The Canadian Province of Alberta has been likened to the American State of Texas. Energy and cattle, energy barons and cowboys. But with mountains.
Yesterday a relatively liberal party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), won a surprise victory in the provincial election, ousting the 44 year long reign of the Progressive Conservatives. From an American point of view, this is all very confusing because the Canadian political system is very different. Alberta has a Premier, and the premier will step down because of this election. The NDP formerly never held very many seats in the legislature, but now holds 55 out of 87, with the Progressive Conservatives ending up with an anemic 11.
This is relevant to topics often discussed here because Alberta is where the famous Canadian Tar Sands, the bitumen from which would be carried on the famous Keystone XL Pipeline through the United States to points unknown, rest. This raises two questions. First, did the left-leaning victory arise in part (small or large) from the fight over tar sands exploitation? Second, will this change in government influence the future exploitation of this relatively dirty source of Carbon-based fossil fuel?
People vote for a range of reasons. When a large and unexpected shift happens, in American politics, it is more often than not (IMHO) because voters are upset with those in power, and are “throwing the bums out.” I think it is much more rare to see a smaller coalition blossom into a majority over issues pushed by that coalition. Also, even though the NDP is left leaning, just how “left” (meaning, in the context of these major issues, Climate Hawkish) are they? All you Canadian Politics experts need to provide your analysis in the comments below. I’m especially interested in John Irving’s analysis. (John?)
It is said that this is like a Democratic sweep/Republican trounce in Texas. Is it? Will it last? Is this a game-changer, a sea change? Some other appropriate Canadian metaphor? (Ice-out? Turning of the maple leaf?)