Rachel Notley won 40% of Albertan votes in 2015 and steered the government through a tumultuous economy and a disastrous fire. That being said, there is simply no ignoring that Alberta is a province that supports energy development and centre-right governance. In turn, the policies of the Notley government have simply not been working for Alberta and do not bode well for the future of its economy.
As a result of stalled pipeline development, Calgary and Edmonton have two of the highest unemployment rates compared to other major Canadian cities.
Many blamed the NDP election victory on a fractured conservative movement, which appeared as if it had torn itself apart. In fact, It even looks like there is some danger that they could return to those days once the election is over, regardless of the result.
In the meantime though, Kenney has shown that he can bring together a grand coalition which has supported repeat conservative governments and successful economic times in Alberta. This was a feat that required true leadership, and one that many thought impossible or very close to it. The grand schism which had occurred between the Wildrose and the PCs was not one that was easily reconciled.
This makes him the only clear contender even with other conservative parties in the race, such as the Freedom Conservatives and the Alberta Party, both of which pose much more of an electoral threat than the usual “fringe parties” in Canadian politics.
Although controversy prevented the UCP campaign from becoming complacent, the overall message put forward by the campaign gets to the heart of Alberta’s problems far more than any other party. The muckraking was only natural against such a formidable political opponent.
But the need for such muckraking was also at least partially created by the NDP. The province cannot continue to add regulations while also getting itself into debt and leaving their people without jobs, all the while continuing to support other provinces.
The perceived downturn, real or otherwise, could cause serious problems not just in Alberta, but nationwide. Recently we have seen polls showing more and more Albertans support separation from Canada, with some finding Alberta supporting separation more than any other province in the country.
If sustained over a period of time, such sentiments can have real negative consequences to our country beyond the mere impractical threat of actual secession. Their likely cause is the extreme feeling of exclusion many in the province feel while being governed by the NDP provincially and the Liberals federally.
To put it simply: there are too many Albertans who are alienated, struggling to get by, and feeling abandoned by Ottawa. Another term with Rachel Notley at the helm, and Canadians could face another sovereignty referendum, this time in the West.
For the sake of national unity, Kenney’s measured conservative movement is the only option.
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