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Wednesday, 13 May 2015 14:38

Alberta premier punished for telling the truth

Written by  Ron Walter
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By Ron Walter —Guest Editorial
This former Albertan, having grown up in a one-party Alberta state, watched last week’s election results from Saskatchewan with disbelief. The “socialist hordes” stormed the right wing Alberta bastion in an incredible twist of politics.


A convincing province-wide come-from-behind victory by the NDP in Alberta will be bandied about by pundits and politicians for months asking: Why? How? What happened?
This much is clear. The days of right-wing monolithic Alberta government are over — for at least four years.
A wide range of complex factors led to the unexpected downfall after 44 years of Conservative government.
Alberta voters have sought an alternative government since electing Allison Redford in 2012 when Liberals and NDP united behind her to avoid a Wildrose Party regime. Redford became the Mike Duffy of Alberta. Voters sought another queen.
Alberta has changed from 1.6 million people in 1971 when the Peter Lougheed’s Conservatives kicked out Social Credit to today’s 3.6 million. Most of those people came from out-of-province. The newcomers from Saskatchewan, Ontario, the Maritimes, and Asia migrated from places where “socialist” politics is common.
Decades of Saskatchewan immigrants, fleeing to Alberta for job opportunity, may have been a factor in the NDP victory. These new Albertans, anti-NDP as most are, know life under the NDP in Saskatchewan, while not the best for jobs, was tolerable.
Younger Alberta voters show less trust in big business and government. Having Alberta labour laws among the most hostile to working men and women in Canada did not help.
The Alberta Conservatives have trampled the NDP for generations by fear-mongering, by equating Socialist Saskatchewan with over-taxation, over regulation and seeing Communists at NDP tables.
Conservative leader Jim Prentice told the truth when he said Albertans should look in the mirror for the source of the financial mess; they lived too high on the hog. The truth was the beginning of his downfall. Alberta squandered the opportunity to provide for future generations when the oil runs out. At least Alberta has some funds set aside from the Lougheed years. Saskatchewan has squat.
Forty-four years of government, political entitlements a.k.a Redford and cozy relationships with the oil industry left the Conservatives out of touch. A general belt-tightening budget let industry off scot-free while burdening individual taxpayers with higher taxes.
In the end, the so-called Alberta rednecks wanted what all Canadians desire from government — perceived honesty and fairness.
The most exciting part of future Alberta politics will be: Can the Notley Crue band deliver? Can the NDP make honest people out of Albertans and get them to support a sales tax and a real heritage fund?
Without both of these, Albertans are doomed to continual boom and bust resource cycles in government spending.
(Ron Walter was born and raised in Jenner, Alta., graduated from Medicine Hat High School, reported for the Medicine Hat News from 1964-66. He has 40 years of experience in journalism.)

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