By on May 6, 2015

Rachel Notley, Alberta NDP Leader

Last night, it became official: Alberta, the largest producer of oil in Canada, ended the 40 year reign of the Progressive Conservatives in favor of the New Democratic Party (NDP), a democratic socialist party.

This could mean big changes in the energy sector, from oil patch to gas pump.

The Alberta NDP, under the leadership of new premier Rachel Notley, campaigned on a promise to review energy royalties. With the previous government known for charging royalties far below average, it’s likely a review will find an increase favorable for Albertans. And, as is the case, customers will be footing the bill and the energy lobby has already come out swinging.

From CBC:

Altacorp Capital, a Calgary investment bank that is partly owned by the provincial government, expressed a similar view in a report earlier this week, before the election.

The report pointed out that energy investors, especially those based outside of Canada, have lots of options when it comes to investing.

“Unfortunately, with Alberta possibly heading for a third royalty change in eight years now, we believe global investors will add a degree of caution with the province’s ability to maintain a stable investable environment.”

Other platform promises including raising corporate income tax rates from 10 to 12 percent, increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018, more tax brackets and higher taxes for making over $125,000 per year, and a ban on corporate and union political donations.

Canada is the largest outside supplier of petroleum to the United States at 3.39 million barrels per day, 37 percent of gross imports, more than all OPEC countries combined in 2014.

[Image source: Rachel Notley Facebook Page]

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111 Comments on “Biggest Supplier of U.S. Foreign Oil Elects Democratic Socialist Government...”


  • avatar
    dash riprock

    and a ban on corporate and union political donations.

    OK….they have at least one solid policy I could(if I lived there) proudly get behind

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      You know, I’m not sure any campaign limits are a good idea at all, but if they are, shouldn’t you just limit spending and let it go? If any reasonably capable candidate can build a website, block walk, and campaign at some limit without selling his soul, doesn’t it become a non issue that a Soros or Koch or big organization can simply write him a check?

      Isn’t the guy who convinced a million people to give a dollar more likely to win the election than the guy who didn’t go through that process?

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      I’ve long felt that campaign contributions should be limited to those who are eligible to vote in that particular campaign (No corps, no unions, no outside parties at all), but I doubt that even that limit would change much of anything unless you’re also willing to limit speech of all sorts involving elections. Interested parties with money available would simply run their own ads to push their own agenda. What might make a difference is forcing all parties involved in political speech to be clearly identified. People can make their own evaluations of the content of the messages. Free speech, not anonymous speech.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        It does get really complex, really fast. Might create a strange new job for people to live in jurisdictions so that they can be paid so they can contribute.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Canada is the largest outside supplier of petroleum to the United States at 3.39 million barrels per day, 37 percent of gross imports, more than all OPEC countries combined.”

    And yet, if someone in Libya has a headache or is in a bad mood, it will affect oil commodity prices much more violently.

    • 0 avatar

      We have Tylenol in Canada.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        You have Tylenol 3 with Codeine!

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          LOL

          Can’t have Codeine here in The America, or people just immediately abuse it.

          (I started reading the US rules on Wiki regarding this drug, but it was far too complicated to bother.)

          • 0 avatar
            Advance_92

            You can still get it, but you need to give them an ID and promise the pharmacy you won’t use it to make meth.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s pseudoephedrine, not codeine.

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            @Lou_BC thanks for the useful additional information.

            As a side note, I believe it is easy to get dehydrated while taking especially acetaminophen, in which case damage can occur at lower levels.

            What do the fifteen per cent of people who lack the enzyme to convert codeine to morphine do for pain relief? And doesn’t a similar conversion have to happen with morphine, it being converted to heroin in the body, or so I have been told. Is there a similar situation there, where people can lack enzymes needed to make that conversion.

            As someone who has suffered from chronic intractable pain so severe that I needed that for an extended period of time, I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I had been one of those approximately one in six without the enzyme.

            So the subject is of more than just theoretical interest to me.

        • 0 avatar

          Sure do. They give it out like candy.

          Wisdom tooth removal? Tylenol 3.
          Sinus headache? Tylenol 3.
          Tylenol 3 allergy? Tylenol 3.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Best OTC thing I’ve found here for sinus illness and headache/sick is Aleve D. Clears you right up and one pill lasts a full day. And it doesn’t make me feel loopy and ridiculous like DayQuil or Benadryl whatever.

          • 0 avatar

            Tylenol 3 isn’t OTC; by prescription only. I do get a nasty sinus infection once or twice a year, though. A combination of pseudoephedrine, Dristan, and alcohol doesn’t usually fix the problem but it’ll put me to sleep for a few days.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            One can get generic acetaminophen/codeine/caffeine much more cheaply than Tylenol#3. I doubt many pharmacies even carry branded T3’s. T3’s don’t need a triplicate narcotic prescription and are the 2nd step up when it comes to analgesia (NSAIDS and Acetaminophen) are the first step.

            People who abuse Tylenol #2’s or #3’s end up frying their livers. Codeine doesn’t have an actual dosage ceiling but Acetaminophen does.

            Percocet tends to be abused much more and is much more addictive.

            AND back to our regularly scheduled programming ;)

            Alberta has traditionally been a bastion of Conservatism. It does not bode well for the federal Conservative party. It doesn’t take long for the “right” to cry about the flood of socialist hordes drowning big business. The NDP gaining power is more likely a case of “voting out” the Conservatives as opposed to “voting in” the Socialists. BC tends to do that. We vote people “out” not “in”.

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            And they know people tend to abuse them, and they know that it doesn’t take too much extra acetaminophen to damage the liver and/or kidneys, yet they love that formulation.

