Talking About Rachel

The new NDP government in Alberta has people talking.

No matter what else Rachel Notley and her government have done so far in office, they certainly have gotten Canadians talking about her, us, and this great experiment in non-conservativism. From ordinary citizens to the political elite, discussion of Notley’s Newbies is a hot topic.

If you read the commentary beneath the stories in the national online media, the Post, G&M, CTV, etc, you get opinions from Canadians spanning both political and geographic spectrums. (The only affiliation not represented in these posts are the Incurably Apathetic Party). Everyone has strong opinions and

in these debates, few punches are pulled and fewer minds are ever changed.

Alberta and its denizens do not appear particularly popular in these message boards. We are, apparently, 4 plus million homogeneous, deeply religious, conservative farmers and environment ravagers. A startling amount seems to believe Albertans are somewhere right of America’s Tea-Party. Mostly, though we’re know-nothing redneck dupes for voting in the same party for 44 years. Since banishing the PCs to a four year time-out (or permanent oblivion depending on the “expert”) now we’re no-nothing, redneck socialist dupes. We’re suddenly fools for dumping the very government we were fools for keeping.

Reading these non-professional and often unprofessional posts from other Canadians can be confusing. Apparently Notley’s Newbies are one of two things. They might be crazed commies whose sole raison d’etre is to destroy Alberta’s energy industry and chase away investment. Alternatively, they are an army of young, forward-thinking idealists out to get Albertans their fair share of resource royalties which belong to the citizens, not the PC’s oil company buddies. We’re now ruled by saviors of our wealth or squanderers of it.

It’s certain Notley isn’t just being discussed in news media chatter-boards but in offices, caucus meetings and boardrooms across the country including Stephen Harper’s own office. At first glance, it might appear the party with most to gain from Alberta’s NDP tsunami would be Tom Mulcair who hasn’t been able to wipe the grin off his face since Notley’s stunning majority victory. Surely he can use this win to energize the troops and look more like a viable alternative federally to the Harper Conservatives. Indeed he has received a polling boost following Notley’s win that puts his party at a statistical tie with the Liberals and Conservatives.

However, historically, apart from formerly true-blue Alberta, most provinces, particularly Ontario, has generally supported left-leaning provincial governments when Conservatives were in power federally and vice versa. Few lean as left as the Ontario Liberals, who appear farther left than Andrea Horvath’s NDP’s. People’s aversion to having too much of one stripe is going to work against Mulcair and if he thinks he will get the same electoral result in Alberta as Notley did, he is sadly mistaken.

The NDP win in Alberta does nothing to help Justin Trudeau and will likely hurt him for the same reasons it will hurt Mulcair. Add to the mix that their conjoined destiny is to have to spend a lot of resources during the looming election in Quebec which will be a major battleground the Conservatives feel they can largely sit out. Harper didn’t need any Quebec seats to win his majority, although he does hold a handful. Both Trudeau and Mulcair must make their election promises attractive to Quebecers who love federal dollars without alienating voters in every other province. This will be a tough row to hoe for both of them. Expect Trudeau to be under great scrutiny by the rest of Canada electorate to see how much his policies will be Quebec-centric. It’s no secret Mulcair must pander to the lucky Laytoninte Quebec caucus that resembles so much the Notley crew that we’ve installed here.

How will this all play out for Stephen Harper? Is he drawing parallels between Jim Prentice and himself? They’re both cut from similar cloth and encumbered by long tenures of their party in office. Are the people of Canada as angry at the Conservatives as Albertans were the PCs? My sense is not even close. The anger at Prentice was palpable. I had never seen such animosity for a government in my lifetime. Despite Harper’s shelf-life becoming dangerous close to expiration for many. The fear of the left taking over federally is going to scare the vote toward the Conservatives.

Predictions are scary to make, however with this much election to go. In the political world, they say, a week is a long time and October is a many weeks away.