Wildrose surge in Alberta worrisome for BC

Why British Columbians should care about the Alberta elections, Danielle Smith and the Wildrose Party.

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“I think Alberta is under an international and national microscope, because of our completely abysmal green record. We have the highest emissions in the entire country, we’re nowhere close to meeting any of our obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and of course we see large-scale tar sands development that’s destroying large portions of our province,” he explained.

With recent polls placing Smith ahead of Redford—42 per cent of decided voters side with Wildrose over 36 per cent for the Progressive Conservatives—environmentalists like Hudema are preparing for the worst.

“You’ll see a government that is very much, even more so than today, a cheerleader for the tar sands industry that is trying to push pipelines and tankers through BC as quickly as possible,” he said.

At least with Redford’s Conservatives, Hudema added, there’s a recognition that environmental problems exist, and they say they will take steps to mitigate some of them. But he said that doesn’t change the fact that the Conservatives’ track record is “horrible” with regards to the environment.

“They do recognize that they need to take some steps, if only to stave off international criticism. And I think that’s something that Danielle Smith and the Wildrose party don’t seem to care about,” he said.

Comparing the candidates

For the first time in four decades, there’s a new party poised to take over from the Alberta Conservatives. According to Church, some Alberta voters see the long-reigning PC party as “drunk with power”, and now it appears people are ready for a change. But unlike provinces such as BC and Ontario, where an occasional switch from left to right is not unheard of, Alberta’s (realistic) options always tend to be on the same end of the political spectrum.

“It’s like right, right, right. It’s like being on a traffic circle that you’re only driving one direction,” said Church.

As a result, the struggling Conservatives this week launched a last-ditch effort to sway left-leaning voters to Redford—if only as a “lesser evil” than the Wildrose. The Alberta Liberals, led by MLA Raj Sherman, and the provincial NDP under leader Brian Mason both sit at under ten per cent in the polls, as does the Alberta Party at just two per cent.

Apart from the topic of the oil sands—which the leaders have been accused of avoiding during this campaign—health care is one of the big issues on voters' minds. Frustrated Albertans say they're fed up with lengthy wait times, and competitors claim that the current PC government is “bullying” doctors. On the other side, the Wildrose Party has come under fire because of an anti-gay blog post by one of the candidates, as well as for a comment by another candidate who said he felt he had an advantage because he was Caucasian.

Here are a few points on how the two leading candidates stack up on some other key election issues:

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