According to the National Post and some other coast-to-coast media outlets last week, the federal Liberals under Justin Trudeau “are set to win their first seats in Alberta in a long time.”
The federal Liberals have been known in the past to win a few seats in Alberta from time to time, mostly in Edmonton, Lethbridge and mostly owing to the universities located there. Those pesky university professors are known for their left-wing views, and haven’t always seen eye to eye with Alberta’s traditional Tory Blue.
But now pollsters and pundits are predicting this is the time Trudeau, son of perhaps the most hated politician in western Canadian history, Pierre Elliot, could break through on election day and win seats in the Wild Rose province.
These are the same pollsters and pundits who, as late as 8 p.m. on the last election night four years ago, predicted Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper could, at best, win a minority government or be turfed by Canadian voters entirely. Harper went on to win a convincing majority, illustrating how out of touch with everyday Canadians pundits, pollsters and eastern media in general were.
But most of the “Red Landslide” predictions in the upcoming election are coming from the same people who refer to the so-called the “Orange Landslide” last spring in Alberta. Many pundits and pollsters feel, because the NDP won a “landslide majority” in Alberta during the last election, the Liberals have their best chance in decades to make an Alberta breakthrough. However, there was no “NDP landslide” in the last provincial election in Alberta. Not as far as geography is concerned.
The left-leaning NDP won, in total, 54 constituencies while the right-leaning Wild Rose and PC’s won a combined 31. Granted, it was decisive. But it was far from a blowout, especially when you look at the electoral map to see where the NDP support came from and where the Wildrose and PC support came from.
NDP voters were overwhelmingly represented in Calgary, Edmonton and smaller cities like Lethbridge, while Wildrose and PC support stayed strong in rural areas. Check out the constituency map for the 2015 election at Elections Alberta; with very few exceptions, an orange urban constituency is bordered by a green Wildrose one. There may have been an “Orange landslide” in Edmonton and Calgary, but nowhere else in Alberta.
Where did the support come from? There are a few reasons. Alberta has seen a massive influx of new residents over the past, say, 20 years, and not through a baby boom. People have been coming to Alberta in large numbers looking for work, and they’ve been coming from eastern Canada, traditionally a left-leaning part of the country, and foreign countries where people have no obligation of any kind to the PC party, for example. Easterners who move here have no problem voting socialist, while foreigners who move here have no problem voting for whomever makes the best sales pitch.
Then of course there is the NDP’s best friend, former PC premier Alison Redford. Redford’s term two years ago started off so positively; despite being the second or third string candidate who, again, won the leader’s race within the PC party, Redford and her handpicked ministers wasted no time in alienating virtually every segment of Alberta society over the next 24 months. Former deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk tweeted jokes about a destructive landslide in BC, former Education minister Jeff Johnson took a very heavy hand to the Alberta Teachers Association and former Finance minister Doug Horner, after other government members apparently abused flight privileges, stood up in front of a microphone and said, “The buck stops with me.” Horner then proceeded to blame everyone except himself. The last straw was Redford’s extravagant spending, including what appears to be some sort of private penthouse and free plane tickets for her daughter, turning government business into happy-family outings. Talk about a lack of professionalism.
It really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone that the NDP could win a provincial election, but they’re not really the government of Alberta; the NDP is the government of Edmonton and Calgary.
The question remains…can voters in Calgary and Edmonton be relied on to win seats for Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals? Is Stephen Harper hated as much as Alison Redford was?
Don’t count on it.