Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Can fear of change in Alberta change Canada?

Red Tories haven’t had a good election for a generation and they had every right to celebrate last night.
However, like others who weather bad times, they can be small, too. Allison Redford had good reasons to be small last night: she was expected to lose the last standing dynasty of progressive conservatism to a conservative upstart, and she had already worked for the vanquished Joe Clark and seven failed states on behalf of the UN. So, just for the record, last night, she was a little nasty.
“Every Albertan knew that this election was about choice. A choice to put up walls or to build bridges. A choice about Alberta's future,” Ms. Redford said in her victory speech. “Tonight, Alberta chose to build bridges.”
It's a gleeful iteration of a campaign of fear, but hardly a reliable guide for Western politics or the last word on her opponent, Danielle Smith.
When you’re rich and you’re thinking about throwing out a regime that’s been in office for over 40 years—and the alternative has been ahead in the polls for nearly three weeks—the alternative, not change or the brutes you’ve known for a life time, becomes the ballot issue.
Danielle Smith was crudely accused of being Sarah Palin and suspected of being easy on the Counter-Reformation and Alberta independence. These charges wouldn’t have landed, except on the CBC, if she’d had enough time to establish herself.
The last dynasty in Alberta—Social Credit, 1935 to 1971—was defeated by a Harvard MBA graduate named Peter Lougheed. He first served four years in the Alberta legislature and had the intangible benefit of carrying an honored family name that had served in Alberta public life since Confederation. Like Smith, he was also articulate, business-like, and extremely ambitious. (The moment he became premier, Lougheed became a Canadian of consequence—often praised as a statesman and, as well, suspected as a divider and extremist in Eastern Canada.)
Centrist left politics, of course, are not dead. However, their chances of making a comeback in Canadian federal politics by campaigning on fear are not validated by what just happened in Alberta.
The New Democrats, though, should feel very good about choosing Thomas Mulcair as their national leader. He didn’t have the freshest face at their leadership convention, but he has all the political experience that Danielle Smith didn’t have—and would have likely saved her campaign.
The biggest policy problem for Stephen Harper, and potentially for Canada, will be Premier Redford’s self-imposed promise of talking the rest of Canada into going along with Alberta’s energy development and fiscal priorities. Albertans haven’t gone sheepish about controlling their resource development, or soft on carbon taxes and transfer payments to Eastern Canada. Her Finance Minister has Alberta conservatives and taxpayers, not the Empire Club of Toronto, to first impress.

No comments:

Post a Comment