“Fear is the mind-killer.” -Frank Herbert Dune
As The NDP slowly take over the reins of power in the province of Alberta there is a growing chorus of fear beginning to be heard. Who are they? – really? What will they do? This has been voiced by many I have spoken to in the business community they fear that an NDP government is by definition an ‘anti-business government.’ Fearing this definition to be a reality many businesses have put projects on hold; money managers have been told to take a ‘wait and see’ attitude when it comes to investing in Alberta, resulting in millions, if not billions of dollars of capital sitting on the sidelines.
It is true that for most the NDP landslide win in Alberta was a total surprise. We now havemany people in the legislature who in all reality may not have expected to get elected but are now holding office. This showcases why concerns over experience and the NDP’s ability to effectively balance the many competing interests within the province have begun to arise.
Many are worried – yet I am not.
Much has fallen on Premier Notley’s shoulders; of that there is no doubt. Yet we must not succumb to the political bigotry of the past and assume that the Alberta NDP has not seen what has happened in other provinces when certain agendas were pushed to their extremes be them from either end of the political spectrum. No government operates in a vacuum. Legacy issues bind one government to the last. Practicality and administrative constraints make even the boldest of agendas tempered.
In this author’s humble opinion, Albertans have always been a practical people and in the end the voters have spoken, expecting a good house cleaning to take place. Pushing a legislative agenda to one extreme or another is not the Albertan way. To date we have seen no tangible indication that Premier Notley and her government is moving in one particular direction or another.
Former Councillor Terry Cavanaugh told me on many occasions that we must manage change, less it manage us; never truer words for today’s times. Given the economic downturn the Notley government will face, its greatest challenge to its most commonly argued negative stereotype – that they are not good economic stewards. I argue that this premise remains to be seen. The sooner Premier Notley and her new government move to calm market concerns over her legislative agenda the sooner we can all move on. Fear of the unknown leads to a sort of economic paralysis, that is, if unimpeded it will have negative and cascading effects that can leave long lasting damage to any economy.
Given the job loss rate due to low oil prices and the ‘wait and see’ attitude of capital investment, establishing clear legislative priorities sooner rather than later would be a welcome sight. Do not let fear rule the day, let the new MLA’s get into their offices, and let them all find their footing. This should not take long, but let’s be honest – at this point in time in the current economic cycle, sooner rather than later, is better.