Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach become pundits. Watching the Globe and Mail editorial board contort themselves into pretzels to explain their reasoning as to why Jim Prentice should be re-elected in Alberta was amusing if nothing else. Yes, the party has been in power for 44 years — a “bad thing” for democracy. Yes, the conservatives monumentally mismanaged the provincial finances for over ten years. Yes, there had been scandals but Jim Prentice wasn’t to blame. After all, he’d been in a corporate boardroom in Toronto for five years — probably in sight of the Globe offices. He had been collecting his million dollar salary while dreaming of riding into the west like a white knight (or cowboy). You’d think his bosses might have demanded a little more attention to the job at hand.
When I read things like that, all I can say is that I’m glad they’re running a newspaper rather than a province or a country. And how is that newspaper game going anyway?
The flip side of the argument is that the possible alternatives are worse. The Wildrose is a hollow shell and in disarray after the mass defections. It was the political equivalent of the ‘The Walking Dead’ — a bunch of zombies living in a fantasy land of confused policy options.
On the other hand, Notley and the NDP, while having a good leader, has no bench strength. Not one person of any calibre was running for the party — though no evidence of that was given. Personally, I can’t name a single other NDP candidate (except Joe Ceci) but that could be because I haven’t lived in Alberta for 13 years. Still, I find it hard to imagine that they are all duds. Or worse than the current duds (only two of which I can name).
Let’s go back a few years, shall we? When Brian Mulroney was elected in 1984, the Conservatives had been out of power for 21 years (not counting the 9 month run of Joe Clark). Most of their MPs were rookies or lifers. The flesh was thin on the bone — to keep the zombie metaphor going. Do you recall how many of Mulroney’s Cabinet Ministers had to resign or be replaced? Do you remember that his government gave birth to the Bloc Quebecois and brought Lucien Bouchard to prominence? Well, even if the Globe and Mail forgets, I don’t.
But do you suppose for one minute the G&M would say that Brian was a bad PM or that the PCs of the time weren’t ready for prime time. Because that would be silly, right? Oh, and by the way, has the Globe ever noted that most of the federal Cabinet actually learned on the job, staggering around Parliament with the forlorn cry of “Braaiiiinnnnssss” on their lips. Most of them, in fact, never had a real job before politics — I doubt you can say that about the majority of the NDP running in Alberta.
Clearly the Globe’s vision is obscured by the vast distance between them and Alberta (or perhaps by the smog over downtown Toronto). But they are right about two things. Forty four years is too long for any party to rule. Fresh blood is soon diluted in the culture of entitlement and arrogance. Prentice would no more be able to change it than Stelmach or Redford and would soon be part of the problem. And the Wildrose is no alternative.
Will a Notley government make mistakes? Probably. But at least they will be fresh mistakes made from innocence and excessive exuberance, not the tired cynical mistakes of a tired old party. And Alberta will survive. After all, they survived Don Getty.
And that’s a bit more than ten minutes.