Ted Byfield: Eggen sets a trap for Kenney and Kenney doesn’t take the bait
Now that the opposition is united and in Jason Kenney has a leader who will soon, we trust, win a seat in the Legislature, Alberta politics is starting to become very interesting indeed. We’re swiftly coming down to two parties, one on the Left and one on the Right, but the challenges facing them are quite different.
The chief fear of the socialist NDP (New Democratic Party) government lies in swift recovery of the Right under Kenney. Three factors brought the NDP to power in 2015: a succession of weak leaders in the Conservative Party, a widening perception that the party had made the government a gravy train for its old guard, and a rebellion by its social conservative wing which saw itself as only barely tolerated.
The Conservatives now have the strongest leader since Peter Lougheed in 1971 took them from their long meanderings in the wilderness to form a government that would remain in office for 44 years. If Kenney leads it back into power, he will have made history. Never has a political party regained power in Alberta. In the province’s 112-year history, the Liberals held office for 16, the United Farmers for 14, the Social Credit for 36, and the Conservatives for 44. Once defeated, none has ever returned to power. So the rule is: Once they’re out, they’re out for good, unless Kenney proves the rule wrong. His toughest task is to unite the Right and he has pretty accomplished that. He’s not problem free, but he’s on the way to winning.
But that’s only one of the NDP’s challenges. The other is money. Here, Premier Rachel Notley’s best friends pose her biggest problems– meaning, of course, the government unions. But the task is wider than just the unions. It seems more than half the province’s working force is directly or indirectly on the public payroll — including the whole education facility up to and including the universities, the entire medical establishment, much of the public transportation sector including street an highway maintenance and construction, almost the entire public welfare component. The list is endless. It seems nearly half the province feeds on the government breast. The NDP has so far solved its budget problem by digging th province farther than ever into debt. Sooner or later, however, a process of weaning will have to be initiated, and the dark fact will become known that government workers are among the highest wage earners in the province. None of this bodes well for the NDP.
All of which raises, of course, the unemployment problem. The exodus has already started from Calgary. Since it’s not a government town the building trade is virtually stopped. Government or no government, it will soon manifest itself in Edmonton as well. So what will the NDP do?
This article continues at [Ted Byfield Blog] Eggen sets a trap for Kenney and Kenney doesn’t take the bait