Today’s announcement by the TransCanada Corporation that it would no longer pursue the construction of the Energy East Pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Saint John, New Brunswick triggered a storm of statements, accusations and criticisms from politicians trying to drive their political narratives.
While the reasons for the TransCanada Corporation withdrawing its plans are likely influenced more by economics than by politics, there will certainly be political implications for the politicians – like Premier Rachel Notley – who have tethered their governing agenda to the approval of pipeline projects.
So, politics being politics, here is a quick look at who is blaming who for the demise of the Energy East Pipeline:
The TransCanada Corporation blames existing and likely future delays caused by the National Energy Board regulatory process, associated costs and challenging “issues and obstacles” facing the project.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley blames “a broad range of factors that any responsible business must consider.”
New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant doesn’t blame the TransCanada Corporation, but recognizes “recent changes to world market conditions and the price of oil have negatively impacted the viability of the project.”
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall blames Justin Trudeau, the federal government, and Montreal mayor Denis Coderre.
Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr blames the decision to cancel the pipeline project as a business decision.
Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer blames Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Alberta Liberal MPs Randy Boissonnault, Amarjeet Sohi and Kent Hehr blame “current market challenges related to world market conditions and lower commodity prices.
Calgary Conservative MP Michelle Rempel blames “Liberal ideological opposition to the wealth and prosperity of western Canada, to the detriment of the nation as a whole.”
United Conservative Party interim leader Nathan Cooper blames the Alberta NDP.
UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean blames Rachel Notley, Justin Trudeau and Denis Coderre.
UCP leadership candidate Jason Kenney blames the Alberta NDP carbon-tax and social license, and the Trudeau Liberals. He later also blames Denis Coderre.
O’Leary will be joined by former Conservative MP Tim Uppal who will moderate the chat. Uppal represented the Edmonton-Sherwood Park riding from 2006 until 2015 when he switched ridings and was defeated by Liberal candidate Amarjeet Sohi in Edmonton-Mill Woods in October 2015.
O’Leary does not have the support of any sitting MPs from Alberta but has gained support from Uppal and former PC MLA Ken Hughes. O’Leary was widely mocked online last year after writing an open letter to Premier Rachel Notley pledging to invest $1 million to Alberta economy if she would resign (it is not known if the letter was sent by O’Leary from his home in Massachusetts).
Federal NDP skip Alberta in leadership debate schedule
Local writer and political activist Mimi Williams has run for Edmonton City Council numerous times and most recently in Ward 7 in 2013, where she placed third with 12.3 percent of the vote. Ms. Williams is well-known in New Democratic Party circles and was a candidate for that party’s leadership in 1996. It was reported that she was recruited by the NDP in advance of the party’s recent Calgary convention to identify Kudatah activists who had purchased party memberships with the intention to disrupt the meeting. She is listed on the Elections Alberta website as the President of the NDP association in the Whitecourt-Ste. Anne constituency.
Prospective candidates need to file their intentions to run in order to fundraise for their campaigns but they do not need to identify what position they plan to run for until they submit their papers to the City Clerk on the official nomination day.
How many votes does it take to win a 32-candidate by-election?
2,359 out of 13,279.
Edmonton Police Detective and community volunteer Moe Banga was elected to Edmonton City Council with 18 percent of the vote in today’s Ward 12 by-election to replace Amarjeet Sohi. The race attracted 32 candidates, a record number in Edmonton city council electoral history.
This is not the first time Mr. Banga attempted to seek political office. In June 2014, he was disqualified from the federal Conservative Party nomination contest in the Edmonton-Wetaskiwin riding. It was never made completely clear why he was removed from the contest.
Mr. Banga will now serve on city council until the next general election in October 2017.
Here is a full list of the unofficial results from the February 22, 2016 Ward 12 by-election:
Thirty-two candidates will be listed on the ballot in the Feb. 22 by-election to fill Edmonton City Council’s Ward 12. With this many candidates on the ballot, it could be challenging for voters to choose who would best represent them on city council. It will also be challenging for those 32 candidates to break from the pack and distinguish themselves with less than a month until election day.
Here are some ways these 32 candidates might break from pack.
Having voters who already recognize your name will be an advantage for some candidates, as long as that recognition is positive. Because there are no formal political parties at the municipal level, all candidates will be running on their own names.
Laura Thibert has been the Catholic School Board Trustee from the area since 2010 and was briefly nominated as a Wildrose Party candidate before the 2015 election.
