October 18th, 2017

Alberta’s political strategists are working overtime


By Medicine Hat News Opinon on March 17, 2017.

You could say the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta is about to step onto one of those high-suspension bridges that swing and sway precipitously depending on the wind. Whether they cross the river successfully depends on possible brisk winds from the Wildrose, the NDP and in the end average Albertans who have a vote in a provincial election.

The new leader of the PCs, to be decided this weekend, will have a huge agenda to accomplish before the next election. Political strategists will be working overtime to determine what will please party faithful and Albertans.

Meanwhile the NDP is hoping to attract a broader base of support across the province. A recent poll suggests 58 per cent of Albertans think the NDP government is doing an awful job regarding the economy. In some parts of the province that number goes up to 66 per cent.

More than half of the people surveyed in Edmonton, where the politicians live, think the government is doing a good job. Edmonton has always had more affection for the NDP and therefore that should be no surprise to anyone.

A high percentage of Edmonton residents work directly or indirectly for the government. In other words, if you have a good government paying job with no threat of losing it or being told to take a wage reduction, you are likely to be in full support of the government. That support base is not enough to win an election though. More government spending — handing out goodies — has not attracted support from those who would just like the government to have a balanced budget.

Political strategists from all parties are working overtime to figure out how to attract votes. They can get it wrong though. In the last provincial election they did not think the NDP would win. In the U.S. polls were still declaring victory for Hillary Clinton until it was blindingly obvious that Donald Trump had won.

If Jason Kenney becomes the PC leader with an agenda to collapse the PC and Wildrose parties in favour of a brand new party strategists will be working big time because there is no guarantee the next election is two years away.

Support for the NDP may not be great across the whole province but do not discount the fact that they could make a move that would get people on their side and then call a snap election.

What would the NDP have to do to get Albertans on side? In general people want reduced taxes. Is the NDP likely to do that? Probably not but maybe an adjustment that would just be sufficient to score points.

There is always the possibility the price of oil might soar once more and that may make for an NDP balanced budget.

Politics in Alberta has never been more turbulent.

(Gillian Slade is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to http://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions or call her at 403-528-8635.)


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