Our provincial politics seem to have received a strong jolt with last week’s by election results, which saw the ruling Progressive Conservatives sweep all four seats up for grabs, confirming that the newly installed Premier Jim Prentice has managed to breathe a new lease of life to the dwindling fortunes of the party in the space of just a few weeks.
As important as the victory of the governing party in the course of the immediate aftermath of the elections was the noticeable sense of panic and disarray among the opposition. There were calls for unifying the forces of NDP and the Liberals to put up a realistic challenge to the PCs, calls which were quickly silenced.
And then out of the blue, internal problems of the Wildrose Party burst into the open with the resignation of the party’s outspoken Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Joe Anglin from the Wildrose caucus. In addition, an independent inquiry into the recent annual general meeting of the party organization at the same riding concluded that the AGM, which resulted in the nomination of a candidate for the Wildrose Party for that riding other than Mr. Anglin, had to be reconvened due to procedural misconduct. At the same time, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith threw the gauntlet to her critics by calling for a review of her leadership of the party, but her MLAs quickly voted down the move saying they are fully backing her leadership.
So as the dust settles, what we are seeing is the emergence of a strongly revitalized PC leadership with very skillful public relations moves managing to reengage important sections of the electorate with a realistic possibility of another majority PC government after the next election.
That much is nothing to be worried about, at least because no other political organization, including the Wildrose, appears to be ready to take on the responsibility of governing the province as yet.
What is worrying is that the current PC government, and if they return to power after the election, the next one look likely to ramp up bitumen production in the oil sands in the north and will continue to increasingly rely on the royalties from oil and gas production to generate wealth.
More than 50 of Canada’s leading scientists issued an open letter last week (it is on page 38 in this edition of Ponoka News) to provincial and federal governments warning of the risks of that very policy.
Just days later, an authoritative UN body, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a stark warning that majority of world’s electricity needs must be primarily generated from low carbon sources by 2050 and fossil fuels should be completely eliminated from the energy cycle by 2100 if “irreparable damage” to earth is to be avoided.
These are not notices that can be taken lightly.
However, from Premier Jim Prentice’s applause of TransCanada’s application to the Energy Board for the Energy East pipeline project, his hectic visits to First Nations in northern Alberta and his talks with B.C. premier all point to the same direction: More oil sands royalties, more of the easy money.
There is one serious question that all Albertans (Canadians) should be asking: With the current strength of the US dollar drowning all commodities that our provincial and national economies depend on for revenue, how clever a policy is it to continue to plan a future that could be at the mercy of market fluctuations?
– Mustafa Eric