It appears that Albertans are heading for a 2015 spring election. Leaving aside the fact that the law states that an election isn’t due until the spring of 2016; WHY? Our Premier says he needs a mandate to deal with the grim reality that oil prices have collapsed. A significant portion of Alberta’s economy is based on what happens in the oil patch and so it is critically important that the Premier and the government know that they are authorized by Albertans to deal with whatever comes up.
They don’t know this already?
After Alison Redford resigned in disgrace in the spring of 2014, Jim Prentice was the successful candidate to succeed her as leader of the Progressive Conservative party and he became the premier in waiting. The PCs already had an overwhelming majority but they added to it when two members of the opposition joined the PCs.
Then last October he and his party swept four by-elections, including his own riding, and he became premier, in fact. This left the PCs with an even more overwhelming majority, and clearly, an unfettered mandate to run the province as they deemed necessary.
Then a few weeks later, offering who knows what incentives and for no obvious political reason other than to ensure even more absolute PC control of the province, the PCs managed to gut the official opposition by enticing the majority of their remaining members to cross the floor and join their party.
Let me interject that I have not heard one shred of even mildly compelling evidence to justify what the Wildrosers did. When the federal Progressive Conservative Party united with the Reform Party to form the Conservative Party of Canada, the reason was that with a centre-right party, and a somewhat farther right party competing with each other, it was obvious that a left wing party would permanently be in control of Canada. But there is not the slightest need to; “unite the right”, in Alberta, where the chances of a left-wing party ever taking over approach zero.
More critically, in a parliamentary democracy, any ruling political party or leader – no matter how benign – needs a strong opposition to hold them to account. Alberta’s PCs have been in power for 43 years, and the critical areas of provincial governance that they are responsible for, healthcare and education to name two, are in disarray. If we ever needed a strong opposition, it’s now!
But back to the election: why would Premier Prentice need a more clear mandate than he already has? Is he actually suggesting that, absent an election he’s not sure if Albertans expect him and his party to deal with the low oil price crisis?
No, if Jim Prentice calls an election it will be proof that he and his party still believe that the primary function of the PC Party of Alberta is to ensure that they remain in power. Whatever it takes.
What do you think? I really appreciate your feedback; and if you think having a conversation around this issue is important, please pass this link on to your friends and let’s get them involved.
Next blog: Reasons that staying in power is so crucial to the PC Party and their “Family.”