Reflections on the end of the Alberta NDP’s first session: voters want the government to succeed, the Opposition and media seek failure

Posted on June 26, 2015, 3:55 am
8 mins

PHOTOS: Members of the Press Gallery mark the end of the session in the Alberta Legislature by showering paper on MLAs. That, of course, was back in the day when the press still used presses, and wrote their reports on paper. Below: Premier Rachel Notley and Environment Minister Shannon Phillips in shots taken from the Premier’s Office Flickr account.

VICTORIA, B.C.

Maybe it’s just me, over the mountains and far away out here in La-La Land, but I don’t get the feeling Albertans are ready just yet to start wishing their province’s New Democratic Government will stumble and fall – as the Wildrose Opposition clearly thinks.

That day may come, of course, but we’re a long way from being there yet. So the Wildrose Party’s swift reversion in the short session that ended yesterday to the familiar role of Team Angry, which the rural social-conservative rump wears as comfortably as a scuffed old boot, is unlikely to do much to energize voters or woo them back to the conservative movement.

NOTLEYJPGAu contraire! Albertans voted for Rachel Notley’s NDP in numbers worthy of epochal change with a profound sense of hope that they could be part of a better future at a moment in history parties of the conservative establishment seemed to have taken a wrong turn and then doubled down on the destructive ideology that has recently driven their policies.

In other words, on May 5 Alberta voters did much the same thing as they did in 1935 when they elected Social Credit and in 1971 when they voted in Peter Lougheed’s PCs – they rolled the dice and took a chance on being on the right side of history!

Now, even though they may be nervous about the state of the province’s economy and its implications for their futures, they’d like to think they did the right thing.

PHILLIPSJPGAs such, most ordinary Albertans still have the NDP’s wind in their sails and want the party to succeed. And I’ll bet you – notwithstanding the hysterical denunciations emanating from the usual suspects in the Opposition and media – most voters still view the NDP with optimism and view the short session that just ended as a modest success. In other words, voters are still prepared to give the Dippers a chance to produce results.

Let me say this again: Albertans want the NDP to succeed.

Think about this for a moment as someone who isn’t hooked on inside baseball, as are most readers of blogs like this. You’ve taken a chance and voted for something different. Don’t normal people in that position hope the beneficiary of their votes will do well, and not produce a train wreck?

Of course they do! And that’s precisely the spot Martha and Henry Albertan are in right now.

Now, just because Alberta voters want the NDP they just elected to succeed, that doesn’t mean they won’t be ready to do something about it if the government fails. But they’re going to wait for evidence of actual failure.

It’s also quite natural for the Opposition to want the opposite – especially the two conservative parties, one of which represents the worst instincts of the conservative movement and the other of which hasn’t yet come to terms with what just happened to it and wishes to write the results of the May 5 election off as a fluke, the work of an incompetent leader, a lousy campaign, bad luck or some combination thereof.

But the Opposition, the Wildrose in particular, needs to keep in mind that it won’t go over particularly well with those same voters – still feeling both surprised and a little pleased about what they’ve just done – if they try to give the NDP a push to make sure they stumble.

That’s why I think the Wildrose attack yesterday on Environment Minister Shannon Phillips’ contribution to that allegedly “radical book” was fundamentally misconceived.

I expect, at least, that Albertans will wait to see how Ms. Phillips performs as minister before they decide if they’re ready to give her a shove. They won’t like it that the Wildrosers are trying to portray her as some kind of terr’ist for contributing an introduction, for crying out loud, to a collection of work by a variety of authors with a variety of points of view on social action and political protest. She inspired it? Please!

But then, we’re well known as a well-educated province, and most Albertans’ lips don’t get tired just thinking about the idea of reading a book!

A personal note here: the last time I contributed a chapter to such an effort I was sued for defamation for something another contributor said. So if you’re considering joining such an effort, I’d advise you to demur. That said, neither Ms. Phillips nor I can rewind history and Albertans think of themselves as fair minded, so I expect they understand this.

