It is as if Bernie Sanders got elected Governor of Texas; the socialist hordes have taken over Canada's oil-rich province of Alberta, kicking out the Conservatives who have ruled for 44 years. They are not even kicked into second place but into third behind the even more right-wing Wildrose party. It seemed as likely as pigs flying.
In some ways it is not surprising; Conservatives really did themselves by making disastrous political errors over the last few years. Rachel Notley is a seriously attractive and charismatic politician. Also, Alberta has been urbanizing rapidly, and lots of young people have moved in, two core constituencies for the NDP. The province is changing; Notley tells Paul Wells of Macleans:
It’s been popular to depict Alberta as this sort of right-wing place off in the West,” she said. “But that’s not what it is. There’s a lot of different issues on which Albertans articulate as progressive an approach as what you might see in downtown Toronto.
In other ways, it is a total shocker. I personally thought Albertans would enter the polling booth and vote Conservative; that's what they did in the last election even though Wild Rose was leading in the polls. I couldn't imagine Alberta going NDP.
Rachel Notley and the NDP are not going to leave the tar sands in the ground or stop pushing pipelines; Alberta runs on oil. But there will be changes; according to the Edmonton Sun,
Rachel Notley said her party, if elected, would work with industry to re-establish energy and environmental standards in the province using ''research-driven'' best practices and a ''science-based'' approach as opposed to ''the outcome of a lobbyist meeting on a golf course somewhere.''
She called the province's unwillingness to develop a climate change strategy "'profoundly irresponsible''. She is not anti-pipeline, noting that they are a lot safer than rail. She would rather invest in processing bitumen in Alberta instead of shipping it south.
To go by NY Times, WSJ and Guardian headlines, you'd think the NDP literally seized oilsands plants like Kronstadt sailors in 1917 #abvote— Chris Turner (@theturner) May 6, 2015
This is not a revolution, but it is a seriously big change. It is one that should be watched closely in Texas; just yesterday Margaret wrote about how the Texas legislature bans fracking bans, over-riding the wishes of citizens who didn't want fracking in their city limits. Maggie wrote:
Supporters of fracking say the industry is a valuable source of jobs and income for the state. But critics say the bill’s swift passage just goes to show how much the the gas and oil industry have been able to buy political influence in the state’s capital.
Still, to put what just happened Canada in context for you Yanks, imagine Bernie Sanders becoming Texas governor by a big majority.— Doug Saunders (@DougSaunders) May 6, 2015
The oil and gas industry pretty much owned the Conservative Party in Alberta and now it's gone. Now the province is pretty much split between the urban NDP and the rural Wild Rose party, which is sort of the Tea Party version of the Conservatives. Don't think it can't happen in Texas too.