Tomorrow Alberta goes to the polls and it looks like it will probably result in a UCP majority if the polls are correct, but with the NDP forming a decent size opposition, otherwise not the blowout many had predicted. As someone who has family in Alberta, I always thought it would be more competitive than others predicted. UCP is not the Progressive Conservatives who governed for 44 years; the PCs were a lot more centrist and much bigger tent party so its not surprising some Red Tories have not gone over to the UCP. Likewise Alberta’s demographics have changed a lot. Rural Alberta remains staunchly conservative, but doesn’t have near the clout it used to. Alberta is the youngest province, highest percent with a post-secondary degree, third most urbanized, third most ethnically diverse, and second least religious, all characteristics you would expect in a centre or centre-left province not a conservative one. It is the wealthiest province and historically people did used to vote on income but as the right has shifted away from traditional fiscal conservativism to right wing populism so that is much less the case.
In terms of what I would like to see happen, I will admit I am glad I don’t live in Alberta as this would not be an easy choice so here are my general thoughts without giving an endorsement. I doubt I could vote NDP since asides my general NDPhobia, their inability to tackle the deficit is a real concern as well as I feel in the first two years they were too ideologically left wing for me. Notley has pivoted to the centre in the past two years which shows she is a pragmatist but I do wonder if this was more she read the writing on the wall in that the only hope the party had was to pivot to the centre. If they win a majority again especially a strong one will they stay there? I am however impressed by her strong advocacy on the pipeline and I do feel on federal-provincial relations she has done a good job. For UCP, I am generally okay with their economic policies, but I am very concerned about the high number of racist and homophobes. I don’t think Kenney is a racist and while I do think he is a homophobe, he is at least smart enough to realize its a lost issue. However, with the growth of right wing populism globally and increasingly toxic discourse towards some minorities, it is more important than ever to have zero tolerance for any hint of intolerance. And the leader sets the tone. The Ontario PCs didn’t have this issue as most candidates were recruited under Patrick Brown not Doug Ford and with Brown’s marching in the gay pride parade and support of M-103, he made clear xenophobes and homophobes were not welcome in the party. Kenney has not done this. Also he comes across as very ruthless and as I will explain in the next paragraph I think that will do more harm than benefit to the province. I could endorse the Alberta Party, but at best they will win 2-3 seats and unless superclose like the last BC election are not going to have much impact. Nonethless I do think if you have a moderate NDP or UCP candidate in your riding, one should consider voting for them while if the candidate is more ideological go for someone else. Also if outside two main cities, might not hurt to vote NDP just in case they get back in so as to ensure rural matters are not ignored. Likewise if in Edmonton, might be worth considering the UCP as there is a real risk of a Kenney government with no seats in Edmonton and that would not be a good thing. Finally if the candidate is not too extreme and is under 40, a woman, and/or a visible minority for the UCP, it might be worth considering. Having a party more reflective of modern Alberta rather than Alberta of the past will hopefully help. I don’t support quotas but still I think a government that is more diverse will likely be more reflective of the issues the population deals with than one that is not. For NDP this is not an issue, but is with UCP which still is in many ways an old white man’s party and their voices matter but so do others too.
With that being said on a federal level and also as a BC resident, an NDP victory is probably preferable to a UCP one. A UCP one will be better for one’s wallet in Alberta, but if living in another province that doesn’t matter. As a resident of BC, I would like to see the pipeline built and the jobs it creates. Notley is well respected here and elsewhere in Canada and so I feel her approach is more likely to pay dividends than Kenney’s harsh approach. The reality is Kenney’s confrontational approach will just alienate the rest of the country when Alberta like all provinces needs to work with others not against. I also believe if a conservative in BC, it is in your benefit to see Notley not Kenney win. While on the surface most conservatives in BC probably want Kenney to win, they are forgetting him winning reduces the chances of a Tory win federally this fall and also makes a BC Liberal win very difficult or next to impossible. His confrontational approach will negatively impact Scheer especially in BC and if the Tories cannot win in BC, they cannot win a majority and no majority, no Conservative government. If Kenney shuts off the oil taps, this will turn BC strongly against him and they will want to support a PM federally who will stand up to Kenney not ally himself with him. Scheer is going to win almost all or maybe all seats in Alberta no matter what, whereas BC is up for grabs. Likewise most provinces when they feel attacked tend to rally behind their premier so if Kenney gets into a spat with Horgan, I predict Horgan’s approval ratings will soar to over 60%. The reason Horgan has been cautious and not as left wing as the NDP in the 90s is the party barely won and knows they have little room for error. But if their ratings soar I think you could see them move to the left and go bolder, which we don’t need in BC. I hope the BC Liberals win next provincial election, but either way it is essential they at least be competitive as that will keep the NDP in check, whereas if not, the NDP is more likely to return to its socialist roots. So in a roundabout way as a centre-right British Columbian, a Notley win is probably the best outcome. Now if I lived in Alberta I would probably feel a bit different.