Sunday, October 18, 2009

Danielle Smith and the Future of Alberta, Redux

Wildrose Alliance leader offers vision of citizens' democracy

When the Wildrose Alliance met in Edmonton yesterday to choose their new leader, they made what many people had judged to be the predictable choice.

Danielle Smith will lead Alberta's new conservative opposition, which may soon be Alberta's Official Opposition.

Smith has already promised a new era of accountability for Ed Stelmach's Progressive Conservative government -- but only because she and her party are prepared to make them accountable.

"We see in these waning years of the Progressive Conservative era how badly leaders and caucuses behave when they are beyond any requirement to account regularly for their decisions," she announced. "Ed Stelmach, you haven't begun to imagine what's about to hit you!"

"We're going to give Albertans back their province and we're going to give them back their pride," she added. "My number 1 job is to turn Alberta back into a real democracy once again."

Smith's vision for Albertan democracy is one, unsurprisingly, of small government that is responsive to the demands of citizens -- one in which business and citizenry are "encouraged" to solve problems on their own.

In particular, Smith's views on climate change fully reflect this paradigm.

"If it makes sense financially, if consumers feel good about it, if it has the overall impact of reducing emissions -- whether or not you're going to focus on Kyoto or Copenhagen or whatever the latest climate scientists have to say, or the IPCC -- it doesn't really matter to me," Smith explained. "To me, it's quite clear that Albertans want to move in that direction. Whether you want to do it to save money or save the environment, I think it's something we should be focusing on, energy efficiency."

It isn't the kind of attitude one would expect from a party widely being treated as arch-conservative, and will almost certainly be treated as unacceptable by those who insist that the only tolerable reason for reducing carbon emissions.

The specifics of the kind of plan Smith would propose for the reduction of carbon emssions has yet to be seen, and will likely await a party policy convention. But one can fully expect that Smith -- a committed libertarian -- will favour a solution that will focus on providing incentive for business and citizens alike to reduce their emissions.

Once an expect the bulk of Wildrose Alliance policy to reflect this particular paradigm -- less like Hugh Segal's "nation and enterprise" and more like "citizen and enterprise".

In choosing Danielle Smith over the socially conservative Mark Dyrholm, the rapidly-growing membership of the Wilrose Alliance may well be choosing these libertarian ideals not only as the future of their party, but possibly even as the future of Alberta.


Other bloggers writing about this topic:

Rob Harvie - "Mark Dyrholm Given the Boot -- NOW Things Will Get More Interesting"

Leigh Patrick Sullivan - "Decision '09: The Post-Mortem"

James Morton - "Alberta's Great Right Hope"

The Cracked Crystal Ball - "New Wildrose Alliance Leader"

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