Saturday, January 01, 2011

Is Alberta Tired of Being Taken For Granted by Harper?

Susan Riley writes an interesting take on Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff's possibilities in a forthcoming by-election in Calgary.  With the sudden and unexpected departure of Jim Prentice, the last progressive voice in the Harper government, there is a need for a by-election by May 2011.  There may be a general election before then but I doubt it will happen until the fall of 2011.  The Liberals should wait for Canadians to see the continuing failure of integrity the hardcore Harper Cons to live up to their fundamental political ideology. Harper's hypocritical character flaws will show again as he will retreat even further from what he touts as sound and conservative fiscal management in their upcoming budget.

Could Calgary send a message for the rest of Alberta in this by-election and elect a Liberal in protest to the indifference and disdain Harper has shown for his home province and his home city?  Harper has been increasingly estranged from Albertans ever since he got all that personal political power and his iron-fist control over everything that happens in the federal government.

Nenshi's election as Mayor last October give us hope.  He won handily over two variations conventional Conservatism. One rejected candidate was run by the Harper machine and the other had her strings pulled by the old Klein crowd.  Provincially there are now more Liberals elected in Calgary than in Edmonton and they used to call us Redmonton back in the day when that was reversed.  Stranger things have happened is all I am saying.

I am not making any political predictions but we know from our conjoint research last May that only 17% of Albertans are in any way satisfied with the way Alberta's federal MPs protect and promote our interests in Ottawa. That indicates changes could happen and a by-election that elects a Liberal is just the ticket to send Harper a much overdue "we are not amused" political message.

When Premier Klein was kicked out by the PC rank and file his "safe" seat was lost to a Liberal in a by-election.  Klein was a lot more popular in Alberta then than Harper can ever hope to be.  When Deputy Premier Stevens quit provincial politics, as quickly and mysteriously as Prentice, the by election that followed went to the Wildrose Alliance as a way to send Premier Stelmach a "we are not amused" political message.  The Liberal vote stayed the same but the protest vote went to the Wildrose Alliance in that by-election.

So stay tuned Alberta and consider the strategic opportunity to send a wake up call to the Harper-Cons in the   soon to be announced by-election.  And if there is a general election beforehand, the opportunity is even greater to ensure Alberta is not taken for granted by the presumptive arrogance of the Harper political machine that we are all mindless sheep without voting or political options.

Welcome to one small piece of the new narrative that is being written about the next Alberta by a revived sense of citizenship that is happening all over the province.


  1. Rob B1:37 pm

    Only thing is Ken: in a province that talked separation and firewalls (if only to drum up voting support from us), in a province where we still get saturated with easterner-outsider discourse whenever an issue that lies beyond our border presses in on us, what does a question phrased as "only 17% of Albertans are in any way satisfied with the way Alberta's federal MPs protect and promote our interests in Ottawa" really mean?

    I don't think that even most Albertans buy into the conservatives, or even the "petty nationalism" the conservatives have constructed as "truly Albertan." I just have a difficult time being able to ascertain the necessary "progressiveness" of this opposition from that poll question.

    What it really might be telling us is that Albertans are ready for a new "crowd" that successfully incorporates the status quo, not a shift in what "our interests" are perceived to be.

    An indicator of a real shift for me would be representing those interests as something like "in the absence of 1) Kyoto and 2) absolute caps on emissions (both the work of Harper-Klein and the mostly US-based oil industry), we have to 3) slow or halt oilsands development until technology to reduce GHGs catches up, if we're really going to balance economy and environment." Or other kinds of concrete progressive possibilities.

    It's not just "who" represents you: it's what is represented.

  2. I read the editorial in the Herald iPad app and retweeted it instantly. This would indeed an interesting twist to be tossed into the ever-more boring games of politics in this country. Getting a Liberal MP in Calgary would spice things up and probably give us more balance and common sense in federal politics.

  3. Riley has the riding (and the party) wrong. The best hope of kicking out a few more Tory MPs exists in Edmonton Centre with NDPer Lewis Cardinal, and in Edmonton East with Ray Martin. The Liberals barely registered against Prentice.

  4. Good Morning Lou. The opportunity Riley is focused on is the by-election because Prentice left politics. The election is an entirely different set of dynamics.

    As for barely registering as a party, that was the reality of the Wildrose too - until they won a by-election bouncing the incumbent PCs to an embarrassing 3rd place finish.

    Good on you for raising consciousness that there is more than one opposition party in play in politics in Canada

    And now in Alberta we have the emergence of some fresh possibilities and a viable progressive alternative with the Alberta Party. It is all good for democracy so long as citizens show up and participate politically

  5. Thanks for bringing this to the forefront. Judging by the comments on the article, unfortunately, it doesn't seem like there is much chance for the Liberals in Calgary.

    Maybe if they had a candidate who was the home-grown, charismatic type, along the lines of a modern day Nick Taylor...

    Someone whose credentials in the oil field would be solid gold and who could sell the good sense of Alberta making itself and its oil industry more attractive and successful by cleaning it up.