PHOTOS: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, running the province as if she had a majority government! What next? Below: University of Calgary political scientist and Calgary Herald columnist Barry Cooper, Broadbent Institute Director Rick Smith and Wildrose Opposition Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt.

It seems some Albertans, particularly those on the political right, continue to have difficulty getting the hang of this democracy thing!

Alert readers will recall how Wildrose Party Finance Critic Derek Fildebrant explained to the Globe and Mail last fall that, as the Globe’s astonished headline writer summarized it, “NDP duped voters by implementing its promises.”

Now Mr. Fildebrandt has been joined in the pantheon of Alberta political aphorists by University of Calgary Professor Barry Cooper, another right-winger who seems to be having trouble coming to terms with last May’s unexpected turn of political events.

On Tuesday, Dr. Cooper exclaimed in his Calgary Herald column that the Alberta New Democrats “have continued to govern as if they actually won the election last spring”!

Dr. Cooper’s logic, in case you were wondering, is that the NDP didn’t really win the election because the Conservatives lost the election.

Dr. Cooper, who earned his PhD in political science from North Carolina’s Duke University in 1969, made his case by opening his column with the results of the Oct. 19 federal election, five and a half months after the NDP victory in Alberta. He noted the heavy support in this province for former prime minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party and the relatively low support for the federal NDP, omitting reference to the number of strategic votes cast by NDP provincial voters for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals.

Dr. Cooper’s key point about the level of support for the Harper Conservatives and the conclusions the provincial government should have drawn from it: “The provincial NDP were unimpressed. They have continued to govern as if they actually won the election last spring, not that the PCs lost it.” (Emphasis added.)

Mr. Fildebrandt’s argument last fall – that the NDP was breaking its promises by keeping its promises because nobody expected the NDP to win and therefore it was merely the beneficiary an anti-Tory protest vote – is similar enough to Dr. Cooper’s for them together to deserve a term of art. I would propose “Fildebrandt Syndrome.”

Judging from his column Tuesday, Dr. Cooper is very angry the government of Premier Rachel Notley is appointing people who agree with its policies to political boards, and feels it is outrageous the NDP has a “climate leadership plan” that includes a carbon tax, which he says is “opposed by two out of three Albertans.”

Actually, as readers of a post on this blog yesterday will have learned, a recent poll suggests that supporters of the carbon tax are now slightly in the lead in Alberta, by a margin of 47 per cent in favour to 42 per cent opposed. Nevertheless, it’s hard to dispute Dr. Cooper’s argument that the majority NDP government is indeed governing as if it had a majority!

Dr. Cooper goes on to complain that Ms. Notley is following the advice of Rick Smith, director of “the deeply anti-Alberta Broadbent Institute.”

I asked Dr. Smith, a former chief of staff to the federal NDP, about this. Premier Notley did take some Broadbent Institute advice, he observed, but only in the sense the institute’s submission to Dr. Andrew Leach’s Climate Change Advisory Panel “was one of dozens, including the nurses and the doctors and the asthma society and the lung association, that supported the notion of an expedited phase-out of coal for important health reasons. So our support for this important policy is on the public record.”

“The notion that our Institute is ‘anti-Alberta,’” he added, “is so nonsensical it doesn’t deserve a response.”

That a well-known academic in the field of political science would appear to suffer from what I’m calling Fildebrandt Syndrome may come as a surprise to some readers. But a quick look at Dr. Cooper’s curriculum vitae helps explain many of his problems with the NDP – as well as, on the issue of climate change, with Dr. Smith, who earned his PhD in one of the natural sciences, biology.

According to Dr. Cooper’s Wikipedia biography, he is a member of the so-called “Calgary School,” the taxpayer supported advocacy group for neoliberal policies at the University of Calgary that includes former prime minister Stephen Harper, former Harper strategist Tom Flanagan, former Alberta finance minister and unsuccessful Tory leadership candidate Ted Morton, and numerous other political and academic lights.

In 2006, Dr. Cooper aroused controversy at the U of C for his role in fund-raising for a group called the Friends of Science, which attacked the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and the science behind it, as well as arguing on a billboard that the sun, not human activity, is the principal cause of global warming.

Dr. Cooper’s 2009 book – It’s the Regime, Stupid! A report from the cowboy west on why Stephen Harper matters – was summed up in a review by Quill & Quire as “the angry thoughts of a neoliberal Albertan separatist.”

