|Knowing the history of governments in Alberta, no one
in Canadian Twitter is actually kidding with those, "We'll
miss them come 2067" jokes.
I was impressed by what happened last night in Alberta. How could I not be?
As Jeet Heer explained on his Twitter, to any Canadian the Rachel Notley victory in Alberta is absolutely inconceivable. This, I think, is especially true for people younger than about 35. It’s not just that Alberta has a history of changing its party of government very rarely, although VICE did a fine job yesterday of explaining such a history and the political culture it reflects.
I was ten years old when Canadian politics changed completely from the reasonable model it had been to a venue of growing right-wing radicalism. It was a radicalism whose home was in Alberta.
I’m referring to the 1993 federal election, which saw the Liberal Jean Chrétien become Prime Minister. That’s not the change I’m talking about, because the Liberal Party in Canada was then still our “natural governing party,” the traditional holders of the Canadian centre, which still held the record of having every party leader serve as PM, at least for a little while.
The radical change was the destruction of the Progressive Conservative Party. It isn’t that the federal PCs never expressed neoliberal ideas. Brian Mulroney introduced NAFTA, after all. Until 1993, there was still a small-town folksiness to Canadian conservatism. These were the gruff old men that we’d see mentally torturing a protagonist in a Margaret Atwood novel, the patriarchal morality of a blinkered fart without the English sense of irony to at least make him a figure of bearable parody. Like a P. G. Wodehouse villain with Jeeves or Wooster nowhere in sight.
|A Canadian talks to Americans about how fucking weird
Canada can get.
I’m glad to be rid of their political influence. But the social conservatism that emerged from Alberta to destroy them slowly ushered the process by which Canada became a boot-licker of the petroleum industry, a military aggressor in intractable West Asian conflicts whose true ends won’t come for 50 years, where the national police can soon arrest you on suspicion of disliking your government’s policy, and a land whose lakes are now garbage dumps.
Chrétien will be forgotten compared to Stephen Harper, who truly succeeded in his original famous ambition that Canada will be a fundamentally different country than when he began.
Because no matter how much I may be impressed by Rachel Notley as probably Canada’s most successful and brilliant political strategist in the venue of the state, her New Democratic Party is not exactly peddling the radical statist socialism that made Friedrich Hayek quiver with fear and rage at the sight of a union organizer.
Notley’s leftist principles include spending a greater share of government revenue on funding public health care and education, simplifying and increasing the overall rate of royalties on the production of oil in the province for more revenue for health and education, being more stringent about environmental protections in the oil industry, and liking bitumen pipelines that send oil to refineries in eastern Canada, but not the United States or docks so deep in fjord systems that every third supertanker splits in half trying to dock.
This is the overall result of the change Stephen Harper culminated. The mainstream left shifts so far right that the clearest contrast, the purest principle of opposition to the current order of economic enslavement to the most corrupt energy oligarchs and the mercenary class of finance multi-millionaires is governance by the most minimal basic decency. . . . To Be Continued.