Friday, May 08, 2015

Can She Stay In The Driver's Seat?


Jim Prentice, the turn around and he's gone premier of Alberta, used to be a member of The Trilateral Commission. Michael Harris reminds his readers that the commission is:

a body set up in 1973 by establishment types worried about an “excess” of democracy creating a “governability” problem in the West. Those were the days of the energy crisis, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, environmental protests and a peace movement that ended up forcing a halt to the Vietnam War. Today, those same forces are in play. Back then, the Commission concluded that people — particularly young people — had to be more passive and obedient to established authority if “democracy” was to survive.

The problem, as the commissioners saw it, was that democracy got in the way of profit. Prentice's proposed budget put profits ahead of people:

When Prentice told Albertans to “look in the mirror” to understand what had caused the province’s financial crisis, it was his Marie Antoinette moment. Prentice’s budget offered austerity to the masses and another all-day sucker to corporations.

And no, the math was not all that difficult to figure out. For years, the PCs had been lining the pockets of the oil companies with obscenely low resource royalties that weren’t even competently collected. In fact, Alberta failed to collect nearly $2.5 billion in royalties every year since 2009 because the provincial government bungled the math. Premier elect Rachel Notley called it: This election saw Albertans take back their government from the people who believed they owned the place.

What happened this week in Alberta was a glaring reminder that things should be the other way around. The people who both Stephen Harper and Jim Prentice work for were told to leave the driver's seat and sit in the back of the bus:

Rachel Notley, giant-killer, is the polar opposite of what both Prentice and Harper represent. A labour lawyer and union activist, she attended her first anti-war demonstration in the early 1970s at the age of nine, with her mother. She said she was amazed by what people could accomplish when they came together. Some forty years later she and her party have pulled off the greatest political upset in Canadian history.

The very people Harper has vilified, Notley embraced. In her victory speech, she thanked public servants, teachers and health care workers. She thanked Alberta’s Indigenous people for “the trust we have been given tonight.”

“The government belongs to you,” she said as her supporters cheered. “And you will be treated with respect.”

Now we will wait to see if Notley can stay in the driver's seat.


Pamela Mac Neil said...

Hopefully Owen, she'll also know how to drive the bus.

Owen Gray said...

It will take some skill, Pam. There are lots of potholes on the route.

Lorne said...

" “excess” of democracy creating a “governability” problem."

Truly an Orwellian concept, Owen.

Owen Gray said...

In true Orwellian fashion, Lorne, they sing the virtues of "we, the people" and work hard to keep the people out of the corridors of power.