It’s the Regime, Stupid! suggests Mr. Harper was the country’s last chance for survival. In it, Dr. Cooper assailed Keynesian economics, dismissed Canada as a country of whiners and losers, claimed the place was better off without the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and blamed a “Laurentian Elite” for many of Canada’s troubles. He may have coined that term, which the Harper Conservatives later tried without much success to make part of mainstream Canadian political debate.

When Dr. Cooper summed up, back in ’06, he asked: “If Alberta were currently independent, is it likely that it would ever decide to join Canada as it is today? What would be the advantages? Seeing none, now ask yourself, why would Alberta want to stay?”

Well, maybe because we may yet need equalization payments, especially if the Saudi Arabians keep pumping oil at their present rate. And, even if they don’t, because if we’re going to avoid that fate we’ll have to pump our oil through territory controlled by those whining losers, the Laurentian Elite! But that was 2006 and this is now.

Meanwhile, given that up until May 5 last year conservatives of one type or another had won 21 Alberta elections in a row over 80 years without really having to work very hard, it may be possible for us to empathize just a little with Dr. Cooper’s frustration that the cowboy west isn’t being run by his kind of cowboys any more!

Still, Alberta’s Fildebrandt Syndrome sufferers really should brush up on how this democracy thing works.

Here in Alberta, it’s like this: We elect MLAs. The party with the most MLAs gets to form a government. The government gets to implement the policies it campaigned on. In about four years, there will be another election, and voters get to keep the government or change it.

Most of us understand this. It’s been almost nine months now. Surely it’s time for Alberta conservatives to get up to speed!

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  1. “It’s the Regime, Stupid! suggests Mr. Harper was the country’s last chance for survival. In it, Dr. Cooper assailed Keynesian economics, dismissed Canada as a country of whiners and losers, claimed the place was better off without the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and blamed a “Laurentian Elite” for many of Canada’s troubles. ”

    I know far too many folks that buy this screed hook, line, and sinker. Finger-pointing is just too dammed easy and saves them from the discomfort and enervation of independent thinking.

  2. Sure they have a majority government, but that doesn’t mean they have majority support for their policies. Not only did 57% of Albertans vote for someone else, but a large chunk of the 43% that voted NDP weren’t voting FOR the NDP, but AGAINST the Conservatives looking for change after 44 years. Yes, most of what they’ve done so far was in their platform, but the average Joe Voter doesn’t read platforms and, even if they do, they don’t necessarily understand the implications. So they get another 3.5 years and then they disappear if Conservatives can unite and ditch any “social” conservative agenda. Unfortunately our grandkids will still be paying for the costs coming from a one term NDP government.

    1. Skippy, Skippy when you vote against someone you d it by voting FOR someone else! Dont tell me, you graduated from the U of C right?

    2. It is not for you to decree what the motive was for every individual vote cast. It’s democracy and I for one highly resent this continual devaluing of my vote. Don’t say either that people didn’t know what the platforms were. Candidate forums were packed. Local news outlets gave extensive coverage and there is no denying the “fear the NDP” ads that were everywhere. Now let’s speak to the issue of “majority support”. For nearly a decade we were governed by Harper who was far from majority support territory. Did you complain about those massive omnibus bills that became the hallmark of that government? I know farmers that voted CPC and never followed a thing that government did. Recently during a discussion around Bill 6 I showed a couple of them the Ag omnibus bill, C 18. They were shocked at some of the content in that piece of legislation. Not the least of which is the right for large corporations to actually seize a farm if you don’t play by their rules and pay them to use your own saved seed. I know one 67 year old farmer who did know all about this as well as CWB assets given to the Saudis. Combined with the horrid rhetoric around Muslims/Islam he was finished. He voted Liberal for the first time in his life and donated the maximum allowable to the national party and the constituency. That tells me that informed voters can change their voting patterns based on being poorly served by the previous government. It’s not a protest vote but an educated vote for something better.

    3. Your grandkids will live in a world where, right or wrong, environmental conservatism is currency and if the PC party had been allowed to continue on the path they were on Alberta would have $0EC. Future generations of Albertans will starve if we don’t change the fundamental basis of our economy. The kicking and screaming of disheartened PC supporters is not over politics and winning and losing, it’s over money. The province is going through an economic adjustment that should have started 50 years ago. If the PC party comes back into power in 3.5 years and moves us back to the good ole’ days of reckless oil production Alberta will be a ghost town in another 50 – 100 years as the world completely leaves us behind. But hey…all the oil patch guys will get to make as much money as they can and be long gone to let their grandkids deal with that.