Balraj Manhas has been spokesperson for the United Cabbies during the recent city council debates about allowing Uber to operate in Edmonton. He was disqualified as a candidate in a Progressive Conservative nomination contest in early 2015.
Mohinder Banga was briefly a candidate for the federal Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods in 2015 before being disqualified.
Don Koziak has run in at least eight municipal and provincial elections since 1995, including the mayoral race in 2007 and briefly in 2010, but he has never run as a candidate in this area of the city. He was the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Glenora in 2012 and 2015.
Mike Butler ran as a Liberal and New Democratic Party candidate in this area in various provincial and federal elections since 2008. In 2014, he wrote an open letter explaining why he was leaving the Liberals to join the Alberta Party.
Arundeep Singh Sandhu was until a few months ago the Vice-President of Organization of the Progressive Conservative Party.
Andrew Gorman ran for city council in Ward 9 in the 2013 election, as did Dan “Can Man” Johnstone in Ward 10.
There is no better way to identify your supporters and meet voters than showing up on their doorstep and ringing their doorbell. If you are a voter who lives in Ward 12, there is a very real possibility that you might have 32 different candidates knocking on your door before Feb. 22, 2016. Don’t be surprised to see candidates waving to traffic at busy intersections during rush hour, shaking hands at Tim Horton’s or showing up in droves at any community event before Election Day.
There are already numerous all-candidate forums being organized by different community groups and organizations in Ward 12. With 32 candidates in the race, there might be little value in holding traditional question and answer forums, which will be time consuming, lengthy and uninteresting. Other candidate meeting formats, like the speed dating-style events held in the 2013 election, might prove to be more valuable for candidates and voters.
The City of Edmonton is not hosting an official all-candidates forum during this by-election. The Women’s Advocacy Voice of Edmonton is hosting a forum on Feb. 5, 2016 at the Mill Woods Seniors and Multicultural Centre and the Mill Woods Presidents’ Council is hosting a forum on Feb. 17, 2016 at J. Percy Page High School.
Getting ahead of the issues
It is always difficult to determine what the defining issue of any election campaign will be, but that will not stop candidates from trying to get ahead of issues that are on the radar of voters in Ward 12.
A number of candidates, including Nav Kaur, Balraj Manhas, Mohinder Banga, Arundeep Sandhu and Danisha Bhaloo, called on council to delay the vote on the new bylaw to govern vehicle-for-hire businesses that would include Uber until after the by-election. Nav Kaur outlined her position on her campaign blog.
Sam Jhajj is hosting an open house at his campaign office to discuss and provide input into developing policies that can prevent domestic violence.
Three candidates are calling on the city to delay construction of LRT to southeast Edmonton. Don Koziaktold CBC that money going toward LRT would be better spent improving the city’s roads and intersections. Dan Johnston told basketofyegs.com that he would delay all future LRT construction. Kelly Kadla told the Edmonton Journal he wants a moratorium on the Valley LRT Line.
Gimmicks might not be the best word, but candidates should be expected to use different tactics to get attention for themselves and the issues they are focusing on during this campaign.
Nicole Szymanowka earned media attention for using the dating app Tinder as a campaign tool.
Irfan Chaudhry and his supporters are sporting flashy yellow toques with his campaign hashtag #irFANclub.
Nav Kaur tweeted her bus trip from her Mill Woods home to City Hall to demonstrate the need for improved public transit service to southeast Edmonton.
Nick Chamchuk is pledging not to use campaign signs and is encouraging his supporters to use the #YEGnoelectionsigns hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. He wrote on Facebook that this is part of this campaign “to give Mother nature a break, make driving safer and more enjoyable, save resources and my daughter’s education fund…”
Stephen Wutzke told the Edmonton Journal that if he is elected he will donate $20,000 of his annual salary to the Edmonton Food Bank.
Jason Bale announced on his website that he will only spend $100 on his campaign to make a point about money in politics. In lieu of lawn signs, he is asking supporters to write ‘100’ in the snow in front of their homes and businesses.
Endorsements from prominent community members will not win an election but they can lend credibility to candidates and their campaigns.
Nav Kaur has received the endorsements of Edmonton-Ellerslie MLA Rod Loyola, outspoken Catholic School Trustee Patricia Grell, Public School Board Trustee Michael Janz, former city councillor Michael Phair and recent federal Liberal candidate Beatrice Ghettuba.
Danisha Bhaloo has received the endorsement of former Progressive Conservative MLA and former mayor Stephen Mandel, former Edmonton-Glenora PC MLA Heather Klimchuk and former Ward 5 city council candidate Dan St. Pierre, who is serving as her official agent.
