Some in the West are finding it easier to flick matches over oil interests, rather than reviewing data.
Among the varying reactions to the recent federal election, one response has surprised some political commentators. With the calls for #Wexit (an Albertan exit from Canada), some Albertan voters became frustrated over the six of seven seats won by Liberals in the province (Jack Harris’ return being a notable exception to the provincial domination). The outcome seems to be taken as a betrayal to some disappointed Albertans who expected a sense of solidarity amongst provinces with an economic interest in oil and gas.
This anger is made understandable from the Albertan perspective given the Conservative collection of thirty-three seats out of thirty-four. However, this outrage was directed at the Newfoundland voter base rather than a panned electoral system like first past the post; a voting method which once came close to termination prior to a reneged campaign objective by the Liberals in 2015. While there were specific criticisms made online towards the voting system, these had a more bipartisan backing (amongst ‘ABC’ voters like Greens and NDP), whereas this Atlantic directed flak was more specific to online Conservatives.
Combined with a longstanding history of tacit Albertan separatism in Canadian politics, recent economic challenges, and the departure of Encana Corporation, have led to citizenry opposed to the federal flip-flopping on pipeline stances. While some have seen this technical stance by the Liberals as being pro-oil by some (Elizabeth May and disenfranchised supporters to name a few), in this context, his stance was perceived as anti-oil (in contrast to the Conservatives) that it has resulted in an even further combustion of the Liberals’ regional reputation.
It seems unlikely that the seven seats won in the Newfoundland and Labrador would have affected the Scheer drought when it came to the polls. Given that the Conservatives lagged behind Trudeau by thirty-six seats, a call against an Atlantic cousin seems just as unfair as the sort of treatment felt by Albertans themselves. If the local Liberal voters are to be blamed for the entire federal outcome, then this will mean that the polling data wasn’t the only projection last month. While there is something to be said about the emotions of betrayal with regards to Western alienation in Canada, a solution to this, likely won’t be found in the mudslinging against those looking beyond oil and gas.
Considering the unique political developments surrounding Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party, the ousted renegade NDP, recent cuts to provincial budgeting, and criticisms of equalization payments, it seems that Albertan Tories had more riding on the election than other provinces. The particular feeling of betrayal after a national vote that disagreed with Alberta says more about their stance on sharing a democracy than it does about a supposed federal hinge in the North Atlantic.