Politically Crackin – February 7, 2011
If you ever take an introductory course in Canadian Political Science, you will likely hear that every province has its own â€śpolitical personality.â€ť Thatâ€™s not meant to refer to the individual personalities of a provinceâ€™s premier or other specific politicians, but instead refers to the way the political system tends to operate in a province — things such as how many parties are competitive in elections, how often there tends to be a change in government, etc. The theory is usually that these â€śpersonalitiesâ€ť are inherited — so if your province has many immigrants from the United States, for example, your political system would tend to be somewhat American in flavor.
Even if itâ€™s not an entirely accurate way of looking at politics, itâ€™s certainly interesting to think about what it may mean, especially if you compare political systems between provinces. If Albertaâ€™s political personality is your conservative, accountant uncle, then my home province of British Columbiaâ€™s political system is probably best described as your crazy 3rd cousin.
A bit of history starts to paint the picture. Alberta has had 13 Premiers in its history; whoever replaces Premier Stelmach later this year will be the 14th. British Columbia, on the other hand, got through 13 Premiers by June 14, 1900. Its 35th Premier will be elected in February, as the governing (Liberal) party is currently engaged in a leadership campaign. Actually, so is the NDP Official Opposition; meaning that neither the governing party nor the Oppositionâ€™s current leadership will be in that role in a few months. Interestingly enough, we see much the same situation here in Alberta.
However, before you think that Alberta may be turning into British Columbia, itâ€™s useful to look at current events. The last week and a bit has seen political debate in BC focus on the latest scandal there, which some are dubbing â€śCatgate.â€ť Catgate is about a very special feline, named Olympia, who — for reasons that will perhaps forever be clouded in controversy — ended up as a member of the BC Liberal Party, and was thus technically eligible to vote in their upcoming leadership contest. Yes, in British Columbia, a cat nearly got to vote for who her next Premier would be. There was even a short lived website and Twitter account under the name â€śkitties4christy,â€ť evidently referring to one of the BC Liberal Partyâ€™s leadership candidates, Christy Clark, who apparently commands the support of the provinceâ€™s felines.
So, rest assured, no matter what happens in Alberta in the coming months — whether itâ€™s an upset victory in the Progressive Conservative leadership race by an underdog candidate, or the first minority government in Albertaâ€™s history following the next election, or even the provinceâ€™s fifth change in governing party, I donâ€™t think politics will ever be quite as scandal-ridden (or entertaining) as they are in BC. And that is probably a very good thing, indeed.