rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

There's plenty of opposition to Alberta's PCs -- the question is, which way will it break?

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Rachel Notley

Judging from the polls we've seen, not to mention the behaviour of politicians and the buzz in the media, I think we can all agree on this much: The campaign for the election Albertans didn't want on May 5 is not unfolding as Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Prentice expected it would when he insisted on calling it.

But if the polls show growing support for both the Alberta NDP and the Wildrose Party, each now generating a lot more excitement than almost anyone expected a few weeks ago, the most important question may turn out to be this:

Which way will it break?

That is to say, if the Prentice PCs can’t turn things around -- and they will certainly try to do just that, with a reasonable prospect of success, if only given the financial resources they have at hand -- which way will disaffected voters go? To the cautious NDP left, or to the seemingly apoplectic right?

For that matter, will they go anywhere at all? There is, after all, no shortage of undecided voters in Alberta, not to mention a great many who through despair or apathy have fallen out of the habit of voting altogether.

Volunteers for all parties are reporting a great deal of dissatisfaction with the PCs on the doorsteps of their communities with a common response being, "I don't know who I'm going to vote for, but I can tell you it won't be the PCs."

Given that, will the distance between the two alternatives somehow enable the Tories to eke out a survival strategy by portraying themselves as the reasonable middle, despite their leader's still-emerging record of failure, catalogued by journalist Mimi Williams in, of all things, a Facebook post that can only be described as magisterial in scope and breadth.

Or are the polls, as we all keep wondering because it's happened before, just wrong, or is the electorate too volatile even to be measured by polling?

Right now, both the NDP and the Wildrose Party seem to be riding independent waves of support with not much more than two weeks to go before the election Prentice engineered.

Wouldn't that be a shocker, to Alberta not to mention the rest of the Dominion, if the polls turned out to be right and victor was not the Progressive Conservatives?

What a delicious irony it would be if the outrage sown by the scheme apparently cooked up among Prentice, former opposition leader Danielle Smith and Preston Manning, the godfather of the Canadian neoliberal right, to merge the government and Wildrose caucuses in the Legislature and leave the province’s many conservative voters with no choice, had the effect of propelling either the revivified Wildrose Party or the surging NDP into power.

A Wildrose government, elected by conservative outsiders incandescent with rage at the floor-crossing episode, infuriated by the Redford years, and dissatisfied with anything short of a full Wisconsin, is unlikely to offer the soothing incrementalism Manning and his Calgary boiler room for conservative proselytizing need to complete their project of shifting all of Canada unrecognizably to the right.

And what of Brian Jean, the Wildrose Party's almost completely unknown leader? He only got the job on March 28, after the mass defection that was supposed to destroy the party. His decade-long Parliamentary career was so undistinguished the only standout was the crossword puzzles he composed and sent via Parliamentary mail to his bemused constituents. What might he do as premier?

For its part, a cautious NDP merely holding the balance of power would act as a powerful brake on the right-wing project at a moment in history when time may be running out for democratic acceptance of neoliberal economics.

And if the NDP were to actually form the government of Alberta, why, it could as Leader Rachel Notley vowed at the news conference announcing her fiscal plan Sunday implement such "extremist" policies as tax credits to create jobs for our kids, continued funding for public health care and education, reintroduction of fair corporate taxes, encouragement for economic diversification and, most frightening of all from the PC perspective, a ban on political donations from corporations and unions.

Well, we'll have the chance to see all three leaders in action against one another on Global TV at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. Maybe that's when the dam will break, and undecided voters will really start to flow one way or the other.

Remember, in politics and much else, timing is everything.

This post also appears on David CLimenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.