            Or maybe that is the reason why. Take too much and you’ll end up in the ER, even if you don’t OD.

            Yet they look at you like you have three heads if you ask for a formulation of codeine and another, safer NSAID, such as ibuprofen.

            Wanting/accepting codeine for pain I can easily understand. But acetaminophen? Makes no sense…greater risk, at best the same efficacy, and even that is questionable.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            VolandoBajo – there are different parts to the pain pathway to the brain. A mix of analgesic agents works better than a lot of just one. Synergy is the key.

            Codeine has to be processed in the liver to be converted to morphine. Around 15% of the populace don’t have the enzyme for the conversion.

            NSAIDS like Ibuprofen, Motrin etc. can be hard on the kidneys. Those with altered kidney function shouldn’t take them. NSAIDS aren’t necessarily safer. They affect kidneys, have an anticoagulant affect and can contribute to ulcers.

            Acetaminophen is safe up to 4,000mg/day as long as the liver is okay. 3,000 mg would be the max for long term use.

            Ibuprofen tends to be tolerated up to 1,200 mg. Any other drugs that have effects on the kidney or illnesses like diabetes makes NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories) more risky than acetaminophen.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            VolandoBajo – any alternative opioid would work. Codeine is the weakest so if a person gets poor pain relief or none from it than morphine tends to be the next “go to” analgesic.
            Tramadol is a new drug that isn’t classed as an opioid that is similar to T#3 in strength. It can’t be used if someone is on certain anti-depressants.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        @Lou_BC Thanks for your info. If you don’t mind my asking, did you learn this from your profession, or just by diligent study and/or experience?

        Personally, after a severe fall, I opted for morphine. I had been given Oxy’s after a car accident back in about 2000, long before all the publicity about their increased addiction potential. And I had taken and later gotten off of opioids from prior injuries in the twentieth century, but the Oxy’s were a bear to get off of.

        So when I needed relief again in ’06, I opted for morphine, on the theory of Dr. Andrew Weil that the least harm comes from those drugs that are closest to the form they are found in in nature. Not data based on double-blind studies, but seems to be backed by much experiential evidence seen by others who know more about it than I do.

        Morphine has had minimal side effects, and has allowed me to remain active most of the day (and/or night) even past retirement age.

        But I would advise anyone to avoid Oxy’s if at all possible, unless you are sure you will be getting them for the rest of your life.

        Tramadol was virtually useless for me, only taking a bit of the edge off of my pain, but leaving me debilitated from the pain nevertheless. After switching to morphine, the problem went away.

        I realize this is a bit off-topic, but wanted to put this out here since it came up, in case it might benefit anyone else pondering the possible use of Oxycontins. I didn’t get any more relief from them than morphine (given the standard strength ratios), but went through hell even trying to taper off.

        But for anyone who has the most common side effect of opioids, I have one word: Linzess. A definite solution to a hard problem.

        I hope this helps someone who is reading this, and I hope I can forestall the usual “this has nothing to do with cars” drivel.

        One of the things I like about TTAC is that discussions aren’t afraid to wander over into other things of societal concern and impact. I hope that won’t change. It is part of what makes this site so much more interesting and useful that a straight car review and repair site would be.

  • avatar
    Steinweg

    With any luck Alberta can start turning some of its vast oil wealth into investments in a more sustainable, less boom-bust economy. They could do worse than to take a few lessons from Norway.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      The biggest boom bust that affects Calgary is more due to land control issues than oil prices.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The Norway example is a very good one. While Norway has a little more flexibility (because it’s a sovereign state) it does really point to a model where a the nation manages its resources and revenues therefrom for the betterment of the people, rather than operating like an oligarchy, or like a giveaway.

      The simple idea of banking royalties in good times to float the nation through bad ones would have been a really good think for Alberta. Mr. Prentice would probably have the premiership if his predecessors hadn’t given it all away over the last decade.

      Now, this should come as no surprise: the Scandinavian nations have been nailing the managed-natural-resource model for decades. They did it with forestry; oil is similar only with a greater prize.

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        OK….yes Norway is a sovereign country and thus to compare a province to it is never going to provide a clear comparison.

        If Alberta kept all of the tax revenues instead of alot going to the federal treasury, then it would have been an easier task to save for a rainy day. Not saying that they would have done it.

        “it does really point to a model where a the nation manages its resources and revenues therefrom for the betterment of the people”

        This was done, 8 billion was given to Quebec and $3 billion to Ontario in equalization payments this past year. Hard to save when you are supporting your neighbours as well as yourselves

    • 0 avatar
      CrapBox

      Oil wealth has allowed Norway to engage in a socialist experiment where the tall poppies are picked before they are allowed to bloom. Everyone is equal, but other than a few cross country skiers, no one is allowed to excel. Norway won’t be producing another Edvard Grieg or Henrik Ibsen until the oil runs out.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “Everyone is equal, but other than a few cross country skiers, no one is allowed to excel”

        Ah yes, the American “Everyone is a temporarily inconvenienced billionaire” argument.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          psarhjinian – ” the American “Everyone is a temporarily inconvenienced billionaire” argument”

          Government by the people for the people applies only if you happen to be in the 1%.

          Alberta started out with the Heritage Fund to build a bank account to sustain the province but greedy politicians saw it as a convenient cash cow. The same thing has happened in BC with BC Hydro a crown corporation. It has made billions but instead of reinvesting back into hydroelectric power it has been syphoned off by politicians.
          BC has ICBC (Insurance Corporation of BC) that was created by a NDP socialist government but has been kept around by Conservative governments because it makes money and government off-loaded responsibilities like drivers licencing and Motor Vehicle Inspectors to them.
          I bet US Insurance executives would give their testes for the power to control every aspect of motor vehicle operation including licencing.

