Alberta Politics

2015 Person of the Year

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Person of the Year | Leave a comment

Every December, I name a “Person of the Year” – the individual who left their mark on Canadian politics over the past year, for good or for bad. This isn’t an award for the best or the most admirable politician – it’s someone who had an impact.

Below is a list of recent choices:

2014: Kathleen Wynne
2013: Rob Ford & Naheed Nenshi
2012: Allison Redford
2011: Jack Layton
2010: Rob Ford & Naheed Nenshi
2009: Jim Flaherty
2008: Stephane Dion
2007: Jean Charest
2006: Michael Ignatieff
2005: Belinda Stronach
2004: Ralph Klein

No matter how you slice it, Justin Trudeau was the star of Canadian politics in 2015, and the man who left the largest mark. That’s a given. His win was historic. He defeated a united Conservative Party and a viable NDP, quintupling the Liberal seat total, and moving them from third to first. Anyone who claims the election wasn’t about Trudeau must have missed the tens of millions of dollars the Conservatives spent over the past few years trying to make the election about him.

But the one rule I have for this yearly post is that the Prime Minister (or in this case, Prime Ministers) is exempt. And given I happen to be working for him, it’s likely best if we just place Justin Trudeau and his team to the side, and look elsewhere for a candidate.

Mike Duffy, Aylan Kurdi, and Zunera Ishaq all had an impact on the political scene, but it’s hard to argue the election turned on the Senate scandal, refugees, or the niqab. Joe Oliver’s budget set the fiscal framework for the balanced budget debate and was a foil for Trudeau’s middle class message. But Oliver was merely the messenger (and not a very good one).

We could go round and round looking at the impact different individuals had on the federal election, but it’s hard to have missed what happened in Alberta earlier this year. Which makes my 2015 person of the year none other than Rachel Notley.

notley

The old joke is “If you don’t like the weather in Alberta, wait 30 minutes. If you don’t like the government, wait 30 years.” So even by those absurdist standards, the PCs were growing long in the tooth.

Alison Redford certainly didn’t help the situation when she expensed a $45,000 flight (plus that damn $25 luggage fee). Exit Redford. Enter Jim Prentice, who soared to a 20-point lead in the polls on the strength of two popular policies:

1. Scrapping an unpopular plan to redesign Alberta license plates.
2. Not being Alison Redford.

When he enticed Danielle Smith to cross the floor, it looked like we were heading for a rout. Funny thing is, for those who believed the PCs had lost their way, enticing Smith to cross the floor did more to re-enforce than dispel that sentiment.

So did a snap election, on the heels of an unpopular budget.

Up to now I’ve been building a stronger case for Jim Prentice as person of the year, by detailing how the PCs defeated themselves. But the PCs had done a fairly good defeating themselves in the lead up to the 2008 and 2012 elections too. The reason they survived is that Kevin Taft and Danielle Smith were not judged as viable alternatives. Rachel Notley was.

Notley won in places where NDP candidates haven’t gotten their deposits back in generations, by presenting a moderate platform. She convincingly sold controversial planks on corporate taxes and the oilsands. She filled change voters with confidence not just that she would bring about change, but that she could handle the job.

Knocking off Canada’s longest serving government is probably enough to make Notley the person of the year, but it’s worth reflecting on what her win did to the federal dynamic. Even though Notley made Tom Mulcair feel about as welcome in Alberta as a Canucks fan during the provincial campaign, the Alberta NDP’s victory vaulted the federal NDP to first in the polls overnight. While this didn’t ultimately usher in a new orange era nationally, it would be curious to peer into an alternate universe where Notley came up short, to see if Mulcair would have taken more risks had he entered the campaign in third rather than first.

Regardless, as a progressive voice in what has traditionally been a conservative province, Notley will certainly be a star on the federal scene for years to come. Her ambitious climate change announcement shows she plans to use her historic win to make history, even if it means taking risks.

It also turns the national debate around pipelines and the environment on its head, making consensus on both these files far more likely than they would have been under a Prentice (or Jean) administration.

Notley’s win completely changed the way the rest of Canada sees Alberta. Along with Don Iveson, Naheed Nenshi, and a quartet of new Liberal MPs, Notley is now the new face of the “new Alberta”. That makes her the face of 2015.

