A Red Tory Victory in Alberta!

Well, go figure. Who would have thought that a resurgence of the “Red Tory” political brand would occur in, of all places, Alberta? For weeks now, right-wing pundits across the land have been viciously excoriating the Alberta PCs for being “Red Tories” and for having drifted so far to the left in recent years as to have become a supposedly oppressive Liberal government in all but name – something that would surely result in them being, as Ezra Levant confidently predicted last week, decisively “crushed” in yesterday’s election.

Ah, but as things turned out, clearly not so.

It seems that Levant (his pre-election blog archive now makes for even more hilarious reading/viewing in retrospect) and other perpetually indignant tub-thumpers of the right-wing media elite utterly failed to appreciate the evolving dynamic of the Alberta electorate; especially that of the province’s increasingly diverse urban demographic which evidently has little regard for a collection of hateful bigots, witless hayseeds, ignorant cranks, anti-science crackpots, and religious kooks masquerading as “libertarians”…

19 Replies to “A Red Tory Victory in Alberta!”

  1. First we take back Alberta, next we take back the corporatist/neoliberal entity known as the federal Conservative party.

    Ya, just a dream. Even so, I’m proud of Alberta today for rediscovering Lougheed Toryism, versus the firewall-sectarianism of Social Credit.

  2. I have to admit to being surprised as hell hearing the results on the radio first thing this morning (now I wish I’d watched the live coverage on Sun TV, just to see Ezra going into full melt-down and furious spin mode). The outcome was definitely a rebuke, but not an outright repudiation. That said, Redford has a lot of work to do now cleaning house and gutting the rot of cronyism and corruption in her government

  3. There is a pattern of sorts here ….

    Pretty much all of the PC-won ridings are affluent and connected to the modern Alberta economy centred around Bitumen and Oil extraction and related Head Offices and Sevices and Tourism. And large urban areas.

    Most of the Wildrose wins are localised in regions that are relatively depressed – Natural Gas Centres, Wind Power Centres, Old Alberta Manufacturing and Agricultrual Hubs. These regions have been struggling in comparison to the Edmonton-Calgary corridor, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Banff and Jasper regions over the last half-decade.

    Contrary to popular belief, there are two Albertas. Now, times are not as tough in these areas as they would be in the GTA, Windsor, Niagara, and the areas from London south to Detroit, but the new affluence of Alberta is not generally found in areas that produce Agricultural Products, Wind Power, non-Oil related Manufactured Goods, and Natural Gas extraction and production. Non-Oil Commodity Prices and the high Canadian Dollar are not good for these regions.

  4. ATY: Economic disparity between regions may have played a role in the way the vote split, but I’m more inclined to believe the division is mostly the result of cultural factors separating rural from urban voters. Much the same phenomenon exists here in Manitoba where the NDP pretty much sweeps all of the ridings in and around Winnipeg (where 75% of the people live) while virtually all the smaller communities and regions (with the exception of those that are predominantly non-white) outside the city go Conservative.

  5. You also have to understand how ubiquitous US Media and Cultural Influences are in Rural Alberta – where many Southern and Eastern Albertans watch a lot of television from the Mountain States, and attend conventions and conferences in those States. Urban Alberta is more like the rest of Urban Canada in such matters.

  6. ATY: That’s much the case anyplace in Canada. Where I grew up, broadcast news and TV programming from Seattle and Bellingham was considered “local”… when I lived in Alberta it came from Spokane… and in Windsor the “local” broadcasts on basic cable came from Detroit. Here in Winnipeg, you can get the news from North Dakota, Minnesota and Chicago. So that’s not really a decisive factor, imho.

  7. Yes, but there is much more media diversity in Urban Centres. I have travelled to all of these places on business. They suffer from the lack of infomational diversity.

  8. Perhaps you’re correct, although I’d think that in this day and age it doesn’t matter much where one lives in terms of being exposed to a wide range of media and information.

    I’m more inclined to chalk up the stark difference in attitudes to the experience of actually living in a rural or urban environment. In the country there may not be that much need of government, but in the city it’s essential to making things function effectively.

  9. Being successful has attracted lots of people to the province from outside. There are a lot of Europeans here and to us every single party here is right wing with the possible exception of the NDP who is centrist. A lot of recent European arrivals stare in amazement when the long time inhabitants call Redford a leftie or progressive. Couple the European immigrants with those from Central/South America and Asia and extreme politics are not just an idea, but a memory and the religious and racist extremism is worrying.
    Alberta is becoming more urban, but it is also full of folk who understand what extremism can lead to and what it looks like.
    Alberta’s success is leading to a more cosmopolitan population that can’t for the life of them understand what the long term Albertans are ranting on about.

