Sunday, August 9, 2015

Landslides in Alberta's Provincial Politics

A recent news report got me thinking about my favourite History professor from Queen's University at Kingston Ontario, who sadly died much too early. In the 1980s I was lucky to study Canadian political history there, with the late great Don Swainson. I wrote a couple of papers for him studying Alberta's tendency to elect consecutive landslide governments.

First the Liberals, then the United Farmers, Social Credit, then the Progressive Conservatives, each time virtually wiping out the opposition. I predicted at the time, wrongly, that the cycle would continue and that the government would change dramatically. Sometimes individuals change history and I had no idea, like many others, of the effect that Ralph Klein's premiership would have on the province.

Since then though, I have watched to see if the trend might re-assert itself. It seemed a few years ago that, in the great Western tradition, a new political party might do just that, but the PC'S were able to pull one out. Now, looking at reports of polls in the news, it sounds like that change that has been typical of Alberta politics historically may be in the offing. Its a 3 way race in their provincial election between the new kids on the block the Wild Rose, the PC'S and the NDP. In politics anything can happen. But if I had to guess, there is about to be that once in a generation, or so, change that I pictured many years ago. As I write this I can see Don smiling, and hear him saying, "we will see". Indeed.

Postscript: Comments created April 23th, 2015. The Province of Alberta's 29th general election occurred on May 5, 2015 when Rachel Notley's New Democratic Party ended more than 4 decades of PC party reign, with a majority victory. The recent election date of May 5, 2015 can be added to a similar list of watershed ALTA elections: July 18, 1921 (United Farmers), August 22, 1935 (Social Credit) and August 30 1971 (PCs). 25 years later than I predicted, but even a broken clock is right twice a day!

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