Governments are like investments — if you’re not in it for the long haul, you’re wasting your time, your money or both.
Only a confirmed, unrepentant gambler would indiscriminately pump money into get-rich-quick investments and expect instant and significant profits. The truth is, that kind of speculative perspective more often than not leads to harsh separation — your money ends up in someone else’s pocket.
Similarly, only a blithely blind voter should expect quick dividends from a new government. It took the former Progressive Conservative government years to make a mess of Alberta, despite the best of circumstances. And a succession of weak premiers in recent years couldn’t fix the problems, despite ample time and resources.
So why would we expect, let alone hope, that a government made up largely of political neophytes could turn around the province’s fortunes in less than nine months?
We have heard a great deal from pollsters in recent days about NDP Premier Rachel Notley’s declining approval rating.
We have similarly heard plenty of rumblings about yet another push to unite the right, and how a merger of Progressive Conservative and Wildrose forces, again according to pollsters, would emerge victorious if a provincial election were held today.
Never mind that polls are nothing more than a placebo for the politically desperate. Anyone who touts the veracity of polls need look no further into the past than last fall’s federal election surprise, or the astounding spring provincial election.
So the kind of fantasy recent Alberta poll results represent might appeal to the politically whimsical, or the desperate, but it really is just speculative bunk.
The simple fact is a provincial election will not be held today, nor next year, nor the year after that. The legislation is clear. Unless Notley has a huge cranial collapse, or her government suffers some exceptionally cataclysmic scandal that brings on a fit of equally exceptional good conscience, we won’t see a provincial election until 2019.
That’s a long time — and that’s a good thing, because it will take a good while to restore Alberta’s infrastructure, and similarly rebuild Albertans’ confidence in the institutions and leadership of this province.
And it could take almost as long for the economy to establish an equilibrium that doesn’t rely primarily on a single commodity. Never mind that the oil industry remains morosely at the mercy of forces well beyond this province (despite those myopic Albertans who ludicrously blame the energy industry collapse on Notley).
So those Albertans who are chomping at the bit for change might want to take a deep breath and consider how they are more likely to effect that change. Certainly they won’t bring about change by gazing longingly into the distant future through a murky crystal ball. They would be far better off proposing positive policy initiatives, and by investing imagination and hard work.
Dissent is an essential part of the democratic process. But being a sore loser is not dissent, it’s whining. And trying to foment unrest by focusing solely on a potential election outcome years in the future is fruitless. If that election is to be contested in a fashion that serves Albertans, then the dissenters better put their time and thought toward improving this province now. That requires concrete solutions, not indiscriminate sniping.
This NDP government is not perfect, and mistakes have been made. But we have seen progress, and honest effort.
Certainly the performance of the opposition has rarely been on point in the last nine months, so it’s not like real choices abound even if this was an election year.
And the critics outside the government process who snipe without perspective are serving no purpose other than to distract Albertans from what should be everyone’s focus: getting this province back on track.
Because we should all be in this for the long haul. Albertans have too much invested in this great province, and there is too much work to do, to waste time on gambles and random speculation.
Troy Media columnist John Stewart is a born and bred Albertan who doesn’t drill for oil, ranch or drive a pickup truck — although all of those things have played a role in his past.