Orange Crush served up in Alberta by Notley win,but can the BC NDP ride the wave to leadership in 2017?
There were two things on my TV agenda last night : the season première of Deadliest Catch, and the Alberta election. Flipping back and forth on commercial breaks, once the news that an NDP majority was being called by media, that was it. I never did flip back to see the ending of Deadliest Catch but I did see the crashing of an orange wave of NDP on landlocked Alberta shores…
Congratulations are in order to Premier Notley and her newly elected MLA’s. Well done in the race and I’m hoping outgoing premier Jim Prentice ( endorsed by none other than Premier Clark I might add) can do the math on the number of seats the NDP now hold. His resignation as leader was a given- it generally is- but that he resigned from his seat as well, told the voters all they needed to know about what was important to him – power, not people.
The NDP have made history and are now presented with an equally historical opportunity to show what the NDP can do in the province, and Canada is watching. That such a conservative province voted left has left many still stunned in silence this morning,while others are already declaring that in six months voters will be regretting their choice.
Ironically, those are the same people who are quick to remind everyone the voter is never wrong when a conservative government wins of course! Now that the table has turned, stories of doom and gloom from corporate Alberta, wide-eyed commentaries and admonitions of how business is going to pick up and leave are rife in media coverage.
For the average Albertan though, life will carry on as before, perhaps with a bit of trepidation of this big change and what it means. But I do believe Notley will rise to the occasion and show Alberta her best. Many in her caucus are wet behind the ears and a steep learning curve is ahead for sure, but there is something to be said for fresh ideas and a different perspective.
Regardless of which side you stand on,the voters are never wrong and nearly 60% of eligible voters turned out to cast a ballot and send a clear statement to long time politicians in the province. I wish them well.
Already many are predicting this bodes well for the BC NDP in the 2017 election, but I’m not so quick to say that a win in Alberta translates into a win in BC. Quite frankly, it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges. There is more than just mountains that separates BC from Alberta.
Alberta has been under the Progressive Conservatives for 44 years. People my age don’t even have firsthand knowledge of any other party being in control. The NDP brand in the province doesn’t have any recent history to use against them with a huge number of voters and that works in their favour.
In direct contrast, here in BC the Liberals have been in power for just over a decade,and have used the well-crafted narrative of “You don’t want to go back to the horrible nineties do you?” to their benefit in multiple elections. Why? It works.
It doesn’t matter if the facts don’t support it, the narrative of the BC NDP being anti-business, anti-resource, pro-spending has been so consistently repeated by Liberals over the years in short sharp sound bites that it has become ingrained as good as truth. Premier Clark still uses this line in speeches, even in recent months, because it still works.
Adding fuel to her fire is that many NDP from the nineties are still around, which doesn’t work to their benefit. It’s that recent history of the BCNDP that works against them in campaigns whereas the NDP really is something new to many Albertans -their lack of recent history works tremendously in their favour.
Looking to the leaders, Notley is a strong,fiery woman whose intelligence and quick wit is coupled with the wisdom of knowing when not to take the bait and when to fire back. She is vibrant, glowing and clearly appeals to a broad spectrum of voters.
In contrast, while Horgan is also a strong, intelligent leader who enjoys the public, his temperament has been described often as brusque, and it doesn’t always work in his favour. He’s quick to rise to the bait and dish it back, and while he’s done a great job in the legislature dealing with the premier’s show-boating, his appeal in general to voters across a broad spectrum remains to be seen.
And while many Albertans are very pro-resource, British Columbia has a growing Green following of those who are either anti-resource or very strongly in favour of moving away from resource development. This bodes ill for the NDP who are caught between a rock and a hard place on issues of Kinder Morgan and LNG development with many voters.
Many NDP campaigners from BC worked to help the NDP win in Alberta,and certainly there should be lessons to be found from doing so.
Rightfully so, it’s time for NDP members everywhere to celebrate. But after basking in the glow of the orange dawn of NDP success next door, the BC NDP need to look hard at the challenges ahead. Despite having a ton of ammunition – John Horgan’s twitter account is worth the follow the last few day -they’ve repeatedly failed to weave a narrative to convince voters to vote orange in every election. And while they’ve found some fiery, brilliant MLAs in Lana Popham, Selina Robinson and David Eby , they would do well to recruit more.
Notley showed us all that anything is possible when an NDP government can take a sweeping majority in conservative country.
If the BC NDP want to ever be more than the perpetual official opposition, they need to come up with a winning combination of their own to serve up another orange crush like Notley did, rather than expecting to ride this one home.
** On a side note, Premier Clark might want to give up on making bets, since she recently predicted the Canucks would take the first round and Prentice would win…
The Canucks lost, Prentice walked and I’m guessing she’s out a bit more craft beer. How do you think that bodes for her betting on LNG saving the provinces economy?