Wow, federal Liberals gathering here in the Bow Valley?
Who knew our little valley was even in view of Ottawa?
Actually, and in all honesty, it’s refreshing to see some heavy hitters from ‘another’ party touring the Valley and holding a provincial general meeting here.
Could it be that Premier Ed Stelmach’s decision to hang ‘em up, with accompanying provincial internal conservative strife, has signaled some kind of a call to arms? Could federal Liberals translate provincial in-party turmoil into federal Conservative angst?
Otherwise, recent polls suggest Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s crew would be around again with another minority should an election be called. Who knows, with the Bloc Québécois’ solid hold, this country may never see another majority government.
For the most part, at this point in time anyway, as a democracy Canada appears to have comfortably settled into an existence as a country of regions – Conservative west, Liberal central, Bloc in Quebec and the few seats available in the Maritime and Atlantic provinces.
Still, the fact that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and MPs Bob Rae, Ken Dryden, Carolyn Bennett and Martha Hall-Findlay were in town shows a desire to make some inroads into Alberta’s always-vote-Conservative mentality.
And the Liberals did pay lip service to Valley concerns ranging from affordable housing to tourism to the environment – which shows they’ve been doing some homework into what makes Albertans tick; besides the tendency to always vote right or further right.
Even more refreshing, for a politician, was Bob Rae’s admission that Liberals, who have often been accused of believing themselves to be Canada’s ‘natural’ governing party, were mistaken.
Rae admitted the party had begun to believe, like provincial Conservatives in Alberta, that they were entitled, that they could do no wrong, that leading the country from a position of power was inevitable.
Nationally, and in provinces excluding Alberta, that kind of arrogance can lead to loss of power. Federal and provincial governments, except in Alberta, have been booted out when leaders lost their concern for those who hire them – the voting citizenry.
In Alberta, of course, dissatisfaction with the powers that be doesn’t lead to loss of power, it merely leads to slightly less majority. Rather than vote for another party, fewer Albertans vote Conservative to show their displeasure – which ensures nothing ever changes on the political scene (well, for decades now).
But who knows, maybe conservatives, provincial and federal alike, will take notice of the fact that Liberals are taking notice of territories west of the Ontario border, or TROC (The Rest of Canada), as Allan Fotheringham dubbed us while working as a Maclean’s columnist.
Or, being that this Valley is home to a more liberal-minded populace than much of Alberta, a populace which showed significant support for the Liberals in the last election, maybe the federal party has identified our quiet valley as a future stronghold.
At any rate, flying the opposition leader and MPs west, then holding a general meeting and bending an ear to citizens’ concerns at a town hall meeting is a good starting point for any party which wants to gain a western power base.