Don't Fall For Rachel Notley's Bullsh*t
I hope you aren't falling for Rachel Notley's sudden metamorphosis into an oil loving, pro-business warrior for Alberta values. If you are, you don't understand the way the NDP works. Everything you're seeing her do is a part of the NDP's long term plan to get re-elected. It's not a plan they came up with just yesterday—it's a plan they mapped out when they first won the election in 2015. Anyone who's from Saskatchewan has experience with the NDP's playbook and knows about the importance of the first and last 18 months of an NDP mandate.
When the NDP become desperate, they're like those sad hookers you see on crime dramas who are in need of drug money. They'll do anything.
Rachel Notley is ready to do anything. That means she's ready to become an advocate for Alberta's oil industry—the same industry she spent her pre-Premier career slandering and fighting against. I probably don't need to remind you about those photos you've seen of Notley at anti-oil rallies, or about a woman named Tzeporah Berman, who sat on the Notley government's oilsands advisory group. I probably don't need to remind you about NDP MLAs who have talked about keeping the oil in the ground, or about Che Guevara watches, MLAs chanting their love for Hugo Chavez, or about the NDP's history of attacking farmers and “sewer rats”. If you're reading this, you're already aware of those things.
When re-election looked like a long shot in Saskatchewan, the incumbent NDP cut the PST. That was in 2006, right before they got their asses handed to them by Brad Wall in 2007. Lorne Calvert's NDP was desperate and ready to do anything. However, by 2007, their government was almost 16 years old.
The same can't be said about Alberta's NDP.
The Alberta NDP are still the new kids on the block. They haven't necessarily worn out their welcome with ordinary Albertans. In fact, Notley's little feud with John Horgan might be playing well among Alberta's less political, part-time voters who aren't aware of the NDP's Marxist roots and ideology. To an ordinary Albertan, Notley's fight for Alberta's energy sector might feel genuine.
As with any government, the first 18 months are when the most contentious or radical reforms are passed. The final 18 months are spent pandering and appealing to the mainstream. Just weeks after the Alberta NDP took office, I warned about how their plan would unfold. In June of 2015, I even warned that a carbon tax was likely:
By year four, most Albertans will have forgotten what happened in year one. As with most new governments, the NDP will try to implement their more contentious policies within the first 18 months of their mandate. This will give voters three years to forget the bad things and put the burden of reminding them on the opposition.
Albertans already know most of what they're in for, like a $15 minimum wage, a corporate tax hike and a royalty review. Notley's plan to implement a $15 minimum wage over three years is not only cautious, it gives her the opportunity to backtrack and rescind her promise if it backfires or has an immediate, negative impact on the economy. What some Albertans might not be expecting is a carbon tax and junk food taxes.
Notley's NDP have already kept Jim Prentice's sin tax increases in place, as well as the PC's gasoline tax hike. They've also started the process of rolling back Prentice's public sector cuts. As a result, they'll be facing a budget shortfall until oil prices rebound, so they'll be looking for ways to make up for it. We can definitely expect what the NDP will call a “carbon pricing scheme” and possible new sin taxes on junk food and other consumer goods.
Everything the NDP has done over the past 18 months was only shocking to Albertans who never bothered to do their homework before rage-voting the Progressive Conservatives into oblivion. All NDP governments are the same—even when they say they aren't. Had Albertans paid attention to Saskatchewan, Manitoba and BC, they would have known this.
Once NDP governments dig their claws into the public sector, they start to increase perks, salaries, benefits and labour laws. You've probably heard the radio ads that boast about how the Alberta government has made it easier for you to keep your job by making it harder for employers to fire you. According to the ads, you can no longer be fired for being sick or for “getting out of a bad relationship”. Of course, before the NDP came to the rescue, Albertans were totally being fired en masse for being sick and breaking up with their abusive spouses... or something.
This is how the NDP wins the hearts and minds of ordinary voters.
Before the Alberta NDP were a thing, Alberta labourers were falling into wells and being left there to rot and be eaten by coyotes. Now that New Democrats run the show, Alberta's labourers and public sector employees are finally first-class citizens... or something.
And now that lazy Millennials get paid $15 an hour and can't get fired from their burger-flipping jobs after fucking up your orders and calling in sick five days out of every week, the NDP has a whole new class of loyal voters. When Jason Kenney's evil conservatives come along with their logical solutions to unemployment and sluggish job growth, expect a backlash. Them woke Millennials are ready for the fight.
Who else is ready to fight for the NDP? Labour unions.
Let's not forget who Rachel Notley's husband is. The NDP has deep roots in Canada's labour movement, so it should be no surprise that Notley's husband, Lou Arab, is a spokesman for CUPE. Not long after the election, some clever journalists found that calls made to Lou's cell phone were being returned by the Premier's office. Imagine that. Calls being made to a major union's spokesperson were being returned by Rachel Notley's office. Again, if you're familiar with how NDP governments work, you shouldn't be surprised.
In case that wasn't enough to signify an uncomfortably close relationship between a major union and a provincial government, Lou Arab was also given an official government email account and access to Notley's work calendar.
If you're a regular lefty with no concept of morality or ethics, none of this sounds like a big deal to you. The only way this type of relationship would make you shit your pants is if we changed the word union to corporation.
Did that work? What if CUPE stood for Corporate Union Of Private Enterprises? You'd be changing your underwear and typing your tweets in all caps, that's what.
To top it off, the Notley government's Wildrose-backed legislation to ban union and corporate donors was a ruse. Unlike unions, corporations rarely campaign publicly or encourage their employees to vote a particular way. This means that corporations have been completely shut out, while unions are still free to tell their members how to vote and to send them out as NDP foot soldiers. The joke is on Alberta conservatives.
Good move, Brian Jean.
The Alberta NDP are nearing their final 18 months. They're expecting you to forget all the harm they've done to the province's economy, but they're also expecting to take credit for every economic uptick that happens between now and the next election. The problem is, most Albertans will be willing to give them the credit—that's just how it works with an incumbent government. Even though Alberta already has an established energy industry with an established infrastructure, the NDP will take credit for the inevitable economic uptick that will happen with rising oil prices.
If things go slightly better than expected, the NDP might even cut some taxes. If things go worse than expected, Notley will keep pretending to be a warrior for Alberta's struggling oil patch. As we've warned repeatedly: the NDP will try their hardest to appear innocuous for the next year and a half. All of their radical and crazy reforms are behind them until they win another term. If they somehow happen to bury Jason Kenney with identity politics and scandals, their second term will make their first look like nothing. It'll be like comparing Dr. Seuss to HP Lovecraft.