“Honest politician” is an oxymoron. During the election, hopes are high and candidates are optimistic about the future, so they make promises that are sometimes difficult to keep. Rachel Notley’s optimism won over voters in the 2015 election, but the consensus lately shows that the charm has faded. Earlier this month, the Calgary Herald published the results of a Mainstreet Research/Postmedia poll that placed Notley’s NDP at third place in public support, behind the Wildrose party and the Progressive Conservatives.
Initially, the NDP promised to tackle many of Alberta’s problems by lowering tuition, funding student grants, and eliminating unpaid internships. Recently, though, it has been announced that without the financial backing the NDP counted on, many of these student-focused initiatives could be delayed. What started as a bright future for students has become a stark financial reality.
It seems that most promising politicians inevitably fall short of their campaign promises, and voters pay the price. But is it realistic for people to expect these politicians to utterly transform the province or country in mere days, weeks, or months?
The sad truth is that Notley, Obama, and other politicians who have promised massive change cannot necessarily reinvigorate the economy, end poverty, or lower your property tax by the end of their terms. The processes and policies that these leaders implement will likely begin to show their effects on the system several years down the road.
What is crucial to the success of a nation is a legacy of strong leaders who work to secure people’s interests. For instance, a November 2015 opinion piece in The Globe and Mail compared Notley to late Alberta premier Ralph Klein, who greatly benefitted the province during a time when oil prices were low.
Notley inherited a sinking economy whose major assets were in the energy sector. Without the financial backing, she can’t follow through with her campaign promises, all to the benefit of her critics who can blame poor organization and planning for the crisis. It is not Notley’s fault, but it is the unfortunate reality, and a new election is not going to solve this crisis.
The realities and politics associated with oil and energy are hugely influential for Alberta and its residents. The sad reality, however, is that the quasi-socialist policies of the NDP and their programs were more appealing when the province had the money to fund them. Currently, the provincial government is scrambling to produce a plan that will navigate them through the economic crisis until the next election, when it can be passed off as an inherited problem.
Photo by Government of Alberta, Flickr Creative Commons.