Alberta a bad blueprint for Clark

B.C. premier shouldn't see Conservatives as a bigger threat than the NDP

Rarely do elections in one province have any real impact on politics in another, but the results of Monday’s Alberta election may be the exception. While the pollsters got the mood of Albertans spectacularly wrong, the apparent last-minute change of heart by many Albertans to continue supporting Alison Redford’s PCs over the upstart Wildrose Party will no doubt embolden Christy Clark’s B.C. Liberals to stay the course in the hope B.C.’s conservative voters will hold their noses and continue to prop up Clark’s misguided government.

There is little doubt Clark’s brain trust will be analyzing Alberta’s election results and planning to emulate Redford’s campaign of fear against the Wildrose, in an effort to blunt the impact of the B.C. Conservative Party on the B.C. Liberal Party’s dismal electoral prospects. While this strategy appears to offer Clark a path to retain power, if the message the Liberals draw from the Alberta election is that the B.C. Conservatives are the bigger threat than the NDP, they will be disappointed, and B.C. will be saddled with an NDP government in a year’s time.

Alberta’s Wildrose and the B.C. Conservative Party have a shared genesis as disaffected members of the PCs and Liberals respectively, who left the parties on matters of principle. The key difference between the provinces is that Alberta is a decidedly centre-right province where voters are happy to accommodate two parties on the right, where there is only room in B.C. for one free enterprise party. Given the philosophies of the party leadership, neither the Alberta PCs nor the B.C. Liberals can confidently claim they are the parties of free enterprise; they are at least less offensive to ideas of individual freedom and responsibility than the socialist NDP.

In Alberta, the productive economy is based on resource extraction and agriculture and is represented across the province in rural and urban areas, while the unproductive part of the economy, largely government and public-sector employees, is concentrated in Edmonton, where the NDP and Liberals tend to do well. B.C.’s reality is that the economies of Lower Mainland and the Capital Region have become dependent on the taxpayer for survival; as a result the NDP and federal Liberals enjoy the urban support, while the productive economy in B.C. has been pushed to the Interior and suburban Lower Mainland. The challenge for Clark is to avoid a split in the conservative vote, hold the interior of the province and convince those in the suburbs of Vancouver that the Liberals are not, as they have demonstrated to date, out of touch with the productive citizens of B.C.

There are two strategies Clark can follow to counter the impact of the B.C. Conservatives. One course of action would be to co-opt the main platforms of B.C. Conservatives, including lower personal and corporate tax rates, offering new, market-based options for health care and education and promoting expansion of resource development and investment. This would render the B.C. Conservatives moot, and give the disillusioned conservatives in the B.C. Liberal Party the incentive needed to come back to the party. The second course, and the strategy most likely to be adopted by Clark, will be to attack and vilify the B.C. Conservatives as evangelical homophobe fanatics, in an attempt to scare conservative voters back to the Liberal camp.

A Wildrose victory in Alberta would have provided Clark the cover needed to move the B.C. Liberals to the right and regain the support of B.C.’s majority of conservative-minded voters. The victory in Alberta of a decidedly red-Tory PC party, whose success will be seen by Clark as coming largely from the PCs attacking the Wildrose, will encourage Clark to ignore the threat of the NDP and instead concentrate on attacking the B.C. Conservatives.

Conservatives fed up with the B.C. Liberal policies will be pushed further from the Liberals if Clark pursues a strategy of attacking conservatives. The conservative vote will split, resulting in an NDP government, and the eventual rise of a Conservative alternative.

Clark had the opportunity to strengthen the B.C. Liberals by embracing free-market policies when she took over the party. She has the opportunity again to show B.C. that there is a clear choice for voters by adopting conservative policies, while at the same time marginalizing the B.C. Conservatives, giving conservative voters no reason to go anywhere but the Liberals. The impact of the PC win in Alberta and Clark’s likely reaction to it is that B.C. voters will have a clear choice in May 2013. If Clark’s ego gets in the way of good strategy, that choice will be a NDP government.

 

 

 

Mark Walker is the publisher of the Penticton Western News.

 

 

Just Posted

JAK's Liquor Store in Penticton will be donating 10 per cent of its sales on Saturday, June 19, to the Penticton Salvation Army Food Bank. (Photo from JAKS.com)
Stock up your liquor cabinet and support the Penticton food bank

Jak’s beer and wine store is donating a portion of sales to local food banks Saturday

The illegal open fire above Naramata continues to smoke on Friday, June 18. The fire was left to burn itself out by BC Wildfire. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Illegal open burn in Naramata will be left to smoke

BC Wildfire could not confirm whether the property owner had been fined

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Rob and Anthony are the city’s new parking ambassadors who are sharing information with businesses and the public about the new pay parking. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Penticton hires team to inform people on city’s new pay parking system

The pair will spend at least a month helping businesses and residents navigate new pay parking system

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
Donors who gave $1M to Central Okanagan grads want to send positive message

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

An Armstrong family that lost their home to a fire on Wednesday still hasn’t found their cat as of Friday, June 18, 2021. (Facebook photo)
Family cat still missing, days after fire destroys Armstrong home

There were no injuries from Wednesday’s blaze, but two days later there’s still no sign of the white feline

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

Emergency crews responded to Highway 97 after a motorcycle incident. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Motorcyclist taken to hospital after collision on Highway 97

It is not known the extent of their injuries

Most Read