May 20, 2015
After crunching the numbers on the Progressive Conservative’s “10 year plan” in the budget lockup on March 26, I half-sarcastically quipped that Jim Prentice had given Alberta its first NDP budget. I didn’t mean it literally, at the time.
I’ve been a non-partisan conservative fiscal policy analyst and advocate for most of my career and am now a Wildrose MLA, so I won’t pretend not to have a dog in this fight or to be entirely objective. That said, this is my attempt to make sense of the epic series of upheavals that have transformed Alberta politics over the last six months.
The first of these was the mass floor crossing of last December: likely to go down in history as both the most devious political betrayal in our country’s history, and the stupidest.
The media had largely given Prentice a free ride throughout the summer and fall of 2014. After the PCs took all four of the Oct. 27 byelections, the sense of invincibility about him was overwhelming, and played no small part in convincing nine Wildrose MLAs, including party leader Danielle Smith, to take leave of their senses, not to say moral compasses, and cross the floor.
I argued at the time that by offering up their unconditional surrender, the floor-crossers had given up all leverage in pushing for conservative fiscal reforms, leaving Prentice free to turn left to deal with the NDP. What I didn’t count on was the Tories’ unstoppable sense of hubris and thoroughbred instinct for entitlement. Sure enough, these began to shine through again.
With most of the official Opposition sitting in the nosebleeds of the government backbenches and an overflowing war chest, the PC brain trust decided that a huge majority with a small opposition wasn’t enough. They needed an even bigger, crushing majority with effectively no opposition, but for a few New Democrats in Edmonton.
Prentice needed an excuse to call an early election, a year ahead of the schedule mandated by Alberta’s fixed election date law. A “transformational” budget — a “10 Year Plan,” no less — would serve as the pretext. They were banking on Albertans feeling that they literally had no other choice. After all, Wildrose was dead, the Liberals were leaderless (party leader Raj Sherman had just stepped down) and who in their right mind would vote for the NDP?
Read Much More HERE
Derek Fildebrandt is the MLA Elect for Strathmore Brooks in the Alberta Legislature