PHOTOS: British Columbia’s NDP Premier-Designate John Horgan with your blogger, not so very long ago. Below: Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley, a Vancouver take on a Canada Day flag, and B.C. premier W.A.C. Bennett in his heyday.
Happy Canada Day, people, and after more than 50 days of waiting to find out what the heck was actually going to happen, it is nice to be able to celebrate the ascension of another NDP government just in time to mark our bilingual Dominion’s coast-to-coast fete nationale.
Yeah, I know, the New Democrat government Premier-Designate John Horgan was asked to form yesterday by B.C.’s lieutenant governor will be a fragile thing, at least for a spell. What’s more, his arrival in the halls of power will not be greeted with unalloyed enthusiasm in either the Edmonton office of Alberta’s NDP premier or by the Liberal occupant of the now-nameless prime ministerial office building in the nation’s capital.
You can count on it, Postmedia’s highly trained analytical attack Chihuahuas will be all over this, snarling as they predict gloom followed by swift doom as the result for both Western Canadian NDP Governments.
And – who knows? – maybe this time they’ll turn out to be right. For the moment, though, I admit I can’t quite manage to wipe a Canada Day smirk off my face, despite not wishing any ill to Alberta’s Dippers.
Regardless of how she really feels, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley issued a graceful Canada-Day-eve statement of congratulations to Mr. Horgan and thanks for her years of service to departing Liberal Premier Christy Clark.
Ms. Clark, the prevailing wisdom in the Alberta commentariat had it, would be more sympathetic the Alberta’s pipeline ambitions than a B.C. New Democrat, and especially a New Democrat propped up by a gaggle of Greens. This was in fact not at all clear after the May 9 election that left Ms. Clark’s party with a minority in the B.C. Legislature and three Greens holding the balance of power. But, whatever, any old port in a storm as they surely say at English Canada’s largest newspaper chain.
“Alberta and British Columbia share more than a border,” Ms. Notley said diplomatically. “We are bound together by deep personal and economic ties and a commitment to building strong communities with good jobs, strong public services and a clean environment.
“I know that Premier-Designate Horgan is a champion for these values. I look forward to working with him and his new government to advance our shared interests and to make life better for the people of our two provinces.”
I’m sure the Opposition Wildrose Party, which seems not entirely to share the premier’s enthusiasm for strong public services and a clean environment, will be cranking out an outraged press release as soon as the long weekend is over, assailing Ms. Notley for not immediately moving troops to the border. Well, the closet thing we have to troops are the Alberta Sheriffs, who doubtless will be all tuckered out on Tuesday from a long weekend handing out tickets to our province’s many enthusiastic speeders, of whom there are almost as many as there are conservative political parties, PACs, think tanks and other entities.
Over the mountains, meanwhile, Mr. Horgan would be well advised to take his time and enjoy the summer choosing new draperies and office furniture for what Social Credit premier W.A.C. Bennett in the 1960s used to call “the Prime Minister’s Office” in the west wing of what he also called “the Parliament Buildings” of British Columbia (never B.C.).
After all, there’s no hurry to get the Legislature back into session if, for every week you can wait, the B.C. Liberals (who are really conservatives) are more likely to begin tearing themselves to pieces.
If the NDP just keep calm and carry on, I’m sure Ms. Clark will go over the side soon enough, a few ambitious former Liberal cabinet ministers will start to tear at each other’s throats, and a Liberal near enough to retirement to be tempted by the extra $53,000 a year will be found willing to take on the job of Speaker despite the protests of his or her caucus mates.
And what they used to say about Stephen Harper is true about Mr. Horgan too: the longer he’s there, the longer he’s likely to stay there. I’m sure the B.C. NDP would settle for a decade in power.
This would also prevent an unseemly westward stampede of political aides from Alberta, which would have been bound to drive property prices in Victoria even higher.
Even more hopefully, by Canada Day 151, there will also be a newly elected NDP government in Ontario. I say this confidently on the sensible grounds Ontarians want to get rid of Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne but certainly aren’t crazy enough to replace her with that province’s thoroughly odious Tories.
Remember where you heard it first. It just doesn’t get any better than this. Happy Canada Day!