Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus. blog comments powered by Disqus

Climate Change Denial voted out of Alberta

Flat Tires
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith always said that she takes her marching orders from the voters. Looks like the voters have given her clear direction — keep on marching, Danielle and the Wildrose, until you exit stage right.

Monday night’s return of a Tory majority to government should be taken as a sobering message for the Wildrose as they regroup for their post-mortem: the vast majority of Albertans aren’t interested in seeing their government run by a bunch of far right-wing ideologues. The Dani-dollars? No thank you, Albertans said, we’d rather see that money spent on infrastructure, health and education — things that benefit all of us — rather than stuff $300 into our pockets for selfish use. Albertans are not the I’m-OK-Jack types the Wildrose counted on them being. They refused to bite at the Dani-dollar bait; instead, they have a collective sense of caring for each other and of wanting to spread the wealth around so that everyone benefits from services.

“We voted to keep (Danielle) out,” said a friend, who phoned me Monday night as the Tories’ majority became increasingly certain. “I haven’t voted PC since Lougheed, but I voted strategically (Monday),” she said. “And it worked.”

It did, indeed. Monday afternoon, one of my children went to vote and phoned me later to say that the lines at the polling station stretched out into the parking lot. I wondered: Were so many people showing up to vote the Wildrose in or to vote them out?

What was it exactly that hurt the Wildrose so badly? You could speculate forever. There were the bozo eruptions, and the un-leader-like way Smith dealt with them when she merely shrugged them off as freedom-of-speech issues. There was Smith’s climate-change skepticism, which would never have played out well on any international stage. Her promise to gut Alberta Health Services likely did not sit well with thousands of AHS employees who stood to lose their jobs if that happened, nor with doctors and other health-care professionals who deplored the idea of scrapping AHS and starting all over with a different paradigm.

Coupled with how uncomfortable the far right-wing ideology made voters may have been the equally uncomfortable feeling that maybe it wasn’t the best idea to turn the running of this province over to a party with virtually zero experience in governance, a party whose leader had only a brief stint as a trustee on a dismantled school board before running to become premier of this province.

The way Albertans voted Monday showed that they were not interested in leaving CPP for an Alberta Pension Plan, nor in abandoning the RCMP for an Alberta police force. Albertans showed they want to tear down firewalls, not put them up. They want to reach out to Canada and to the rest of the world, not turn inward on themselves. They are interested in the progressive vision that Premier Alison Redford offered them. They said thanks, but no thanks, we do not want to make a hard right turn that will take us back more than 20 years.

If there’s any lesson to be learned from this election campaign, it is the obvious one: you can’t trust the pollsters. As the polls opened Monday, the National Post proclaimed that Danielle Smith and the Wildrose were on track for a majority. The voters decided otherwise. At a party I attended Friday night, one woman told me she and her friends were praying for a Tory victory, even though they didn’t typically vote Tory. The Wildrose needs to get their feet wet in opposition and they need to rethink where they want their party to go.

Meanwhile, Redford was unfairly saddled during the campaign by the sins of the past 40 years. She had been in power only six months — hardly enough time to begin the necessary housekeeping. Now, she has a four-year mandate to distance the party from its checkered past, to continue with a bright vision for a progressive Alberta. With many of the old guard gone, including Ted Morton, a new era for the Tories has begun.

Congratulations, Premier Redford! You go, girl!

Naomi Lakritz is a Herald columnist.