      • 0 avatar
        Rick T.

        Speaking of tall poppies, there is (was?) a recent movement to legalize heroin smoking there.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        You think that Grieg or Ibsen excelled at their crafts because they had unfettered ability to make money?

  • avatar
    TW5

    Oil price collapse has damped enthusiasm from the oil constituency. If I’m a major oil company, I’m channeling money to the opposition party, who are probably ideological enough to limit the supply of public revenues from oil. Min wage won’t really affect me. Plus, as a major or supermajor my lobbying power and donations will insulate me from regulation. Meanwhile, new regulations will ravage what remains of the upstart oil competition. I’ll buy my competitors for pennies. As production falls prices will rise. The bottom line will look pretty. The progressive conservative oil constituency will be reinvigorated. I’ll oust the clueless socialists.

    Personally, I’m disappointed in the min wage proposal. Forcing corporations to promote the general welfare and provide wage stability has been the unrepentant counterproductive ideology of the American Left (employer mandate lol). I thought Canada was smarter than that.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The minimum wage proposal is interesting because most minimum wage type jobs in Alberta already pay more than $15/hr. I recall being in Alberta last year and Tim Hortons restaurants had signs in the window looking for help starting at $17.50. Perhaps things are changing since the drop in oil prices, but it’s pretty clear the market there is quite willing to set fair wage prices on its own.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        I thought Alberta had the Dakota effect. Wages and prices were rising sharply as capital and laborers were flooding in, but the lack of profits has reversed the trend. The economy of Alberta is in dire straights, ATM. I’d be surprised if people are still job hopping and earning $17 an hour.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Likely. Taking a quick look at Tim Horton’s job postings, there are many positions advertised in the $13-$14/hr range, more depending on location. Remote areas like Grande Prairie typically pay a lot more than average and are still looking for people evidently

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            True. The oil patch has exerted an upward pressure on all jobs. An unskilled High School dropout used to be able to get a job doing oil and filter changes in Fort Mac that paid $45.00/hour. When I was in Calgary last I found most service industries like Timmies had staff shortages and many of the staff they had did not give a sh!t about providing good service. My wife’s uncle said that was pretty typical.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      When I was in Calgary the minimum wage was a non issue. Young people were switching jobs every six months for a better deal. Of course, employers there were then forced not to hold it against them because most all the applicants were either job hoppers or had zero experience.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Royalties on oil in Alberta were higher under a previous premier. The NDP proposes only to go back to where it was.

      Over 40 years of the same provincial (state) party in power had to come to an end sometime – these people had run out of ideas. No worries, there is still the Wild Rose Party who will keep the ranks of troglodytes up to strength.

      My brother who lives in Calgary and is a high-powered corporate lawyer sent me an email this morning:

      “So maybe now I won’t get the crap about gun racks on the truck anymore”

      Why not a decent minimum wage? If your business is so poorly thought out that you have to rely on wages approaching servitude, the whole precept of your business is pure venality on the backs of others a la Walmart. Not much different from a check-cashing store or 20% car loans for the less fortunate.

      • 0 avatar
        Don Mynack

        “Why not a decent minimum wage? If your business is so poorly thought out that you have to rely on wages approaching servitude, the whole precept of your business is pure venality on the backs of others”

        If you refuse to raise prices to maximize your profits to the utmost, irregardless of market conditions and competition, the whole precept of your business is pure venality on the backs of others.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        The burden of proof is not on people who oppose minimum wage regulations. The potential pitfalls of establishing a wage floor are well-documented in theory and practice.

        The question is why starry-eyed idealists waste time and energy trying to force market-based, for-profit institutions to achieve social objectives. Business are designed to create more resources. Government is designed to achieve certain socioeconomic outcomes. Are we really dumb enough to assign government work to corporations, while simultaneously begging the government to create new economic growth (corporate work)?

        That sort of existential self-destruction is the mainstay of the United States. Canada is usually not gullible enough to follow our lead. For instance, they use single-payer health insurance. Not my cup of tea, but much smarter than using tax subsidies and mandates to turn all private companies into health insurance actuaries.

        I’m a bit dismayed to see Canadian socialists following around their American counterparts on min wage and wage equality. Doesn’t bode well for our continent.

        • 0 avatar
          orenwolf

          Pontificate all you want. Real people are involved and deserve a living wage. In the end, people *live* in Alberta and elsewhere, and Canadians tend to believe that workers should be allowed a level above poverty for a hard-day’s work.

          I’m sorry that your stock portfolio has to suffer because the public believes fair wages for a day’s work is somehow a good idea.

          Continue investing in blood diamonds and slave labour though, it’ll do good for *you* in the long run. First world problems indeed. *sigh*

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            No. Real people are involved and deserve a chance at earning a fair wage. As soon as you start off with the propaganda you forget reality and real people suffer.

            Many people capable of earning a wage that is sustaining and comfortable cannot yet rightfully earn fifteen dollars an hour. That’s why only a ridiculous small fraction of full time workers who are not teenagers get paid the minimum wage.

            When you raise the minimum too high, you force real people to earn the real minimum wage which is zero. For that, you should be flogged out of your smugness and idiocy. Too bad the politicians set their own rules or that’s what would happen to any idiot enacting these schemes.

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            If you were hungry and someone told you the only cure was pork lard, I hope you wouldn’t be silly enough to believe them. Similarly, if someone tells you the only way to satiate your desire for more money and flatter distribution of wealth is to impose minimum wage laws, I hope you’d be intelligent enough to think it through.

