So I got this Alberta election dead wrong. I misread the anger and lack of trust in the Prentice government. I didn’t count on the PC’s being so incompetent or inefficient; I admired Rachel, but didn’t believe that they had an efficient vote getting system to get the vote out – they did. So it is over and we await the arrival of the NDP Government under Premier Notley – the fourth Premier in a year.
I was shocked at Prentice last night – walking away (“taking his bat home”, as we would say in Yorkshire) so fast. A sign of the arrogance that dominated the PC’s in these later years. He both quit as leader and as an MLA, minutes after winning his seat (also insulting to the electorate). McIver will be interim leader and this will mark the start of the end for this party – there may be floor crossings to the Wildrose, now the Official opposition.
So now the work begins. Rachel has a real challenge in shaping a cabinet. Go small is the first message – you don’t need a large cabinet, you need an effective one. Don’t rush this work of choosing Ministers – the entire future of the NDP government depends on it. There are real concerns that the NDP will rush into policy decisions before getting their heads around the facts and the real “on the ground” situation. Listen to the public servants and rebuild the public service. Separate the public service from the political roles of Ministers – lets get back to solid, independent, thoughtful advice rather than public servants trying to second guess Ministers and living in fear.
They need a budget – we don’t have one. This is the second test for Rachel – the first being the Cabinet choices she makes. We know that math is hard, but she has to get it right this time. She has a plan – but she needs to provide this at a level of detail the NDP are not used to. It will be the most scrutinized budget in Alberta history.
Then she needs to begin the work of reform. Institutional reform, reform of the innovation system and a real look at the health care and education systems (especially post-secondary). Focused, considered and imaginative is what this work needs to be.
So be ready for an interesting few months. She is one smart lady. She will be a great Premier if (and only if) she can build a great Ministerial team..