It’s quite possible, of course, that voters are both pleased with the NDP’s spending decisions and worried about where the money to pay for them will come. But Wildrose huffing and puffing about Ms. Phillips’ literary contributions is unlikely to come off as anything but a mean-spirited effort to sandbag a government in which voters have invested their hopes.

Likewise Albertans are unlikely to let their lingering upbeat mood be rattled by the ad hominem attacks on some NDP staffers by the usual suspects among the media’s increasingly hysterical angry brigade of neoliberal columnists – especially those associated with such dubious causes as funding climate-change denial who think quoting Ezra Levant is argument from authority!

No, to start changing voters’ minds, the Opposition and media will need to produce evidence of real policy failure, and, so far, there’s no such thing despite a litany of scary predictions of economic apocalypse worthy of the script of a zombie movie.

The bottom line: the Opposition is going to have to do better than this to make Albertans stop wishing success to their NDP government.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

5 Comments to: Reflections on the end of the Alberta NDP’s first session: voters want the government to succeed, the Opposition and media seek failure

  1. Ron Grant

    June 26th, 2015

    the Wild rose and PC’s are like the tea baggers of the USA they use fake outrage on an almost daily basis.It seems the sky is always falling ! Overweight health ministers and intros to books seem to send these chicken little’s into a hissy fit when they are not pouring over MLA face book pages like teenage cyber bullies .

    I often wonder what will happen if a real issue should arise ? spontaneous human combustion? oh and the media just as Prentice pulled back the curtain and showed us who really controlled the PC Party Albertan’s are starting to see (if they didn’t already know) who controls these yellow(Edmonton) journalists and those who (Calgary)Herald doom.Now that Postmedia owns the Sun newspapers they have control of the 4 major papers in Alberta there will be an ample supply of canary cage liner.

    Reply
  2. June 26th, 2015

    Ms. Sigurdson presented the Elder Advocates of Alberta at the Legislature on Wednesday June 24, 2015. I got to be there with Ruth Adria, Shauna McHarg and others as noted here:

    http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/hansards/han/legislature_29/session_1/20150624_1330_01_han.pdf
    Province of Alberta
    The 29th Legislature
    First Session
    Alberta Hansard
    Wednesday afternoon, June 24, 2015
    Day 7
    The Honourable Robert E. Wanner, Speaker

    Ms Sigurdson: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It’s an honour
    to introduce to you and through you to the members of the
    Assembly the Elder Advocates of Alberta. This group supports
    elderly members of our community. They are actively involved in
    protecting the rights of seniors and fiercely advocate for their
    continued mobility. It is a great honour to have this group repre-
    sented, and I applaud their continued hard work. They are seated in
    the members’ gallery this afternoon, and I ask that they stand as I
    call their names: Jim Savoy, Kerry Modin, Ollie Schultz, Roy
    Avery, Mary Pelech, Julie Ali, Helga Martens, Shauna McHarg,
    Barry Snell, and Ruth Maria Adria. Please give them all the warm
    welcome of this Assembly.

    ***********************************************************

    The last time I was at the house of corruption was before the election when there was only a few NDP MLAs. The Borg-PC occupied most of the real estate at the Legislature.

    It was a good experience going to the Legislature as it was a reversal of fortunes scenario.

    I got to see the remnants of the Borg-PC confined to the area next to Dr. Swann and Mr. Greg Clark. I never thought I would see the day when the PC party would be the tired leftovers at the party– but there you go. The Wildrosies are now taking the place of the PCs.

    I got to see the Wildrosies do what the PCs used to do which is basically waste taxpayer money talking about non-issues while the real issues of our society go without any sort of review by these folks. I found it curious that the Wildrosies devoted so much time to skewering Shannon Phillips while ignoring the issues in continuing care that the Elder Advocates have been working hard on for years. Shannon Phillips just started as the minister of environment. She hasn’t done anything wrong and yet we are to believe that writing an introduction of a book that was written by Mike Hudema is a major mark against her. Why is it? I haven’t read Mike Hudema’s book but the synopsis of the book doesn’t seem to indicate that it is any different from this genre of writing.

