I arrived home early this morning from doing election coverage on Global to find a handwritten note from my daughter Jenn next to my placemat on the kitchen table. It started with the words, “Hooray! It’s over!”
And I say not a moment too soon.
That was an ugly, nasty campaign. In case you missed it in all the mudslinging, it also involved billions and billions of dollars in campaign promises. The upside of losing is that you’re immediately off the hook for keeping whatever profligate promises you made on the campaign trail. The challenge for the winner is that you now have to start aligning your promises with the reality of what you can actually afford to do.
We’ll see how that goes.Here’s how things look to me on the morning after.
I am sorry that the Alberta Party failed to elect any MLAs. (But then again, so did the Wildrose, four years ago.)
I’m not surprised the PCs won. I am surprised that they won so big! (Bad grammar, I know, but it’s allowed when you’re surprised.)
There was an obvious shift in the landscape in the last week of the campaign. We now know that internal PC polling was picking this up, although my sources tell me the internal polls failed to register the full magnitude of the shift.
I am convinced the ground gave way under the Wildrose’s feet when Danielle Smith failed to repudiate the rantings of Alan Hunsperger and Ron Leech.
She should have announced that neither candidate, if elected, would be allowed to join the Wildrose Caucus. Instead, she waffled and appeared to defend the indefensible. The voters were left to wonder, “Well, if she won’t draw the line here, what other offside views will she tolerate?”
I saw a tweet that satirically captured it: “I wish Danielle Smith was my mom. I could get away with anything!”
I get that it’s tough, when you lead a party that believes itself to be grassroots and driven from the bottom up, to act unilaterally and kick two of your people out for “expressing their opinions”. But whoever said politics was easy? It isn’t. And Smith gave us a big fat clue as to the colour of the sky in her world during the debate, when Redford challenged her on whether she was listening to Albertans or only to her party members. Smith shot back, “What’s the difference?”
Last night, she found out. Most Albertans don’t belong to her party or any party. But we expect our government to listen to all of us and govern for all of us – not just their friends and loyal supporters. For the first three weeks of this campaign, we the people gave the PCs the fright of their lives for having failed us in just that way.
Dave Rutherford said to me during a chat we had on QR77 just after 9:30 last night – and if you close your eyes, you can hear the exasperation in his voice – “The people of Alberta are liberals!”
Yes, the majority of Albertans are, socially. We may be (mildly) fiscally conservative, but we are also (at least mildly) socially progressive. We are fair-minded. We are moderate. We are – in a word – Canadian.
We’ll never know for sure, of course…but if Danielle Smith had done the right thing about Hunsperger and Leech, I suggest last night’s election results may have been very different.