I just finished reading a commentary by Joe Ceci of the Alberta NDP describing how Alberta will emerge stronger than ever. In light of the research I did for my book For The Love Of Alberta, I am well aware of the fact that NDP-style policies consistently lead to weakening of economies and cultures, not strengthening them, so his assessment of the future is far more glowing than history would have us believe. While that departure from reality is significant enough to warrant concern, it was one of his comments about a meeting he had that really drew my attention.
In my recent discussions with chief economists and officials with bond rating agencies, they have responded favourably to our plan.
As I read this something sparked in my memory. I had heard this before…
Shortly after their election victory Notley addressed the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and received, according to news reports, a rather cool reception from the audience. There were brief moments of applause and a whole lot of silence. Reporters in attendance reported it for what it was; stifled displeasure with the NDP in general and her speech in particular.
But that’s not what Notley understood. She said, “I didn’t actually perceive that the crowd was cold in any way; I think people were listening.”
Well, no, actually.
Another series of events sparked in my memory as well; the “dialogue” with farmers concerning Bill 6. I recall reading a news article (I couldn’t find it again) in which one of the NDP folks seriously downplayed the farmer’s opposition to Bill 6, instead spinning it as “constructive dialogue” or something to that effect. This, despite the fact that farmers haven’t been in this much of an uproar in a very long time.
Similarly, in a year-end interview with the CBC, Notley stated, “Now with the economy being the way it is, I think we need to acknowledge people are a bit nervous too.” If you ask Albertans on the street I think it’s safe to say that the claim that they are “a bit nervous” about the economy is like claiming Fentanyl is “less-than-ideal for your health.” She’s in the running for the understatement of the year award.
All of this points to a common theme; there appears to be something of a disconnect between the NDP beliefs about reality and reality itself. The reception was cold, the NDP claims it was not. Farmers are furious, the NDP claim they are in the midst of a constructive dialogue. Albertans are terrified, the NDP claim they are “a bit nervous.” On the one hand we have reality, and on the other hand we have the NDP description of reality. Apples and oranges.
So when I read a claim by Ceci that the folks he was talking to “responded favourably” to the NDP plan I cannot help but be skeptical. The track record of the NDP so far does not lead one to accept their assessment of how other people are responding to their ideas. And when you combine that with his faith in the NDP policies which (as I elaborate on in For The Love Of Alberta) are virtually guaranteed to make things worse, not better, then I shake my head in somber recognition that 2016 is not looking good for this province.
I’m no politician, so maybe this is very absurdly bad advice, but I would personally have a much easier time taking the NDP seriously if their public responses were more along these lines.
- Notley: “Yes, the attendees at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce seemed very cool to my speech. It appears I have a lot of work to do to understand their concerns, help them understand the principles that got us elected, and work with them to find the best path forward for Alberta; a path charted by the will of the people.”
- Regarding Bill 6: “It is clear that we have stepped on the farmer’s toes on this one. We are going to take Bill 6 back to the drawing board, have a good long talk with the farmers, and find a reasonable compromise that will best protect Alberta’s agricultural industry as well as those who work in that industry.”
- Notley: “Albertans are scared out of their minds regarding the economy. And let’s be honest; things haven’t been this bad for at least a full generation. Given the current economic climate it is understandable that they would be nervous about having us simultaneously make the various changes we were elected to make. But Albertans are smart people. They know what’s best for this province. So when we implement the very policies we campaigned on, and won on, we are trusting the wisdom of the very Albertans who are nervous. They are scared, and rightly so, and in their concern they elected us because they believed our policies were the best policies for this time in Alberta’s history.”
Now I would disagree with some of what I just proposed they say, but statements like these would at least give me reason to continue listening to them. If I merely disagree with somebody I can at least remain hopeful about conversing with them, but if I disagree with them and also distrust them then hope fades quickly. The NDP ought to take it straight on the chin, acknowledge the widespread resistance to their ideas, eat a healthy serving of humble pie and commit to starting over again on the right foot. The more they fake their way through it (and very unconvincingly so) the more rapidly they burn whatever political capital they began with this Spring.
Realism in politics; I could support that.