Alberta didn’t change – but its image will

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2015 Alberta Election, Alberta Politics | 8 Comments

alberta plate

The defeat of the PCs seemed unthinkable a few months ago. The notion they could lose to the NDP would have been laughable. But this is how politics in Alberta works. Every 30 or 40 years, a Chinook blows over the mountain and sweeps in a new government who has never before held power. So after a wild couple of years, we can probably all ignore Alberta politics until the middle of the Century (when Stephen Harper’s granddaughter runs for Premier).

Even though the polls foretold an NDP win, Albertans have rightly grown cynical of the polls, so there were still plenty of surprised faces on all sides of the spectrum tonight. Outside Alberta, it won’t just be surprise tomorrow, but consternation over how Alberta could turn orange. With the NDP floundering in Manitoba, it seems likely Alberta will be Canada’s lone socialist province this time next year. The province will stand out like an old man in an orange speedo at a formal ball.

Alberta is used to standing out, but for different reasons. For years, the province cultivated and cherished its reputation as the bad boy of confederation. There were the “Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark!” bumper stickers. Ann Coulter called the province “the good Canadians”. It likely didn’t help that Ralph Klein was the face of Alberta for a decade.

The thing is, that bad boy reputation was always more bluster than reality. Everyone noticed when Calgarians elected a Harvard-educated Muslim as Mayor in 2010 – all the more, because those latte sipping pinkos in Toronto elected Rob Ford a week earlier. Three years later, Edmontonians elected 34-year Don Iveson – Canada’s first openly nerd mayor.

But Edmonton has always been dubbed “Redmonton” for its political leanings, and Nenshi is only the latest in a string of Liberal mayors from Calgary. If you look at the results from the last few provincial elections, you’ll quickly realize Alberta hasn’t been a Conservative monolith since before Calgary hosted the Olympics.

alberta vote

Yes, progressives flocked to the PCs last election, but only because Alison Redford looked and sounded like a progressive. In every other election from the past 30 years, over a third of Albertans have voted for parties on the left.

But that’s always been a more complicated story to tell than the caricature of crazy conservative Alberta which, admittedly, some of our politicians (*cough*Rob Anders*cough*) did not help to dispel.

Similarly, many will simplify the story of tonight to Albertans swinging wildly to the left. While it’s true the province has changed, those changes have been gradual. What really happened in 2015 was Rachel Notley looking like a safe option for change, at a time when voters wanted change. The fact that Notley made Thomas Mulcair feel as welcome in Alberta as a rat (or worse, a Canucks fan) in the dying days of this campaign tells you all you need to know about the strength of the NDP brand. So don’t expect “howdy” to be replaced with “welcome comrade” the next time you land in Calgary.

No, Alberta hasn’t changed. But the perception of Alberta will. Rachel Notley, Naheed Nenshi, and Don Iveson are now the face of the province. The myth of Alberta as a conservative wasteland is dead.

Alberta’s Gilligan’s Island Election

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2015 Alberta Election, Alberta Politics | 1 Comment
Math is difficult. The most difficult math at the moment is figuring out where Prentice finds the 40 seats he needs for a majority.

Math is difficult. The most difficult math at the moment is figuring out where Prentice finds the 40 seats he needs for a majority.

My latest for the Post:

The 2012 clash between Danielle Smith and Alison Redford was an epic battle between two gifted politicians. It was must-see-TV for political junkies. The 2015 campaign? It reads like a script of Gilligan’s Island with bumbling gaffes and nonsensical plot lines. I mean, honestly, the prospect of an NDP government in Alberta seems about as plausible as a coconut phone.

Alberta Politics Explodes

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2015 Alberta Election, Alberta Politics | 10 Comments
Welcome to Wildrose country

Welcome to Wildrose country

A month ago, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek Alberta political primer about Jim Prentice’s inevitable march to a landslide election victory.

So how’s that working out for him?

The Mainstreet Technologies automated phone survey of 3,121 Alberta voters conducted on April 13 shows the Wildrose and NDP in a statistical tie for first place at 31 per cent and 30 per cent support among decided voters, respectively.

The Tories are in third place with 24 per cent, while the Liberals come in at 10 per cent, and the Alberta Party at five per cent in the survey.

I guess that shows why you should never listen to the musings of someone living in Ontario about Alberta politics.