    http://www.amazon.ca/An-Action-Day-Global-Capitalism/dp/1896357903

    An Action a Day – Keeps Global Capitalism Away Paperback – May 5 2004
    by Mike Hudema (Author)
    “An Action A Day Keeps Global Capitalism Away,” according to Mike Hudema, describing his action guide for the 21st century. This lively, challenging, and decidedly fun book is designed for activists and concerned citizens who want to change the world. Hudema introduces readers to a variety of issues, including social action, organizing, theatrical action, civil disobedience, and using the media. The book contains fifty-two tried and tested actions, one for every week. Each action includes a rationale–what you need to pull it off, and examples of where it could be used. From Radical Cheerleading, to Fishing in the Sewers, and Gas Mask Car Shopping, there’s something for everybody
    ***************************************************************
    I haven’t read the book –but oddly the Wildrosies are now such avid environmentalists that they have perused this book en masse —in order to warn citizens against the environment minister.

    It is now the book that all Wildrosies must read to confirm their worst fears that the NDP are going to destroy the oil and gas industry in Alberta while inflicting their “radical” policies on the hapless citizen population. Really it gets ridiculous. I had to listen to the Wildrosies talk about how they are all about practicing good environmental stewardship without employing any damaging oil and gas industry rhetoric / emotion, and yet, they all emoted for ages on the horror of having an environmental radical for the Environment MInister.

    It was so funny. There was first yapping by Mr. MacIntyre of the Wildrosies.
    In contrast to the adversarial and irresponsible stances of the NDP –the Wildrosies are apparently there to provide good science of the ignoring climate change sort:

    http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/hansards/han/legislature_29/session_1/20150624_1330_01_han.pdf

    Environmental Advocacy
    Mr. MacIntyre: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m proud of my work
    as a faculty member of NAIT’s School of Sustainable Building and
    Environmental Management. There is no question that government
    can do more to ensure Albertans can enjoy clean land, clean air, and
    clean water, but Albertans are also moderate and responsible
    citizens. They believe our energy industry should be approached as
    partners at the table and not as adversaries. They believe that through
    innovation and entrepreneurship Alberta can continue to be a leader
    in clean, renewable, and responsible nonrenewable production, and
    they believe all this and more can be done alongside our
    conventional energy producers while growing the economy and
    leading our province into long-term economic and environmental
    prosperity, powered by a mix of energy configurations using con-
    ventional and renewable sources, which is why, after reading a book
    that our environment minister helped to inspire, contributed to, and
    wrote the introduction for, I have some grave concerns.
    An Action a Day Keeps Global Capitalism Away is the title of the
    book. It demands radical action against Alberta’s economy. It seeks
    to inspire vandalism and militant action against our energy industry.
    It calls for blockades to stop Alberta’s resources from getting to
    market. It calls for an end to capitalism and free markets, and at one
    point in the book it delivers a series of radical cheers. One reads:
    let’s shut down the oil machine; the time has come for oil to go; you
    can’t take us for a ride; you must stop the genocide.
    1:50
    Mr. Speaker, Wildrose stands for moderate and responsible
    advocacy for our environment. In my work as an author and
    instructor in the alternative energy industry I taught my students to
    separate between environmentalism based on emotion that hurts an
    economy and science-based environmental action that system-
    atically leads to an increased economy.
    Thank you.
    ******************************************************

    The book is not the NDP party but apparently Mr. MacIntyre, despite his tenure as an academic is unable to discover this distinction. Instead he happily indicates that he has “grave concerns” about Shannon Phillips–based on the dumb idea that the writing of an introduction of a book is all there is to becoming a radical environmentalist. I also find it amusing that he preaches that the Wildrosies will be encouraging “science-based environmental action” when in the most recent past they were all denying science in the area of climate change. Didn’t the Danielle Wildrosies yap endlessly that there was no such thing as climate change? Ms. Notley brings up this small matter of their anti-science stance later on:

    http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/hansards/han/legislature_29/session_1/20150624_1330_01_han.pdf

    Ms Notley: Yes, for afterwards, I believe.
    Mr. Speaker, you know, I think this is really interesting. Sort of
    a friend of a friend of a friend, so we’re going to start attacking the
    government based on friendships that are 10 years old and all that
    kind of stuff. But let’s just go back three and a half years, when the
    former leader of that party publicly said in an election debate that
    she didn’t think climate change was real. That’s radical, my friend.
    ***************************************************

    I guess the science that the Wildrosies will use NOW will be the science that the rest of the world has been using for the last few decades. They have finally caught up with the rest of the world.

