The first factor is alienation. Voter alienation. People alienation. The Conservative agenda, of no deficits run government as if it were a business, trace back to the early nineties and Preston Manning's Reform Party movement - coincidentally also born in Alberta. Prior to that, deficits were a matter of fact in Canadian politics, and social programs were one of the key things that we defined ourselves by. How we look after each other and the less fortunate in society. Paul Martin took the idea of running the country like a business, rather than as a country, to the federal scene. He chopped and chopped until the provinces were forced to do the same, and before we new it we had "business-government". People began to view this new way of things as responsible. They equated it to their own lives and their own finances. Before we knew it we had not just "business-politics", but also "business-families". The promise was that if we followed this path that our country and our lives would reach some sort of Utopian balance.
Unfortunately, to quote some nefarious politicians from here, "nothing could be further from the truth". After 25 years of the "Manning doctrine" the finances of the country are no better than they were. Our household problems and family issues have not improved. What we've really become is a country preoccupied with survival and cold at heart when it comes to our own. We have become "rationalizers" rather than "visionary". There is no more advancement toward a just society, but rather a down ward spiral of the dog eat dog society that is so prevalent in our neighbor to the south. A cold place, with a machine-like existence, and no purpose other than achieving some elusive economic paradise.
That's ending in Canada though. The idea that our only worth as a country is to be measured by deficit or surplus each year is slowly uncoupling. Harper kind of gets this. His platform for re-election this year is dishing financial breaks to two specific groups - the so-called rich and the so-called middle class. He's targeting their desire to have more income, as if that could somehow improve their personal happiness, in an attempt to tempt people to achieving that "elusive economic paradise". He's trying to prove that the Manning doctrine is working, and that the country is really to be measured by its bottom line rather than its values. It's a formula that has been successful up to now since the dog days of Preston Manning. But, those days are coming to a quick end.
The PC's loss in Alberta was not about the decline in oil prices. The truth is the PC's have been falling in voter support in Alberta since Ralph Kline left. He was popular because he represented the bold, brash, free spirit of the Alberta people. The ones that followed merely tried to maintain a political system for the corporate elites in Alberta, while virtually ignoring the wishes of their own people. Until last night, Alberta dared not cross the Rubicon. It dared not fire the maintainers. Now the seal has been broken, and the "unthinkable" has happened. It happened in the last federal election in Quebec as well. The "anti-business", "pro-people" party, the NDP, created a wave. The Orange Wave or the Orange Crush - which ever you prefer.
Why? Because people are sick of being treated as widgets. It's that simple. Sick of being measured by the dollar. Sick of seeing the sick and downtrodden marginalized as if they were more burden than their relative economic worth. Sick of being treated as a commodity. Sick of having their hopes for the future superficially addressed. The list goes on, but essentially, people are sick of insincere people treating them like means to an end. By rationalizing our society to an economic standard we have rationalized our humanness in kind. It is this fundamental fact that has resulted in Orange Waves. It's not that the NDP are somehow the in thing. It's that the other parties have been type-cast as purveyors of the status quo. Interchangeable. Indistinguishable. Preston Manning clones that people have become sick of.
Will that people's revolt happen this year in our province's election? You can take that to the bank - pardon the pun. Will it be the Liberals, who now lead the polls, that take the government? That's still not a guaranteed thing. The PCs falling is, but their replacement isn't. A great deal of that depends on how the Liberals conduct themselves as the "people's party". Will they be believable as champions of the people rather than champions of the business elite? Right now that is very questionable. Very questionable in deed. Will the NDP rebound, catch momentum, and become those champions of the average person? That's still to be determined too. One thing seems certain from last night - Harper's/Manning's view of Canada is under attack, and the PM should be seeing the Alberta victory for what it is - the People's turn.