            Politicians are lazy. They want the laziest solution, which is writing laws to make other people do their work. You have to be conditioned to accept this sort of malfeasance.

      • 0 avatar
        Acubra

        “So maybe now I won’t get the crap about gun racks on the truck anymore”

        A grown-up so much relying on somebody’s judgement deserves a pity. And definitely not the right to make decisions about everyone’s fate (vote).

  • avatar

    For those of you who don’t know Canadian politics, this is the equivalent of Texas going communist.

    • 0 avatar
      an innocent man

      Wait, I thought Canada was already pinko?

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      Indeed. I always thought western Canada (minus BC) makes Texas look like New York.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Alberta is p1ssed at the PCs because they feel that the party hasn’t been catering directly to their interests enough. Transfer payments have been flowing out of and not into Alberta since forever, so the influence of the Wild Rose Party (a party which promotes solely Albertan interests) has been growing. Evidently enough people are p1ssed to switch mainstream parties and let the NDPs in. The NDP win on pandering to populist concerns, but then don’t stick around once people figure out their policies don’t work.

        • 0 avatar
          MPAVictoria

          Always love it when people pretend that Japan, Australia, N.Z and Western Europe don’t exist…

        • 0 avatar
          Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

          I was one of the voters who got the PC’s out of power last night. There was a perception of endless cronyism and lack of transparency. It was quite clear to me that business as usual had to end, and it was a general sentiment shared by many.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/how-to-shake-a-dynasty-in-10-easy-steps-alberta-election-jim-prentice-tories

            They brought about their downfall by making many Albertans feel the same as Waftable Torque mentions.

    • 0 avatar

      “Texas going communist” I’ve heard the Army, Obama, the Red Chinese, and the Walton family, are about to do just that.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Yeah, not so much. Texas has mostly left its statist conservative habits behind. There are still vestiges of it in party politics, but much more of the electorate are conservatarian strains.

      In Alberta, the state still knows better than you how to do everything. So you have no zoning in Houston with some limitations on SOBs and traffic creation and being a dork versus Calgary where medium density housing runs into agricultural land cuz you should farm THAT land.

      I suppose both are places where rural ways meets city realities and you get what you get, but Alberta is in Canada. It may seem more conservative by contrast, but not really.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “For those of you who don’t know Canadian politics, this is the equivalent of Texas going communist.”

      No, this would be the equivalent of Texas voting in someone as virulently left-wing as Richard Nixon.

      The American political spectrum’s “centre” is right of Canada’s, and very far to the right western Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        Richard Nixon was not so much right- or left-wing, as he was political opportunist-wing, doing whatever he perceived would strengthen his political popularity and power.

        And although I was opposed to his ignoring Chinese human rights violations in his drive to normalize relations with (mainland) China, I have to admit that perhaps it went a long way towards avoiding a violent confrontation between China and the West, including the US.

        And thought the strains of capitalism are few and far between in China, at least they are not non-existent, as in the Red Guard era, and they are spreading.

        Oh, and I forgot to add, not only was RMN opportunistic in his policies, he was also paranoid, which made him dangerous domestically, with his COINTELPRO programs and government surveillance against free speech in America, with little or no pretense of fighting threats from foreign countries, unless you count his paranoid fantasies of Martin Luther King being a Communist agent.

        My tendencies in politics are to be liberal on social issues and conservative on national defense and foreign relations issues, and this viewpoint is best expressed by Cantinflas’ brilliant speech at the end of his movie titled The Statesman or The Ambassador, I forget which. But the speech is a jewel of wisdom in a world full of hardened worldviews.

    • 0 avatar
      CrapBox

      Not exactly. The previous government was conservative in name only. It bought votes by employing its friends. Now those friends have transferred their affections to another party.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “The previous government was conservative in name only”

        No true Scotsman…

        This is the same argument that gets thrown at Communism, Libertarianism, etc. It doesn’t wash here, either.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Before we argue if that’s really a proper application of that NTS fallacy, are you a Keynesian Keynesian or a modern Keynesian? iOW, are you for surplus except in recession, or just bigger deficit in recession?

          Cuz conservatives are supposed to be for no deficits ever or maybe some true infrastructure buildout in a really big crisis. Leftists are supposedly all for maximizing the government spend to solve ills to the point that low taxes are just giveaways to the rich at the expense of the poor.

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            “Before we argue if that’s really a proper application of that NTS fallacy, are you a Keynesian Keynesian or a modern Keynesian?”

            I don’t think you can really make a hard-and-fast rule. I’d say that a surplus except in recession where possible would be a good thing, but that really depends on the country.

            Not all boats are lifted equally by the rising tide and all.

            “Cuz conservatives are supposed to be for no deficits ever or maybe some true infrastructure buildout in a really big crisis.”

            Conservatives are supposed to be for no _spending_ where possible. That could, in times of severe revenue shortfall, lead to a deficit.

            “Leftists are supposedly all for maximizing the government spend to solve ills to the point that low taxes are just giveaways to the rich at the expense of the poor.”

            Again, it depends on your definition of “leftist” and the situation at hand. A government can be left-wing and can (and often do) engage in austerity (western Europe comes immediately to mind).

            My point was that NTS really does apply here. You can’t say that the Conservative party’s ideas were good ones when times were good, and then say “Nope, sorry, they’re not really conservative enough” when things don’t go well just so that conservatism can save face.

            I have communist buddies who think the same way.

            Alberta’s Conservatives were pretty conservative, especially by Canadian standards: they kept taxes low, especially on business (only that liberal haven, Ontario, is lower!) and didn’t tend to get progressive on social issues. What hurt them is that they put ideology ahead of practicality and didn’t think the oil-based gravy train would ever stop.

