As the smart people keep saying, “Don’t get so upset. Nothing much really happened in Alberta.” At least unless you’re a Conservative of any stripe.
As I may have mentioned recently, the current stereotypes of political parties in Canada and elsewhere is that the Left are freespending profligates and the Right are serious managers of the purse strings. Conservatives all over have made tons of political hay by warning the voters that a left-wing government is the ticket to poverty.
In the Keynesian days of the past this was somewhat true. Concerned politicians looked to the needs of their citizens and believed what they wanted to believe: that they could spend their way out of trouble. Which is only true at certain times and in limited ways.
Same Old, Same Old
However, it was too easy for the right wing to point to the incredible deficits and play the old scare tactics. “The Lefties are going to give all our money away.” “The Commies are going to take over all our businesses.” “The sky is falling.” And yada-yada-yada. Left-wing governments fell. In Alberta, the Conservatives dined for 40 years on this fare. Of course the real reason for their success was a three-letter word that starts with “o,” ends with “l” and has “ego” in the centre. When the crunch came, the public finally realized that the Tories had been taking credit for good stewardship, when actually they just had more money to play with. British Columbians watched their waning lumber revenues fall under the weight of more responsible environmental policies, and had to endure self-righteous Albertans telling us that our problem was the NDP governments we resort to in times of desperation, when the right wing has got too much in love with themselves.
The Left Wing Isn’t Stupid
So those of a more liberal bent realized that if the Conservatives had set responsible money management as the key factor in getting elected, then they better start learning some economics themselves. It helped that nobody with any brains has fallen for the old “trickle-down” economic theory for the past twenty years or so, so the right wing’s trick of cutting taxes for business doesn’t cut much ice either.
As a result, there has ceased to be much financial difference between the policies of all three Federal parties, and there certainly hasn’t been any demonstration of restraint in spending on the part of the Conservatives. Don’t even bother to mention the “balanced budget.”
Show Us What You’ve Got
Which leads the Right wing into a quandary. Since they have set the stakes for the election on fiscal policy, and since the other parties have sound fiscal policy as well, what do the Conservatives have instead? Leadership? Herr Harper doesn’t let anyone else anywhere near a position where he or she could learn anything and The Man himself is looking pretty jaded these days.
And then, of course we have the problem of claiming to be responsible for the country’s riches when we don’t have any. It’s a pretty poor leader whose plan to win his election is based on the economic policies of OPEC.
In fact, that could explain Harper’s great attempts at gunboat diplomacy (the only kind he knows) in the Middle East. Since the OPEC merchants are flooding the market because it reduces the oil money that is supporting ISIS, it is to Canada’s benefit to get the war all over with and back to normally inflated prices so we can join in cheating everyone else of the oil they need at a decent price.
But that golden goose is getting dirty feathers as well. The everlasting rise in the demand for oil is some day (maybe soon) going to fall off, and where will the glutted oil producers be then? Back under $50 a barrel.
So when we put all these factors together, we see that the supposed fiscal superiority of the Conservatives is mostly prairie wind, (smelling like it’s been blowing across a lot of cattle ranches) and Albertans have finally become tired of the stench.
When we try to apply this to the federal scene, the comparison doesn’t hold up, because between the Conservatives and the NDP stands a huge bulk of staunch Liberal voters. So no matter how happy Tom Mulcair might be for his provincial comrades, a vote against the Right is not necessarily a vote for the Left. In fact, the intelligent Canadian voters (yes, there are quite a few of them) might decide that what they really want is to get rid of Stephen Harper, and the surest way to do that is to vote for good old charismatic, harmless, middle-of-the-road Liberal Justin Trudeau.
Which Leads us to Justin Whodeau
This tactic seems to be what Trudeau is aiming for, because the policies he has finally revealed certainly aren’t going to burn any barns down. All he’s doing so far is playing “My arithmetic is better than theirs.” And, as I have just demonstrated above, that show isn’t playing very well these days in Muskoka. Or Hixon, North Battleford or Trois Rivieres.
The metaphor used to be called a “broken record,” but now it’s called a “loop”… the same line repeating itself over and over, but here I go again. Somebody needs to break out of the present rut and demonstrate real leadership. The Canadian public would love to get enthused about something. That’s what Justin’s old man did. Whether they loved him or hated him, everybody talked about Pierre. This election needs someone like that.
Otherwise we’re going to end up with an NDP/Liberal coalition government. Which would probably work just fine. Trudeau and Mulcair would make a great Laurel and Hardy routine. Or should I say Rowan and Martin? Naw, more like Burns and Allen. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.