Sunday, February 17, 2008

Alberta Election: Stelmach Headed for Disaster?

The headline on a story on says "Voters cranky in Fort McMurray", and its about Stelmach's tour of the region. These two quotes might sum up the campaign:

"They're really not happy. There's a lack of affordable housing, there's a lack of health care. Waiting lists are horrendous at the hospital," said senior Glenna Morris, listing some of the complaints from people in the community....

But despite the feeling by many that the government should be doing more, many people still said they think the Tories are the best choice to look after the region's interests.

TC has lost track of the number of negatives cropping up during this campaign for the Alberta Conservatives. In any other province one would say the government is heading for defeat, but Alberta has only changed governments twice in the last seventy-five years - in 1935 and 1971.

All the polls so far are pre-election numbers that give Stelmach a big lead. You can see them here. But something is afoot and it seems likely to have an impact on election day one way or another.

Probably the most significant recent development in Alberta politics structurally is the merger of the two right wing parties, the Alberta Alliance and Wildrose, into the Wildrose Alliance. The dominant political culture in Alberta is small 'c' conservative. The governing Progressive Conservatives have not during their rule faced a significant threat from the right. While it may be too early for this new entrant to have much impact, any votes it steals will help the centre-right Alberta Liberals, if not to win government, then simply to stir up trouble for Stelmach in the cities.

Unlike most Alberta election campaigns this one is worth watching.

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