PHOTOS: Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney (Twitter). Below: A clear-eyed Premier Rachel Notley, former British Columbia NDP premier Dave Barrett and the late Jim Prentice, former premier of Alberta.


“Two years after Alberta NDP win, critics see signs of early election call,” a headline on the CBC website said Friday.


Not really. The CBC’s headline notwithstanding, the leaders of Alberta’s NDP Government were startlingly clear that there won’t be an election before 2019, as required by Alberta’s constitutionally silly “fixed election-period law,” passed in December 2011 by then-premier Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservative government.

Premier Rachel Notley said it: “It’s my intent to follow both the spirit as well as the letter of the law, because that’s what I think you should do. That’s what I’ve said before and that’s what I’m saying again now.”

Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman said it in the Legislature, in response to a question by Derek Fildebrandt, the Opposition finance critic: “We certainly do not intend to call the election early.”

NDP Provincial Secretary Roari Richardson said it: “I would highly doubt that.”

NDP elder statesman Ray Martin said it: “They’re only halfway through their mandate, so I wouldn’t be in a hurry to push it. Things will get better, and they’ll get better at the job.”

The people of Alberta were clear enough when Jim Prentice, the last PC premier of Alberta, called an election a year early in 2015 – they sent him packing on May 5 and elected the New Democrats.

The people of British Columbia made the same point back in 1975, when NDP Premier Dave Barrett called an election after three years in office and voters responded by bringing back the Social Credit Party, this time under Bill Bennett – a memory that was burned deep into the NDP’s political DNA.

Moreover, it’s seen as axiomatic among the Alberta NDP base that the longer Rachel Notley stays in power, the more likely she is to get her party re-elected based on the NDP’s strengthening performance.

The CBC didn’t produce a shred of evidence for this proposition, despite apparently asking several people about it – which strongly suggests this is more than just a rogue headline.

However, a few days before, the Calgary Herald’s Don Braid wrote a column reaching a similar conclusion based on a similar lack of evidence.

Mr. Braid managed to spin Ms. Hoffman’s unequivocal statement into the opposite of what she said. This was his reasoning: “She has it both ways. The NDP does not ‘intend’ to call early. She doesn’t say the government absolutely will not.”

This is nutty stuff. So what gives, really?

My guess is that, as John F. Kennedy famously said, or at least gets credit for saying, “where there’s smoke, there is usually a smoke-making machine.” In this case, the smoke-making machine is found somewhere in one of the back rooms of the campaign of the Progressive Conservative Party’s recently elected leader, Jason Kenney, which has two obvious goals.

Goal No. 1, is to ensure that Mr. Kenney emerges as the leader of any new united Alberta conservative party, which is to be made up of the new much-smaller-tent PCs and the Wildrose Opposition led by Brian Jean. That’s presumably why Mr. Kenney keeps telling the media and anyone else who will listen that a deal with the Wildrosers is imminent.

Goal No. 2, to make sure it happens fast, since that would be to Mr. Kenney’s advantage and to Mr. Jean’s disadvantage in the inevitable jockeying to see which one of them gets to run the new political entity. After all, the longer you look at that pair, the more appealing Mr. Jean looks!

In other words, nothing is going to stampede reluctant Wildrosers who support Mr. Jean into a marriage they’re not sure about faster that the prospect of an early election call by the NDP – even if the possibility of it actually happening falls into the general realm of “alternative facts,” or perhaps even “alterative reality.”

So Mr. Kenney wants to hurry, Mr. Jean wants to wait and, lo and behold, the notion of an early NDP election call emerges in the media.

Life may be full of surprises, but from out here in rainy Toronto, this actually sounds like genuine fake news!

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  1. Rather interesting that Mr. Braid’s column lacks the statement you quoted. Perhaps he realized the error of his ways? That doesn’t excuse the distinct lack of an editor’s note, however.

        1. You are so right, Farron. I am on the road, which is impacting the frequency of my posts as well, obviously, as the targeting of my links. Many thanks for taking the time not only to point out my error, but to stick with it till I wised up. DJC

  2. i’m not sure what this article about?
    neither side of political Alberta is ready for new forced election. outcome very obvious – independently of which side would win, it will be minority government with no chance to implement any policies. my guess, if hypothetical election would be hold this year, NDP in legislature will be reduced to about 20 seats and main fight to gain wider control will be between PC and WR.
    and frankly, Ray Martin was right in his prediction, the toughest part for NDP come after election and seems so far they losing the fight for re-election. amazing incompetence and nothing to show the ability to learn even from own mistakes. it’s sort of like behavior of child, who finally got desirable toy but after that it’s turn out don’t know how to play with it.

    1. I’m sure your grasp of the shortcomings of the NDP are as well founded as is your grasp of this article, which is to say “very, very slight”. The topic of the article is clear to the meanest understanding: some people are claiming, due to crass political miscalculation, that the NDP are planning an early election, despite the government’s stated intention to the contrary, and the very obvious electoral reasons not to do any such thing. Granted, government statements to the effect that “X” can not be taken as proof of “X”. Still less can they be taken as proof of “not X”. Having thus failed to grasp the vary obvious point of the article, you go on to offer gratuitous pronouncements based, apparently, on nothing but your preferences. Hint: your dislike of the NDP is not proof of their incompetence nor of “nothing to show” which part is clearly false.

      Go. Win the next election. But this time, you might need to use facts and arguments, in the even that any should be in your parties favour, which I consider improbable.Until then, why not try to engage in some actual discussion?

  3. The political push by the Wildrose cadre of incompetents to float the notion of an early election call is not only comical, but illogical.

    Why would a government call an election when the province is now starting to enjoy an intensifying economic turnaround that boasts improving employment numbers, increases in exports, drilling activity, private sector capital investment and the best economic performance projections of any province in Canada for the next two years?

    Climenhaga hit the nail on the head when he alluded to the artless ruse being floated by media pawns and the Wildrose Party to ensure the unite-the-right movement happens soon. The longer the NDP government waits to call an election, the better economic conditions become for all Albertans and so do the prospects for re-election in 2019. Even dystopian conservatives and supporters are well aware of that unassailable fact.

    1. So we are experiencing an “intensifying economic turnaround”. After two years of contraction in which Alberta’s GDP shrank by over 6% one would hope at some point growth would return. Projected growth of 2.6% will get us 40% of the way back. I will agree with you on one point, I think the NDP will wait as long as possible hoping that the economy will improve and put voters in a better mood.

  4. There is a lot of politicking and jockying going on between the unite the right camps right now and their speculation about an early election was part of that, not really based on any possibility of that happening.

    If the fear of an impending election is the only thing that can force the right to unite, that is a not a good sign for them. Perhaps there is less of a desire for the right to unite than they present. Part of the trouble may be if Kenney is taking the high handed approach he learned so well during his career as a Federal Conservative politician. I doubt the Wildrose Party likes to be dictated to by the leader of the third party and I suspect they feel instead that they are in the stronger position of the two parties.

    I suppose the NDP’s statements that no election is imminent, will take the pressure off the right to unite quickly. It can’t be helpful for those behind the latest forced merger ideas.

  5. Well well, your headline photo says it all. I’ve seen those faces before. Mr. Jean is grinding dirt and trying not to spit bullets, while our most curious interloping human, Jason Kenney, seems to have grasped the joy stick of conservative triumph! Let’s hope the balloon he’s pumping can withstand the pressure!

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