In my defense, when Brian Jean launched his Wildrose leadership bid on February 25th, he didn’t even pretend he had a chance:

“Bluntly, I don’t think it’s one we can win at this stage. It is a rebuilding one but we need in Alberta a strong, solid opposition that can keep the government to account,” Jean, a 52-year-old lawyer and businessman, said with a number of Wildrose candidates standing behind him.

One assumes Jim Prentice felt the same way, or he wouldn’t have broken Alberta’s fixed election date law in his eagerness to go to the polls.

So what on earth happened? How is it that the PCs are now bleeding on both sides?

The orange wave is easier to explain. Here’s the combined Liberal/NDP vote share for the last 6 elections:

2012: 20%
2008: 35%
2004: 40%
2001: 35%
1997: 42%
1993: 51%

Despite the caricature of Alberta as a conservative hegemony, the left regularly collects over a third of the vote. Liberal and NDP voters rallied to Alison Redford to stop the Wildrose last election, but there’s likely a lot of buyers remorse on that front. Prentice has done little for progressive Albertans since taking power, and by showing a deaf ear on the issue of Gay-Straight alliances, he essentially ripped up the “Wildrose are scary bigots” card that Redford played to perfection three years ago. With progressives abandoning the PCs, it’s understandable they would gravitate to the NDP – they have a strong leader in Rachel Notley, while the provincial Liberals are in complete disarray.

The dynamics on the right are more difficult to understand.

The Wildrose looked like a smoldering ruin after Danielle Smith’s defection this fall. They’ve still got money in the bank, and a new leader – but Brian Jean was an unimpressive backbencher, and he’s had little time to introduce himself to voters. With all due respect to Jean, it’s safe to say he’s not responsible for the Wildrose resurgence. Rather, this appears to be driven by anger over a bad news budget that pleased no one.

Given many pollsters wrote PC obituaries three years ago, I haven’t talked to a single person who believes Prentice will lose. The common wisdom is that once Albertans blow off steam over the budget, they’re going to realize they’re electing a government, and neither the Wildrose nor the NDP were even pretending to be ready for government a few weeks ago.

Danielle Smith was someone who sounded like she could run the province. Brian Jean? Not so much. Smith must sob every time a new poll comes out.

But Prentice is now fighting a war on two fronts, with 44 years of baggage on his shoulders and the low price of oil pulling him down. If the last month has taught us anything, it’s that we’d be foolish to make any predictions about how this one will turn out.

A Beginner’s Guide to Alberta Politics II

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics | 7 Comments

nixonprentice
Blogging has been sporadic of late, but with Alberta barrelling towards an election, now is likely a good time for another Alberta Politics FAQ.


When will the next Alberta election be?

Alberta’s fixed-ish election date legislation calls for a vote between March 1st and May 31st, 2016. Prentice, being a true reformer at heart, has said he will respect this.


Really?

Ha ha. No, of course not. Most expect an election call to immediately follow the March 26th budget.

Alberta’s fixed election date law has proven to be about as binding as Alberta’s balanced budget law.


So who’s going to win the election?

The PCs.


Well, yeah, that seems likely, but isn’t there a chance…

No.


But surely if there are a few more “blame Alberta” moments, and…

No. Not one of the opposition parties is even pretending they’re fighting for anything but second place.

This election was over the moment Danielle Smith decided the election wasn’t worth fighting.


So why did Danielle Smith cross the floor?

A year ago, Alison Redford was under fire for spending $45,000 of taxpayer funds for a charter flight back from Nelson Mandela’s funeral (plus $3 for headphones). And because she spent thousands to fly her daughter and friend on government planes. And because she wanted to spend government funds on a private penthouse suite for herself in Edmonton. And because she had her staff create “ghost flyers” so that she wouldn’t have to sit next to the proles on her flights.

It just proves the old saying that governments tend to grow out of touch during their 13th consecutive term in power.

Exit Redford. Enter Prentice.

Prentice quickly announced two popular policies:

1. Scrapping an unpopular plan to redesign Alberta license plates.

2. Not being Alison Redford.

While this gave the PCs a jolt of life, there were still storm clouds on the horizon:

1. Prentice was leading a 43-year old government which had barely escaped defeat two years earlier.

2. With oil prices tanking, he would need to raise taxes or cut services in his first budget.

3. In one of his first leadership tests, he completely bungled the issue of Gay-Straight Alliances in schools. His compromise would have forced teenagers to go to court if a school board said no. His cold “rights are never absolute” response left many irate. “Maybe that should be on the license plate” tweeted Rick Mercer.