  10. Aeneas at 9:50 FTW.

    I’ll add that there were opportunities for other opposition parties to appeal to disgruntled Albertans outside of the megalopoles. But they were too busy competing against the Big Money to scrounge a few extra supposedly sophisticated urban voters.

  11. Sorry to double-post, but something else just occurred to me.

    Why should Redford clean up the corruption of long-established hegemony? She stumbled on her winning formula: exploit urban self-styled sophisticates cultural and ethnic fears of “rednecks” to get them to keep on voting for her brand of lesser evil.

    All she has to do is pronounce her toleration of body piercings once every four years. Meanwhile, waste and corruption as usual. The tar sands won’t run out in her lifetime, so why should Redford worry?

  12. She’s still much more preferable to the knuckle-draggers of the WRP.

    This is true, but for those of us who live here, it was a choice between the Bad Party and the Really Awful, No-Good, Christ-Forbid Party.

    Oh well. At least Ted Morton lost his seat.

  13. I live in Edmonton. The PCs here are okay. They machine has lots of corrupt parts to be sure. If they can find a way to raise the Royalty on Oil and Gas without fearing the Energy TNCs, then we may be able to make more of this Province. The Oil Price is high enough now that raising the Royalty will not risk divestment. It’s time the Provincial Government has the balls to see this fact.

  14. As much as looks like Red Toryism, I would have to remind myself that this is relative to the the likes of the Wild Rose. Next to them, the Alberta Liberals look like Marxists. And remember, this is still the same moderately corrupt, Conservative dynasty that bathed in Neo-Consveratism for such a long time that their entrenchment is entirely owed to it along with Ottawa wariness and anti-Eastern demagoguery. I have trouble believing that Redford is really a signalling of shifting towards a Red Toryism that would be analogous to what was witnessed east of Manitoba. The historical record has shown consistently that Western manifestation of political power in counterpoint to Ontario and beyond have always been in vivo irrespective of whatever external influence. In this case, the changing demographics and cosmopolitanism from “new Albertans” may as well be a case of cum hoc ergo propter hoc .

    If Redford ever dared to soften the regionalistic populism and heeled her stance against the federal government in a bid to enjoin herself to more pan-Canadian and decidedly Confederation sensibilities, those affluent centers would abandon her as fast as you can say “John Galt.” The extent at which Redford channels Red Toryism through robust communitarian forays like providing robust public services is entirely calibrated by the permeating consciousness of so-called “enlightened” self-interest that has underpinned Alberta socio-politics for so long since Lougheed and well before urban centers underwent their transformations. In that context, those urban centers most likely transformed with that pre-existing politco-cultural condition as a shaping factor. Thus, the upper limit of Red Toryism is most likely lower than what is being envisioned, since the overton window has shifted so considerably. I just cannot see a return to Lougheed’s brand of Red Toryism. And it is not like the Wildrose were really as grass roots and anti-establishment as once claimed. After all, their operatives were originally establishment political operatives familiar with incumbency, and now, they are trying to raise the Wildrose to a status of incumbency they once enjoyed.

  15. Roland: All she has to do is pronounce her toleration of body piercings once every four years. Meanwhile, waste and corruption as usual. The tar sands won’t run out in her lifetime, so why should Redford worry?

    If we agree that Alberta voters are far more sophisticated than are often considered as being by some elitist snobs and knee-jerk leftists, then your formula for future electoral success is beyond ridiculous. The PCs were rebuked by the electorate, make no mistake about it… if they don’t clean house and address the waste and rotten corruption in the government, then there’s a new broom in the form of the Wildrose party just waiting to eagerly sweep them away. Both the PCs and the Wildrose now have to prove themselves worthy during the next term and it won’t be decided on their “toleration of body piercings” or other such trivial nonsense…

  16. @harebell

    “Alberta’s success is leading to a more cosmopolitan population that can’t for the life of them understand what the long term Albertans are ranting on about.”

    How do you think Alberta became so successful?

    In other words, “Alberta’s a fantastic place, it just needs fixing.”

    It’s a bit confounding to have people state that they were attracted to Alberta because it was so successful but then turn around and say they don’t understand or agree with the politics of the place. Alberta has been successful because of it’s politics and moving away from these politics will limit Alberta’s future success. Already, Saskatchewan–that has a true, right-wing government–is pulling away from Alberta in economic growth, and will continue to do so, unless Alberta goes back to its conservative roots.

    “Couple the European immigrants with those from Central/South America and Asia and extreme politics are not just an idea, but a memory and the religious and racist extremism is worrying.”

    The politics of the Alberta right-wing parties are a far cry from the “extreme politics” in the regions you reference. If the European (and other) immigrants have such a great handle on politics, why are they fleeing (i.e. emigrating) from their own countries to Alberta?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: