Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The day after

The way people talk, Kevin Taft just led Alberta's Liberals into the promised land.

Purely coincidentally, the day after losing Calgary Elbow the government announced tonight that the province would be ponying up about $40 million in flood disaster relief. It' a decent down payment, but it's gong to take more.

Doreen Barrie, a political scientist at the University of Calgary, said Stelmach may even have to consider something as drastic as rent controls -- which he previously rejected -- to deal with the city's housing crisis.

"There's no more time for subtlety. He needs to attack these problems," she said
Blame it on the floods wiping out basement suites and making the Calgary housing crisis even worse if you like Ed, just stop carrying water for the Landlord's lobby and follow the recommendations of your own damn task force.

Elbow was a significant win but not as much of a shock as some have suggested. In 2004 Calgary went from solid Tory blue to three big ridings going Liberal.

There were several close shaves too. Calgary Buffalo, Calgary Elbow's downtown neighbor is the home of most of Alberta's richest boardrooms, but the people who actually live here are the biggest population of renters and people living from paycheck to paycheck in Calgary. In 2004 Harvey Cenaiko only beat the Liberal by about 600 votes. This was while he was still a cabinet member and the fading radiance of King Ralph still held sway.

Harvey has to be worried about 2008 and considering there's no future for him but the backbench under Stelmach he's joined Bronconnier's jeremiads against the government.

This isn't the start of something it's something that first appeared in the 2004 election gathering steam. The media talked a lot about how the three Calgary losses and depressed Tory numbers province wide were a wake-up call for the government then too. Somebody seems to have slept through it.

Another myth dispelled by this by election is that the NDP and Greens are simply vote splitting Liberal support - the bland assumption that these votes are somehow the natural possession of the Liberals aside, in Elbow at least the vote splitting on the right was more significant than that on the left. More fodder for proportional representation though.

Most of the Alberta PCs are already insisting this all is just a bump in the road, and certainly no serious urban/rural divide. Some are sounding warnings from within. Check out this comment from prominent party insider Ken Chapman to a post I did back on June 3:
It would be a good thing to end the one party state in Alberta. It would be good to end the one city- state we have had too. Calgary has come to think it is Alberta and that happened during Ralph Klein's reign.

Alberta is more than Calgary and while that city is a very important part of the province - it is only part of the province.

A fact too often lost in how the province has been run and ruled as of late.

Calgary Elbow may elect a Liberal. Good on them if that is the way they see their best interests being served. Democracy matters.

It is a by election! So it is not a safe bet to presume this vote an is an indication as to how they want to see the province governed, or if it represents a trend overall.

Calgary Elbow going Liberal is not any surprise in a by-election that is about 1 year away from the next general election. It is a low-risk way to send a message.

The real surprise of Calgary's discontent was way back when Calgary Varsity went Liberal at the 2004 provincial election. That discontent was expressed during Ralph's reign and immediately after Murray Smith went to Washington.

Question is will we PC's "get it" and realize that Alberta needs an urban agenda that deals with the growth and needs of the two big cities.

We don't need just a Calgary and a Rural has been the fact under Klein.
There's some good points in his whole comment and on his blog and he's a voice for a certain amount of progressiveness within the Alberta PCs, but the Calgary VS Edmonton nonsense is pure smokescreen and leftover cynical manipulation from the PC leadership race and I think Ken probably knows it. If there had been a by-election in Edmonton as well as Elbow and Drumheller we wouldn't even be talking about Calgary alienation today, we'd be talking about urban alienation.

Leave the old fashioned Battle of Alberta rhetoric to the Flames and the Oilers. There are people getting screwed by their landlords in Edmonton too.

Because it's also a class war split. The richer polls in Elbow like Mount Royal split by a handful of votes or went Tory - a lot of Conservatives stayed home. The renter and wage slave polls went Liberal in a big way.

Ultimately of course, we're simply talking about one right wing party challenging another. The Alberta Liberals bring no real ideological differences to the table, simply a promise of greater competence and a recognition that times have changed.

Real change in Alberta isn't what Taft and the Liberals are promising. They think overall the system is working pretty well, it just needs different people in charge, IE them.


Alison said...

in Elbow at least the vote splitting on the right was more significant than that on the right.

Cliff said...

Thanks for the catch.

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