The End of the PC Dynasty in Alberta
This is unexpected...
When Albertans went to the polls for the 2015 Political Election, they voted for one Alberta Party member, one Liberal Party Member, ten Progressive Conservative Party members, twenty-one Wildrose Party members, and fifty-three New Democratic Party members. Even with one riding requiring a recount, it is safe to say that the New Democratic Party has a majority government in this provence. The Progressive Conservative Party has been pushed to third place.
The Progressive Conservative Party, known to most as the PCs or the Tories, had been holding a majority government for over forty years.
I know most of the time my Hubs are situated somewhere on the corner of Writing Street and Video Game Avenue, but right now I'd like to take a walk down Politics Boulevard because a water main just burst and everybody's getting soaked.
Beginning the Dynasty
The PC Party got its start in the early twentieth century, from what I understand. It was a tiny party at first. Over the years, it took in members of other dying parties on its end of the political spectrum. They had a rough time for a while, but in the 1960s, they gained more power. They became the official opposition in 1967. In 1971, they won a majority.
That majority was the beginning of a forty-four year long dynasty. Premier Peter Lougheed promoted a campaign centred on the oil industry and appealed to the changing times. This campaign remained fairly consistent, as did the increasingly comfortable majority the PCs had.
Ralph Klein is the first premier I remember. He pulled the party further to the political right, which caused a small dip in popularity, but not enough to knock the PCs out of power. The province still vastly supported the economic boom of the oil industry. Opposing parties could gain some leverage, but it was never enough. When Premier Ed Stelmach took the reigns, he made the party even more popular. His resignation was brought with disappointment, but the dynasty looked secure.
Have you ever experienced an unexpected change in government?
Cracks in the Pipes
Alison Redford was elected as the next premier, and the first female premier of Alberta. It is unfair to blame the problems of the PC’s policies on her, but she was the face of the party when more problems began to show up. Promises made to universities and energy sectors were not kept. The budget deficit grew. Citizens became more restless, and the Wildrose became more popular. The PCs were losing their grip on the pre-election polls, but managed to ace the real election. Amid growing concerns for the province’s finances, Redford resigned. Reports revealed she had used provincial money for personal travel and overpriced meals. Albertans were becoming more upset.
Replacement Jim Prentice wanted to calm down the citizens. To get more support, he convinced members of the Wildrose to cross the floor. This move shocked Wildrose and PC supporters. Prentice was certain that he could win the election. He stated that Alberta had no place for a government other than his, and repeatedly put his foot in his mouth with foolish comments. His confident attitude may have been meant to inspire the population. It did not. The statement “Math is hard,” became popular with his critics.
If you'd like to see the change in Alberta yourself, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation created an interactive map you can play with.
Meanwhile, the New Democratic Party (NDP) was itching to move. Under leader Rachel Notley, they prepared to enter political warfare. Notley came from a family of politicians. She knew how to put her finger on the pulse of Albertans. During the political debate, her responses to Prentice’s claims made her the clear winner. She united the political left in a way Prentice had failed to do with the right. Using the anger of jilted PC supporters to her advantage, she gained more and more support.
This support caused what the press nicknamed the “Orange Crush”. On May 5th, fifty-four percent of eligible voters came to the polls. The vote was overwhelmingly in the NDP’s favour. Commentators were surprised by this, as many ridings changed their tunes and joined the NDP bandwagon. Edmonton turned more orange than a cheeto-covered grapefruit. Calgary got an orange streak. Jim Prentice barely managed to hang onto his riding, and made preparations to resign. As Albertans saw the results of their votes, emotions of joy and rage were brought up. The Orange Crush had swept through the province and knocked the crown off the PC’s head. The dynasty had ended.
I think we might have made a little bit of history tonight.
-Rachel Notley, NDP Leader, Premier of Alberta
What Happens Now?
So we come to now, the dawn of a new era. The province is still recovering from the shock of this government overhaul. Questions are being raised concerning if the NDP are capable enough to run the province. Many of the NDP members of the legislature have not sat in the legislature before; some are university-age. The promises the government made now have to be kept, and the next four years will be an unusual time for the province.
Personally, I have no authority to be making predictions, but I would like to make a few guesses. All are conjecture. First, I think the NDP will have some trouble getting settled into their new role. The PCs may have trouble not being in power. After forty years of the same government, of course there will be disruption. I think there are enough candidates for NDPs to have responsible people on topics they understand. There may be some PC members trying to cross the floor as they adjust to the new power structure.
Next election could see a NDP re-election, a return to the PCs, or something else entirely. I would hope for a minority government. It would allow the best of the NDP and PCs to shine through, and in the end, democracy is about the people.