What Alberta's Election Tells Us
Last month I wrote a piece about Things I Hate About Elections and I concluded by deciding not to vote.
I changed my mind.
I live in a riding that had Derek Fildebrandt running against Leela Aheer and I noticed that Fildebrandt signs were popping up everywhere. I made the classic dumb-voter mistake in allowing election signs to influence my perspective. Election signs are so low-end and trash, and yet...Derek had many of them scattered throughout the riding. I didn’t want to be represented by a fringe party and the threat of voters voting ignorantly based on name recognition was too high. So I voted. But my initial instinct was correct...Leela won in a landslide so I may as well not have bothered. Here’s five other hot takes that nobody has written about now that the flow of NDP poison has stopped…
1. Libertarianism has been refuted... again
The biggest problem for libertarianism is that it’s an ideology that doesn’t sell. Some would go as far to say that libertarianism and democracy are incompatible. Derek Fildebrandt has confirmed this yet again.
To be fair, many other elements were at play during this election and getting rid of the NDP was priority number one for many normal Albertans. The newness of the party along with Fildebrandt’s baggage also didn’t help. The extent that people vote for parties based on ideology is also suspect in this day and age. So perhaps there are a million voters in the province that love freedom and personal responsibility and the “free” market and private-sector solutions, but they couldn’t bring themselves to go with Derek because the UCP was the stronger of the two conservative parties and they didn’t want to jeopardize a vote split.
But probably not.
Libertarianism is a dead ideology meant mostly for young, white males full of zeal and a love for legalizing weed. Bigger tent conservative parties with collective values will always win against a party proclaiming “personal responsibility” and “individual accountability”. Just ask Maxime Bernier on October 22nd, 2019!
2. Jason Kenney’s leadership abilities are dubious
Many Kenney supporters claim he will be a great leader, because he’s really hard-working and has proven his ability with his rise to the Premier’s office. Is that enough to be a good leader of a provincial government?
His hard-working reputation has been called into question in the past. It was claimed he couldn’t manage and felt the need to do everything himself. A control freak is likely going to be a workaholic. This isn’t the trait of a good leader. Likewise, his rise to the Premier’s position was by some accounts the work of a small cabal of rich dudes that helped grease his wheels. He then set about exploiting Alberta’s tragic “can’t get any lower than this” political climate for his own agenda. The scandals and dirtbaggery have been poured over already... and they aren’t without merit. Jason Kenney knows how to brass-knuckle in the political arena. He learned it from Harper.
Normally I would like this. Conservatives in Canada are too often made into mince meat because their opponents are bringing guns to knife fights. Canadian conservatives are like the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters, the whole point of them is to lose hilariously... but nobly! This time around, however, the weaknesses of brass-knuckle conservatism that served Harper well to begin with seem to have lost lustre. It looks more like a mask for sociopathic ambition than anything else. This sort of “win at all costs” works fine when trying to game our shitty democratic system, but actually governing and producing results is another ball game.
3. Rachel Notley Will Be Looking For A Comeback
Rachel Notley is an NDP super weapon. Now that they are comfortably back in opposition they are going to start positioning themselves as a government in exile. Every mistake and failure that Kenney falls into will be exploited for maximum benefit. The days of an opposition-less Conservative super-majority are over.
4. A Two party state
Alberta is now a two party state. All the smaller fringe parties gumming up the works is finished. Duverger's Law is now in effect in Alberta.
The small, seatless parties are going to whither and die. This is ultimately a good thing since accidents of democracy that led to the NDP getting elected in the first place are not going to happen again. Progressives will view the NDP as a viable alternative to the UCP and vote-split fearing conservatives will stay united for a generation now that they’ve experienced the destruction that progressives can unleash with only a single term in office.
The downside for the UCP is that the threat of a legitimate NDP revival is always going to hang in the air and this will ruin the ability for the province to market itself as a safe place to invest in the future. Foreign money (and local money) will always be investment shy, because our political climate is untrustworthy. One of the smartest investments I ever made was liquidating my Alberta energy investments immediately after the election in 2015. I currently hold no investments in anything Alberta based and have no intention of doing so in the future. I’m just one guy with no particular significance...imagine the big players out there.
5. It Will Take An Entire Term To Begin The Correction
People are happy that Jason Kenney is now in charge and he’s starting off his term with a lot of activity. For many people of a certain vintage... our optimism is tempered. In Canada, bad politicians can do enormous harm, but good politicians seem to accomplish little beyond a few small victories and a temporary cessation of the rising progressive tide. Jason Kenney is facing a new environment in which the decisions and policies made by the UCP will only prove to be half-effective. The NDP has polluted the investment environment and world oil prices aren’t coming back anytime soon.
As Kenney tries to turn the province around his '90s-style actions will find a far less receptive audience. Rachel Notley will gladly throw stones from the sidelines for four years and by 2023 we will probably be looking at a high-stakes, real election.
Alberta is going to take a long time to fix.