Alberta NDP’s opportunity of a lifetime
Autor: Sydney McWilliams- contributor
On May 5, the Alberta NDP party dominated the provincial election. Putting a swift end to the forty-four year reign of the progressive conservatives. The New Democrats, led by Rachel Notley, captured fifty-three seats in the legislature, which secured an overwhelming majority. Meanwhile, the Wild Rose was established as the official opposition with twenty-one seats, while the Progressive Conservatives managed to gain ten.
On May 24, Notley and her cabinet will be sworn in, officially starting a major ideological and economic transition for the province. The NDP has promised a fundamentally different approach in running the province. Their platform has made it clear to “take all their eggs out of one basket” and expand their economy out of the oil industry. They claim they will actively support economic diversification by supporting things like alternative energy, knowledge industries, film and television production, wind power, forestry, food processing and tourism. A good plan, as it prevents the panic that occurred when oil prices dropped last spring and Alberta had nothing to fall back on.
They also have proposed increasing personal income tax for people who make large salaries, increasing corporate tax up to twelve percent, and increasing the minimum wage to fifteen dollars. Ideas that look good on paper, but if they’re rushed, it will make big business shy away from investing in the province. They will have to carefully execute these plans to avoid pushing industries such as the oil sector, out of the province, as it will essentially cripple the economy before chances of growth and diversification. The NDP’s economic beliefs will hinder the oil in the province, if they are not careful.
Rachel Notley, at first glance, comes across as a charismatic leader that charmed a province into giving her the chance to lead. She has a background in political science and a law degree; and before entering the political realm, she worked for labour unions in Alberta and British Columbia. She presents herself as a fair and stern voice in the political realm and seems to truly advocate for the people of Alberta. Her rookie caucus could give her a few bumps along the way and they have a truly enormous task ahead of them if they want to successfully carry out the plans they have put in place. Alberta is rooted in conservatism and that will not change overnight. Having a caucus with a majority of rookie legislators could just have exacerbated the task’s difficulty. Being a first-time member of the Legislative assembly is a learning experience, but tearing down a rooted dynasty to rebuild a new one is a tall order.
The Alberta NDP has been given the chance of a lifetime. The combination of a dried up Progressive Conservative party whom the entire province was fed up with, a charismatic leader and a well laid out plan for the province has gained the NDP a win they have craved for years. Change will be slow, but it will come, as the NDP learn how to govern. They have kicked the king off his throne, a political revolution in its own right.