It is interesting how politics can polarize a province.
This latest provincial election has brought out much heated debate from both sides, and enough sour grapes for four years’ worth of vinegar.
Who is right? Who is wrong? Time will tell.
One observation I can make with a certain amount of confidence is that the doomsday predictors telling us to look one province to the east for all we need to know about a New Democrat Party operation, are a misguided lot.
I say this, not as any kind of political expert, but as someone who pays close attention to the political sphere in Alberta; at least, closer attention than the vast majority of British Columbians – political junkies notwithstanding.
I was born and raised in Alberta. Most of my family and friends still live in that province. So, I have more than a fleeting interest in its economic state.
And for those of you crying that our economy is about to take a nose-dive, a la Alberta, the good news is, Alberta’s woes had nothing to do with NDP party policy.
The fact is, unlike the situation in Alberta in 2015, the new BC government is inheriting a relatively stable economy. (Actually, to steal Christy Clark’s own words “the strongest economy in the country.”)
Rachel Notley inherited a mess. She was handed the keys to a province on the verge of collapse.
The price of (Canadian) crude when she took over had dropped from $86/barrel to $51/per barrel in the previous year (source economicdashboard.alberta.ca/OilPrice). By the end of 2015, the price had hit a low of $16.30.
Of course, the obvious issue there is Alberta relied so heavily on the productivity of one asset: oil.
Can’t blame Notley for that.
Has she incurred debt? Of course she has. No party wouldn’t. But she’s doing so by building infrastructure, and attempting to diversify the economy.
In the meantime, the right-wingers are calling her an “energy demon” and “anti-oil leader,” conveniently forgetting that in the two years since she has taken power, she has created conditions that allowed the federal government to approve two pipelines. Of course, what happens with the Trans Mountain Pipeline now, in light of our own election results, has yet to be worked out, but that’s fodder for another column, at another time.
Here’s what I do know about the state of affairs in Alberta.
As I previously stated, I have many connections in the Wild Rose province. I know dozens of friends and family who are self-employed, hundreds more who work for others. They are all still working.
Conversely, I know many British Columbians who are without work, in Alberta, since that province’s collapse.
Many of these British Columbians are now back at home, complaining about how the Alberta government has done them wrong. Many of these British Columbians are also screaming foul right now for the way the BC election has turned out… and that we are heading down the same road.
Odd, isn’t it, that those so quick to point out Alberta’s flaws, see nothing hypocritical about criticizing an Alberta government for their own loss of employment. They defend a Liberal government for its “great economy” and how the NDP is about to ruin that.
If the Liberal government’s plan was so good, why did you have to go to Alberta for work?
The majority of British Columbians wanted change, and we will get change. Whether or not it is for the better, we will have to see. But one thing I do know; what Rachel Notley has done with Alberta in the two years since inheriting that mess should not be anything to fear.
In fact, on Monday, the Conference Board of Canada (www.conferenceboard.ca/) predicted Alberta would lead economic growth in Canada in 2017, and maintain that lofty perch through 2018.
If that’s what an NDP government can bring to British Columbia, shouldn’t we be happy to be jumping on the bandwagon at the appropriate time?
Terry Farrell is the editor at the Comox Valley Record