IWUZ thinking about the state of Alberta politics. Here we are a week into a Alberta election that was scheduled for the spring of 2016 and it’s only April of 2015! You never know with Alberta politics!
But I suppose we should know. We have a fixed date election law, passed by the Progressive Conservatives to great fanfare. It stipulates that the next general election is to be held between March 1 and May 31, 2016, and when he was a candidate for the leadership of the PC party, Jim Prentice promised to keep it.
But that was then, and this is now. Having successfully used a bait and switch to seduce some naive and unprincipled Wildrosers to take the bait, and switch, the Wildrose Party was left decimated and with an interim leader. The Liberals also had an interim leader, but having been told that the election was in 2016, both parties believed they had another whole year during which to choose a new leader.
So Jim Prentice saw an opportunity, and instead of keeping his promise, he found a loophole. With low oil prices expected for at least another year, spring 2016 might be a bad time for an election. Albertans would have another year struggling with an expensive but chaotic healthcare system; discovering more dams that the government can’t assure us are safe; noticing that the same schools are promised at each election but don’t get built; and recognizing the extent of our financial mess.
When questioned about the ethics of springing an election on the opposition parties a year early, Jim Prentice rather testily replied that: “My job is not to get the opposition parties ready for an election; that is not my job. My job is to take care of the province. They have had ample notice that we are in serious times and Albertans need serious solutions. People need to be ready.”
Can the Premier be serious? He already had an overwhelming majority and could have passed any legislation he deemed necessary. And why should the opposition parties be ready for an election in May 2015 when it had been promised for the spring of 2016?
But I think the Premier was making a valid point. Having broken his word several times before – including one to be less arrogant and more respectful of Albertans than his predecessors – what he was actually saying was: “You should know me by now. You know that PC promises are never meant to be taken seriously. So it’s your own fault that you believed me about the election date.”
So the question that will be answered on May 5 is: “Are Albertans going to be seduced like the Wildrose and the Liberals? Should Albertans believe the new promises? Are overwhelming PC majorities a good thing for Alberta or do we need a strong opposition?
As you walk into the polling booth on May 5, thank God you live in Alberta, and remember to breathe. Then take another deep breath, and Remember to Think!