2015-04-23 21:03:37 UTC
party'?, Albertans are asking: "what is wrong with a minority government?”
Just be careful it's not one that is even more right-radical than the current
one . . . .
http://calgaryherald.com - April 22, 2015
Polls suggest Alberta could be headed to first minority government
With polls suggesting Alberta could be on the way to its first minority
government, all political party leaders switched their promise machines into
high gear Tuesday.
In Calgary, Tory Premier Jim Prentice promised to reverse his unpopular plan to
reduce the charitable tax credit while Wildrose Leader Brian Jean pledged two
hours of free parking at hospitals.
In Edmonton, NDP Leader Rachel Notley vowed to help create 3,000 jobs for
students this summer by restoring the Summer Temporary Employment Program,
eliminated by the PCs in 2013.
And Liberal Leader David Swann promised to expand home care, invest in
health-care capital projects, primary care and chronic disease management, and
focus on disease prevention and cutting waste.
The flurry of promises on the campaign trail comes in advance of Thursday’s
leaders’ debate in Edmonton which has grown in importance with a Mainstreet
Technologies poll showing the Wildrose, NDP and PCs within 10 percentage points
in popular support.
It had the Wildrose with 35 per cent support among decided voters, with the NDP
at 31 per cent and the PCs at 25 per cent.
Eric Grenier, who operates the poll-tracking website ThreeHundredEight.com,
said if the numbers remain the same on May 5 there will definitely be a
minority government in Alberta for the first time in its 110-year history.
“It is completely uncharted territory for Alberta and I don’t think anyone has
really thought about how these parties would actually work together,” he said.
“With the floor-crossing between the Wildrose and the Tories, it’s hard to
imagine them wanting to work together and it is hard to imagine either of those
two parties working with the NDP.”
Veteran political analyst David Taras of Mount Royal University said much can
change in the next two weeks of the campaign, but voters’ psychology is
shifting with “people saying, what is wrong with a minority government?”
“It’s bizarre. It’s the Star Trek election — we’ve never gone here before,”
said Taras, who believes Thursday’s debate is critical for all the parties.
“Nothing is for granted now. There are possibilities.”
Prentice sidestepped the question of a minority government on Tuesday, saying
it’s premature to think about it midway through the campaign and he is focused
on winning a 13th PC majority.
“I trust in the judgment of Albertans and I am campaigning to be a majority
government to to provide the stability that this province needs at this point
in time,” he said.
In Edmonton, NDP Leader Rachel Notley said she would be willing to work with
any other party to form a coalition government.
“It would be absolutely irresponsible to not open the door to thoughtful
discussions with all other parties that are elected after the election,” she
said. “That assembly reflects the will of the voters.”
Notley said her goal will be to make government work for Albertans.
“You hope that you don’t get into a minority government position where
everybody is grandstanding for the sake of the next election, and all
governance stops,” she said.
Liberal Leader David Swann said previously he would welcome a minority government.
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said he won’t co-operate with the Tories.
“The only way the Prentice PCs will be able to pass their budget with its
record tax increases is with the support of the NDP,” he said. “Wildrose will
not be voting to increase taxes on Albertans.”
Taras said there are several possible combinations to form a minority
government, but he worries the three largest parties may end up dominating a
single region each — Edmonton, Calgary and the rest of the province — creating
tensions between them.
“That’s very divisive,” he added. "In any given situation, you could have two
major regions outside the government.”
But Stephen Carter, campaign manager for Alison Redford’s PC leadership run,
predicted the Tories will ally with the Wildrose to pass their budget if they
wind up with less than 44 seats in the 87-seat assembly.
“It will enable Wildrose to be the dominant force in the government, to push
for cuts, to push for tax cuts, to cut health-care spending, to cut education
spending, to rein
in a government that has lost control, quote, unquote,” Carter said. “That is
where Jim Prentice would prefer to live, over living on the other side with the
But Carter said it all could unravel in six months as both the Wildrose and NDP
may use the time to demonstrate to Albertans they aren’t extreme — as Prentice
has alleged — and take another shot at power.
“In the long term, it would be very good for Alberta to have democracy
returned,” said Carter, who worked briefly as Redford’s chief of staff after
she became premier, as well as with former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith.
“If we ever put a government in for 30 or 40 years, we should just put our
heads in the door and slam it as hard as we can.”