More Pain Ahead, Even With Kenney

January 1st, 2019  | J. Hodgson
kenney pain

Albertans are jazzed about getting rid of the NDP this year. I am too. Conservatives shouldn’t get too cocky, however, since as I wrote before, there are ten reasons why Kenney could lose. Even if he does win, don’t expect much in the way of an aggressive conservative agenda. As I also wrote before, Kenney will cuck.

Nevertheless, it will be fantastic to be rid of dogmatic, socialist, democratic accidents from the halls of power. Even if Kenney just offers the same sort of managerial neutrality that Harper provided, we’ll all be a lot better off. The aftermath, however, will not be so easily managed. Ridding ourselves of NDP horror still leaves Alberta in a state of disrepair. Many Albertans, (especially born and bred) have no idea what happens when a province votes NDP. They simply didn’t know what they were doing when they protest-voted for that sassy Rachel back in 2015. Because of this ignorance, they don’t realize that the effects of the election of 2015 will be felt in Alberta for another ten years, at least.

Five reasons Alberta is in for a world of pain... even after Kenney is elected.

1. Alberta is now damaged goods

Before 2015, Alberta was seen as the stable, conservative, business-friendly province. Canada’s Texas was essentially the brand. Corporations were eager to do business here. It was the only safe, free-market, centre-right region of the country and consequently, business boomed.

When Ed Stelmach got elected, things began to get dodgy, but the Progressive Conservative brand stayed strong. Stelmach’s royalty review was horrific, but for the most part, industry kept moving forward. As Alberta declined leading up to 2015, people rightly placed the blame at the feet of the PC Party, but instead of voting Wildrose they insanely voted NDP.

Voting NDP is catastrophic, because it broadcasts to the entire world that the province is no longer a safe place to do business. Business still gets done of course, but Alberta was a business powerhouse, now it’s just damaged goods. We’ll never again have the reputation that we had before 2015. Investment around the world will not trust us and it will take multiple election wins by the UCP in order to restore confidence.

2. The threat of an NDP return will now hang over us

Even if the NDP get reduced to rubble in the next election, it will take another landslide election four years from now to entrench the idea that we are safe from the NDP. If they retain 20 or 30 seats, then they will always be sitting there across the aisle, reminding investors that they are alive and kicking. This alone will drive away investment and relegate Alberta to “just another province” status.

3. Gerald Butts is still running the federal government and Alberta will pay

Alberta is still just a province in Canada (for now) and will be at the mercy of our federal betters. Even if Kenney wins in the spring, he’ll have to face off against a Butt’s led Liberal Party hostile to Alberta interests. Kenney will likely exploit this antagonism in the short term for partisan benefit, but if Justin wins a second election in the fall, then Kenney punching at the wind of federalism for four years isn’t going to improve Alberta at all.

It’s imperative that the Butts Liberals be removed from power, but right now it doesn’t look too good.

4. Kenney is stuck in the 90’s

Kenney is a very “90’s conservative”. Except for waffling on social issues that have changed since then, he is still very much a TradCon parroting talking points from the Reform era. “We need a balanced budget! We need lower taxes! We need a fairer equalization formula!” etc.,etc.

He will likely implement some kind of austerity and expect people to congratulate him on his tough choices. This will provide fodder for the leftists in Alberta to brand him as the heartless, axe-swingeing boogeyman that they are already working on. Average voters will probably begin to buy it. (People were still talking about Ralph Klein blowing up the crappy old General Hospital while I was out door-knocking for Wildrose in 2012!)

What does this all mean? It means that Kenney will make number crunching a primary focus and the average little guy will feel the resulting pain. Austerity does trickle down negatively... I remember the 90’s. The balance sheets looked good, but Canada sucked bad while the rest of the world boomed.

Alberta is going to suck bad while Kenney works on the spreadsheets. (He’d be better to just default on the debt)

5. Oil sands take years to develop

Even when Kenney takes to the stage on election night and declares that Alberta is open for business...oil sands companies can’t just fire up the spending. These projects take years of planning and development. Decisions made today won’t arrive until years later. The oil sands have taken a massive hit and won’t bounce back overnight.

Albertans are eager for the province to get back to normal, but unfortunately, those days are over. John Rose is the chief economist for the City of Edmonton and he stated to the Sun:

When you average the available GDP, the available wealth, across the population, it’s slow to recover,” Rose said. “Right now given the longer-term estimates we have for GDP in the city of Edmonton, we’re talking the 2030s before we get back to the levels of GDP per capita, level of overall wealth available to support an individual citizen that we had in 2014.

Alberta is still above and beyond where the Canadian averages are, but Alberta exceptionalism is over and we’d better prepare for the 2020’s to be a long, stagnant slog into Canadian mediocrity as a result. Hopefully the lessons will be learned, but given Alberta’s track-record towards learning... I wouldn’t bet on it.

Be defensive, be prepared, and lower your expectations. It’s going to be a long journey.