Laura Thibert has an endorsement from fellow Catholic Trustee Debbie Engel.
Don Koziak has the support of former MP and MLA Brent Rathgeber, who is serving as his official agent.
The 32 candidates in Ward 12
Here is the list of candidates who have registered their intentions to run, along with links to their websites and social media accounts. I will be posting any updates to the Ward 12 by-election webpage.
When to vote? Voting stations will be open in Ward 12 on Feb. 22 from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Advance polls are open at the Meadows Community Recreation Centre on Feb. 8, 9, 10 and 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Although we are still years away from the next round of municipal, provincial and federal elections in Alberta, a handful of provincial and municipal by-elections will be held in the first half of 2016.
Calgary-Greenway provincial by-election
The death of Progressive Conservative MLA Manmeet Bhullar on Nov. 23, 2015 means that a by-election will be held to choose the next MLA for the Calgary-Greenway constituency early this year. According to provincial elections laws, a by-election will need to take place before the end of May 2016.
This by-election will be the second held since the May 2015 provincial general election. The by-election will test whether the PCs have the ability and appeal to hold on to one of their nine remaining seats in the Legislative Assembly. Both the New Democratic Party and Wildrose Party will be looking to win this by-election as well in order to marginalize the PCs and add to their own caucus strength.
I have created a dedicated webpage to track the candidates running in Calgary-Greenway by-election.
The election of Martin Shields as the Conservative MP for Bow River on Oct. 19, 2015 has triggered a Jan. 18, 2016 by-election to fill the Mayor’s chair in the City of Brooks. Councillor Barry Morishita and lawyer Sarah Bisbee are running for mayor and seven candidates are running for the council seat made vacant by Mr. Morishita.
Ms. Notley proved to be a smart, likeable and charismatic leader on the campaign trail. I would argue that she was then and remains now her party’s greatest asset.
Voters opted for wholesale change by choosing 75 new MLAs, a huge turnover, to serve in Alberta’s 87 seat Legislative Assembly. The NDP started the election with 4 seats and ended it with 54 seats, including every seat in Edmonton, 15 seats in Calgary, seats in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer, and a handful in rural Alberta.
The PCs lost a total of 60 seats and were relegated to third place with 10 MLAs (9 after leader Jim Prentice resigned on election night) and the official opposition Wildrose won 21 seats, four more than the party won in 2012.
A record number of women were elected to the Legislature, including 26 in the 54 MLA NDP caucus and 7 of 13 cabinet ministers.
Thomas Dang, age 20, became the youngest MLA in Alberta history.
Optimism was in the air as thousands of Albertans showed up to the Legislature Grounds to watch the new Premier and cabinet be sworn-in to office.
In their first session as government, the NDP banned corporate and union donations, restored $1 billion in health care, education and human services funding cuts made by the PCs, increased Alberta’s corporate tax rate from 10 percent to 12 percent and announced a phased in $15 per hour minimum wage by 2018.
Ms. Notley demonstrated an ability to reach outside NDP circles for expert advice by appointing Alberta Treasury Branches President & CEO Dave Mowat to lead a Royalty Review Panel, respected economics professor Andrew Leach to lead a Climate Change Panel, and former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge to provide advice on infrastructure investment. Calgary Liberal MLA David Swann was asked to co-chair a review of the province’s mental health services and Joseph Doucet, Dean of the University of Alberta’s School of Business, was tapped to chair the Premier’s Advisory Committee on the Economy.
The PC Party patronage machine ground to a halt. University and college boards of governors are still dominated with well-connected conservatives, but some high-profile appointees have been replaced. For example, Alberta’s representative in Washington D.C. Rob Merrifield, a former Conservative MP, was replaced by Gitane De Silva, a former Deputy Minister of International and Intergovernmental Affairs and Canadian Consul General to Chicago.
On the financial front, the NDP government faces serious problems inherited from the old PC government.
After years of poor long-term planning and over-reliance on royalty revenues to fund the province’s operations budget, the sharp decline in the international price of oil had a huge impact on the government’s coffers. The drop in the price of oil has also led to significant job losses in Calgary and northern Alberta, which have impacted tens of thousands of Albertans.
Instead of dealing with the drop in revenue by cutting budget funding and slashing public sector jobs, like the Wildrose and PC parties proposed, the NDP have decided to invest in public infrastructure, such as highway, school and hospital construction.
