Con­se­quence of Al­berta’s new age

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

It’s fair to say last week’s elec­tion re­sult in Al­berta shocked Cana­di­ans from this end of the coun­try all the way to Vic­to­ria Is­land in Bri­tish Columbia.

Any­one asked to iden­tify this coun­try’s most staunchly con­ser­va­tive prov­ince would most likely name Al­berta. It’s a prov­ince that thrives on min­i­mal tax­a­tion and sweet oil rev­enues. Tory gov­ern­ments have al­most ex­clu­sively run the show.

Now, we sud­denly find Al­ber­tans em­brac­ing the un­think­able — a ma­jor­ity left-lean­ing New Demo­cratic Party gov­ern­ment.

It’s a dra­matic chang­ing of the guard for the prov­ince to elect a new pre­mier whose party was con­sid­ered to be a mar­ginal po­lit­i­cal player prior to the writ be­ing dropped on a spring elec­tion. There are a va­ri­ety of sto­ry­lines that fac­tored into the re­sults in Al­berta — we won’t get into that here.

What we will con­sider here are the im­pli­ca­tions fed­er­ally and in this prov­ince.

The fed­eral NDP re­main the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion in Ottawa, though they’ve con­sis­tently polled in third place since Justin Trudeau be­came leader of the Lib­eral Party. Tom Mul­cair has not been able to build on the mo­men­tum gen­er­ated by his pre­de­ces­sor Jack Lay­ton in the last gen­eral elec­tion.

The NDP’s for­tunes fed­er­ally will rest on hold­ing on to the many seats it won un­ex­pect­edly in Que­bec in 2011 and mak­ing fur­ther in­roads into West­ern Canada. The re­sult in Al­berta could bode well for the party’s for­tunes there, though it would seem elec­tors are more than will­ing to sep­a­rate fed­eral and pro­vin­cial vot­ing habits.

In New­found­land and Labrador, long-time labour leader Earle McCurdy is hop­ing to sweeten the NDP’s for­tunes in the face of a resur­gent Lib­eral party and in­ter­nal mis­steps that re­sulted in cau­cus de­fec­tions.

In his first few weeks as leader, McCurdy has been quick so far to jump on is­sues as they come up for public de­bate. His abil­ity to en­gage crowds was honed through years of lead­ing ral­lies and tak­ing ques­tions from me­dia as the face and voice of the Fish, Food and Al­lied Work­ers union.

Whether those skills can trans­late into tan­gi­ble gains for the party is de­bat­able. The NDP brain trust is fairly St. John’s-cen­tric, though the party’s for­tunes may also ben­e­fit from McCurdy’s con­tacts in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

The main chal­lenge for the NDP provin­cially will re­main the party’s abil­ity to ex­tend its reach be­yond the overpass and at­tract solid can­di­dates for all rid­ings. As the Al­berta elec­tion shows plainly, a party’s for­tunes can change rapidly.

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