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

Kripps strikes silver in Austria

Kripps and Lumsden, had the second-fastest runs in both heats

Skiers in the groove at Apex

Competitors in full swing at Canadian Selections this weekend.

Penticton Subway making it fresh for Soupateria

Subway shops are donating 600 inches of subs, 100 cookies and drinks to Soupateria Dec. 20

What’s shaking at the museum

Kids got to learn about earthquakes Saturday at the museum.

All aboard the Summerland Christmas Express

The first train of the Summerland Christmas Express schedule.

All aboard the Summerland Christmas Express

The first train of the Summerland Christmas Express schedule.

Meningococcal clinics open this Sunday

Interior Health is stepping up efforts to get young people vaccinated against Meningococcal.

Update: RCMP arrest domestic assault suspect west of Kamloops.

The RCMP Emergency Response Team made the arrest at around 4:30 p.m.

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of sexual harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

Column: Make it a green Christmas

Instead of purchasing a cuddly stuffie this year, put your money towards helping the real thing.

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Most Read