Canada Corner


#41

Trending in that direction, but that’s not the case currently, at least judged by the last federal election. This seems to be more of a protest vote against a government in power for too long (much of the electorate’s entire lifespan) and despair over the repercussions of the oil price collapse and the split of the conservative vote into two parties, ala Ross Perot.


#42

Alberta actually did the same, and for a long time had a sizable “heritage fund” stashed away and growing for precisely that sort of thing, and had no debt or deficit. In addition, the Province had the lowest income taxes, no sales tax at all, and the most well funded social programs and huge investments in the environment, etc. Things are a lot easier when you have a lot of money.

But that fund was eaten away by a desperate government trying to cling to power over the past 10 years (the threat to its mandate previously came from the right, however), and now it’s gone and deficits are arriving, and with the oil price decimated and likely to stay much lower for the foreseeable future, that’s unlikely to change even though the new government will likely significantly increase taxes across the board.

All of Canada is going to be significantly affected by the change of government and the enduring lower oil prices. Canada historically only had 3 or so “have provinces” which significantly funded the social programs of the rest of Canada through the “equalization” program - although a “have” province since the inception of the program, Ontario is now a “have not” province after having its economy decline through a dozen years of liberal government and surging western resource-based economies during that period, so lately the entire country (especially Quebec and the Eastern provinces, other than Newfoundland, which has made some major resource discoveries in the past 20 years that are just starting to pay dividends) has been dependent upon the contributions of Alberta and its 2 neighboring western provinces, and Alberta has been the most significant contributor for a long time now.

It’ll be interesting to see what negative effect the election has on the Canadian stock markets today. Hopefully the election doesn’t come as a complete surprise to the market.


#43

In reading about this surprising result in Alberta in the online news, I was surprised to read that the Alberta NDP is considered “centre left”, which is certainly not the case here in Quebec, where they are pretty far left. Is it possible there is a certain degree of regional variation in party platform? The Liberal brand is so completely tarnished in Alberta, they’ll never be a viable centre left party, so the NDP moved a bit more towards the middle to fill the void?


#44

Well, as far as I can tell, Alberta only contributed significantly to the fund for 11 years, and that ended 28 years ago. Even in the heyday they were only contributing 30% of oil revenue, while Norway contributes 100%. So I think they’ve been using oil revenue to buy votes for quite a while.


#45

I think the NDP is basically center left, even in Quebec.


#46

provincial parties are their own wheelhouse. The BC liberals are essentially the federal Conservatives, the wildrose was closer to the Conservatives than the alberta PCs etc


#47

The NDP is definitely less left-wing out West, where they fill the role of the Liberal party in the prairie Provinces.

Uh, they’re pretty extreme left, but certainly disappointment over the Liberal Provincial governments made the NDP a more viable “non-separatist” pick recent, which makes them seem more mainstream, but across the board on the issues they’re far left.


#48

That’s true to a certain extent, but Wildrose are more like a Canadian Tea Party and much further right-wing than any other party anywhere in Canada, and even the Alberta PC party is further right-wing than the Federal Conservatives, especially prior to Prentice.

BC is a very left-wing province, so by comparison to the NDP (and Social Credit) the Liberals are centrist, but they’re still predominately liberals who like fighting with unions.


#49

I always thought we were very right-wing out here. So much so that the NDP even tried becoming more right-wing and ended up losing the last election because they couldn’t make up their minds about who they were. The unions here are aggressively left-wing and even they lost faith in our provincial NDP (who just come across as lost…seriously, the Liberals here do what they like and the NDP, as the official opposition, just bickers amongst themselves).

I could be mixing my wings up and I have been out of the politics game for the last year or so.


#50

I think they are center-left, or moderate left, unless your political spectrum only extends from left-capitalism to right-capitalism.


#51

What positions on specific issues do they have that aren’t far left?


#52

Here’s their party platform for the election: (http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/five-things-the-alberta-ndp-have-promised/)

  1. A Resource Owners’ Rights Commission to review the royalties oil companies pay to the province with any amount earned above the current rates going into savings.

  2. A boost in the corporate tax rate to 12 per cent from 10 per cent and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 and hour by 2018.

  3. More tax brackets on high earners than the Tories are proposing: A 12 per cent tax rate on income between $125,000 to $150,000; 13 per cent on income between $150,000 to $200,000; 14 per cent between $200,000 and $300,000 and 15 per cent over $300,000. The NDP also plans to roll back the Tory health levy.

  4. The creation of 2,000 long-term care spaces over four years.

  5. A ban both corporate and union donations to political parties.

I don’t consider any of these particularly far left, but I suppose it might be relative to where you align on the political spectrum.


#53

Well I am expecting them to align closely to the federal NDP, and I haven’t heard Ducasse say anything crazy or out of line from that. What have you heard?


#54

Does the Alberta election have anything (directly) to do with federal Canadian politics, or is this the equivalent of a state-level government flipping to the other party in the US?


#55

Insofar as feds didn’t deliver on the two big pipelines, yeah. The pipelines are a cipher though, you can come up with a credible case to blame whoever you want. Aboriginals, unions, various US bureaucracies, OBAMA, the GOP, Nebraskan farmers, the pipeline/oil companies themselves, Canadian politicians, ecostalinists etc.
Also again federal Conservatives and provincial Conservatives are basically different parties. The federal Conservatives largely support the Alberta Wildrose party, even though the provincial Conservatives were led by a former federal Conservative cabinet minister.


#56

My knowledge of internal Canadian politics is close to zero, but I have a question for you, Desslock: why did the provincial government call an election at all? Was their opinion polling so completely divorced from reality that they thought they’d win in a landslide? Or did they suspect their chances were better now than they would be later, so they’d better send voters to the polls ASAP? Or did a scandal torpedo them during the campaigning?


#57

The previous premier (Alison Redford) got caught up in some scandals concerning her spending (also oil prices started to drop, which is unforgivable) and she lost the confidence of the party.

A federal cabinet minister (Jim Prentice) went out to lead the provincial party. He was strongly supported by the elites and characterized as the competent guy with the answers. He won the party leadership elections, and became premier without being elected by the public. Shortly after he got into power, a lot of members of the main conservative opposition party (including the leader of the party) crossed the floor to join his party. With the oil price drop doing terrible things to the Alberta budget, he brought out a “tough medicine” budget with a lot of bitter pills for the electorate to swallow. As for why Alberta found itself in such a tough spot, he told the voters “Look in the mirror”. At this point, he decided he needed a mandate, so he called an election.

I think calling an election was probably the right thing to do, given the scope of changes he was making, especially since he was party leader without being elected to the post. But of course it didn’t work out for them. I’m sure his poll numbers were good enough, the main conservative opposition was in disarray, and he couldn’t really conceive that the electorate was not happy with him. Hubris. I’d guess the voters were not happy with the way he rode in as white knight to save them, and got elected representatives to cross the floor and join a party their supporters hadn’t voted for. Then he basically says to the voters “He guys, it’s your fault, I’m just here to clean up your mess”.


#58

Thanks for the summary, Mike. That makes sense of it for an outsider like myself.


#59

The poll numbers were never great, but short-term prospects would not get better


#60

This ThreeHundredEight page is interesting. When the election was called, they were projecting 46 PC seats to 15 NDP seats. Their final projection before election night was the polar opposite: 6 PC seats, 55 NDP. So the polls really fell apart for Prentice.