In defence of the Tories
Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 06:00 am
For those of you who are regular readers of this column, I thank both of you. As regular readers, you know that I seldom comment positively on the Provincial Conservative Party, and its often-feeble efforts at trying to manage this glorious province. It’s not difficult to make fun of this group, as they willingly provide countless examples of fuzzy logic, confused policies, incoherent communications, and just your average, everyday screw-ups. So, it may surprise you to realize that this column is coming to the defence of the Tories. There are two factors that have caused me to take this position:
Last year, Alberta was responsible for 87 per cent of the total job growth in Canada. While Alberta is home to only about 10 per cent of all Canadians, the province accomplished a breathtaking job creation success. It’s becoming painfully obvious that Alberta, along with its two western neighbours, is the economic heart of a rapidly changing Canada.
Such massive job creation numbers mean, of course, an equally massive number of Canadians moving to Alberta to claim some of these jobs. Further, these new arrivals need homes and condos, schools, libraries, highways, garbage pickup, swimming pools, police and fire services, recreation facilities, hospitals, clinics, and a countless number of other services and facilities. These demands put enormous pressure on local and provincial authorities to ensure that all of this required infrastructure is designed, built, managed and maintained, to say nothing of the recruitment, hiring and training of additional thousands of individuals necessary to provide the required services.
Yes, I know there have been some breakdowns in the delivery of this infrastructure, but when you consider the enormity of the task at hand, the Conservatives deserve real praise. And while much of Alberta’s growth is likely due to the fact that 500 billion barrels of oil decided, eons ago, to take up residency in Alberta, the current government has encouraged this growth, and has not tried to manage all aspects of this industry. When one considers the dismal results achieved whenever New Democrats decide to run a provincial economy, the Tories should take justifiable pride in “not screwing it up.”
Secondly, a few recent events have caused me to believe that the media, and a portion of the province’s population, have unrealistic expectations on what governments can know, and can solve.
I refer to the ever-widening scandal involving former Premier Redford. If the reports are true, then Ms. Redford is guilty of abusing her powers, along with a whole series of foolish decisions and mismanagement of provincial affairs. However, to expect other government members to be aware of all these “stunts” is, I believe, a ridiculous expectation.
Specifically, I think about the criticism leveled at Finance Minister Doug Horner, for not knowing about Ms. Redford’s habit of listing “invisible” guests on the manifest for certain government flights. It is preposterous to insist that one individual can possibly be aware of all the antics being played out by hundreds of officials.
The minister did his job – he established the budgets, the controls, and the reporting required. The fact that another political leader decided to take unfair advantage of the privileges given to her is hardly Horner’s fault. Politics is a dirty, nasty business, but Doug Horner is an honest, hard-working cabinet minister who deserves better than what he is receiving.
If we are prepared to condemn the Tories when poor economic performance occurs, then we equally must offer them praise when the performance is outstandingly good, which the job creation numbers prove beyond question. And, to expect our political leaders to know the activities, minute by minute, of the thousands of provincial employees and politicians is to demand performance that we ourselves know is impossible and pointless.
Brian McLeod is a St. Albert resident.