
- spearhead initiatives that attract a wider range of candidates reflecting the new Alberta and ensure the Legislature considers the needs of MLAs with younger families or;
- Engage citizens in the electoral process by promoting participation from a young age, through meaningful ongoing civic education throughout their time in the school system, as well as encouraging frequent engagement and creating youth leadership roles within government and political structures.
However, they also have policies which just don’t make any sense. For example, the Alberta Party proposes to “place a ten-year limit on the Premier’s term in office, to ensure regular renewal within the government”. The only problem is that they can’t promise that. While Section 45 allows “the legislature of each province may exclusively make laws amending the constitution of the province”, the Premier is chosen by a federally appointed officer: the Lieutenant Governor. The powers of the Lieutenant Governor are prescribed by section 58 to 67 of the Constitution Act, 1867; and, the Constitution is very clear about changing the powers of the Queen, Governor General or a Lieutenant Governor(s): it requires unanimity of all Provincial and Federal Legislatures. In other words, to make the change they suggest, the Alberta Party would have to succeed where all previous Prime Ministers have failed. Just think about the British North America Act (i.e. the Constitution Act, 1867) did not have unanimity. Many don`t know that the Fathers of Confederation came from six colonies. While representatives of PEI and Newfoundland had negotiated their places in Confederation in 1864, the Colonial Legislatures of PEI and Newfoundland wouldn’t give their approval to the deal. In fact, two provinces tried to leave Confederation just as Canada came to be. In 1867, Nova Scotia’s Anti-Confederates won 36 out of 38 seats in the provincial legislature and New Brunswick saw the election of anti-confederates to the federal and provincial legislatures. No Constitutional Deal since has had unanimity. 1982 deal had nine provinces and the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accord had much less support. Consequently, the Alberta Party’s policies give me one message: inexperience. In my mind, this is not a message that the constituents of Calgary-Elbow should send to anyone.
Since, I don’t believe that the people of Calgary-Elbow are backward looking nor do they want to send a message of inexperience to Edmonton, a choice has to be made. Given the NDP has no chance of taking Calgary Elbow, the constituents of Calgary-Elbow have a simple choice: the status quo of the Progressive Conservatives or the progressive change offered by Susan Wright. Which answer do you want to send to Edmonton? I hope it is one of change, renewal and revitalization. I hope it will be Susan Wright.