As well as keeping many Albertans in the construction industry employed during the economic downturn, investing in building public infrastructure now means the government will spend less time playing catch up when the next oil boom arrives. Ironically, this is similar to what Wildrose leader Brian Jeanargued in favour of when he resigned as Fort McMurray’s MP in January 2014.
Despite a constant barrage of criticism from conservative critics, who claim the NDP election win was simply a fluke, a recent poll showed the NDP with a narrow lead in Calgary and a wide lead in Edmonton. The poll was not fantastic news for the governing party, but it undermines the argument that the NDP were elected by accident. The NDP appear to be developing a solid base of support among moderate and progressive voters in urban Alberta.
This election was a reminder that Alberta has defied its stodgy political stereotype and has rapidly become a young and urban province.
The city of Calgary, long known for its conservative political roots, has now elected progressive politicians in the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government, something that would have been unheard of in past years.
According to Statistics Canada, in 1961, 53 percent of Albertans lived in rural areas. As of 2011, 83 percent of Albertans lived in urban centres with only 17 percent of our province’s population living in rural areas. This is a massive population shift that has and will continue to impact our political map for decades to come.
The year’s election was a rejection of establishment politics and a reminder that Albertans are largely politically moderate and more populist than conservative, which is an important distinction that the ruling PCs forgot after 44 years in power. It was also a reminder of how dramatically voters can abandon their traditional patterns of voting and embrace change.
This year was filled with many exciting firsts for progressive politics in Alberta. And while it is impossible to tell what the next year will bring in Alberta politics it is clear that our province changed in a significant way in 2015.
I had the pleasure of joining Ryan Jespersen on 630CHED on Dec. 16, 2015 to talk about the past year in Alberta politics. Take a listen and let me know what you think about what happened in 2015.
There are now 21 candidates who have registered their intentions to run in Edmonton City Council’s Ward 12 by-election, which is scheduled to be held on Feb. 22, 2016. I am told with certainty that there are at least two or three additional candidates who expect to announce their plans to enter the by-election race in the coming weeks.
I have created a list of candidates with website and social media links that I will keep updated. Please email me at david.cournoyer [at] gmail.com if you have updates to the list.
With two months left until the official nomination date, 17 candidates have registered their intentions to run in a by-election to fill the Ward 12 vacancy on Edmonton City Council. Triggered by the resignation of Amarjeet Sohi, who was elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Mill Woods, the by-election will be held on Feb. 22, 2016.
Some new additions to the list include transit instructor Preet Toor, Catholic School trustee Laura Thibert, past Wildrose Party candidate Kyle McLeod, and Edmonton & District Labour Council past president Brian Henderson.
Candidates must submit their nomination papers in the Heritage Room at City Hall on Monday, January 25, 2016 between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. More information can be found on the City of Edmonton’s Elections webpage.
Since my last update, there are now at least seven candidates who have publicly declared their intentions to run in the Ward 12 by-election:
Irfan Chaudhry– Project Manager in the City of Edmonton’s Multicultural Relations Office and sessional criminology instructor at MacEwan University. Named by Avenue Magazine as one of Edmonton’s Top 40 under 40 in 2013. (Announced on Twitter)
Arundeep Singh– Former Vice-President Outreach of the Progressive Conservative Party and employee of his family’s gravel trucking business. (Reported in Metro Edmonton)
On Oct. 19, City Councillor Amarjeet Sohi was elected as a Member of Parliament in the federal riding of Edmonton-Mill Woods. With Mr. Sohi’s resignation from city council in order to take his seat in the House of Commons, and his new post as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, a by-election will be held in order to fill the vacancy in Ward 12.
The Municipal Government Act states that a by-election must take place within 90 days of a council seat being vacated, which means the by-election would need to be held before the end of January 2016, depending on the exact date that Mr. Sohi resigned from city council.
At the council meeting on Nov. 3, 2015, councillors Tony Caterina and Andrew Knack introduced a motion requesting the city administration to prepare a report with recommendations for a date for the Ward 12 by-election. The motion was passed and the report is due at the next council meeting on Nov. 17, 2015 .
Irfan Chaudhry– Project Manager in the City of Edmonton’s Multicultural Relations Office and sessional criminology instructor at MacEwan University. Named by Avenue Magazine as one of Edmonton’s Top 40 under 40 in 2013. (Announced on Twitter)
Arundeep Singh– Vice-President Outreach of the Progressive Conservative Party and employee of his family’s gravel trucking business. (Reported in Metro Edmonton)
Damien Austin – announced on his Facebook page that he will be a candidate in Ward 12.
