The electoral victory that recently saw Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP sweep the musty 44 year old Conservative dynasty out of power has put a rather large smile on a lot of Canadian faces, not least of all mine.
This awesome result is being seen by many as a reaffirmation that political power can still be wielded by the people and not merely at them.
With even Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Calgary Southwest federal riding now represented provincially by three NDP MLAs the possibilities seem endless. Across the country Canadians are looking at politics with a fresh focus and a renewed sense of hope.
During the election there were many reports that Albertans were wondering what had happened to the province’s wealth. Candidates were frequently asked on the doorstep how Norway could have amassed a trillion dollar fund for its citizens from their oil industry while the Alberta heritage fund sits at a mere 17 billion and the province is billions of dollars in debt.
Rachel Notley’s honest and clear grasp of this particular point was a breath of fresh air that Albertans were ready to embrace.
Even before Election Day the Conservative establishment and their media friends were busy sowing fear and panic ahead of an increasingly inevitable NDP victory.
Second hand dealers for the right wing such as Kevin O’Leary were calling it “an unfolding horror movie”. And, even though every poll in the country had been predicting an NDP victory for weeks all four major Alberta newspapers made it a point to officially endorse the PC party in the hopes of turning the tide.
Voters caught a glaring glimpse of power trying to manipulate them and decided not to buy into the fear campaign.
New Democrats have won government elsewhere provincially, but with history to guide us we can expect Rachel Notley to be in for a rough ride in the years ahead.
The youth and vigour that the NDP government has brought to Alberta politics will no doubt be portrayed as inexperience. The reasonable goals that Premier Notley is setting for Alberta such as taking corporate donations out of politics, reviewing royalties paid by oil companies to extract resources owned by Albertans, and raising corporate tax rates from 10 to 12 percent, will be likened to a socialist agenda that will destroy the economy.
We need only look to Tommy Douglas’ government in Saskatchewan or to Dave Barrett in our own province to foresee the propaganda machine that will undoubtedly be rolled out on polished wheels to wage what is called the “soft coup”. This is a tactic used by right wing governments and their corporate sponsors the world over to rid citizens of the notion that governments can and should manage resources and economic growth primarily for the public good.
With a federal election on the horizon this coming October, and the NDP riding high in the polls, I think we can certainly expect these attacks to intensify in the months ahead.
It is refreshing and hopeful to see that a different world is possible.
The voters of Alberta have shown us the way. So, let us stay the course and get on track to elect a federal government in October that will advocate for us instead of against us and stands a chance of replacing Stephen Harper.
I’m hanging my hat on leader Tom Mulcair the NDP.
Alex Atamanenko is the MP for BC Southern Interior