Is the PC dynasty lurching toward death in Alberta?
Alberta Conservative Leader Jim Prentice speaks during a campaign stop in Edmonton on Tuesday April 14, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Published Thursday, April 30, 2015 5:50PM EDT
Harry Strom is a concept more than a person.
As the last premier flattened by an Alberta political rollover, his name is synonymous with abrupt and permanent power shifts.
Only four times in Alberta’s 110-year history has a ruling party been kicked out of office, never to return.
Strom was the hapless Social Credit premier who lost to the Peter Lougheed Progressive Conservatives on Aug. 30, 1971, which, to put that longevity in context, is four months before Justin Trudeau was born.
What’s got political junkies across Canada in a frothing frenzy is the possibility, if not the probability, of the PCs finally falling to, of all parties, an NDP surge in the heartland of right-wing conservativism.
Relax and remember your history, insists PC leader Jim Prentice’s people. A poll the night before the 2012 election tapped the Wild Rose for the majority reclaimed by the PCs. The time before that, Ed Stelmach appeared headed for a humbling, before he pulled in another big win.
But this campaign looks like an old hat without a rabbit.
A cost-cutting budget filled with tax increases but no boost on the corporate side has infuriated voters.
An early election call seemingly designed to kill off a staggering opposition offends their democratic sensibilities.
And the premier delivering an uninspired gaffe-plagued campaign performance has done little to restore confidence in his clearly proven abilities.
Add it up and even the most dedicated Alberta watchers cannot predict the outcome of Tuesday’s vote with any confidence.
But there’s more at stake than just an election outcome in one province.
Economically, an Alberta sagging under new and unprepared management will be felt nationally.
Politically, it would hurt the Conservative party brand in the west and boost NDP fortunes across the western provinces.
And personally, if federal Conservative caucus chatter is any indication, this campaign has already eliminated Prentice from federal leadership contention.
So Tuesday is a seismic night in Canadian politics.
If Jim Prentice wins a majority mandate, it’s another Miracle on the Prairie for the world’s most resilient democratic party.
But if he loses, the Harry Strom concept has company in the history books.