Without intention, the question itself was a good one: “Is there anything at all about Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government that you can give them a thumbs-up for?"
Find something positive in that bunch? Doubtful. As someone who proudly spun the positives during Ralph’s Revolution and stood with the P.C. team while the harsh but necessary 1990’s economic turnaround plan was implemented, I long ago accepted the fact that there are virtually no remnants of that era to be found in the party’s current incarnation.
Certainly Ralph’s team was not perfect. There were bad bills and policy reversals. There was the expected handful of wingnuts sitting on the government side of the Legislature. There were the not-so-memorable final couple of years and the eventual inside-job that ended the Klein era.
But as I think back to the people I knew in the P.C. party back then, I find it difficult to believe many of them don’t have issues with the direction of the party. While Redford’s spin doctors and other street-level sheep continue to deny the party’s obvious leap to the left, the proof is in the government’s own pudding.
Laws, when they must be created and implemented, are meant for the safety of the general public. They are not meant to create a specific image for the government. P.C. old-timers see rights-infringing, duplicate laws such as the .05% drunk driving law being passed. They see the government playing the emotion card to justify questionable laws instead of presenting sound reasoning and statistical evidence.
P.C. lifers watch as their hard work of the 1990’s is pissed on by the current generation of their own party.
I know a few of those old-timers and how they feel. They told me loud and clear during the last provincial election: “That ad, the one with those snotty, latte-drinking kids? The ‘Stephen Harper?!’ ad? That did it for me. That commercial was meant to be a campaign ad, but it was actually a public confirmation. The Progressive Conservatives are now a leftwing progressive party.” – 30+ year P.C. member (formerly).
Fiscally speaking, this government is unquestionably big-spending progressives. Consecutive financial holes and draining provincial coffers attests to that. But it’s also the social issues that set the NeoPCs apart from their political ancestors.
True Alberta conservatives would never accept heavy-handed government interference in our daily lives.
Yet Alison Redford led this edition of the provincial Progressive Conservatives to electoral victory last year. Debate continues over the ‘how’ and ‘why’, which has revealed the one positive thing I can say about this government.
The one and only hat tip I can give this crew of double-talking, ethically-challenged progressives is this: they are masters of deception.
They knew the perfect time and the perfect way to turn the tide late in the election campaign, taking the enthusiastic but naïve Wildrose party off guard. They knew how to spin the ridiculous and statistically unsupported .05% DD law into existence. They knew how to sell the ‘bitumen bubble’ concept as a new phenomenon, even though it has been a reality for years.
They knew how to throw just enough strawmen out to an adoring main stream media for public focus to be redirected away from noticing expense accounts of free-spending MLAs and a potential conflict of interest of having the Premier’s sister as a high-ranking AlbertaHealth Services official.
And now, as the province finds itself in the inevitable financial mess that comes with a Progressive government, we are repeatedly assured by the Natural Governing Party that any idea of a provincial sales tax is not on the table. That message has been repeated ad infinitum: No PST.
So Albertans will exhale, safe in the knowledge that we will not be losing one of our pillars of provincial pride. We will continue to be the only province without a provincial tax. Wheew!
But wait for it. The Redford government will keep their word, of course. There will not be a ‘PST’, but something has got to give. The spin will start by selling a similar animal with a different name (Health Care premiums and a Harmonized Sales Tax, anyone?). Then the emotion card will be played against critics.
And the Masters of Deception will once again justify their title.
They’re good at that.