            Even if they’d doubled down on cutting revenue in good times, they’d be in exactly the same place as they are now. NTS definitely applies.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Well, we are getting into the weeds on the nebulousness of conservative as a term.

            It sounds like they may have driven taxes and budgets so low, at least in your opinion, that the first upset became needlessly harsh. No NTS there, because that’s conservative even if less than ideal.

            OTOH, it sounds like a lot of carve outs and cronyism and factional favoritism occurred and the modern, small government conservative finds nothing conservative about that.. Crony capitalism is surely a bipartisan, non ideological failing, but it’s one that gets you targeted by the TEA party here these days.

            So, you might make an argument that it’s a wish unfulfillable in practice a la equality under Marxism, but that’s a pretty partisan position.

            Modern conservatism, having been affected by Reagan and Thatcher, abhors big government meddling and carve outs. You get points for pro business, but penalties for schemes.

            It sounds like your Alberta guys were worse than our post Gingrich bunch.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      Texas and Communism … it’s a very short stroll from one form of authoritarian extremism to another.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      The long Progressive Conservative dynasty, whose frequent chameleon acts made it one of the most successful political operations in the western world, sputtered to a halt yesterday. After nearly 44 uninterrupted years, albeit with some very different leaders and directions, the PCs will be replaced on the government benches by what, in the conventional wisdom was once thought unthinkable: the New Democratic Party. Leader and Premier-elect Rachel Notley fulfills the dream that eluded her father, Grant Notley, who also led the NDP, in the 60s, 70s and 80s but died in a plane crash in 1984, just as the NDP was supplanting the Liberals as the default opposition party.

      Despite a seemingly stunning turnaround, the election results in Alberta weren’t about voters embracing one type of ideology for another, despite the rhetoric from the Progressive Conservatives and the hope-springs-eternal chorus from the “progressive” movement.

      I saw this result more as a matter of assurance and fidelity. Weighted down by a recent legacy and churn at the top that shook voters’ confidence, his own cynical mistakes and a clumsy campaign, Jim Prentice drove the once-invincible PC machine right into the ditch. There is compelling evidence, however, that Prentice inherited a machine already heading inexorably off-course and inert. He will merely be remembered as the driver behind the wheel. What started out as such a promising and inevitable reign just this past September will now be a case study in political science.

      If the NDP ends up making a number of amateurish mistakes in their time in government, it will be unfortunate and confirmation bias to some, but it also bears remembering that Albertans have been putting up with amateurish behaviour from their political leadership for some time now.

      From Ralph Klein in the last days of his tenure admitting they didn’t have much in the way of a plan to deal with prodigious growth in the province, to Ed Stelmach’s ill-timed royalty hike, to Alison Redford’s thin-skinned, entitled brand of governance, Albertans have not been as well-served by their provincial leadership as a rapidly-developing and maturing province should’ve been.

      If you watched the debate, you heard Notley name-drop Peter Lougheed, who is contemporarily held up as the paragon of Alberta populism. Notley was making a direct pitch to the kinds of voters who returned Lougheed three times to the Legislature in landslide victories. Distinctly non-ideological voters, who were and still are the vast majority of the electorate, (despite the ink spilled over polarization and the lamentable online presence of “trolls” in the discourse), flocked to Notley’s eminently personable and optimistic campaign. Notley’s NDP was also able to marshal the disparate and long-suffering (in their own mind) “progressive” vote (as the right-of-centre vote now mimics the state of affairs that long prevailed for their opposite number).

      There are striking parallels to this election and the vote in 1971 that first elected Peter Lougheed and the PCs. Then-premier and Social Credit leader Harry Strom called a snap election that year, counselled the wisdom of continuity, and warned Albertans that election of the PCs would be the first step toward socialism. But Strom lacked a great deal of the appeal that his predecessor, Ernest Manning enjoyed, and on August 25, 1971 one dynasty ended and another began.

      It is too early to tell if another dynasty has begun today. Support will have to coalesce once again around one right-of-centre option, and the NDP has much to prove in the coming years. However, if past precedent is any indication, the ground beneath the electorate’s feet has shifted durably, and dramatically.

      • 0 avatar
        Lightspeed

        Who’d have thought some of the best commentary on the election would be found in a car-blog comments. Very well said, especially about the Lougheed platform. Notley essentially took the PC’s “Saint” Peter legacy out from under them, showing only how tied to corporations the PCs had become and how far they strayed from their own principles. I’ll assume 86er, you are an Alberta-boy too?

        • 0 avatar
          86er

          No, but half of my family lives there, and both my grandmothers are native to the province (Gleichen and Fort Macleod, respectively).

          I consider it like a second home. Medicine Hat was a frequent destination as a youngster.

          • 0 avatar
            frozenman

            86er as a resident of Edmonton I would also like to thank you for your insightful comment. I was one of those that looked to the historic Saskatchewan example and voted NDP Tuesday. Alberta sorely needs an alternate choice to go to to keep the government of the day in line.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Mark Stevenson – great metaphor and BC politically stands for British California. Plenty of fruits and nuts in Victoria.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      When Texas gets 25% of population injection from CA, like we did from ON, QC and BC, it will go communist. Just give these leeches a bit more time.

  • avatar
    jjster6

    “New Democratic Party (NDP), a democratic socialist party.”

    I’m sure even Marx and Lennon would say that a few of the NDP’s ideas are a liitle too left wing for even them to handle.

    Canada – soon to be the new Greece.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      A ridiculous comment if there ever was one, and typical of a certain kind of American with zero world view.