By showing a deft ear, Prentice had effectively torn up the “Wildrose are bigots” card he no doubt intended to play during the next election.

But hey, Prentice had an insurmountable 6-point lead in the polls. And he managed to hold 4 PC seats in by-elections. I mean, really, what chance did Danielle Smith have?

So, down by 1 goal in the second period, Danielle Smith concluded the situation was hopeless, and she gave up.


What now for the Wildrose Party?

The Wildrosers will select a new leader on March 28th, at which point they’ll have a day or two to print the signs, draft a platform, record commercials, round out their candidate slate, and find a bus that doesn’t cause us all to giggle.

Three candidates are contesting the leadership:

You may know Drew Barnes as one of the “Wildrose 5″ who did not defect.

You may know Brian Jean as the former backbench CPC MP who sent crossword puzzles about himself to his constituents (what’s a 9-letter word for excessive preoccupation with ones self?).

You may know Linda Osinchuk if you are related to Linda Osinchuk.

Still, even though they are now little more than a fringe group of angry right wingers, the Wildrose Party still said “we’re too good for you, Rob Anders“. Which shows they have higher standards than the federal Conservatives, if nothing else.


And the Liberals?

They’re also leaderless, after Raj Sherman abruptly resigned last month. They won’t be selecting a permanent leader until after the election, but it’s not like they’ve had much success with leaders lately, so why not?


So the opposition parties are all leaderless heading into the election?

You’re forgetting about the NDP, which is understandable. But Rachel Notley is an impressive politician.

Still, the NDP are non-factors outside Edmonton – they failed to crack 4% of the vote in any of the three Calgary by-elections last fall. Those were the same by-elections that caused Danielle Smith to thrown in the towel, and she got 9 times as many votes as the NDP.

And with the divided vote on the left, it’s hard to imagine the NDP taking more than 6 or 7 seats in Edmonton.

Still, that will likely be enough to make Notley leader of the opposition.


Yeah, vote splitting…it doesn’t really make sense for Alberta to have 2 parties to the left of the PCs does it?

Oh, you are not going to like what I have to tell you next.

The divided left has been a problem in Alberta for years. So progressives looked at the situation and reached the only logical conclusion as to what was needed: A third progressive party.

Enter the Alberta Party. After a lot of listening and a lot of tweeting, the Alberta Party earned just 17,172 votes province-wide last election.

So, at least those vote splitting concerns proved unfounded.


Well then, what’s this about Laurie Blakeman working to unite the left?

Last week, Blakeman announced she had been nominated by the Liberals, Alberta Party, and Alberta Greens (yeah, there’s a fourth party on the left) as their candidate in Edmonton Centre.

While I applaud Ms. Blakeman for this step towards uniting the left, this is about as small a step as one could possibly take. Step is likely too strong a word. Maybe inching? It’s barely a new development, as neither the Alberta Party nor the Greens ran against Blakeman last election. In 2008, the two parties earned a combined 514 votes in Edmonton Centre. I guess having their logos on her lit makes for nice symbolism, but this isn’t exactly the Wayne Gretzky endorsement.


So basically you’re saying that with a long time, scandal-plagued government battling an economic collapse, the opposition is leaderless, infective, and divided.

Is Jim Prentice the luckiest guy in the world?

Yes. Yes, he is.


The Wildrose Shrivels

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics | 3 Comments
Prepare to be assimilated - resistance is futile. Danielle Smith joins the Borg.

Prepare to be assimilated – resistance is futile. Danielle Smith joins the Borg.

It’s being spun as a “reconciliation”, but if reports are to be believed, it’s very much the Wildrose rebels crawling back to their former comrades and begging for their political lives. In exchange for blowing up their party, Danielle Smith and a half dozen MLAs will be given seats on the government benches and a Jim Prentice endorsement for their local PC nomination. Added to this are a few token “concessions” to provide cover: No sales tax; A list of infrastructure priorities; A commitment to teaching the “3 Rs” in school. Bold stuff.

I guess once the PCs agreed to keep “Wildrose Country” on the license plate, there really weren’t any big battles left worth fighting.

