Alberta Election 2015 – Last thoughts before election day

Readers will know that I was a 15 year P.C. M.L.A. and a Cabinet Minister for 7 years in the early years of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government. In fact, I labored hard on behalf of the Party for 29 years, including 6 years before the Party first formed the government. I was first elected in the election that saw the last change of government in Alberta (1971). My leader was that well-known extremist, Peter Lougheed. I am a small ‘p’, small ‘c’ progressive conservative.

Because I am a progressive conservative, I very publicly gave up my membership in the Party in the early years of Mr. Klein’s term as Premier. His tenure was bad for Alberta and began the long decline in the P.C. Party, which culminates in their current situation.

I offer my experience as an insight into some of the issues that Albertans must consider as they decide how to vote on election day.

There are many Alberta voters who are fairly new arrivals in the province. There are many native Alberta voters who were not even alive, or old enough to vote the last time the government changed.   They may not be very familiar with our electoral history.

Fear is being promoted, either fear of the unknown, or fear of inexperience, or fear of extremism. The last refuge of weak campaigns is to argue, “better the devil you know than the unknown.”

In a series of posts, I have dealt with a number of issues in the light of my experience in provincial politics. Certainly, times have changed. Circumstances are quite different today than they were 43 (more or less) years ago. I hold to the conviction that there are some enduring truths about the Alberta community, no matter how much demographics, or technology or campaigning methods change.

Albertans are much more drawn by hope than they are driven by fear. I hope that voters will choose hope and reject the fear-mongers. (Change now, for good.)

Albertans are not gamblers, but they have demonstrated a willingness to move on into new and unknown territory when the status quo is impoverished and offers no reasonable hope of new and worthwhile opportunities. I hope that voters will decide to move on, rather than stick with the status quo, which is tired, unimaginative, beholden to old stories and old friends, entitled, and disrespectful of people. (The P.C. Party — a many-headed hydra)

Any party that forms a government, other than the P.C. Party, will be inexperienced, and their ideas will shift the apparent centre of the political spectrum either to the right (the W.R.P.) or to the left (the N.D.P.) The question is, should voters fear new and untested parties?  The answer is “no”. Alberta has historic experience (three) with new and untested parties, and the experience has been universally successful, to the extent that all three parties were re-elected after their initial victory. My own experience validates this contention. The P.C. Party won six seats in the 1967 provincial general election, and formed the government following the next (1971) election, with 49 seats. The vast majority of the first Lougheed government had no legislative experience, and no one had Cabinet experience. Many scholars would say that government was one of the most innovative and effective governments of any province at any time.

Should Albertans fear extremism? Certainly, but, in my experience, neither the N.D.P. nor the W.R.P. is ‘extreme’. Shifting the apparent centre of the political spectrum does not represent ‘extremism’. Following the election, I expect every party that aspires to being ‘mainstream’ will work very hard to occupy the middle ground. The majority of Albertans occupy middle ground, and it is clearly the case that all parties are trying to occupy just that ground, even when charges of extremism are being made.

Based on my own political experience, I would say that – more than anything else — this election is about character and trust. The P.C. Party is corrupt and the campaign has demonstrated that the corruption is so pervasive and so deeply ingrained that it is beyond the capacity of any Leader — even a Paramount Leader – to heal. As Premier, Mr. Prentice determined how much time to give himself to overcome the corruption. When he decided to call an election he could have given himself 15 more months to remake the Party, discipline its arrogance and sense of entitlement, and imbue it with a sense of servant leadership. It is Mr. Prentice alone who decided that “this is as good as it gets” when it comes to the character and performance of the P.C. Party. It is Mr. Prentice alone who decided that he couldn’t do any better on behalf of Albertans by taking any more time to revitalize the P.C. Party.

On May 5th, Albertans have the opportunity to remind every candidate, of every party that character is still vitally important in politics, more important than any particular policy or plank. Albertans will be pleasantly surprised by what a vote for character can accomplish.


Next: one last Alberta election post, about what might happen after the election.


  1. This is a follow up to David King’s refreshing earlier writing that change is okay, either right or left, in the face of corrupt government and Alberta has found that complete change in spite of fear mongering has led to refreshingly innovative government which always had the new government being returned to power at the next election…

  2. “His tenure was bad for Alberta and began the long decline in the P.C. Party, which culminates in their current situation.”

    70+ MLA’s and you call it a decline?

