(Updates in brackets) I lived in Saskatchewan from 1945 until 1975. During most of that time, the province was ruled by the socialist CCF, now called NDP. Their rule continued, with brief interruptions, until 2007 when the small c conservatives of the Saskatchewan Party took over.
On the other hand, from 1945 until 1971 Alberta was ruled by the small c conservative Social Credit Party. Since then, it’s been run by the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, although a more accurate title might be, Purportedly Conservative.
Comparing the path the two provinces took is instructive, and serves as a stark warning to Albertans.
In 1951, the population of Saskatchewan was 832,000, and the population of Alberta was 940,000; a gap of only 108,000. Only 10 years later the gap had quadrupled to 407,000; by 1991 it was 1,556,000, and just before the Saskatchewan Party took power in 2007, the gap had climbed to 2,305,000.
The gap is now nearly 3 million, with Alberta’s population slightly over 4 million and Saskatchewan’s slightly over 1 million. But since the NDP’s departure in 2007, Saskatchewan has experienced a boom, and its population is growing.
This doesn’t take complicated analysis. Alberta was pro-business and Saskatchewan was pro-government. High taxes and a collectivist approach to governance caused an exodus to Alberta.
People from across Canada and around the world moved to Alberta for opportunity, but most critically, Saskatchewan’s native born sons and daughters became its biggest export. (It was a joke in Saskatchewan that the most appropriate graduation gift was a set of luggage.)
When my wife and I arrived here in 1975, the cul-de-sac that we moved into had 10 homes; six of them occupied by economic refugees from Saskatchewan with its lack of opportunity and crumbling infrastructure.
Now, under a small c conservative government, Saskatchewan is booming. It’s not because God placed oil in the ground after the Saskatchewan party took over; nor did potash or lumber or opportunities in technology appear just recently.
(Let me repeat: 35 years ago I saw a map of oil development in the western provinces, and going from Alberta to Saskatchewan it dropped by about 75%. That border was put there in 1905; the oil arrived somewhat earlier.)
It’s booming because upon taking office, Premier Brad Wall told one and all that Saskatchewan was open for business. And he meant it. He lowered taxes and removed barriers to business. That is anti-socialist, but it unleashes opportunity.
In Alberta, Rachel Notley, the leader of the NDP has become a bit of a star, and everyone agrees that she won the leaders debate. But on May 5, we Albertans are not choosing a media personality, or, a debating champion. We are choosing a party, and a leader that will set a direction for our province for at least four years, and possibly far longer than that.
We have the responsibility to make a thoughtful choice.
Ontario used to be Canada’s economic powerhouse. Then in 1990, after years of conservative rule, Bob Rae and the NDP took over and set a new direction for the province. Ontario is still struggling with the aftermath of that dalliance with socialism, and, almost inconceivably, Ontario is now a have not province.
(Some have pointed out that there were also liberal governments in Ontario, and so called conservative governments in Saskatchewan. That’s what they were called, but they acted very much like Alberta’s PCs have lately. PC stands for: Purportedly Conservative.)
But it is standard practice for socialist parties like the NDP – (and so called centralist or even conservative parties when they’re chasing votes) – to ignore both basic economics and human nature. No province in Canada has succeeded economically under an NDP government, and their young people pay a high price through lost opportunities. (Saskatchewan did begin a comeback under Roy Romanow, but only because he began to adopt free enterprise economic policies.)
During the leader’s debate, Jim Prentice told Ms. Notley that “math is difficult.” Actually it’s not. Ms. Notley promises to take more tax dollars away from corporations, yet expects those corporations to create 27,000 more jobs. The real world does not work like that. To repeat, socialist ideology never works because it ignores basic arithmetic, and human nature.
We have three granddaughters who went to “McDonald’s University” to learn how to get to work on time; deal with customers; and count change. Training kids and new immigrants is a major cost to employers, yet Ms. Notley wants to raise the minimum wage from $10.20 an hour to $15 an hour, a move which would have raised a huge barrier for our granddaughters and for many immigrants needing an entry point into the workforce. (I have hired at least 20 teenagers to work in our business over the years and I know this from personal experience)
But more taxes and a high minimum wage are standard socialist dogma, and when Ms. Notley says she is going to do it, I’d suggest that we take her seriously.
She also promises another royalty review. Ed Stelmach tried that and it drove a significant portion of our oil industry to Saskatchewan.
Alberta doesn’t need a debating champion, nor do we need another four years of week after week of revelations of PC sleaze and corruption and mismanagement and arrogance.
Alberta needs a leader with practical life experience; a leader committed to genuine improvement of healthcare delivery – regardless of ideology; one committed to sound financial management; and one that will put Albertan’s interests first.
We don’t know much about Brian Jean because he’s only been a party leader for about a month, but Graham Thompson of the Edmonton Journal wrote about his interview with Mr. Jean. http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/alberta-politics/Thomson+Wildrose+leader+Brian+Jean+finally/11010532/story.html
What makes this article extremely intriguing is that Graham Thompson’s views have tended to lean consistently left, and in the past he has been quite sympathetic to the NDP. Maybe Mr. Thompson has finally thought through the potential for economic devastation under an NDP government.
On May 5, as we walk into the polling booth, the citizens of Alberta should thank God that we live in Alberta and, like Travel Alberta’s excellent commercials remind us: “Remember to Breathe.” And then we should take another deep breath and: Remember to Think!