Everybody and his dog (as the saying goes) wants to be the United Conservative Party nominee for Lesser Slave Lake. It’s good to have competition, and that is what we’re getting. May the best candidate win. Seven names had been put forward the last we heard, although at the time there was a hint of an eighth. That’s a high level of interest in what some (many, let’s face it) would consider a thankless job.
This person – whoever it ends up being – has a decent chance of becoming the next MLA for this area. They are going to find themselves being stretched like never before. They’ll have to answer all sorts of questions about all sorts of issues, from points of view they probably have never considered very much. And that’s exactly how it should be.
Your average conservative, in these parts, is probably a businessperson. Self-made, etc. Worked hard, paid taxes, supported local causes, shops locally and so on. Times have not been as good in recent years as they were for various spells under PC governments in Alberta. They remember those times very fondly and want them to come back. They don’t like the carbon levy and don’t think the current government is doing enough to get Alberta’s oil to market. A robust business climate, many of them think (or seem to) is the basis from which all other good things flow. A good economy means everyone (who wants to) works and things are basically okay.
It’s a nice philosophy, and up to a point, it works. Beyond that point, it fails to take into account all sorts of less-fortunate folks, for whom the red hot oil economy of a few years ago meant only higher costs and dislocation. It also takes very little account of environmental considerations. The ‘progressive’ part of the old Progressive Conservative Party was added, once upon a time, to address this perceived lack of concern for the little guy, the marginalized segment of society that the pro-business types tended to overlook. There is an impression out there (justified or not), that intolerance or indifference is creeping back in. Fiscal conservatism is all very fine, but it’s the challenge of UCP leadership – and that includes whoever becomes the candidate for LSL – to keep that ‘progressive’ note in the chorus for lower taxes and bigger investment.
One thing the NDP government has demonstrated – quite well in our opinion – is that services levels in all sorts of areas – health, education, seniors – needed more attention. The great challenge of any government is to figure out how to provide those services without breaking the bank. There is no magic formula for doing that – only a series of uncomfortable compromises, attempting to balance one thing against another.
Good luck with all that.