    ALSO we are paying for YOUR 29 years of disservice to the PC party.

    Nice attempt to submarine a party that helped you put bread on table for all of those years.
    Ship is not even going down yet and rats who left years ago are still saying they were right to abandon. LOL!

  3. Good thoughts to vote anything but PC on 5 May.

  4. Interesting to see a poster on this blog comparing NDP’s Rachael Notley.with past conservative leader Peter Lougheed. In my opinion, they occupy completely different territory on the political spectrum. The NDP leader of that era, Tommy Douglas, was under continual surveillance by the RCMP due to strong connections/involvement with the Communist Party. Far left socialism is a long way from the centre or centre-right. Is that where we are headed? Yikes!

  5. The more I read the platform of the Alberta NDP, the more I hear the voice of Mr. Lougheed, while the Prentice PCs have turned their backs on him.
    1. Behave like an owner:
    Peter Lougheed said: “You have to look at oil and natural gas as a depleting and declining resource. And you have to manage the resource and that means to manage it with good public policy,”
    Rachel Notley says: “Through these policies, we’ll protect important services by planning ahead for oil downturns and reducing Alberta’s over-reliance on high oil and gas prices. Through these policies, we’ll implement competitive, realistic royalty rates as prices rise, to ensure full and fair value for Albertans as the owners of the resources.”
    2. Collect your fair share:
    Peter Lougheed: Smart owners don’t give away oil or any other depletable resource. Lougheed thought that low royalties were not only bad for the owner but encouraged Big Oil to be fat and complacent.
    Rachel Notley: We’ll establish a Resource Owners’ Rights Commission to report to the new Premier and the Legislature within six months on measures to promote greater processing of Alberta’s energy resources, and to ensure a full and fair return to the people of Alberta for their energy resources. We’ll act on recommendations within the first year of the next term of the Legislature.
    3. Save for a rainy day:
    Peter Lougheed: In the 1970s Lougheed, a long-term thinker, established one of the world’s first sovereign funds or rainy day accounts. Given the finite nature of oil and gas, he believed in saving at least 30 per cent of the wealth for the inevitable economic deluge.
    Rachel Notley: 100% of incremental royalty revenue, above the sums earned by Alberta under the current regime, will be invested into Alberta’s Heritage Fund – an important first step to achieving the original vision for this fund.
    4. Add value:
    Peter Lougheed: “I think we should be processing the bitumen from the Alberta oil sands within Alberta and creating the jobs east of Edmonton and in that area there,” he recently told Policy Options. “And I think that would be, from a political and from an economic point of view, the right public policy for Alberta.” Lougheed said “no” to Keystone XL and “yes” to value-added upgrading in Alberta.
    Rachel Notley: Rachel Notley says her party would encourage more oil refining in the province if it wins power in the Alberta election. Notley says the NDP would establish a commission to recommend a royalty structure to reward companies that add value to the oil rather than shipping it out raw to be refined somewhere else. The commission would report within six months. Notley says government studies have shown upgrading oil in Alberta could create 16,000 direct and spin-off jobs and generate $400 million in corporate income taxes.
    5. Practice statecraft:
    Peter Lougheed: Lougheed believed in competent government and a smart civil service and for good reason. Sitting on a pile of hydrocarbons has never made a people smart. A lucky resource owner not only needed good accountants and reliable scientists, but a capable political class that could monitor and regulate the resource developers over time. He believed that natural resources should be managed with good public policy and created the Alberta Energy Company and Alberta’s petrochemical industry as vehicles for job creation and economic growth.
    Rachel Notley:We will ban both corporate and union donations to political parties. We will make infrastructure decisions and priorities transparent with a public “infrastructure sunshine list,” so that funding goes to build the most important projects rather than to promote the political fortunes of the PCs. We will strengthen the Conflict of Interest Act to prevent MLAs from using their position to benefit their own financial interests or that of political friends, and to strengthen cooling-off periods for former political staff. We will also expand the application of the Act to apply to all senior staff of all of our province’s agencies, boards and commissions. We will amend the Elections Act to prohibit MLAs from using government resources during elections and we will ensure the Chief Electoral officer can effectively investigate breaches of the Act. We will extend the sunshine list to include our province’s agencies, boards and commissions. We will respect the independence of all-party committees, and will work to respect and maintain the independence and adequate funding of the Officers of the Legislature, such as the Auditor General.
    6. Take care of Albertans:
    Peter Lougheed: Lougheed worried that the Alberta government let oilsands development get ahead of infrastructure and was paying the price in crumbling highways and crowded schools and hospitals.
    Rachel Notley: We will ensure a stable and secure budget for health care services. We will reverse the reckless Prentice cuts to front line health services and ensure stable, predictable funding for acute care in our hospitals, so that you and your family get proper, timely care. We will not proceed with Mr. Prentice’s proposed reorganization of our province’s health system. We will use less disruptive ways to ensure regional health care needs are heard and addressed. We will eliminate the PCs’ proposed health care levy, replacing it with a more progressive income tax for the top 10% of tax filers in Alberta, and fairer corporate taxes.

