First off, WE DID IT!!!! The Notley Crew crashed a tidal wave of orange crush all across this province. They have secured a majority government and did the unthinkable – won as a progressive party in Alberta! While Arb has already posted about the victory, I want to post about the defeat. The defeat of this political dynasty that has reigned for 44 years is monumental and was largely engineered by themselves. And while power has been what has held this unholy alliance of fiscal conservatives, social conservatives and progressives together, it is the loss of this power that will destroy them.
To understand the defeat of the PCAA one should understand that they have been a big tent party from the beginning. Peter Lougheed came to power by creating the recipe for a modern petro-state. His plan to drive business and bring investment into the province brought the fiscal conservatives in droves while his plan to build hospitals, schools and infrastructure with the resulting inflow of cash, brought the progressives along. The social conservatives held strong to the Social Credit party for a time but eventually they realized they were better served by having a seat at the government’s table rather than sitting on the sidelines.
And that is the crux of what kept this party together decades upon decades. Power. And lots of it. Massive amounts. In fact, in the entire history of this dynasty they have only elected less than 50 candidates twice. In their twelve straight election victories, seven have been with a popular vote greater than 50 percent and three greater than 60 percent! Numbers like those are rare in democracies where the head of state is not called Dear Leader. While it is indeed true that this power kept the party together, it is also what tore it apart.
The thing with that much power is that it always breeds conflict on who should be controlling it. Just ask Caesar. And much like Rome, Alberta was strongest when it was held together by strong leaders, namely Lougheed and Klein. And while Lougheed managed to retire on his own terms (or at least from what I can tell), Klein most certainly did not. Once Klein announced his intent to retire before the next election in March 2006, he was already dead in the eyes of his party. He ultimately suffered a humiliating 55% on his leadership review as the sheep that were his flock revealed themselves as the wolves they really were. Klein would resign and the wolves were already fighting to see who would be the new Dear Leader.
Therein lay the problem problem that would haunt the PCAA until 2015 where their hubris would be the end of them. First came Stelmach, everyone’s second choice who made the mistake of challenging the true masters of the PCAA by trying to raise royalties on the bitumen leaving Alberta. He received his just deserts and ended up on the floor next to Klein. Next came Redford who was the choice of the progressives that didn’t stick around to prop her up. She was the personification of the corruption and arrogance the PCAA had gained after being a multi-generational government. Watching her go down brought to mind the image of Nero playing the lyre as Rome burned.
Then finally came the nail in the coffin, Diamond Jim Prentice. Not because he was impotent like Stelmach nor an avatar of corruption like Redford, but instead because he was so effective. Winning by-elections that nobody thought he could brought him the credibility and the strong leadership the PCAA needed to finally coalesce around. It was this strong leadership that lead the PCAA down the rabbit hole that was their end. To highlight their strategy going before calling an election:
1.Blame Albertans for their mismanagement of our resources that caused us to be in a debt situation again. The fact that he also infuriated ordinary Albertans by telling them to look into the mirror and then refusing to apologize for it didn’t help facts either.
2. Infuriate the progressives by running an austerity budget that literally destroyed all the progress they made side the days of Klien.
3. Infuriate the conservatives by raising taxes everywhere.
Calling an election not only after pissing of the entirety of the Alberta populace is one thing, but waiting a few weeks to confirm that they are still pissed off and still calling the election anyway is another thing. The only people they still had rooting for them were those still feeding at the trough. Not until the polls started showing a NDP victory did the swine take a moment to raise their snouts from the slop bucket and proceeded to threaten sick children if we as Albertans dared to elect the NDP.
Well, we as Albertans elected the NDP anyway and now the covenant of power that was the PCAA is over. That which bound the disparate factions of Alberta together in darkness has been thrown into Mount Doom and cannot be reforged. There is no longer any need for the progressives to flock to the PCAA as the NDP is in power. There is no longer any need for the conservatives to rally for the PCAA as the Wildrose is the opposition. The provincial Tories are currently stuck in the middle without anyone at their side. Unless they manage to pull off what will be a literal miracle (or at least the Jesus on toast kind of miracle) and convince the Alberta electorate that they have changed for real this time and to give them one last final chance, I expect their future to reflect that of what happened to the Social Credit party way back when that political dynasty died off.
The dynasty is dead. May we never have another one.