The number one rule in politics is..
Under promise and over deliver.
Immediately after you secure a mandate do the most unpopular thing that needs to be done and before returning to the polls do the most popular thing. This fulfills the promise of your mandate. The next most important thing is to look like someone is in charge.
In BC we have been lucky in many respects over the hundred plus years as a province we have had Conservative, Liberal, Social Credit and NDP governments. In addition we have had coalitions. This has provided debate and a measure of interest in politics in the society. We have not all agreed at times with the party or parties in power, but as a whole we are not afraid of change when things are not working.
Compare our robust debate and at times eccentric characters to what has been the norm in our neighboring province Alberta. In BC we heckled each other and did the theatrics but together we diversified our economy and are still doing so.
In Alberta it was the same for forty years. One main commodity Oil. The tap would never run dry and the money would flow into government coffers. Elections were forgone conclusions. It was endless one party rule and leaders were chosen by hierarchy, as if a succession of Roman Emperors.
Face it some rulers were better than others and after decades of political entitlement the political rot set in. Perceived corruption, arrogance and entitlement saw dissatisfaction end. The mighty Conservative Party, was rejected and the NDP took over. They were faced with an economy consisting of a one trick pony, oil. When the downturn came there was no escape. Crippling unemployment and lack of financial resources, saw promises made evaporate and the debt piled up. The one positive they began to explore diversifying the economy. In the eyes of the voter they over promised and under delivered.
In BC it was different the NDP governed in a coalition of the willing. They did the unpopular policy to start and by the time they had to deal with the COVID crisis and the troubled economy they were seen as under promising and over delivering especially in urban areas. Voters had the feeling, someone was in charge they had confidence in.
Alberta chose to follow a prophet of better things to come. Jason Kenney said vote for me things will be different. He was right, things are worse. Oil didn’t get better, then came COVID.
The perception is compatible with reality they were not prepared for “What if”
Kenney chose a united conservative movement and saddled up to ride with the Wild Rose Gang. Wild Rose is unpredictable and at times undisciplined which has caused considerable headaches for a leader that appears to lack skills. When one or two government officials didn’t follow COVID rules he tried to minimize it and his credibility suffered when it was discovered several members flaunted the rules. Kenney gambled a billion dollars on the XL Pipeline.
When you bet on the wrong horse and its taxpayer money it is not positive.
At present the polls show Kenney in troubled waters. Governments weather bad polling at times in their mandate but alarm bells start ringing when they fall below 25%. in the latest poll the conservatives are at 26% to the NDP at 41. remember last month it was NDP at 44% the Conservative at 40%. where did their numbers go? At present undecided is at 16% undecided demonstrates a lack of confidence in the present leadership.
Now the bad news. Alberta is 115 billion in debt.
The fiscal year ending March 31 will see a deficit of 20.2 billion with the 2021 deficit expected to be another 18.2 billion.
Here is the stark truth. Whether you are on one side or the other you should not thump your chest. In 2004 Alberta boated of being debt free. Since then government regardless of stripe has borrowed so much money , servicing that debt cost now exceeds non renewable resource revenues according to the National Post. Things are so bad even the conservatives are flirting with instituting a sales tax. In Alberta if this were a religious issue that would be blaspheme. The only promise at the moment is, it will get worse before it gets better. The finance minister admits at present there is no plan to combat the deficit. Again voter have the perception right or wrong of asking.. Who’s in charge?
This is a classic case of over promise and under deliver.