In the realm of speculation and rumours, here are some names of potential candidates who could enter the Ward 12 by-election:
Balraj Manhas – The president of the United Cabbies Association has been an outspoken advocate for the taxi industry against incursions by private driving company Uber. He ran for the PC nomination in Edmonton-Ellerslie but was disqualified by the central party.
Laura Thibert – Serving her second term as a trustee of the Edmonton Catholic School District. Ms. Thibert was briefly nominated as the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods in 2014 before declining to run in the provincial election.
Tim Uppal – Former three-term Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Sherwood Park who was defeated by Mr. Sohi in this election in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Previously ran for parliament in the former Edmonton-Southeast riding in 2000 and served as Minister of State for Multiculturalism in the Conservative government.
Harpreet Singh Gill – Founder of Asian Vision magazine and 2015 provincial Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Mill Creek.
Carl Benito – The PC MLA for Edmonton-Mill Woods from 2008 to 2012. After facing controversy and media attention in his first term he was defeated in the PC nomination contest ahead of the 2012 election. He ran as an Independent candidate, placing fifth with 3.9 percent of the vote.
City council by-elections are uncommon in Edmonton, with the last one being held in 1994 to replace councillor Judy Bethel who had been elected as the Liberal MP for the Edmonton-East riding. Eighteen candidates ran in that by-election which resulted in Sherry McKibben being elected with 20 percent of the vote.
Here are a few items to watch out for in Alberta politics this week:
Which of the four Liberal Members of Parliament will be appointed to the federal cabinet on Nov. 4, 2015? Most speculation points toward newly elected Calgary-Centre MP Kent Hehr being given a cabinet spot. Mr. Hehr, along with Calgary-Skyview MP Darshan Kang, were the first federal Liberals to be elected in Calgary since 1968. But will one of the two Liberal MPs from Edmonton – Amarjeet Sohi and Randy Boissonnault – get a cabinet spot? If not, it would mark the first time since before Jim Edwards was appointed as President of the Treasury Board in 1993 that Edmonton has not had representation in the federal cabinet.
Two Conservative MPs from Alberta – Edmonton-Wetaskiwin MP Mike Lake and Sturgeon River-Parkland MP Rona Ambrose – have joined four other Conservative MPs with bids to become the interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. That party has only had one permanent leader, Calgary MP Stephen Harper, since the party was formed in 2003 and is expected to choose a new permanent leader next year.
It was always expected that uniting the Wildrose and PC parties will be tough. Richard Starke, the PC MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster, had some choice words for his Wildrose counterparts in the Legislature last week: “…the Official Opposition rather reminds me of the chippy hockey player that hacks and slashes in the corner and then, as soon as something similar happens back to them, goes running to the referee.”
With the excitement of the 2015 federal election one week behind us, now is a good time to take a look at how the results of the election could impact Edmonton and Alberta. The reality of a majority Liberal government in Ottawa will make Conservative Albertans uneasy, but there is little reason to believe this new government will lead to doom and gloom for our province.
Liberal growth in Conservative Alberta Conservative Party candidates earned 59 percent of the vote and elected candidates in 29 of Alberta’s 34 federal ridings. The Liberals broke a nearly five decade long drought in Calgary with the election of Kent Hehr in Calgary-Centre and Darshan Kang in Calgary-Skyview. In Edmonton, two Liberals were elected in bellwether ridings – Randy Boissonnault in Edmonton-Centre and Amarjeet Sohi in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Since 1984, these two Edmonton ridings have elected MPs belonging to the party in government. (Note: the election results in Edmonton-Mill Woods will face a judicial recount).
The “Class of 2015” There was a significant turnover in Alberta’s representation in Ottawa, with 18 of 34 Members of Parliament from our province being elected for the first time, including seven first-time MPs representing Edmonton ridings. This ‘class of 2015’ includes four Liberals and fourteen Conservatives.
Alberta in Cabinet It is expected that Alberta will have representation in the federal cabinet but it is not clear how large that representation will be. In my opinion, it would be a grave mistake for incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to not appoint a cabinet minister from both Edmonton and Calgary. The third and fifth largest municipalities in Canada should have representation at the highest levels in Ottawa. These large urban centres also represent an area of future electoral growth for the federal Liberal Party. In Calgary, the Liberals earned a surprising 30 percent of the vote and in Edmonton they earned 23 percent. The new cabinet will be sworn-in on Nov. 4, 2015.
