There is no doubt that Rachel Notley is a smart, able woman who would make an outstanding Premier of Alberta. She is an effective communicator, a woman who is committed to principles which are in tune with the growingly progressive Alberta and is able to command respect. She is not going to Premier when we wake up on May 6th.
There are three reasons for this. The first is that the NDP is still not a powerful, fine-tuned and well-oiled political machine that can get voters to the polls. Opinion polls count for nothing on polling day – who shows up does. Getting the vote out is everything. The NDP can do this in Edmonton and certain other ridings, but not across the Province.
This hints at the second reason she will not be Premier. The strength of the NDP in rural Alberta matters for overall victory and it is not there. The PC’s strength does not come from the cities but from the rural parts of Alberta. Unless something remarkable happens, rural Alberta will split Wildrose and PC.
Finally, and this is sad to say, the challenge Rachel has (and certainly the Wildrose and Liberal Party has) is that there is no bench strength in the party. The Premier does not run Departments – Ministers do. Can anyone name 18-23 NDP candidates who would make outstanding cabinet members? Not me. David Egan would make a fine Deputy Premier and Treasurer. After that…(well there is Brian Mason, of course - but no one is really sure where he belongs....health, social services or (just for the sake of irony, given his past life) transport.
What will happen is that there will a (much reduced) majority PC Government with a strong NDP official opposition and a larger Wildrose rump. Gordon Dirks (Calgary) and possibly Jeff Johnson (Athabasca) will lose their seats and cabinet roles; the Alberta Party will win one seat in the house; Premier Jim Prentice will look humble, change some minor things in the budget (e.g. charitable tax relief), but carry on as if nothing had happened. He will get his mandate. Corporate money will have secured the vote and Alberta will continue its roller coaster ride on the backs of the middle class, public servants and working poor. The rich will get richer and then leave Alberta – as they have always done.
If I am wrong I will be delighted. If Rachel becomes Premier I will eat a plate of curried tripe. If David Swan becomes Premier I will eat all the tripe in Canada at one sitting. It will be an interesting election day, but don’t hold your breath and don't order that tripe just yet!