Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Alberta NDP's Victory

The forty-year rule of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives was ended by a stunning majority government victory of the Alberta New Democratic Party. This National Post editorial provides a very serviceable summary of the reasons behind this historic event

My advice to the Alberta NDP is to just do exactly what you want to do. Don't be like the Ontario NDP under Bob Rae, and decide that the criticisms of the right-wing dullards, liars and con-men are genuine, and that it's best if you sabotage yourselves and betray your political base to try to build some broader political base out of your "pragmatism."

In the words of that great social-democrat, Dick Cheney; "Deficits don't matter."

Just do what you want to do. Provide the "change" that Albertans were obviously hoping for. 

A little bit of history. When oil prices went through the roof in the 1970s, Alberta profited, but the rest of the country did not. Manufacturing was much more important to Canada's economy than it is now, and it was devastated. When Trudeau implemented the National Energy Program, which included manipulating the foreign price of Canadian oil, founding PetroCanada as a publicly-owned oil company to give Ottawa an insider's view on oil industry realities, and mandating Canadian-content in new oil exploration deals, he did so at a time when the Federal Reserve in Washington D.C. led the world in pursuing Friedmanite high-interest rates in the face of a second round of oil industry price rises in 1979-1980.

In other words, they pursued deliberate recessions, caused by high interest rates, to kill the economy and nip further inflationary pressures in the bud. At the same time, new sources of petroleum (discovered during the high prices era of the 1970s) came on stream, further depressing oil prices. The oil sector around the world was devastated. But right-wing shills in Canada were able to blame Alberta's woes entirely on the NEP. The lesson supposedly learned was to never, never, never, do anything to offend the tender sensibilities of the US-based owners of Alberta's oil industry. Don't increase royalties. Don't impose regulations on them. Don't insist on domestic ownership. Any attempt to impose greater Canadian control was compared to killing the goose that laid the golden eggs.

After the NEP was destroyed, and oil prices bounced back, Canadian federal governments pretty much left the Alberta oil industry alone. Alberta was solidly Conservative (at least so much as first-past-the-post elections went) and the Liberal name was mud. Then, along came stephen harper, a complete, shameless shill for the oil sector, who lavished devotion upon Alberta to make Canada an "energy superpower." Decades of environmental reforms were gutted. The RCMP and CSIS became free security guards for the Tar Sands. Bay Street and Calgary were the only people harper cared about. Everyone else could go fuck themselves.

This latter sentiment wasn't expressed outright. The rubes were being told, as usual, that Muslims, homosexuals, the unemployed, the unions, the feminists, the environmentalists, were what were causing their woes. In tried and true "conservative" fashion, scapegoating was elevated to the level of public policy and, in tried and true "conservative" voting behaviour, they lapped it up.

But then, oil prices fell. And fell. And fell s'more. The brilliant idea to put all of Canada's eggs in one fragile basket was revealed for the stupidity that it was. In Alberta, the corruption, the arrogance, the intellectual bankruptcy was made blindingly evident to everyone. (Read the National Post summary linked above.)

I actually see this as part of an international phenomenon. The Arab Spring (against corruption, austerity and failure), the fight-back against banksterism in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. The Occupy Movement and the populist grievances of the confused, racist Tea-Party in the USA. The anti-Austerity movement in Quebec. More and more people are aware of the totally different results obtained by Norway, who stood up to the oil industry and said "Do you want to get rich off our our resource? Well, you have to do it on our terms." and they compare that with the dismal results from simply kissing oil executives' asses, and they think that a new way of thinking is possible.

And, obviously, this does not bode well for stephen "shit-head, weeping and wailing in the closet, befouled in his own excrement" harper. his one trick, ... pumping the Tar Sands ... has failed. his hyping of terrorism isn't paying the dividends that it used to. Canadians remember his massive abuse of Canadians trying to be workers with his Temporary Foreign Workers Program. And, things being the way they are, ... right-wing politicians are the sleaziest, scuzziest, most hypocritical slime-balls of the entire political class. It goes with the territory that makes them choose the policies they do. They're grifters. harper's gang of scum and fraudsters have been doing fine work of alienating voters.

They only have their shameless talent for election fraud to save them now.

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