      The NDP left of Karl Marx? You are out of your mind.

      • 0 avatar
        MPAVictoria

        Just wait until they open the reeducation camps at West Edmonton Mall…

        /The NDP would be a middle of the road party in most of Western Europe. Which means they are left wing by American standards but not “marxist” in any real sense.
        //As a former Albertan I am over the moon. 44 years is too long for any government.

      • 0 avatar
        cpthaddock

        @ WMBA – clearly the OP was referring to the Marx brothers, entertainers like the other referenced celebrity, Lennon.

      • 0 avatar
        jjster6

        Wow, it was a smart ass comment. And I’m Canadian. But good job insulting most of the US, wmba. As one commentor once wrote here, “Canada’s number one export, a smug sense of moral superiority.”

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “Canada – soon to be the new Greece.”

      Greece’s biggest issue is that it doesn’t control it’s own currency. It can’t deflate it’s way out of the problem the way that a “normal” nation-state could.

      That said, Canada—especially Alberta—has a revenue problem in the same sense. The only difference is that Greece’s tax avoidance was wholesale, whereas Alberta sold out the future to pay the present and, when the bill came due, landed the costs on the people of the province as opposed to the resource industry that made the profits.

      In essence, the people of the province are being—explicitly, in this case—asked to socialize the costs of the fall of the price of oil. That’s galling.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        You have that backwards on Greece. They can leave the euro zone with all debts forgiven and they will still have a country full of dependent whiners who voted themselves into a mess and refuse to see it. That’s the biggest issue. Fiscal chicanery has its limits.

        Edited, wrong guy. Sorry, psar.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          “You have that backwards on Greece. They can leave the euro zone with all debts forgiven and they will still have a country full of dependent whiners who voted themselves into a mess and refuse to see it. ”

          Putting aside that austerity, not profligacy, is Europe’s most serious problem…

          That’s partly true, but the classical way for a country to become competitive before debt pressure overwhelms them is to deflate. Greece doesn’t have the opportunity, while other countries that have experienced Greek situations

          And yes, they could exit the Eurozone. A lot of people would rather not see that happen, and many of them are not Greek. It could be seen as a loss of confidence in the Eurozone, which would damage Europe as a whole even through Greece is the same percent of the EEC as, say, Houston is to the United States.

          “Your description of the Alberta situation is strangely devoid of the factoids and links you demand whenever someone else says anything on this site”

          I think you’re mistaking me for Pch101. I’m the other, much more hardcore, leftist.

          What I am saying about Alberta is pretty simple: the NDP was voted in because Albertans were not happy with the Conservative budget, which placed the costs of dealing with the fall in oil prices on the people of the province: they were asked to stomach service cuts and tax hikes, while the companies that made hay during the boom years escaped any real requirement to share in the pain.

          It’s also a judgement on the Conservative’s lack of foresight: they could have, but utterly failed to, bank royalties for just such a downturn as Norway did. Had they done so, they could have picked up the slack in private-sector spending through infrastructure investment as Norway has done, and shortened the period of downturn while also lessening it’s impact. They completely failed at this, and regular Albertans took the hit.

          For a government and a platform famous for talking a lot about “managing government budgets like a family budget”, failing to save during good years looks pretty foolish.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            I see I failed to edit before you started your reply. Once again, sorry.

            The whole austerity thing devolves quickly because the economics term can mean the exact opposite of the English. Also, I’m not saying Greece should leave the euro zone. The good news on Greece is that it exposes the inability for states to create wealth by fiat.

            As for budgets, wasn’t there a big issue with Ottawa moving funds around such that They got much of the oil windfall? Also, how conservative can you be if you overspend? It sounds like the politicians in Alberta weren’t really being too conservative.

            Still, the main point has to be about fairness and energy producers vs other voters. I’m still lost, but it’s maybe because I just can’t believe it. Are you saying that energy companies should pay higher taxes because the they are no longer providing the same amount of tax revenue as they did under higher commodity prices? That’s what sounds like.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I would presume that demographics also had something to do with it. Alberta has been adding population more rapidly than average, and some of those transplants may be more liberal (although obviously not Liberal.)

            I didn’t follow it, but I noticed that the majority of seats was won with a fairly low plurality. I would presume from that that the map played an important role here.

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            “I see I failed to edit before you started your reply. Once again, sorry.”

            No problem. I understand the confusion. :)

            “The whole austerity thing devolves quickly because the economics term can mean the exact opposite of the English. Also, I’m not saying Greece should leave the euro zone. The good news on Greece is that it exposes the inability for states to create wealth by fiat.”

            It doesn’t really expose the inability to create wealth, but it really does demonstrate the limitations of fiscal policy when you have limited ability to make changed to monetary policy.

            If they still had the drachma, Greece could have deflated to become competitive; without, they’re stuck with a monetary policy that favours Germany and the core states.

            “As for budgets, wasn’t there a big issue with Ottawa moving funds around such that They got much of the oil windfall?”

            Transfer/equalization. Yes, that is true. Before Alberta, Ontario did the same. I don’t really have an issue with this, and it really doesn’t make sense to beggar your neighbour at the intra-state level.

            “Also, how conservative can you be if you overspend? It sounds like the politicians in Alberta weren’t really being too conservative.”

            The issue was revenue, not spending.

            Alberta failed to bank revenue in good times: they didn’t have a sales tax—even a very small one—and they gave away royalties and allowed tax incentives that beggared them.

            That’s not really a liberal/conservative thing as much as it’s a political thing. Albertans and their government (and, frankly, the Canadian federal government, which is also conservative and stands to lose some seats as a result of this) took resource wealth for granted and used it to curry favour with (being conservatives) highly targeted populist tax cuts.

