Yesterday, voters surprised everyone in what turned out to be an historic election in Alberta, Canada.
After 43 years, this tar-sands dominated province threw out the conservatives and gave Canada’s most progressive political party the legislative majority and Premier.
Rachel Notley takes over as Alberta premier, a victory that "can only be described as monumental, unprecedented, and incredible," says The Cascadia Advocate.
It’s like Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) being elected governor of Texas and bringing a Democratic majority to the state legislature!
The New Democratic Party (NDP) won a strong majority with 54 seats, followed by the far right Wildrose Party (21 seats) and Progressive Conservatives – the party that’s long held the majority – with 10 seats.
In the past, NDP never won more than 16 seats in the 87-seat legislature.
Why the Big Change?
The situation is similar to what we face in the US. Voters were sick of low taxes for corporations and wealthy individuals, while taxes are raised for everyone else and investments decline in key services like schools and health care.
The New Democratic Party promises to raise taxes on corporations (currently the lowest in Canada) and the rich, raise the minimum wage to C$15 per hour and ban corporate and union donations to campaigns.
They also promise to review royalties paid by tar sands companies to ensure "a full and fair return to the people of Alberta for their energy resources." Low royalties have left the province with a $5 billion deficit because of the big drop in oil prices.
Demographics are also changing with an influx of people into urban areas. The two big cities now have progressive mayors and youth are a bigger proportion of the population.
And people really like Rachel Notley, who comes across in much the same way as Elizabeth Warren does in the US – honest, accessible and charismatic.
In Notley’s acceptance speech she said, "Together, we need to start down the road to a diversified economy (acknowledging Alberta’s addiction to oil. "We need to end the boom and bust roller coaster that we have been riding for too long."
She says she won’t push for the Keystone or Northern Gateway tar sands pipelines, because there’s so much opposition, but she hasn’t come out against Energy East.
"With this election, Albertans have voted for change – and that change includes improving Alberta’s environmental record and its approach to climate change, " says Ed Whittingham, executive director of Pembina Institute.
"We support the Alberta NDP’s commitments to invest in energy efficiency, and to phase out coal-fired electricity and replace it with cleaner sources. We also applaud their commitment to take leadership on the issue of climate change – and that includes coming up with a credible plan to manage the growth in greenhouse gas pollution from the oil sands, and meet Alberta’s 2020 climate target," he says.
Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is up for re-election this year. Could he be booted out???? Let’s hope so.
Read our article, 25,000 Canadians March Against Fracking & Tar Sands Pipelines.