    The major point the Wildrosies were trying to make is this one:

    http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/hansards/han/legislature_29/session_1/20150624_1330_01_han.pdf

    Mrs. Aheer: Mr. Speaker, the radicalism of the environment
    minister is an issue.

    ****************************************************

    Writing the introduction of this book by Mr. Hudema does not mean that the Environment Minister subscribes to the views of the writer. Even if Ms. Phillips does subscribe to some of the views of the writer–so what? How is having personal views going to interfere with her work at the Environment Ministry? Aren’t MLAs supposed to put aside their personal views and work in an intelligent, rational and detached way when they make decisions on behalf of all Albertans?

    This is the way it is supposed to be right?

    Instead we have been lead by PC nincompoops for the past 44 years. The junk that I have read about in the Hansard where the PCs have been failures at their work and in addition, to being failures have not acted in the public interest, have been indications to me at least that we have not had the governance we required. So if I compare the performance of the NDP over the month of June, 2015 — to the performance of the PC nincompoops over 44 years, I believe that the NDP folks have done far more for Albertans than the PCs ever did. Just look how many sessions it has taken for them to end corporate and union election donations, assure a stream of revenues from corporations and the excessively rich (top 7%)– plus make a way forward that is full of hope for all Albertans:
    http://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=han&section=doc&fid=1

    June 2015

    Thursday, June 25, 2015, Afternoon
    PDF

    Wednesday, June 24, 2015, Evening
    PDF

    Wednesday, June 24, 2015, Afternoon
    PDF

    Tuesday, June 23, 2015, Evening
    PDF

    Tuesday, June 23, 2015, Afternoon
    PDF

    Monday, June 22, 2015, Evening
    PDF

    Monday, June 22, 2015, Afternoon
    PDF

    Thursday, June 18, 2015, Afternoon
    PDF

    Wednesday, June 17, 2015, Evening
    PDF

    Wednesday, June 17, 2015, Afternoon
    PDF

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015, Afternoon
    PDF

    Monday, June 15, 2015, Afternoon
    Speech from the Throne
    PDF

    Thursday, June 11, 2015, Afternoon
    Election of a Speaker
    PDF

    I also do not believe in any of the rot that the Wildrosies are spreading about radicalism of the minister or of Mike Hudema for that matter.

    Instead of engaging in useless backbiting and knife throwing –the opposition parties should do their jobs and hold the NDP accountable. There are so many important issues and the PCs and the Wildroises are stuck in the dysfunctional political past.

    I want the matter of abuses in continuing care to be reviewed by MLAs. That’s what the Elder Advocates work for. Then there is the case of Shauna McHarg who has been unfairly treated by AHS. Why is she banned from seeing her father for years? Why can she only see her mother for one hour a day? Why has AHS not provided her with information that the courts have told AHS to release to her? What is going on at AHS that permits the banning of family members for advocating for their family members? In my mind this sort of junk was permitted under the PCs and should now end under the NDP.
    I have found out that this sort of junk has been going on for ages in Alberta.
    Why was Ruth Adria banned for helping families to advocate for their own? Why are there so many abuses of health authority power in Alberta and why are citizens forced to work for years to get the information that AHS will not provide to citizens?

    When citizens have difficulties we go to our MLAs and we expect help. When I consider the MLAs in the house of corruption, it is clear to me that the Wildrosies are going to be doing nothing for citizens other than pandering to their real bosses in the oil and gas industry.

