Does the recent Alberta election point to a seismic shift in Canadian politics?
The local federal NDP would certainly like to think so.
The South Surrey-White Rock riding association has just chosen Crescent Beach resident and environmental lawyer Pixie Hobby as as its candidate for October’s federal election.
And the party would like to paint this as a part of a gathering momentum after the orange wave that swept the Progressive Conservatives away after more than four decades at the rein.
But does provincial disenchantment – as startling as its effects turned out to be – translate to a national endorsement of the NDP?
While the federal Conservatives won all but one seat in Alberta in 2011, the provincial shift to the NDP could have implications for the federal election there.
In B.C., and particularly in South Surrey-White Rock, long a Conservative stronghold, the implications are far less clear.
What hay the local NDP can make – and what challenge they can mount to the Conservatives’ Dianne Watts – will depend on what lessons they can draw from the Alberta tsunami, particularly in exploiting voter dissatisfaction with previous Conservative representation.
While there are many reasons for the fall of the PCs and the rise of the NDP in Alberta, the overriding one seems to be that the PCs were taking power for granted after 44 years.
And while new PC leader Jim Prentice was capable and experienced, his actions in luring most of the opposition Wildrose Party’s MLAs to his caucus, and bringing in a budget that punished ordinary Albertans, seemed to infuriate voters. The NDP under Rachel Notley seemed the best option for many of them.
There may be parallels to be drawn in South Surrey-White Rock, but the NDP must also face another factor in the political landscape. The federal Liberals will also have a challenger for Watts, as soon as the local riding association makes a choice between potential candidates Peter Njenga and Joy Davies, or perhaps someone else we have yet to hear from.