Thursday, April 12, 2012

Election Season and Debates

I just finished watching the Alberta Leaders' Debate about 90 minutes ago, and several thoughts came to mind. The first was that our debates are far more civil than the U.S. leadership and presidential debates; the second was that the CBC has done a great job of fine tuning it's Vote Compass since the last Federal election; whereas the Federal tool seemed to steer you to the Liberal party regardless of answers, the new Vote Compass not only plots your position on an x-y axis based on your stance on economic and social issues, but plots the parties as well, and it's never a perfect match. Just like real life. The side effect is that each party's platform can be summed up in relatively few words.

In the case of the Wildrose party, their platform is probably the easiest: remember the halcyon days of the 1990s and the Klein Tories? We're gonna bring those back and go further by hacking and slashing away at spending, and giving you Dani dollars, which are just like Ralph bucks, but more current. We're also going to enshrine "conscience rights," which are really a solution in search of a problem, but the general public doesn't know that, so we'll feed their paranoia. Oh, and our party is 90% old white men, who will pat you on the head and patronise you, because we know what's best (OK, the patronising bit I made up, but it's not far off the mark).

As you can tell, I have no love for the Wildrose, mostly because they are Tea Party poseurs, and I don't care much for the Tea Party either, but that's the subject of another blog.

Moving on to the Progressive Conservatives, or PCs as they are more commonly known, they can be summed up as "not your father's PC party." They are coming across as more Progressive than Conservative in this election, but as the reigning party for 40+ years, party leader Alison Redford has been saddled with the baggage of those years, which is ironic considering that she has only been an MLA for one term. Even so, she is being held responsible (unfairly, IMHO) for every gaffe the government has made during that period. She is making an earnest effort to be an instrument of change, but the baggage keeps pulling her back. She has an interesting vision for the future of health care and education which is a balance of moving forward, but doing so with a careful eye on the purse strings, but I fear it is falling on deaf ears in some parts of the province.

Raj Sherman comes across as the crazy old uncle of this election, which seems fitting, since his focus has been on seniors' care, health care and eliminating tuition. In how many elections can you say that the Liberals are actually further left than the NDP? None? Well, in this one you can safely say exactly that. Raj's performance in the debate consisted almost entirely of addressing the camera, and I doubt if he even won it over.

Which brings us to Brian Mason and the NDP, who have presented a platform almost as centrist as the PCs. Brian is in the rare position of being the elder statesman this election, and it showed in the debate. Although he would raise his voice, he was never overly rude to his fellow leaders, and made some very strong points, one of which was on the current royalty framework in the oil patch. If the unthinkable occurs and the Wildrose ends up forming government, I hope that the NDP forms a powerful opposition to keep those greyhairs in check, much like what is going on federally. I wouldn't object if the same result occurred with the PCs formed government. There needs to be true opposition. As for the Liberals, if we ignore them for long enough, maybe they'll go away, or become irrelevant like the Federal Liberals.