Nine months! A mere three quarters of one year are all that remains for Alberta’s UCP administration, and the governing party is already falling to pieces.
The membership drive ahead of the UCP’s October 6 leadership election has now ended, and if you didn’t buy a membership to vote, I congratulate you on not being scammed out of ten dollars. Travis Toews (formerly Kenney’s finance minister, and the architect of most of the brutal austerity since 2019), former Wildrose party leader Brian Jean, and other former Wildrose party leader Danielle Smith are the only candidates not polling within the margin of error of zero. One will briefly be Premier, from October through to the election scheduled for next May.
A lot of the write-ins we’ve been getting here over the past month have expressed some deep anxiety over being governed by any of these ghouls, and while obviously things aren’t going to be fine, a better future is very possible, very soon.
Electoral conditions for the opposition NDP have never been better. The party has been positively raking in the donations for three years, so they’ll certainly have the resources to fight. You can expect the non-conservative vote in 2023 to be much more concentrated for them: the Alberta Party’s fundraising and polling numbers are a barely audible gasp, and the Alberta Liberals look set to fold completely, having failed to attract any candidates whatsoever to their own leadership race.
For obvious reasons, next year’s election will be heavily concerned with health care, and that’s exactly the battlefield the NDP want to be contesting. The opportunity to turf and cancel the UCP agenda around school curriculums is going to play very well for the NDs, too.
But what’s most promising is the complete disarray in the UCP caucus. Battle lines are being drawn between Smith, the presumed frontrunner, and the Kenney loyalists behind Toews. Smith is pitching a ‘Sovereignty Act,’ an incoherent and mostly impossible batch of promises to disengage Alberta from Canadian federalism, and while it seems to appeal to the Wexit crowd, the people with actual money can’t stand it. Kenney and Smith have been trading barbs about it for days.
The chaos was clear last week as the party fumbled for days trying to respond to a classic lake-of-fire social issues scandal. Associate Minister of Women Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk gave a cash prize and third place in a minor essay contest to a clownishly sexist and racist piece of work that argued women should avoid ‘men’s jobs,’ bemoaned the demographic replacement of white people, and added a little touch of hate against trans women for good measure. It took days for reporters to even get firm confirmation of who was on the judging panel, while in the meantime the entire UCP caucus kept throwing each other under the bus in cascading fashion. Great stuff.
May 2023 is almost here. The Alberta NDP definitely have it in them to seize defeat from the jaws of victory if they want to. But their position today, and the position of everyone who’s working to push this UCP government out, is strong, and getting stronger by the day.
Edmonton’s proposed gondola project is basically dead, which should be pleasant news to those concerned about a private company’s plans to put a transit station on top of a ceremonial site where the remains of people are buried. But don’t go handing Edmonton’s city council any gold star stickers for reconciliation just yet, because on the same day they voted to expand the Edmonton Police Service by adding $10 million to their budget.
The Calgary-Banff rail project we reported on back in January—which one governance watchdog called ‘a layer cake of conflicts of interest’—has hit even more opposition, this time from a group of conservation groups and scientists who worry about the project’s environmental impact.
ASIRT has let the Calgary Police Service off the hook for another death in custody, this time involving a man who died from drug poisoning within hours of his arrest. "Questions such as whether the affected person's death could have been prevented through changes in policy, resourcing, or the like,” the report notes, “are not within ASIRT's mandate."
- One of the final projects of UCP: forcing people to move to Athabasca. Not that it isn’t a nice place, of course. But the whole project started weird and keeps getting weirder. Charles Rusnell lays out the timeline in his recent Tyee article.
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