The big surprise with the NDP's breakthrough is Alberta is seen as the country's most conservative province. Home of the oil sands, Stephen Harper, and the Wildrose party, there's plenty of evidence to back this up. But, Calgary and Edmonton both have progressive mayors, Alberta is the youngest province demographically, and Albertans are feeling the economic (not to mention environmental) downside to an oil dependent economy. Rachel Notley reminded everyone that Alberta is defined by... Alberta.
I'm not the first and surely won't be the last to predict the end of 40+ years of PC rule in Alberta. Their obituary has been written at least twice before; in 1993 when Ralph Klein rescued the PCs in the "miracle on the prairies" and most recently last year when Wildrose drowned in a lake of fire to allow Alison Redford to continue Alberta's Progressive Conservative dynasty.
Sometimes when you want to know how prudent a political party will be with the taxpayer's dime, it doesn't hurt to consider how prudent they are when it comes to spending their own dime at party headquarters. Compared to their counterparts in other provinces, the B.C. Liberal party spends like there's no tomorrow. And it's spending that increasingly points to something ominous: election campaigns that never end.
If there was any confidence that Alberta's government would avoid imitating the failed policies of other provinces -- think of Quebec and Ontario and their massive debts -- that faint hope for continued Alberta exceptionalism was kiboshed at the recent Progressive Conservative convention in Calgary.
A self-described "filmmaker" and "activist" has come out with a "subversive strategic voting video" urging Albertans to vote for any party that has the best chance of beating the Wildrose party. The actors in the spot are ever-so-hip, ever-so-diverse and ever-so-obnoxious. I suspect anyone who was on the fence before seeing this video will decide to vote Wildrose.
Today, Albertans essentially have a choice between two directions. The choice isn't big government versus small government, as some commentators have argued. Neither of the front running parties has any plans to reduce the size or scope of government. The choice is between centralization and subsidiarity.