Last Sunday, Rachel Notley was finally sworn in as Premier of Alberta. During the ceremony, Premier Notley announced her very small cabinet, prompting yet another round of “the sky is falling” type commentary from some of the punditry. While I certainly have some concerns with the new NDP government, I can’t bring myself to the level of fear and paranoia some people seem to have for a few reasons.
As I’ve mentioned before, what Alberta experienced was a wave election; it was about voting out the PC’s, not voting in favour of any particular platform or policy idea. The NDP is likely aware of this – Alberta is not traditionally NDP country, which is why the election results were such a shock to the country. It is also why we have discovered so many poorly vetted NDP candidates that are now sitting MLA’s, such as the former NDP MLA Deborah Drever.
If the NDP seriously thought they had a shot at winning the election, they would have done a much better job vetting their candidates. Not only that, they likely would have attracted better candidates in general.
That said, unless the NDP have little interest in being re-elected (which would be unprecedented for a political party), their government is unlikely to attempt anything radical or controversial, at least in the early phase of their term. Perhaps once they get comfortable they will attempt a royalty review or major tax increases.
However, with a strong opposition party sitting across from them (who could have been the beneficiaries of the aforementioned electoral wave) those moves would quickly come under fire. The NDP have to be careful, particularly in their first few moves as government.
The other reason I am not as worried or concerned has a bit more to do with my background. While some commentators have conjured up the horror stories of past NDP governments in other provinces, I think those comparisons are tenuous at best. As someone who grew up under a disastrous and corrupt NDP government in BC, I can’t imagine the Alberta NDP doing a worse job.
My optimism stems from the political culture of Alberta. While Alberta has changed, it is still culturally a lot more conservative than BC or other jurisdictions in Canada. Therefore, the NDP in Alberta will presumably have to govern a bit more conservatively and moderately than they would in a different province.
If they don’t, they will find themselves too far from the political center and their chances of re-election would be limited. They would have great difficulty selling the far-left policies that other provincial NDP parties might want implement due to the prevalent political culture of Alberta.
While Edmonton certainly leans more left of center and Calgary has twice elected a progressive mayor (though the second time there was no serious challenge mounted against him), the prevailing political culture of the province is still conservative in leaning. This will act as a restraint on the NDP to some degree, or at the very least increase the amount of political capital they need to pass and implement particular policies.
This analysis assumes that the NDP will govern in a manner that best helps their chances of re-election in four years. If they have little regard for re-election and wish to simply implement as much of their left-wing ideology as they can in four years, then the fear some have is entirely justified.
That said, I don’t think that will be the route they choose. So while some consider fleeing the province in a panic, I am not. If the NDP is smart, they won’t do anything too crazy; if they do, then they will be a one hit wonder.
Follow The Megaphone on Twitter.
JOIN TheRebel.media for more news and commentary you won’t find anywhere else.