By Jonathon Van Maren
It is a good morning for Alberta, and a good morning for Canada: Premier Rachel Notley’s accidental NDP government has been booted out of office, with Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party taking 63 seats and reducing the NDP to a mere 24. It is worth noting that Jason Kenney’s achievement here has been an incredible one, going as he did from being a federal MP, securing the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives, achieving a union of the PCs and the Wildrose Party, and then running for and winning the leadership of the new conservative party before leveling the left-wing opposition and becoming premier of Alberta. Kenney is quite simply one of the most successful politicians in the English-speaking world.
There are a few important take-ways from last night’s election results. First of all, Rachel Notley, for all her cheery smiles and political wiles, ran one of the dirtiest campaigns in recent memory (although Trudeau will shortly be jockeying with her for that distinction.) She attempted to portray Jason Kenney and the UCP as a group of horrifying homophobes and white supremacists seeking to harm LGBT folks and bring racism to the halls of power. In the process, she was willing to smear any Albertan of faith who does not support her progressive agenda, including Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Sikhs, orthodox Jews, and more. The fact that Albertan voters roundly rejected her ugly fear-mongering should prove once and for all that demonizing socially conservative Canadians does not work, and conservative politicians should do a better job of calling this scapegoat tactic out for what it is: Playing one portion of the population off against another.
The second thing to note is that Alberta’s religious schools will finally get relief from the relentless witch-hunt they have been suffering from Notley’s Education Minister David Eggen. Eggen was threatening to withdraw government funding from a variety of religious schools this year, including Christian and Muslim institutions, for declining to embrace his “Gay-Straight Alliance” Clubs. (His government is being sued by a large number of Albertan schools.) Further to that, it is likely that Eggen would have attempted to shut these schools down entirely by withdrawing their accreditation. With Eggen on the way out, the genuine diversity of Alberta’s education system can finally flourish. It was nauseating to hear Notley and her NDP campaign on education and better schools with the knowledge that many teachers, parents, and children were wondering whether the government was going to come for theirs. Good riddance.
Finally, all of the right people are upset by Kenney’s victory. The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada and an assortment of other abortion activists are upset because Notley’s government was so aggressively allied to their cause, introducing coverage for the abortion pill and creating bubble zones around abortion clinics. (Incidentally, assisted suicides went up by almost 50% under the NDP according to Alberta Health Services.) Justin Trudeau is facing another hostile premier, and it is worth noting that left-wing provincial leaders have been dropping like flies, from Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne to New Brunswick’s Brian Gallant. It is unlikely that social conservatives will achieve what our devastated opponents believe we will, but this is certainly a step in the right direction. At a bare minimum, the NDP’s assault on Albertans of faith is over. Charles Adler must be rending his garments at what he surely deems to be the return of the knuckledraggers.