    4. you sure glugged down a whole jug of Konservative Koolaid, eh?

      apparently you failed to read-with-comprehension the memo-on-stupid
      before making your crayon-marks on the bottom:

      here’s the summary again, typed really slow(ly)
      use your finger and read it out loud:

      Here in Alberta, it’s like this:
      We elect MLAs. The party with the most MLAs gets to form a government.
      The government gets to implement the policies it campaigned on.
      In about four years, there will be another election, and voters get to keep the government or change it.

      Most of us understand this. It’s been almost nine months now.
      Surely it’s time for Alberta conservatives to get {a little less slo-o-o-o-w } up to speed!

      Instead of facepalming about such obviously em-bare-ass-ing comments as:

      “NDP duped voters by implementing its promises.” (basically an admission of a pathological liar that they lack the integrity to implement their promises)


      “have continued to govern as if they actually won the election last spring”! (well, Mr. super-disingenuous-moron, they actually won the election)

      regarding your own counting-on-fingers calculation of 57%-voted-against NDP
      your Harperist Hero’s downvote was 60.38% – three fingers more worser

    5. Claiming vote rignorance is a staggering argument against the NDP. I have personally knocked doors with left candidates and met obstinate PC voters that had literally, not figuratively, not idea what they were voting for. One household that will forever remain with me was comprised of three individuals all on AISH. They all staunchly and aggressively supported conservatives that would look at them with pure disgust as a drain on the economy and actively sought to reduce their social programs. Ignorance at the polls has KEPT conservatives in power for this long, not dethroned them.

      1. In my experience knocking on doors for various candidates of various persuasions at various levels of government, all parties have ignorant supporters, and all parties have thoughtful ones. It’s a little easier to forgive the dopes who are going to support your candidate, I suppose, but some of them are still dopes. Then there are the people who proudly declare, “I NEVER vote!” I always think, “Well, then, you’re a f**Kin’ idjit, aren’t you?” and say, “Do you have a religious objection to voting?” The answer is inevitably, “NO! I just don’t vote!”

  3. Alberta’s neo-conservative citizens suffer the highest level of dysfunctionalism in the western world. There I said it. Do I have scientific evidence to support my assertion? Heavens no! Why would I bother with evidence based theory? I rely entirely on the intellectual prowess of the Calgary School and the Friends of Science.

  4. The first person across the line is the winner – I DON”T CARE if the other racers tripped over each other or their own feet or decided to walk with one eye tied behind their back.

    So anytime I see a bumper sticker that says, “S/He’s Not My Prime Minster / Premier” I shake my head.

    Grow the #@*$ Up.

    Move on.

    Vote again next time.

    Regardless how you vote, sometimes your party will lose. That does not make the elected government any less valid.

    Move on.

  5. Good ol’ Doc Cooper & his quacking Calgary Flock o’ Smite – how else can the neoliberal tide turn back the fiery tar pond of Kanadian Socialiberislamism without his mighty majestic short-winged flapping spattering the shoreline with its tawdry oil-specked wavelets?
    By John A’s empty whiskey flask, there isn’t a clown car big enough to fit this crew without bursting the tires from the weight of the shoes alone.

  6. I don’t even remember ever hearing of Cooper’s book. I wonder how many copies were sold? But that review is kind of fun to read.

  7. That whole “Friends of Science” (God, what a misnomer) business has never, to my knowledge, been explained satisfactorily.

  8. be happy you don’t have LIBERALS – if Trudeau gets Alberta and Manitoba he will rule like the dictator he is ..”The surest way to destroy a nation is to debauch its currency”…Lenin —
    he is succeeding and then he will let the Muslims take over to finish off this great country

    1. I hope you have your tinfoil hats and shotguns ready!

      Seriously, 9 years of Harper ruling dictatorially from the PMO’s office, which wasn’t a power centre until he made it one, and someone else gets in power, and the new guy is suddenly “a dictator”. Watching Conservative reactions is like watching a dog show: It all comes down to pedigree and obedience training. Independent though will be punished.

      1. re: Watching Conservative reactions is like watching a dog show: It all comes down to pedigree and obedience training.

        Now that’s just funny.
        I don’t care who you are.

        btw Michael, I may steal that and post elsewhere, wherever it fits.

    2. Cute to see a conservative quoting a communist. Perhaps if you are to go after a religion you should be quoting hitler. He did represent the right after all…

  9. I agree with Paula, the conservative PC arrogance is stupifying. Not only are they arrogant but they’re sure as Hell not to high in the IQ department either. If the Conservatives “lost” the election that means that the NDP did “win”. Deal with it guys!

