According to the Edmonton Journal’s political columnist yesterday morning, “if recent public opinion polls prove prescient, the Alberta Conservatives could win somewhere between 70 and 80 seats – that’s out of 87 seats total. One poll even suggests they could win 82 seats, the most for any government in Alberta history.”
And according to a Valentine’s Day report in the Globe and Mail, “some of Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s closest advisers are predicting that the Progressive Conservative Party’s current seat total of 67 is merely a base from which to build an even bigger majority.” The Tory seat total could be as high as 79 or 80, Canada’s national website suggested.
Even given the natural optimism of political partisans, this gloomy prospect has the undeniable ring of probability.
But while it may be cause for despair, it is only news if you’ve been restricting you reading to the mainstream media, which has for a couple of years now been predicting a huge, epochal contest between the Wildrose Alliance, later renamed the Wildrose Party, and the unprogressive Conservatives.
Indeed, one assumes that even now this is only “news” because the mainstream media has been pushing the Titanic Right-Wing-Battle storyline for so long that it was starting to enjoy the taste of its own bathwater!
The reality is there’s never been much evidence for this. Two years ago, in the early spring of 2010, it was frequently reported that the Wildrose Alliance was “soaring in the polls.” In reality, at the time, there was only one poll that said that. Since then there have been a few more, but many others that show the Tories with an overwhelming lead.
Moreover, it would be a mistake to try to pass off the current success of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives to Ms. Redford’s influence alone, although she appears to have turned out to have been a remarkably adept choice for a party skilled at reinventing itself for a new generation of voters.
Even so, it is likely current PC popularity would have been much the same if the party had chosen Gary Mar, Ted Morton or any of the rest of them as its leader. Indeed, it is said here that even with Ed Stelmach at the helm, the Alberta PCs could likely have gone into an election campaign with reasonable confidence of victory.
This can bring no joy to the hearts of those of us who have traditionally opposed this government, from either the left or the right, and even less to those of professional storytellers, who thrive on conflict and unpredictable results – which is why, of course, the media hung onto the notion of an impending Conservative-Wildrose slugfest for so long.
But Albertans, uncomfortable with change as always, are used to voting Conservative and it will take more than a fresh new leader who speaks in full sentences to change that. As we have seen with Ms. Redford, the Conservatives turned out to be quite capable of coming up with such a leader all on their own.
With no compelling evidence of an immediate threat to all our economic wellbeing because of Redford Government incompetence – and, notwithstanding Wildrose hysteria about our alleged spending problem, there is precious little of this – Albertans are unlikely to take a chance on any party of right or left simply because it says “41 years is enough.”
It is profoundly depressing to say this, but at the mainstream media are now coming to acknowledge, Alberta’s most entertaining political season in a lifetime may be drawing to a close.
If there is any good news in this, it is only that when New Democratic Party Leader Brian Mason is named Leader of the Opposition after the election, Alberta Diary will get to say “I told you so.” (And if not? Well, we’ll cheerfully explain the reasons in the event.)
Regardless, though, this blog must now fall quiet for a few days. Your blogger is travelling to Okinawa to devote a couple of weeks to the study of karate, and so it is unlikely there will be more posts until the week of March 5.
By the time I do return, fondly do I hope, fervently do I pray, that the scourge of political boredom will have speedily passed away. For that to happen, though, something will have had to upset the Tory applecart.