Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Alberta election ruminations

I've no first-hand experience with the dynamics of transition when a new party is elected to power, but I imagine that very soon, Alberta Premier Jim Prentice will have to go back to the premier's office with cardboard boxes to clean out his stuff, and Rachel Notley will very soon arrive with cardboard boxes full of her stuff, she'll hang pictures, move the desk slightly, sharpen pencils.

I also imagine that the outgoing premier and all cabinet ministers will meet with their incoming counterparts to brief them on what is current and pending in their departments. Dossiers will be handed over, emails will fly back and forth, deputy ministers will fear for their jobs, some MLAs may lobby discretely for certain cabinet positions, the incoming premier will meet long with advisors, and. . . and . . . and.

A few new MLAs will need a guide to show them where everything important is but will wander into closets and bathrooms by mistake anyway.

 In one of the most shameful acts in politics that I can recall, Jim Prentice resigned as PC leader AND as the representative in the legislature for Calgary-Foothills constituency—before the ballots electing him had all been counted! How could constituents not come to the conclusion that their representation had never been of any interest to him; that he would be premier or nothing?

The transition in Alberta shows signs of being difficult.In elections where the governing party is in danger of losing, I expect there's always a strong temptation to sabotage the winning rival's chances of succeeding. Short of putting bear traps under desks, there's always the option of cutting taxes and initiating expensive, vote-getting programs as part of an election platform. If the voters like these measures, you'll get re-elected. If not, you'll have made it difficult for your successors to govern without raising taxes or cancelling programs that are just not affordable, thereby improving your chances in the next election!

Our federal government is busily laying these bear traps at this moment.

I give a great deal of credit to the citizens of Alberta for placing their future into the hands of a new crew of people and out of the hands of tired corporatism. No matter how loud the protests, the idea that if the top prospers, the rest will benefit remains an invisible plank in Western conservative politics. That, or an even worse consciousness that the establishment shall always get what they want and . . . please pass the butter. Jim Prentice's actions imply that the ideals of representative democracy simply never figured in his agenda.

What is uplifting about the Alberta election, for me, is that it might set loose a consciousness in the rest of Canada that same-old, same-old doesn't have to be. Would that the young people, the ones trying to establish themselves in the grown-up world, would be more involved but then, how many Canadians of any age have a good grasp of the platforms, philosophies of the parties?

And tomorrow Great Britain elects a new government, and if the polls are as dead-on as they were in Alberta, they may find Tories and Labour in a dead heat . . . with the Scottish Nationalist party calling the shots. 

Remind you a bit of the Bloc Quebec a few elections ago?

No comments:

Post a Comment