  10. Last time I checked, the Party which wins the most seats in an election is the one that governs for a period of 4 years. Is this still not so?

    What’s odd, is when the PCAA won election after election and basically corrupted this Province, no one ever accused them of keeping promises. Maybe that’s where they went wrong..

  11. Doc Cooper and his fellow supporters of the Flat Earth Society (aka Calgary School) need to come to terms with the realization that the neo-liberal wave they were riding floated too far out to sea and dropped over the edge.

  12. Climenhaga writes re: ‘The party with the most MLAs gets to form a government.’

    Is it fussy to comment that, strictly speaking, they only get the first crack at forming government? If they have a majority, it’s a given.

    But, if that party didn’t elect an actual majority of the seats, the opposition can agree to some sort of coalition or temporary alliance, and vote them out on a confidence vote?

    As the opposition was going to do to Harper’s minority via Dion/Layton/Duceppe?

    In last spring’s AB election, for example, I had expected that WRP would take from the Calgary PC caucus enough new seats in Calgary that WRP would have a minority government situation, and to govern it would have forced them to obtain some sort of working arrangement with whatever numbers remained of the PCs.

    Meaning that WRP would only have had the right to have first crack at governing.

    There was of course the possibility that PCs left standing in Calgary would have been the more progressive-minded who might have decided some sort of temporary coalition with the NDP/remaining Libs/AB Party was better than tacking right to support the rural WRP.

    1. It could only be better if Fildebrant had been named somethinf like Fred or Frank or Fritz….then the complete acronym would have been perfect!!!

  13. Some unexpected things have happened in Alberta and Canada over the last year. The long governing PC’s and Conservatives both lost elections and other parties actually won. Also, oil prices have fallen very dramatically.

    Never mind the Laurentian elite. Now many of the previously most comfortable members of Alberta’s conservative political and business elite are feeling very uncomfortable. I suspect all the braying and cries of anguish coming from these previously most privileged and pampered is in part due to the fact they are having trouble getting used to not having such as easy and comfortable life.

    1. I’m sure those political and business elites are doing just fine. They always seem to land on their feet, lobbying, or working as contractors, or sitting on a board to ensure their continued comfort. It’s just business.

      1. Case in point is the esteemed Shirley McLellan. Walks away with a million in “severance”, appointed as various chairs of wisdom at the U of A, and elsewhere and the capper, as chair of the Alberta Horse Racing Commission at a salary of $250K a year appointment handing out $40 million annual cash subsidies to the horsey set.

  14. I hope more people will adopt the Fildebrandt Syndrome over the next 4 years which should ensure that loonies stay out of politics for a long time

  15. vote wildrose and put all the lefties out in the cold. In 3.5 years. Don’t vote for the corrupt pc, only a wildrose government can block any theft of money from the liberal east and protect albertans from the socialist ways of debt and overspending.

    1. Spoken like a true teabagger. I’ll trust the Wildrose party when it isn’t controlled by Mormons, and their supporters stop threatening our democratically elected Premier.

      Don’t you yahoos have militia to organize somewhere?

      1. The Mormon jab was unnecessary. I don’t practice the religion but as far as lifestyle philosophies and moral expectations they are pretty top notch. I would never vote WRP or Conservative and Mike’s comment was truly ludicrous to be sure.

        1. Shows what you know. Do your homework. Mormons are a dangerous cult, who are in fact very much involved in the WRP. Therefore, the so-called jab is necessary.

  16. If I was voting to get the PC’s out, I could have voted Liberal, Alberta party, or even WR. I voted NDP because their platform is aligned with my values. The fact they won a majority and kicked the PC’s out was just gravy!

    1. I hope their values are to actually help struggling small businesses because I am about 45 days out from closing two small businesses and going bankrupt because there are not enough people out there using my services because most of them are out of work and 80% of my supplies come out of the U.S. and our dollar has increased those costs substantially. Being self employed I don’t have access to E.I. either. In 9 months the NDP could have done more to fix this, but they rather shuffle money around at the top and they really don’t give a damn about us at the bottom.

        1. They are socialist are they not? They can give me some of your money to keep me afloat.

          They can stop driving this province even further down by being smart. 6000 jobs filled and none of them were in Alberta where layoffs are still going on. Oil companies are closing up and moving. This has an effect on the over all economy. Restaurants make less, hotels make less, those people lose their jobs and it cycles down. This is why in every province that has ever had an NDP government they become have not’s and we are def on track to be a have not province.

