With five new polls yesterday showing Alberta's New Democrats approaching minority government territory and the "ooga-booga" fear campaign against the NDP beginning in earnest, perhaps it's time for Albertans who urgently want to rid our province of this stale and entitled Tory government to think seriously about pushing the NDP to a majority.
A poll by Ipsos for Global News showed Alberta's NDP under the remarkable, charismatic leadership of Rachel Notley in the lead with the support of 37 per cent of decided voters. Both the Return on Insight survey done for the CBC and the Leger poll for Postmedia's Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal indicated 38 per cent of decided voters supported the NDP. A ThinkHQ poll placed NDP support at 39 per cent. And, finally, a survey by EKOS suggests support for Notley's NDP is at 42 per cent!
The pollsters' interpretations of how this might play out vary, because support for each of the NDP, the Wildrose Party and the Progressive Conservatives seems to be concentrated in different parts of the province.
But clearly, if those numbers hold until Tuesday and voters make it to their polling stations, they could propel the NDP in minority government territory, which clearly accounts for the highly organized fear campaign now under way to keep this election from turning into Unlucky No. 13 for the Tories.
To be blunt about this, under these circumstances, a vote for the Wildrose Party is a vote to continue the nearly 44-year-old Progressive Conservative Government.
Many Wildrose supporters will have trouble imagining that this is true, and we can feel a lot of sympathy with them about that. No one wants to believe that the political leaders they have put their faith in could just walk away and join the government their own supporters desperately want to replace?
Yet we Albertans have all already watched that movie, not that long ago, and we know exactly how it ends.
Readers of this blog will know that I am no supporter of the Wildrose Party, but I liked and admired Danielle Smith and consider myself a friend of several people who are or were active in her former party.
So I was as shocked and dismayed as many Wildrosers when she walked across the floor with the majority of her caucus to join Premier Jim Prentice's PC caucus in the Legislature. What an astonishing betrayal!
And apparently all it took was a phone call from Preston Manning, the godfather of the neoliberal/neoconservative right in Canada.
While I deeply disagree with Smith on many issues, I know her to be an intelligent and thoughtful person, so what this tells me is not that she lacked political sense or insight, but how much weight Manning really throws around on the political right in this province and country.
Given what has just happened, how can anyone believe the same thing won't happen again if the Legislature is left in minority territory?
I flatly didn't believe it when I first heard the rumours a mass floor crossing was about to be led by Smith.
Can anyone seriously think that the same phone call won't be made to Prentice, or to Wildrose Leader Brian Jean? Of course it will be -- although our chances of finding out about it this time will be considerably smaller that they were last December.
And can anyone doubt that the result won't be exactly the same as last time?
Of course, some cosmetics would have to be applied to make the PC-Wildrose coalition appear to be something different and new. And it's true that some Wildrosers and some Tories will never trust or like each other again. But the fact remains, the pressure for a movement to unite the Alberta right will be strong enough that a vote for the Wildrose remains a vote for more of the same.
As for what Calgary Herald political columnist Don Braid, who coined the ooga-booga line above, cleverly called the last-minute PC "fright-wig campaign" against the NDP -- something of a specialty for the Tory Party since it used it to good effect in 2012 to give Alison Redford her unexpected come-from-behind victory -- brace yourselves, because we're going to be hearing nothing but fear itself for the next few days.
The people behind the fear campaign understand, as readers of this blog should too, that the Wildrose Party and the PC Party really are the same thing, financed by the same corporations, led by people who have worked together and will again, motivated by the same principles, and certain to unite their parties sooner or later no matter what happens on May 5.
For their part, NDP voters must be committed, resolute and unshaken by this onslaught. Above all, this time, they must make it to the polls.
The Tories have the money and the machine to move their diminishing numbers of supporters to the polls. Don't imagine for a moment that simply because their support is at unprecedented lows they are not still in the game.
Even before the election, polls like yesterday's have been telling us clearly Albertans desperately crave change -- less cynicism, more democracy.
In a minority Legislature, the chances are high they will not get it, because the Wildrose and PCs will make common cause -- just as they have already done once.
So while it doesn't have to be a huge majority, without an NDP majority, Albertans can easily be cheated of the change they desperately want.
Albertans need to make it a clear majority for the NDP in the only poll that really matters!
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.
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