            This is not a bad thing to do _in an economic downturn_, but doing it when times are good reduces a government’s flexibility when (not if, when) times aren’t so good.

            For what it’s worth, the only government that made hay during good times in Canada and used it to better the country’s fiscal position was the Chretien/Martin _Liberal_ party in the 1990s. The Conservatives have, rather predictably, blown that gift on boutique tax cuts that left them badly unprepared for the recession and now the oil price drop.

            “Still, the main point has to be about fairness and energy producers vs other voters. I’m still lost, but it’s maybe because I just can’t believe it. Are you saying that energy companies should pay higher taxes because the they are no longer providing the same amount of tax revenue as they did under higher commodity prices? That’s what sounds like.”

            No, I’m saying they should have been paying more money, both in terms of taxes and resource royalties, when the price of oil was high and the economy was humming.

            That way, the government could have banked surpluses and they could be cutting taxes and temporarily easing royalties to corporations and citizens in this downturn.

            That an NDP government will ask them to pay more now is just damage control. After all, the Conservative government was willing to make _only_ citizens pay, even though the companies made the lion’s share of the profits—or basically corporate welfare

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            Landcrusher,

            The Federal Gov’t in Canada doesn’t directly get revenue from resources, as they’re under provincial jurisdiction. The feds benefit through income/sale tax revenue from the economic activity associated with the oil, but the royalties are all Alberta’s, and no one elses.

            There are different ways to look at what Alberta did with the oil revenue, and a close reading of the contemporary history at the time would be a good idea before anyone rushed to judgement on failing to save money.

            This wasn’t a massive sea change though. The Alberta PC party was a non-ideological collection of entrenched interests, they’d spout progressive or conservative rhetoric according to the flavour of the day, but really only did whatever it took to stay elected.

            Albertans themselves are easily labled as the most conservative in the country, but the label on the political tin does not necessarily reflect what’s inside.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Psar,
            I disagree on Greece on the optics, and I do so for the same reasons you state as your support. Had they been able to devalue, they would have been able to hide the fact that they were actually cutting everyone’s freebies. This way, they can’t do it, so it becomes obvious that the freebies are neither free nor even guaranteed. Faith in government promises is a lie that persists because most voters have yet gotten burned badly enough.

            So it sounds like you are for fiscal prudence and against targeted tax breaks. watch out before they put you in that mall, brother.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            True Juicy,
            Part of the problem is that conservative, liberal, and progressive aren’t clearly defined anymore. My fave is how much of modern “Progressivism” is actually old school scarcity nonsense.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Canada – soon to be the new Greece.”

      The weather will never be that good.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @jjster6 – ever been to Greece? They have an extremely overinflated sense of self worth. You can only ride on the backs of the father’s of Greek Civilization for so long.

      (On the subject of insulting entire nations. LOL)

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      jjster6,
      That comment must be a troll.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      @jjster6 Would that be Groucho Marx and John Lennon?

      Or, as I suspect, you meant Karl Marx and V.I. Lenin (which I think, without googling, stood for something like Viktor Illyavich)?

      But should it be Groucho and John, I have to say I much prefer the policies of Mario Moreno a/k/a Cantinflas, and those of the Canadian philosopher and musician Leonard Cohen, to those of Groucho Marx and John Lennon.

      Not Groucho, especially, because although he was funny, he and his brothers cut a former uncle or great-uncle-in-law out of the act, when they left vaudeville and went Hollywood, in order to increase their cut. There is nothing new under the sun…

  • avatar
    Joss

    Zzzzzz mess-it-up one termer then gone. More attractive than Ralph Klein.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      What the NDP has to be careful of is not making the same mistakes the Rae government did in Ontario. They already have one helping factor: they’re not coming in just before a recession hits, as Rae had the misfortune of doing.

      The next few issues will be:
      * Bench strength: they’re very green. There is not a lot of depth to their caucus, and they need to get a handle on who their quality ministers are and fast. They can’t afford a Zanana Akande moment.
      * An entrenched machine that stands against them. Rae caved on public insurance and ended up spending a lot of time fighting an array of conservative groups (the CTF comes to mind) who quite wanted them out of office before anything they might do stood a chance of success.
      * Shifting to austerity in a recession. This is just stupid, but it was also the heyday of neoliberalism so we didn’t have much experience with how stupid it really is.
      * Dealing with unions. Yes, really: Rae et al burned a lot of bridges by cutting expenses in education and health-care that inflamed the unions, who withdrew support and services. How these people reconciled with the drubbing they took under Harris is a source of schadenfreude for me to this day. Ms. Notley will need to get a handle on this

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Me and Canadian politics is like a dog watching football. He might be intrigued by all the movement and colors and shouting and cheering but he has no idea what’s going on.

  • avatar
    turf3

    Funny, I thought “socialism” meant “the government owns the means of production”. It sounds like the Canadians have elected a government that will be more to the left than the previous one: higher corporate taxes, minimum wage increases, income tax increase for higher earners, etc. Not socialism, unless you want to redefine “socialism”.

    Also, it sounds a lot like US policy in the 1950s: that decade when high income and corporate taxes and strong labor unions led to stagnating economic growth, declining standards of living, and an all-pervasive sense of national malaise.

    In comparison with the 2010s, where low taxes on the highest incomes, complete corporate freedom to influence and control political speech through monetary contributions, and a continuing reduction in the power of labor have led to the strongest economy and the greatest expansion in the middle class ever.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “In comparison with the 2010s, where low taxes on the highest incomes, complete corporate freedom to influence and control political speech through monetary contributions, and a continuing reduction in the power of labor have led to the strongest economy and the greatest expansion in the middle class ever.”

