The gloves are off as the provincial election campaign went into full tilt last week.
Not surprising to anyone, the verbiage coming from the United Conservative Party (UCP) and NDP camps has been heated as each side strives to paint the other as unfit to lead the province.
While we don't consider our online polls to be scientific by any means and we have no control over who answers, who they are affiliated with or even where they live, our latest poll asking readers to rate the NDP's performance as good or poor received more responses than we have ever had. With nearly 3,000 votes and more than 2,000 of them grading the NDP as poor, it is obvious there is a definite level of frustration. Even if you argue away the results by attributing it to a mobilized UCP campaign team, nothing stops the NDP from using the same tactic.
The comments under the poll also revealed a lot of frustration, with the current state of the economy. Understandable considering the party made some ideological missteps when they entered office by plowing ahead with campaign promises that had negative impacts on an already suffering economy - increasing minimum wage, increasing tax loads and building billions in infrastructure. While the latter was sorely needed, perhaps the NDP should have started off slower, because the appreciation for new schools and hospitals has depreciated in the face of massive debt.
With the severe frustration in the province regarding the fact unemployment rates have been barely improving (if it all), rising debt, the cumulative cost of living increase due to minimum wage, and the carbon tax, UCP leader Jason Kenney has been hitting the NDP hard.
He also pulled on the anger strings by emphasizing the NDP has failed to stand up for Alberta . He pointed to allowing B.C. to stall pipeline constructions with little contest from the province and failed to protect the province from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's "destructive" policies such as Bill C69 dubbed by Kenney as the "no more pipelines bill."
It's not hard for Kenney to find speaking points to raise the ire of Albertans when referencing the NDP, especially considering the fiscal condition of province.,
A good strategy considering elections these days are won on emotion. The NDP capitalized on similiar discontent when it shocked the province by winning a majority government both the Progressive Conservatives and then the WIldrose Party imploded.
A lot of the NDP's strategy to combat UCP messaging is focused on pointing out the past and current blunders by Kenney – attitudes on same sex marriage for example – and candidates expressing what can be construed as racist, sexist and homophobic views.
To many , those attacks seem weak and desperate. However, as much as Albertans want the economy to recover, they also want a society that is fair and just and not one that segregates and discriminates based on gender, sexual orientation, race or religion.
The UCP insists it wants that too, but past and current statements give cause for some to wonder.
Whether the UCP ousts the NDP, or the NDP regain power or we have a minority government, it is important that ideology stops being the driver of political direction. We need policies that grow our economy and social policies that protect the vulnerable.
We should be able to have both.