    If you’re someone that votes PC because of Mr. Lougheed and his legacy, perhaps its time to take a closer look at Alberta’s NDP.


    I am old enough to remember Peter Lougheed. He was the best Premier Alberta had bar none. Totally agree with you on Ralph Klein. He turned our province’s vibrant economy into a neoliberal dogmatic austerity-driven-cutting fiasco. Alberta is still suffering from what he did.

    I have voted conservative all of my life and my first vote in my young adult life after I graduated in 1970 was for Lougheed. I have totally been driven away from both the federal and the provincial conservatives and know many people who are not voting PC this time as well. I hope Albertans will vote with their hearts for change and not be driven by their fears.

    Looking forward to reading some of your other posts.

  7. Wow you are part of the problem. You have no experience. Redford as everybody knew during her time as Justice minister was the most liberal. She was a setup to make the PC’s look bad. I am tired of liberal media bias. They are repiorting on trivial issues and pointing all fingers at PC’s. I vote on party platform. All politicians, just look at Ontario’s recent loss of thousands of jobs due to expensive alternative energy policy based on false resesrch.

    Alberta will recover. We work the hardest and yes there are issues but the media is liberal and i would love to see the financials of all three parties. I vote platform first. I am Albertan. Media will not change my mind.

  8. Being a small ‘c’ conservative, there are only two choices for me. The ‘Devil we know’ is turning over our infrastructure to big corporations and big money men. Not, I repeat NOT a good idea. Our utilities were given to ‘friends’ in a most deceitful manner. Klein arranged to let the ‘new owners’ charge exorbitant rates – then subsidized those bills with our own TAXPAYER money! The trend continues with ‘Public Private Partnerships’. We pay to aid more corporate take-overs. Huge, unnecessary power lines drive families out of their homes; again, we pay to benefit Warren Buffet who now has ‘ownership’ of those lines and will collect for every drop of power that flows through them! Wakie, wakie! The Wildrose party, under the leadership of Brian Jean is, in my opinion, the only option. Basic conservatism with fresh, new honesty. I can’t afford the others.

  9. I’m always amazed at people who will chose a ‘smooth talker’ over a very capable and intelligent leader. I can’t afford the Prentice tax plan, so I shudder to think what would be in store for us if the NDP takes the reins. I believe the Wildrose, under the leadership of Brian Jean, is the only way to escape provincial sales tax and unreal tax/fee hikes in every area. Socialism/Communism is the best way to get everyone to just give up. If one can’t get ahead by working hard, what’s the point? If we have so many people in Alberta now who are just looking for a handout – well, I guess we’ll get what we deserve.

  10. Thanks for sharing, you present great and pragmatic insight, and from a position of experience so very few can.

    I have no interest in promoting one way or another truly I am a proponent of people making a democratic statement based on ideals not an apathetic one based on emotion.

    Decline your votes if need be, but PLEASE don’t stay home.

    As the election day approaches i have great faith that change is under way. ALL parties show some great character we haven’t seen before. Even the PC’s have surprisingly STRONG character people that they couldn’t attract under other leadership. The NDP have an impressive leader and are finally a real threat to Albertan’s tired out political habits; and the Wildrose have grown up into a legitimate fresh alternative option for the right! We will all see hope realized in the coming months regardless of who has the most seats.

  11. David
    Well done. Perhaps hope will trump fear this time.

  12. Well said Mr King. The PC party has drifted so far from its original principles that Peter Lougheed would have a hard recognizing, let alone supporting, the party he founded.

  13. Above and beyond all existing issues, most grave is the future which begins and ends with our legacies, the children. Let’s not forget, the Alberta PC Government that has ruled for the past 44 years is the same Party which hid the deaths of hundreds of children. The current – known – toll of lost lives rests at 774.

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