It was one of those "Dewy Beats Truman" moments, the type of political upset where the decision of voters goes entirely against the media marketed expectations, as Alison Redford led the Progressive Conservative party to it's 12th straight provincial victory in Alberta yesterday after weeks of absolute certainty that Danielle Smith's upstart Wildrose was about to end the PC dynasty.
But the PCs didn't just barely win, they won a landslide majority of 61 seats. Wildrose now forms a distant opposition with only 17 seats, which almost doubles the number of seats won by the Liberals and the NDP combined with 5 and 4 seats, respectively. Considering that some polls had Wildrose up by 15 per cent over the PCs earlier this month, the fact that they fell so hard with only 17 seats to show for their efforts is being attributed to the "Bozo Erupion" and the strategic voting it prompted.
To wit, consider that the Conservatives lost 5 seats since the dissolution of Alberta's provincial parliament following Monday's vote. Meanwhile, the Liberals ended up losing 3, and the NDP ended up gaining two more seats. In other words, there was very little movement of the progressive side of the spectrum, which makes you wonder just where the less than right-leaning voters of Alberta went. The answer is obviously that they settled for someone right of centre to put the cork in those far right of centre.
“The lesson here is that the Alberta voter, and certainly I think the Canadian voter, has decided that issues that have already been settled are best left alone, particularly social issues,” said Goldy Hyder, a senior vice-president with Hill+Knowlton Strategies who knows both Ms. Smith and Premier Allison Redford from his 25 years living in Alberta.
“You’re not going to get a [far-right, socially conservative] Tea Party president in the United States, are you? There’s probably a realization here that if you couldn’t elect one in Alberta, where could you elect one?”
Excellent question. The Alberta results signify again that a Tea Party-style radical social agenda doesn't fly in Canada. What's done is done, as they say, and we say apparently. But the better question is how this might impact the national scene? It was a terribly kept secret that many in the federal Conservative Party had their fingers crossed for a Wildrose win, a more advantageous alliance ideologically than with Reford's Red Tories. So what does this mean for the national agenda?
Well,Stephen Woodworth, Kitchener-Centre MP, is still pushing his personhood agenda, which is expected to continue to fall on deaf ears. Indeed, Stephen Harper, who remains a terribly shrewd politician if ever there was one, knows that his majority is a tenuous one, and susceptible to the same kind of turn witnessed in Alberta if certain sentiments in his party aren't kept tightly contained. It's also worth noting that in the United States, the Tea Party took hold regionally, not nationally. If the social agenda of certain Conservatives were to become entrenched politically on a national level, it should be able to begin in Alberta of all places. There's only two possibilities, either the time isn't right yet, or an ushering in of the Tea Party North is a political improbability, if not outright impossibility.
Regardless of the future implications, one thing is absolutely certain: pundits aren't always right, and whenever they posit something as a foregone conclusion, you can bet that probably won't come to pass in the end. Even if it comes from me.