Friday, December 19, 2014

Tories open gates to large wooden horse

Phil Burpee

     Well, I suppose somebody should make comment on the further, possibly terminal, degradation of what remained of our wilting democracy in this province. On the face of it, what do we have? - an unelected Premier blithely eviscerates Her Majesty's loyal opposition in a feeding-frenzy of self-congratulatory malfeasance, thusly undermining everything that is understood to be dynamic and accountable in the Westminster system of government. The electorate is removed from the equation as being a mere peripheral adjunct to the affirmation of power. Democratic process is thoroughly flouted. And this is touted as a good day in Alberta politics by the Premier himself. For truly, if we are to believe it to be so, he sees nothing wrong in this - an indication of just how far the rot has set in. And yet there is more.

     The game is this – jostle around for some time as the semi-radical fringe party, expand your base, briefly threaten the tenure of the old-guard party, then perform a bloodless coup and adopt the previously reputable name. Remember Stephen Harper and the Alliance/Reform outfit? – suddenly moved up to the corner office and became the Conservative Party of Canada. It is happening again right here in Alberta – flagrant, unabashed and unapologetic. For Danielle Smith has not tucked her tail and gone cap-in-hand to the government benches – far from it. She has affected a coup of the governing party through the auspices of a man for whom most of the fundamental tenets of the Wildrose are nothing more than accepted wisdom – viz. property rights, privatized health care, union-bashing, charter schools, selective school curricula, no tax increase, government spending cuts (especially in social programming), corporate tax cuts, roll-over acquiescence to market forces, etc., etc. Yes, Premier Jim Prentice, having now acquired the keys to the palace, has flung open the mighty gates and allowed to be hauled in the huge, creaking, cheap plywood nag that is the Wildrose Party of Alberta – and out of it spew the she-warrior herself, with all her social-darwinist, libertarian predilections, along with a little crack troop of right-wing functionaries – aka the core of the former Wildrose caucus.

     For Jim Prentice is the corporate prince par excellence – possessed of the mind of a banker, slick, savvy, ruthless, convinced, at heart, that the individual should be cut loose to sink or swim as circumstances dictate – music to the ears of Ms. Smith and her ilk. For surely, just as the rich deserve their wealth, so do the poor deserve their poverty. And so, ever so briefly, the good folk of the province thought that perhaps the old Lougheed Progressive Conservatives were back, with all their former and admirable latitude and sensitivity to the hopes, needs and expectations of a diverse and changing population. Spoiler alert – they're not. There is carnage on the battlefield, and the smoking ruins of the people's legislature loom out of the grim aftermath of the whole, squalid, ugly business.

     As to what remains of the actual Wildrose caucus, notwithstanding Pat Stier's admirably-principled stance – well, just a little gaggle of dopey dreamers with their brains set permanently in the 1950s I guess. They've been outfoxed by Danielle and Jim – the new tag-team of the corporate agenda in Alberta. And clearly neither of them gives a fig for the democratic traditions that got them where they are currently.

     So, you read it here first – we've just had yet another non-election in Alberta– and the Wildrose now has the whip hand. You could almost laugh if it weren't so horrible.

Phil Burpee
Pincher Creek

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