Notley has dropped the writ and Alberta will vote on April 16th. This is shaping up to be an interesting election and will in many ways test our assumptions about what type of province Alberta is. One school of thought is with changing demographics, Alberta is no longer the conservative province it once was and is now like most other provinces a mix of conservative and progressive voters but slightly more progressive than conservative. The other is Alberta is still fundamentally a conservative province and the NDP win was only due to the split on the right, but now that united, Alberta will vote conservative again as it usually does. I believe Jason Kenney is the heavy favourite to win, but I still unlike some believe Notley has a path to victory albeit a very narrow one. Certainly recent revelations won’t help as well as Notley is more popular than her party while Kenney less so. Still big UCP leads in Calgary and rest of Alberta will make an NDP win difficult. In terms of my preference, I am in some ways glad I don’t have to vote here. After the disaster the NDP was in the 90s in BC, I have a very strong NDPhobia. I certainly was not impressed with Notley’s first two years in power and felt she pushed too many left wing policies I disagree with and showed lack of fiscal discipline. But over the past few two I have been impressed with her stance on the pipeline and she does seem to show the pragmatism a lot of NDP types lack. Thus if she does get back in, I think Alberta will do alright. While I like Kenney’s general fiscal direction, I am concerned he is too far to the right for more liking and ideally I would like a leader that is to the right of Notley but left of Kenney. Nonetheless my hope is whomever he wins it is close and not a blowout. If a blowout for either (almost no chance for the NDP though), I feel that will vindicate their side to push more aggressively, while a close race will be warning to be careful and not push the boundaries too hard. I will try once a week to give an update on how I see things in the campaign unfolding.
The federal budget was largely a snoozer. Certainly no eye popping ideas that are likely to help the Liberals get out of the rut they are in. With a good year economically, they could have had a much lower deficit and even developed a path to balancing the budget. The lack of fiscal discipline is very concerning and while not a problem right now, it will make deficits unsustainable whenever the next downturn occurs, which we are due for. I am all for programs that help Canadians who struggling, but I believe in prioritizing and a narrow focus. Spending has increased by 6% every year and relative to the changes, that seems quite excessive. I don’t think big spending cuts are necessarily needed, but slower spending growth would allow for a healthy surplus to spend on priorities of Canadians and also room to cut taxes both to maintain our competiveness while give lower and middle income workers the break they deserve.