Conservatives - 34% vs Wildrose - 29%
Redford - 33% vs Smith 25%
Redford - 33% vs Smith 25%
So what's it mean? well on the surface it appears that the Conservatives have a 5 point lead, and that people in general have a fondness for Redford over Smith. However, one poll does not win an election, so here's my December piece with the dust blown off and a few more paragraphs added.
The landscape of Alberta politics hasn't changed much since 1971 when Peter Lougheed and the Conservative party ousted the governing Social Credit party who had ruled the province for the 36 years previous. In fact Alberta has only had four political parties form it's provincial government throughout its history with the current ruling Conservatives still holding the office after close to 40 years. so it's safe to say voters here are not the type that flip-flop a great deal.
On the other hand, like many Albertan's I am starting to become very disillusioned with the "Conservatives" who in the last few years appear to be moving from the right towards the center, in an effort to be everything to everyone. Add to that our current Premier, Allison Redford virtually bought the top job and that the last couple of weeks have brought to light some serious abuse of taxpayer funds by MLA's. Sum it all up and I find myself looking for an alternative in this years provincial election. So what lies on the horizon?
Well the sad fact is that it is a pretty barren landscape. The closest thing that Alberta currently has to a truly right wing party is the Wildrose Party. Now while Danielle Smith, the leader of the Wild Rose party talks a pretty good fight the reality is they have only been able to actually elect one MLA, the other three sitting MLA's in the party got there by crossing the floor from the current ruling Conservative party. Although this adds to Wildrose numbers on paper it doesn't sit well with me personally as a voter. These three individuals were elected as Conservatives, I imagine if the electorate in these riding's had wanted a Wild Rose MLA they would have voted accordingly. But, I'm a big boy and realize that my whining about this doesn't change much, particularly when it is not the biggest challenge the Wildrose party faces.
The ruling party always goes into an election with a major advantage, they hold the public purse strings. So it's possible in months to come we will see a spending spree with all sorts of wishes being granted (the new Hockey Arena in Edmonton comes to mind, maybe an injection of cash into long term care beds, etc). No guarantee's, but it's a tried and proven method used by politicians. This would be a fiscal disaster for a province planning a deficit already, on a budget that allows for revenues to swing up to 20% either way!
But (sadly, there's always a but), the bigger issue with the Wildrose Party is simple, they have no experience. The party came to life in 2007, just a scant 5 years ago. The party leader, Danielle Smith does not even hold a seat in the legislature. She has never served in government, her prior experience was as in media and working for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Now none of this is necessarily bad as a strong argument could be made that the party and the leader are not "tainted" by years of working within a bureaucracy. But the flip side of the coin is that the province of Alberta operates with an annual budget in the ten's of billions and not particularly a place where you want an individual learning through on the job training.
Last but not least is the fact that they seem to be a little weak on details. A visit to their website finds that while it is chocked full of big bold statements of how poorly the current government is performing and the sweeping changes the Wildrose party will make if elected, there are little if any real details. Hire 1400 teachers, hire 1000 nurses, etc, etc, etc, Now when it comes to where the money comes from they are even more vague. Now trust me on this one, there are few that can claim they want to see a reduction in government spending and waste more than I do, but come on Danielle provide some solid details rather than sweeping statements. Many of the cost saving measures proposed could take years to complete, but you plan to come out of the gate hiring literally thousands of professionals. Also you may want to consider the fact that at present hundreds of nurses are not exactly roaming the streets looking for work.
The bottom line is that after all is said and done I am still not convinced that the Wildrose party is getting my vote in the next election. We just might be better of with the "devil we know", this time around or at least until the alternative has a plan with a bit more meat on the bones.