      You could say this non facetiously about the 1980’s. Perhaps there is more to it than a direct correlation.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      It was a provincial election, not federal. Alberta is the most conservative among Canada’s provinces and territories.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Turf, that dog won’t hunt. First, the tax rate game is silly. Do you know what the effective tax rate was on a top executive back then if you counted all the perks and deductions? You don’t have to count the perks like the fact that the secretaries were fair game, but we could change your argument as written to one promoting misogyny and it would be no less well made. Personally, I like airplanes so free flight lessons and a company plane for personal use sound good to me. All untaxed, of course. I could climb the corporate ladder for that.

      Now, if you want to say that following an event like WW2, we can likely get away with a bunch of silliness and still do well, then go ahead, but don’t forget ALL the silliness. Segregation, morality and blue laws, etc.

  • avatar
    86er

    In the great western Canadian tradition, populist parties have held sway for a great deal of the last 100 years. Nowhere has this been more pronounced than in Alberta; witness the wild and wacky tenure of Bill Aberhart for an amusing example.

    There are parties of both the populist-left and populist-right who have intermittently held power in the western provinces, and Rachel Notley’s NDP is in that same tradition.

    In Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Party is a classic example of a right-populist movement, one that consolidated almost entirely the former PC and Liberal parties in this province.

    The secret ingredient is a leader that seems to embody the values and aspirations of the people in a very humble and earnest way, and I think that’s what Albertans saw in Notley and what people continue to see in Brad Wall in Saskatchewan.

    Everyone can argue that, but of course that’s democracy and the voters are always right, like Jim Prentice said last night before his hasty exit.

  • avatar
    runs_on_h8raide

    Want to thank all the Canadians for teaching me something new about Canada. For me, it was just basically hockey, Labatts, Molson, and the Canadian ballet, and the Grand Prix in Montreal. Now I can add “Canadian policital observances to the list” :)

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Wow. Where did the Liberals go in Western Cananda? I’m more familiar with Ontario politics, where it seems they’re (depressingly) strong.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      ihatetrees – we tend to use odd and confusing political labels. I’ll post some examples from BC.
      We used to have the Social Credit Party which sounds “socialist” but started out as a fiscal conservative party and grew socially conservative. It was the “permanent governing party” for multiple terms. It imploded and was replaced by the Liberal Party which is actually Conservative. The NDP (New Democratic Party) has always been left of centre and they tend to get in power when we get sick of the “permanent governing party”.
      Often political parties may share the same names as Federal Parties but have little in common i.e. BC Liberals and Federal Liberals.

      Federal parties used to ignore the West (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba) until the energy revenues skyrocketed and the manufacturing sector (mostly in Ontario) imploded.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    What next? Bernie Sanders getting elected governor of Texas?

    Jacking up the severance tax that mostly gets paid by Americans and raising the corporate income tax in recognition that few of the corporations are homegrown, is smart.

    Or, they could do like Louisiana, which is about to gut LSU, instead.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      @jim brewer I knew Auburn was planning to gut LSU next football season, but what is this about Louisiana turning on one of its own?

      After all, LSU was where an old Cajun sent his son. When the son came home, after studying math for a semester, the father told his son to say something in math, so the father’s friends could hear how educated his son was now.

      The son protested that he couldn’t “speak” math, but the father threatened to cut off his school allowance if he didn’t comply, so the son said “Pi R squared!”.

      And his father said, “Damn that LSU school! Look at what they are teaching my son! Any damn fool knows that pie are round, and cake are square.”

      So perhaps that is why Louisiana has turned on LSU?

      RIP Justin Wilson, and thanks for the story.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    @an innocent man

    “wait I though Canada was already pinko”
    That is a common misconception still… If you look at Prime Minister Harper’s policies (tax reduction, foreign policy etc.) you can’t really call Canada very much left of Obama. (Harper has been in power since 2006, so has made a lot of changes — whether they are good or not is a matter of opinion — let’s put it this way, G.W. Bush and Harper were “good buddies”..)

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Even though I’m very much to right generally in economics and handouts I do believe the minimum wage should be approaching what is a liveable wage.

    This will strengthen an economy by allowing for better productivity gains rather than relying on cheap labour.

    The people who complain are the ones who are concerned about paying an additional 50c for a Big Mac Meal. But, yet the person serving them will have more money to spend strengthening their jobs.

    This will compress wages slightly and generate less disparity.

    In the big schemes of things Canada does offer a better and more promising future for their young than what is offered in many countries.

    Many think a higher wage will make it more expensive to live. The burden on higher paid workers will be marginal compared to the additional economic activity it will generate. So, a higher paid workers wage might only rise a buck or two and hour to compensate.

    Then your currency re-values to take into account these changes. It will not make any country less competitive.

    In the end it will be a win for all.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      In some areas, what high minimum wage jobs do is drive the market for illegal labor that is willing to work for less.

      I really don’t care or believe any of the propaganda around minimum wage laws. No, it doesn’t make much better, nor does it make much worse. Instead, I prefer the approach of increasing the worth of workers so that their increased contribution justifies higher wages.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        There does seem to be a disconnect with people learning skills from others in the workplace and in general. It’s crazy. I can go on You Tube and learn to do all sorts of stuff, or instead hire a company who will send out someone who can’t do that same thing while charging me by the hour for his ignorance. At the same time, the disparity in income is signaling a huge disparity in knowledge, there is more knowledge available on the web than ever before.

        The usual wisdom on this isn’t the answer, and neither is just taxing away a bunch of the difference.

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