          Yes, I do agree the PC’s were terrible. They did at the very least have more confidence from the business community. The people who actually employ people who pay the taxes that the NDP has raised on everyone. I have already been given a notice of rent increase thanks to carbon taxes and so on. If our Canadian dollar wasn’t in the dumps this reset might not be so bad and it could correct a lot of inflation. Even bring prices down, but as it stands everyone is making as much money as they can and GTFO of Alberta. Every day I read people on Facebook buy and sell groups saying they are moving out of province for work.

          Brad Wall is about to see a very rapid boost in his population. Businesses are making dealing is Saskatchewan because they have a stable economy and regulatory regime. We are in Chaos, and it didn’t have to be that way. The NDP could have done things slower and earned the trust of the majority of people who did not vote for them. What they have managed to do so far is ensure that they are a one and done party and that Albertains will be paying for decades to repeal and pay their debts.

          1. Sorry to hear about your troubles, but you are, after all, a business person and, as such, you should have anticipated the business cycle and planned accordingly. It hear this kind of ‘logic’ all the time from the political right: when times are good, it’s because capitalism is a great system and business is so capable; but when times are tough, it’s somebody else’s fault (the government, the lazy workers, taxes, what have you). This is particularly true in Alberta where, before the crash, it was the most entrepreneurial province in Canada – if that’s true, what happened to that entrepreneurial spirit and know-how that is supposed to find opportunity where and when lesser mortals cannot. You can’t have it both ways.

            Again, sorry for your difficulties and I truly hope things get better for you – I don’t like to see anybody suffer in these tough times.

          2. When you’ve got a boom and bust economy, you’re going to have busts. Failure to take that into account in your business plan is not a failure of the government.

            We’ve had generations of a government doing nothing to try to stabilize our economy and make it less resource-oriented. Your business would be in exactly the same mess it is now, if a different party had won the election less than a year ago.

    2. Oh yeah? What do you think the NDP so far,especially with the controversy about taking the power companies to court over legally pulling out of agreement made 16 yrs. ago? This,and everything else they done so far proves they need to be punted out as soon as possible.

  17. “…If Alberta were currently independent, is it likely that it would ever decide to join Canada as it is today?…” Perhaps someone should remind “Dr.” Cooper (perhaps a well-worded letter would get him a refund on his Ph.D.) that Alberta never “joined” Canada. It (along with Saskatchewan) was created in 1905, by carving out a block of land from what was then the North-West Territory. In fact, Alberta was … wait for it … created by Ottawa, by a Liberal government, and its first Premier was *gasp* also a Liberal.

    Historical revisionism, anyone?

  18. Barry Cooper and Derek Fildebrandt are aiming their anti-democratic claims at the NDP government. But their real contempt is reserved for the voters who elected the new government. Those voters are presented as dolts who only know how to vote against something and who don’t understand what they are voting for. That’s absurd. Even if it is true that many NDP voters were not aware of all of that party’s promises, it is equally true that the image that most Alberta voters have had of the NDP over the years is that they are wild-eyed socialists. Yet 41 percent of voters, whose vote was efficiently distributed to give the NDP a majority, chose the NDP as the alternative to the Tories that they wanted to support. They knew that they were choosing a party that is suspicious of the uncontrolled marketplace and supportive of the view that governments have a duty to intervene on behalf of citizens and especially underdogs to fight corporate irresponsibility.

    1. Some of us voted for the NDP to help save Athabasca University from eminent financial collapse.

      We are still waiting as it slide inexorably into the abyss.

  19. Thankfully the university has a system called emeritus where perennially idiotic but protected “academics”, can be shuffled away from wreaking any more damage and wasted pay into an ever darkening world of diminished cognition with its own bar stool podium at the faculty club.

    1. Tenured or not, I don’t know any professor emeritus who earns a paycheque from a defunct university – do you?

      Although, I agree sitting on a bar stool pontificating sounds a like a good retirement for some.

  20. Wow you fucking dippers are so brain dead it must hurt. I sit here and wonder….who ties these retards shoes in the morning and then I remember …oh yes most live in their parents basement smokingpot and bitching about anyone who makes more than them…nothing but a bunch for retarded wanna be’s . I’ll leave now as I’m sure some must work even tho your all last socialists ….yes extra fries please.

    1. Here at, we’re always pleased to get another thoughtful response from our friends on the political right.

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