Federal-Provincial Relations We have already witnessed a change in tone that could signal a significant improvement in the federal government’s relationship with the provinces. In the first week after the election, Mr. Trudeau invited provincial premiers to join Canada’s delegation to the important COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris in November. Mr. Trudeau has also indicated his intention to negotiate a new health accord with the provinces.
The relationship between Ottawa and Edmonton would have been sour had Stephen Harper’s Conservatives been re-elected. After attacking Alberta’s NDP government numerous times during the campaign, it is unlikely that Mr. Harper and Premier Rachel Notley would have been able to develop the kind of productive working relationship that would benefit Albertans.
Even though she appeared on stage with NDP leader Tom Mulcair in the final days of the election campaign, Ms. Notley has indicated that she was willing to work with whoever became the next Prime Minister. If she and Mr. Trudeau can develop a good working relationship, Canadians may see progress on issues like pipeline expansion in the next four years. Although Mr. Harper was a vocal supporter of Canada’s oil and gas industry, he failed to secure the construction of new pipeline projects during his decade as Prime Minister.
A Municipal Agenda The Liberals promised increased investment in public infrastructure and increased funding for municipal public transit projects. During his three-terms on city council, Mr. Sohi has been an vocal advocate for expanded Light-Rail Transit funding in southeast Edmonton. Mayor Don Iveson has been critical of the Conservative government’s lack of commitment to LRT funding in the past.
Conservative Leadership With Mr. Harper’s resignation as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, that party will be thrust into a contest to select a new leader. While that party may seek to choose a new leader from another region of Canada, it is expected that Conservative MPs from Alberta will be candidates in that race. Already, there is speculation that Calgary-Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel and Calgary-Midnapore MP Jason Kenney are interested in seeking the leadership.
Liberals and NDP in the West Western Canada is no longer a monolith of the Conservative Party support. With British Columbia and Manitoba electing more Liberal MPs than Conservative MPs, Alberta and Saskatchewan are now the only provinces where Conservatives outnumber other parties. While the Conservatives remain strong in the rural west, that party has lost ground to the Liberals and NDP in the western urban centres of Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg. Twenty of the NDP’s 44 MPs and 29 of the 184 Liberal MPs were elected in ridings west of Ontario.
Trudeau wave bad news for Notley?
Conservative critics have already predicted that the rise of the federal Liberals in Alberta spells bad news for Ms. Notley’s provincial NDP. I suspect that the results of this federal election will have little impact on the level of NDP support in the next provincial election. It has been clear for some time that Mr. Mulcair is unpopular in Alberta. His noticeable absence from the province during the spring election campaign and low support for the federal NDP in four by-elections since 2011 suggests that Mr. Mulcair’s unpopularity has little impact on Ms. Notley’s political fortunes.
These two major election defeats shattered many common beliefs about politics in Alberta and Canada. In both cases, Conservative parties were defeated by parties promising moderate progressive platforms that included tax increases and significant increases to public infrastructure investment and explicit commitments to run deficit budgets, for at least the short-term period in the case of the NDP. In Alberta, both the PC Party and NDP promised various tax increases.
On the final Sunday of the federal election campaign, Mr. Trudeau spoke to an energetic crowd of more than 2,000 supporters in the Edmonton-Mill Woods riding, home of now elected Liberal MP Amarjeet Sohi. During his speech, he explained to the crowd that if the Liberals were elected on Oct. 19, that they would raise taxes by asking Canada’s wealthiest income earners “to pay just a little bit more.”
If these words sounded familiar to anyone in the crowd, it’s because they might have heard Ms. Notley deliver nearly the exact same message five months earlier when speaking to similarly energized crowds during the provincial election. And they in both cases, the message resonated with the crowd, and on election day with voters.
These tax increases and other changes brought in by the NDP have not been without their critics, some more vocal and violent than others. But perhaps the biggest irony of these criticisms is that even with the tax increases brought in by Ms. Notley’s NDP, corporate and small business tax rates are still lower than they were when Mr. Day served in Premier Ralph Klein‘s cabinet.
While taxes might not have been the only issue that drove voters to the polls, it didn’t drive them away. These two elections have shattered the myth cultivated by conservative politicians, newspaper columnists, think tanks and lobby groups for decades that promising to increase taxes is political kryptonite.
As Rachel Notley proved on May 5 and Justin Trudeau showed on Oct. 19, voters in 2015 are willing to reward political leaders who present smart, sensible and responsible plans for increased taxation and government revenue.