There are some signs:
It was Crockatt’s support that moved - downward.
For a Conservative to finish with less than 40 per cent of the vote in a Calgary riding is a moral defeat; and for Crockatt, a sheet of plywood nailed over Harper’s cabinet door.
Veteran MP Lee Richardson, who triggered the byelection with his resignation to work for Premier Alison Redford, won 55.7 per cent of the vote in 2011, and 55.6 per cent in 2008.
Not the best way to start a political career, losing twenty points of the popular vote compared to May of 2011. In Calgary no less. The town that according to legend is so right-wing that the only protection Liberals have is the game laws. Seemingly not a good sign. Then there is the not inconsiderable matter of the provincial deficit. Yes, Alberta does have a deficit and it is rapidly growing. A province floating in oil revenues with a growing population of working age citizens and newish infrastructure.
Alison Redford has done the near impossible. She is losing money despite having a license to print money. By contrast over in Saskatchewan, Brad Wall's government is running a balanced budget. Recall that until about six years ago the latter province was considered borderline dysfunctional. A bit of the Maritimes in the middle of the prairies. Impressive accomplishments for both Ms Redford and Mr Wall, in their own respective ways.
Before you start thinking that Canada's most freedom loving province is going to statist hell, and taking the rest of us with it, keep in mind some of the following points:
- The price of oil is down from its recent historic highs. Redford & Co, like many a petro state, did not properly project revenues based on a declining oil price. This doesn't excuse their incompetence, either mathematical or fiscal, but it does put into perspective the province's deficit. A little trimming here and a bump up in West Texas Intermediate and the province should be back in the black.
- Joan Crockett is a relatively right leaning conservative in a relatively left-leaning riding. This same riding elected Joe Clark in 2000. Reform's two victories in Calgary Centre in 1993 (44.76%) and 1997 (40.07%) were not that much better than Crockett's 36.89%. Lee Richardson, the previous holder of the seat, resigned to become Alison Redford's Chief of Staff. This is a Red Tory riding that narrowly elected a conservative candidate.
- Alberta is still ranked as the economically freest jurisdiction in North America. Ontario is 21st.
- Apparently there are still some political consequences to kicking Alberta in the teeth. Even if only in Alberta itself.
Adam Smith once told a young friend, who bemoaned that the British Empire was ruined after American independence, that there was a great deal of ruin in a nation. Since Pearson's day this country has had no shortage of statist meddlers ready to squander our potential and accomplishments. If Pierre Trudeau couldn't destroy us, his son and intellectual heirs doesn't have much of a chance.