Election and fallout a sore point for 2012
Talk about your big letdowns. One of the most exciting news stories in 2012 circled around a heated spring election race. The talk of an up-and-coming Wildrose party forming government breathed life into what had become an extremely dull political scene, dominated by one party.
It was a major shock when the Progressive Conservatives ended up sweeping the vote yet again in the April election for its 12th majority government. As Wildrose leader Danielle Smith said on election night, it was a sign that “change might take a little longer than we thought.” Meanwhile, Premier Alison Redford effused that Albertans made a choice between putting up walls or building bridges, saying, “Tonight, Alberta chose to build bridges.”
Although it made for a good sound bite, in retrospect, Redford’s comment seems virtually meaningless. What bridges, exactly, have the PCs made? What exactly have the PCs done but shown every indication that they will continue to run massive deficit budgets without a clear plan to get back in the black except for a wing and a prayer on outside forces? Meanwhile, doctors and teachers are not getting much joy in their contract negotiations and the government can’t even fix the ridiculous situation of the new bathing policy in long-term care facilities which sees seniors getting only one bath a week.
When the PCs put out their February budget, projecting an $886 million deficit, they were criticized for being too optimistic in their forecast for natural resource prices. They vehemently denied these charges but ended up eating crow, as mid-way through the year, had to revise the deficit projection to $2.5 to $3 billion, blaming the economy and slumping oil prices.
The PC government wants to have its cake and eat it too. It wants to straddle as much of the political spectrum as it can – not making big cuts to infrastructure or social spending while refusing to raise taxes or change the tax structure. This is fine, as long as oil and gas prices remain high, but of course, it’s hard to plan around this volatile factor. The other hope is for a pipeline project like Northern Gateway to get the green light, and while it’s true that Alberta needs more than one consumer for its product, this is not a likely possibility in the short-term.
People who voted PC in the last election need to consider what it means to have a government with its head buried in the sand. The future of the province depends on much better management than we are seeing now.
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