The great irony is that a party created to give the grassroots a voice is trying to self-immolate in the least grassroots way possible. The McKay-Harper merger may have been negotiated in the backrooms, but it was approved by over 90% of both party memberships. In this instance, Smith and her MLAs have set the house ablaze and run out the back door. Sure, members are welcome to try and rebuild, but the reality is the Wildrose is unlikely to become much more than it was before Smith brought the party to relevance – a few angry men screaming on the fringes.

As the federal unite the right movement showed, there are times when principles must be compromised for the sake of pragmatism. There may have been fundamental differences between the Alliance and PCs, but they recognized the alternative to merger was another decade of Liberal rule. You could accuse them of being in it for power, but it was still power driven by purpose.

Here? Suffice to say, Danielle Smith did not do this to derail the Raj Sherman juggernaut. After all, progressives may be the only group in Alberta more dysfunctional than the Edmonton Oilers. Their solution to the vote split on the left has been to create more parties on the left.

Indeed, while the left had zero chance of winning the next election, the Wildrose were still very much in the game. Polling this fall showed the Wildrose and PCs within a few points of each other, a far cry from the 10-30 point leads Alison Redford enjoyed after taking the leadership. The Wildrose admittedly under-performed in fall by-elections, but the Jim Prentice honeymoon is not going to last forever. There’s an old saying in politics that “time for a change” sentiment really peaks towards the end of a party’s 12th term, and Prentice’s handling of the gay rights debate last week showed he is just as adept at creating problems for himself as his predecessor. With oil prices cratering, the PCs will soon find themselves facing difficult fiscal decisions.

This wasn’t a case of “if you can’t beat them, join ’em”. True, the Alberta PCs are the longest serving government in Canadian history for a reason, but Smith could have won, had she chosen to stay and fight.

She chose not to. Maybe she was tired. Maybe the perks of an eventual Cabinet position were too much to pass up. Regardless of the reason, there’s one inescapable conclusion. When you make as much noise as Smith did about a government being tired and corrupt – and then join them – it’s clear you never really believed in your convictions as much as you claimed to.

In that respect, she’ll be right at home in her new party.

Don Iveson will stand the test of time

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics | Leave a comment
Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor not a politician!

Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor not a politician!

Naheed Nenshi has built a reputation as Canada’s coolest mayor, at least among young progressives. He’s big on the Twitter. He’s hip (by politician standards). He’s funny (by politician standards). He shatters the (unfair) stereotype of Calgary as Canada’s redneck wasteland.

However, Nenshi may have competition from Calgary’s rival city.

While Calgary broke barriers by electing Canada’s first Muslim mayor, Edmonton broke barriers last fall with the election of Don Ivesion – Canada’s first openly Nerd mayor.

I crossed paths with Iveson a few times when I was at the University of Alberta. I remember bumping into him on the bus shortly after he’d been elected to council so I asked him how the job was treating him. He deadpanned a two minute story to set up a West Wing punchline (“Crime. Boy, I don’t know”). That shouldn’t have surprised me from a guy who tweets West Wing quotes, borrows Bartlet campaign tactics, and even played episodes at his campaign office. While this undoubtedly makes him a political nerd, you don’t need Joey Lucas’ polling to tell you everyone who works in politics has given a “Let Bartlet Be Bartlet” speech, or taken a “which west wing character are you” quiz…over and over, until it gave you the answer you wanted (“Will Bailey? That can’t be right. I’m totally a Josh.”).

No, what sets Iveson apart is that he breaks free of political nerd culture, boldly going where few politicians have gone before – into full blown nerd culture. Case in point, from Edmonton’s Comic & Entertainment Expo:

Iveson

Iveson took the opportunity to deliver a speech about the future of the city to a room of people who I would imagine spend a lot more time watching Battlestar Galactica reruns than Power & Politics. By coming in costume and warming up the crowd, he caused ears to perk up on important municipal issues – and not just because many were dressed as vulcans. A few will roll their eyes when they see the pictures, but Iveson instantly connected with hundreds of voters. Consider this the final frontier of micro-targeting.

The lack of a starship on this public transit graph as a glaring omission.

The lack of a starship on this public transit graph was a glaring omission.

This past week, the Mayor was in fine form again, using an analogy from the Civilization computer game to express the need for infrastructure investment (no word on whether he felt this should take priority over defense spending to fend off barbarian uprisings). Once again, he used a little geek charm to liven up a dry topic, thereby winning the eternal devotion of anyone who has ever said “one more turn” until the wee hours of the morning.

