Ah, sweet memories, when Ontario was the political and fiscal basket case of Canada, justly derided by the West as the guys who were wrecking it for everybody. Remember when Kathleen Wynne paraded into Alberta’s Ledge to lecture Westerners on the environment and was roundly bashed for doing so? Remember when Tim Hudak was reduced to pushing the oil sands as a solution to Ontario’s economic meltdown? Seems like a lifetime ago, but it was less than a single election cycle.
And now, with the 30th Alberta general election finally underway, I’m going to savour my chance to play the part of the smug Easterner as the United (*snort*) Conservative Party gets off to the kind of misfire-ridden start that used to be a hallmark of PC Party of Ontario campaigns of ages past. Allegations of kamikaze campaigns, vote-splitting third party alliances cropping up, resignations of “star” candidates for saying white nationalist things… it’s almost like the same gang of chuckleheads that acted as a gift to Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne have transplanted themselves to Alberta and are wrecking things over there. Oh wait a minute, that bunch HAVE actually transplanted themselves over there. Never mind.
I mean, at least we had the excuse of having to stand up to halfway competent Liberals here in Central Canada. And we could certainly buy the argument that the Motley Miracle of 2015 was just that – a fluke, the voters punishing the Alberta PCs for being arrogant and out of touch (because, let’s be frank, that’s exactly what they were).
But if one lesson can be learned from Ontario’s decade-and-a-half of darkness, it is this: Stop confusing dissent for disloyalty. No one ever will learn that lesson, especially when it’s coming from an Ontarian and aimed at Albertans, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop saying it.
Perhaps the worst aspect of living in a country that appears to be revolution-proof is that the longer a party has been around, the lazier they get. I would argue that the long stretches of incumbency for both the Ontario and Alberta PCs was the thing that kept them in the wilderness for so long. I don’t have to set foot in Alberta to know that before the Jim Prentice-led implosion, the apparatus of the party he led was controlled by a small council of long-time, bought-and-paid-for, do-you-know-who-my-daddy-is hacks who did everything in their power to enforce Unity above all else. I know because that’s the way the pre-Doug Ford PC Party of Ontario operated. It’s probably the way your local provincial affiliate works, too, if you don’t live in either of those provinces.
And when both the Alberta and Ontario PCs were finally booted out of office, it took a very long time to set in. In Ontario. the 2007 campaign was designed on the explicit assumption that the Liberals would be one term wonders. Big mistake. Then, it was assumed that John Tory was the problem. Then, it was assumed that Dalton McGuinty was the problem. Then, it was assumed that Tim Hudak was the problem. But as each of these three men were unceremoniously dumped, the usual gang of idiots continued to fight their war behind the scenes while maintaining a public show of togetherness. The Liberals knew this was a crock, and they took full advantage.
In Alberta, anger over the loss was channeled into a Unite the Right movement, and the quick-and-dirty election of Jason Kenney in Alberta. But recall the Maxime Bernier-endorsed hostile takeover of the party, and the easily avoidable pictures with the Sons of Odin that suggested that the controls weren’t being as manned as carefully as the UCP would have had you believe. If dissent has to be silenced, if a lead foot has to descend from above, if the party looks like it’s playing whack-a-mole, be very afraid. Because this is an election, in case that wasn’t obvious, and there shouldn’t be time to be disloyal.
Because if the NDP ends up repeating in April? Then Ontarians can rest easy as the new Conservative Kings of Canada… until they get lazy and are booted out yet again…
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