Twenty-four or so hours into my “retirement”, life hasn’t slowed down a bit. My “retirement” began yesterday morning at the moment Alison Redford called the election – which was about two minutes before I went in to a meeting, and I spent the rest of the day in meetings or on the phone.
At least a couple of good things resulted, however: we’ve got this website up, we’ve moved my Facebook and Twitter accounts over so that they now belong to Private Citizen Dave, and that means you and I can share our thoughts about this election campaign starting now; and Global TV and I confirmed that I will be on Global on election night (April 23), offering nuggets of analysis and insight as the results come in. I’m looking forward to it.
So, 24 hours or so into the Alberta election campaign, here’s how things look to me:
At the risk of sounding like all the other pundits, it looks to me as though Alison Redford and the PCs are in big trouble.
How could it not look like that?
It’s been downhill for the PCs since the Legislature began sitting on February 7th. It started as a downward drift. With every bent promise, every incident of Shockingly Arrogant Behavior, every revelation of bullying and intimidation, it turned from a drift to a slide to a plunge over a cliff. The numbers the public was seeing weren’t yet showing it – although at least one poll hinted at a shift in voter opinion – but in the final two weeks that the Legislature sat, the actions of the Redford government betrayed the sort of full-on panic you feel when your internal polling is showing your party in freefall.
And now we have two polls – Ipsos-Reid, and ThinkHQ – showing exactly that and showing essentially the same numbers: the PCs and the Wild Rose are tied in voter support and now it’s a two-horse race.
Until further notice, the narrative of this election – from the pundits, the pollsters, and the mainstream media – is going to be that it’s all about Smith vs Redford and that nobody else matters.
So it’s up to us to make sure the picture doesn’t turn out completely the way the experts are painting it.
Look, the PCs and the Wild Rose are the same. That’s why they hate one another so much. Family feuds are the nastiest fights, and these two parties are family. To the Wild Rose, the PCs are the Conservatives-Who’ve-Lost-Their-Way. To the PCs, the Wild Rose are the Conservatives-Who-Turned-Traitor.
But they are both conservative parties. So no matter which one wins, if the election plays out according to the expert narrative, we’ll have conservatives in government and conservatives in opposition.
Four weeks from now, we are going to need and want at least a few strong voices in opposition who are Not conservatives. Why? Because one group of conservatives can only hold the other group of conservatives to account within the narrow context of Being Conservative Enough (or Not). And that would leave a very large number of moderate progressive Albertans – most of your neighbours – without anybody in Edmonton to represent them.
More on that in my next rant…