I have no idea what’s next for Iveson. Tardis phone booths in Edmonton? An anti-zombie fence around City Hall? Subcontracting law enforcement services out to Batman?

Regardless, Don Iveson has injected some fun into Edmonton municipal politics, giving Ontario progressives (at least us nerdier ones) yet another Alberta Mayor to be envious of.

The Rob Anders Rejection Tour Continues

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics | 5 Comments
Rob Anders, hard at work

Rob Anders, hard at work

I know I said I wouldn’t blog much over the next year, but if I have to come on here every time Rob Anders loses a nomination, I’m going to run out of bandwidth.

Here was Rob back in July, on his decision to seek the CPC nomination in Bow River:

“I really feel that [Bow River] is the Alberta I moved to in the 1980s. It’s a place with more trucks, and it certainly wouldn’t have elected someone like Naheed Nenshi, or other liberals pretending to be Conservatives these days. I feel a real connection. I find the people there are actually very sympathetic. They’re real Conservatives and you certainly feel that. There’s a strong pro-life movement going on in this riding, all sorts of hunting and shooting ranges.”

Today Anders was defeated by Martin Shields, who I can only assume is a secret Liberal. I mean, the guy doesn’t even own a truck.

After being rejected in Bow River, the question now becomes where Rob turns next. Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, who signed the nomination papers for a candidate who said gays would “burn in a fiery lake for eternity“, has already said “thanks, but no thanks” to Rob, gently suggesting he move to the private sector. There is the upcoming Yellowhead by-election, but that’s a riding that elected “secret Liberal” Joe Clark four times. So scratch that.

If only there were a group of voters who would “never elect someone like Naheed Nenshi”, longing for a leader cut from Rob’s cloth.

Sadly, the deadline to run for Mayor of Toronto has passed, so this might very well be the end of Rob Anders.

43 year old government proposes term limits

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics | 1 Comment
A future Jim Prentice caucus?

A future Jim Prentice caucus?

An Alberta PC leadership race devoid of ideas has its first eye-catching policy.

Presumptive front-runner Jim Prentice has pledged limits of 2 terms on the Premier and 3 terms on MLAs. This no doubt comes in response to accusations the PC government has grown stale over time, though I would point out that many of their problems stem from the actions of a politician who became Premier after just three years as an MLA, before exiting in disgrace after winning a single election as Premier.

Meanwhile, I’d be very curious if Prentice feels his old boss, gunning for a fourth term as PM next year, is past his “best before” date. I’d also be curious if Prentice feels this is true of the following 13 MLAs who have endorsed him:

Moe Amery
Neil Brown
Pearl Calahasan
Wayne Cao
Alana DeLong
Yvonne Fritz
Hector Goudreau
Doug Griffiths
Doug Horner
Mary Anne Jablonski
Frank Oberle
Dave Rodney
George Rogers

Yes, they would all be grandfathered in under Prentice’s proposal, but this still comes across as a bit of a slap to their faces.

Truth be told, many of the names on that list likely have passed their best before date, but isn’t that up to voters to decide? Admittedly there are safe ridings, but as Rob Anders learned this spring, open nominations are a method of removing some rot, without forcing out good politicians.

This is nothing more than a gimmicky proposal that would merely drive experienced politicians out of office. The PCs need to change now, and by exempting current MLAs, this would not lead to any changes until long after Prentice leaves office.

In the Record Books

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics | 2 Comments

fathers PCThese are not happy days for the party which has ruled Alberta since before Happy Days ever aired, but the PCs had something to celebrate this weekend as they passed Ontario’s Big Blue Machine Nova Scotia’s Big Red Machine to become the longest serving government in Canadian history.

There are many reasons for their longevity. An ability to portray themselves as the true defenders of Alberta against the federal government. Leveraging the resources that come with power to their maximum advantage. Inept opposition parties, who were not helped by the actions of their federal counterparts.

But above all else, the Alberta PCs are still ticking because they have shown an uncanny ability to adapt and evolve. The party would have ended in 1993 if Ralph Klein hadn’t completely shaken up the establishment and their approach to government. It would have ended in 2012 if Alison Redford hadn’t flown in to rebrand, sucking up votes on the left of the political spectrum.

And it will end in a year or two if Jim Prentice isn’t able to adapt again.

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