    In the past, this sort of pandering junk was done by the PCs. But now the PCs seem to be at the stage in their disintegration where they make asinine comments about NDP supporters. The PCs don’t give a darn about ordinary citizens but sure are concerned about businesses. But they don’t tell us this directly; Mr. McIver presents the case for business as really a case of hurting our kids:
    http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/hansards/han/legislature_29/session_1/20150624_1330_01_han.pdf

    The Speaker: The hon. leader of the third party.
    Minimum Wage
    Mr. McIver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Restaurants Canada
    recently submitted information to the Premier and the Minister of
    JSTL on the $15 per hour minimum wage threatened by this gov-
    ernment. It is puzzling that a government such as this, which seems
    to want to appeal to young people, is actually taking jobs away from
    those in the age group of 15 to 24. This May 40 per cent more of
    them are unemployed versus last May. About 1 in 5 Alberta careers
    starts in the hospitality business. To the Minister of JSTL: why
    would you intentionally hurt the very young people who helped
    elect you just last month?

    *****************************************************************

    McIver is only right about one thing in this chatter. Our kids did vote NDP. Tory families got their teenagers of voting age to vote NDP. The rest of the chatter is useless.

    The McIver isn’t fooling anyone by telling citizens that our kids won’t get jobs because the NDP are putting in a living wage for the most disadvantaged citizens. He is wrong. Our kids in Riverbend will get jobs because we’re going to ensure they get jobs–even if we have to start small family businesses to ensure they have jobs. The increase in minimum wages is the right thing to do and I do not believe that businesses will suffer. If they can’t make it with such minimal increases in the wages—then they aren’t healthy enough to be able to survive as businesses in any case. I believe that the increase in the minimum wage will be a positive change; it will ensure that businesses will get employees who are motivated to work and will also help impoverished Albertans to have a decent standard of living without having to work two or three jobs to survive.

    It is clear that McIver has not lost any of the arrogance and snarkiness that got the PCs demoted by the public. He goes on to grouse that the NDP are hurting their other critical voters in the non-profit organizations—and isn’t it a bit early in the game to be doing this alienation of supporters? As if he cares.

    http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/hansards/han/legislature_29/session_1/20150624_1330_01_han.pdf
    Mr. McIver: Mr. Speaker, nonprofits sweat and struggle to raise
    money now. The Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations,
    when asked about the $15, was quoted as saying: many nonprofits
    would have a hard time with that transition. They followed that
    with: they need time to plan it out and finance it. To the same
    Minister of JSTL: why would you intentionally hurt the nonprofit
    sector with this plan? Isn’t it a bit early for this new government to
    alienate all of their friends who are not big labour?
    ****************************************************
    Mr. McIver sounds grumpy here.
    At least the NDP still have friends.
    The PCs don’t have very many.
    Mr. McIver might be a bit grumpy about being the leader of the third party rather than the first party but he should learn to contain his spleen better.
    He just looks like a grumpy old man in this sort of speech.

    In any case, I did not get to see the entire chatter as I had to pick up my younger son from Strathcona High school where he was in the lobster pot of the school slowly simmering. But I have to say the post-election introduction and the chance to review the changes at the house of corruption was a very pleasant matter.
    I’m happy with the NDP.
    I know they have to do some changes to make such as the changes to Bill 1 but I expect they will do these changes eventually (probably after they have collected a ton of donations).
    I know they are mostly young and idealistic if they aren’t old and idealistic. But who cares? I would take these folks –ordinary Albertans –over the Bor- PC and the inept Wildrosies any day.

    Reply
    • Sam

      June 28th, 2015

      Why did you post this? Why would anyone want to read all this?

      Reply
  3. ronmac

    June 27th, 2015

    This scenario is sort of starting to remind me of Chile ca 1973. If you recall a mildly reformed NDP-style gov’t headed by Salvador Allende won n election in 1970 whereupon the opposition parties aided by the US and the CIA embarked on campaign of economic sabotage, culminating in a violent military coup in September 1973.

    Hopefully it will never come to this, right? Right?

    Reply
    • Sam

      June 28th, 2015

      I think that comparison is a little ridiculous

      Reply

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