Donald Trump’s scary lead in the Republican nominee race led Ms Soapbox to wonder whether The Donald’s promise to Make America Great Again! with a mishmash of protectionist, racist ideas grafted to a fiscally conservative and socially conservative platform would play well in Alberta.
Legitimizing racism and bigotry
Trump will build a wall to keep out Mexican rapists and drug dealers, ban Muslims from entering the country and deport 11 million undocumented people living in the US.
Well, there’s Alberta Trump’s first hurdle—Albertans will not tolerate a racist, bigoted government.
This became crystal clear in the 2012 election when the homophobic “lake of fire” comments of a Wildrose candidate came to light. It resurrected the Progressive Conservatives’ campaign. The PCs trounced the Wildrose winning 61 of 87 seats.
Examples of social conservatism (like protests against gay-straight alliances) continue to pop up now and then but appear to be limited to Wildrose party supporters and small advocacy groups.
Alberta Trump could not play the social conservative card and win.
National security justifies everything
Trump condones the use of torture and killing the families of terrorists.
In the 2015 election Harper’s Conservatives took 29 out of 34 seats in Alberta. Harper proposed a number of counter-terrorism measures. Some violated the Charter but none rose to the abhorrent level advocated by Trump.
While some Albertans supported Harper’s proposals it is unlikely that the majority of Albertans would accept Trump’s inhumane actions even in the face of an actual terrorist threat.
Luckily for Alberta Trump, national security is a federal matter and he does not need to test this policy provincially.
Reducing income taxes and corporate taxes
Ah, the sweet spot!
Wildrosers and Progressive Conservatives stridently reject the NDP government’s tax hikes.
They’d welcome Alberta Trump’s proposal to reduce taxes with open arms…until they looked at the numbers.
Alberta would have to raise taxes to meet Trump’s targets. Trump is proposing a 15% corporate tax rate. Alberta’s corporate rate is 12%. Trump is proposing a 25% tax on the highest income earners. Alberta’s maximum personal income tax rate is 15%.
Scratch that plank from Alberta Trump’s platform.
Fix the economy
Trump says he’s the only candidate with the business experience to fix the economy. He promises to renegotiate NAFTA (and presumably reject the TPP)* and to punish US corporations that off-shore their business operations.
This resonates with voters but Trump can’t do it alone. He needs help from Congress and the Supreme Court.
Albertans would flock to Alberta Trump if he promised to fix the economy.
The fact that Alberta Trump could not force OPEC to stop flooding the market so that oil prices would rise to, say, $50 and could not force oil companies who are sitting on $8.5 billion in cash to rehire laid-off staff is irrelevant to people praying for a miracle.
Interestingly, Donald Trump offers a bold break from the free market model so dear to the Wildrose and Progressive Conservatives. He’d be an interventionist president who’d impose tariffs on companies that fail to behave.
Alberta’s conservatives firmly reject the idea of government intervention in the market place.
They’re saying no to the $2 billion capital infusion to Alberta Treasury Branch, Alberta Enterprise Corp and AIMCo for business development; no to royalty changes that reward efficient energy companies, no to the climate leadership plan which makes Alberta energy more attractive to outsiders and no to carbon pricing which redirects funds to low income families and green development.
They’re convinced the only way to bring the boom back is to revert to the status quo—which is exactly how Alberta ended up in this economic mess in the first place.
Trump boasts he’s not a member of The Club, the coterie of Wall Street investment bankers, corporate CEOs and powerful politicians who make the rules.
An outsider would be extremely attractive to Albertans who are all too familiar with The Club—the Progressive Conservative inner circle which took care of its own.
Examples include Jack Davis who expensed a $230 Ghandarva (?) massage for his partner while earning $1.2 million/year as the head of Calgary Health, an appointment he received after rotating through a number of deputy minister posts in the PC government.
Albertans elected many outsiders when they voted for the NDP in 2015, and while some voters truly preferred the NDP candidate others were casting an anti-PC vote.
The “outsider” card might work for Alberta Trump.
Albertans are frustrated and angry.
They’re looking for someone to blame for the worse economic downturn they’ve ever experienced. Some blame the PCs who lacked the foresight to avoid this mess. Others blame Canada for failing to get them out of it. None blame the oil companies that expanded too fast and flooded the market when oil prices were high.
A Trump-like figure—without the racist overtones—could channel their frustration by blaming the NDP for failing to pull a rabbit out of a hat.
Alberta Trump would not be able to fix the economy but if the economy recovered under his watch he’d get credit for the return to prosperity…
…or if the gods are kind, Rachel Notley will be at the helm when oil prices pick up and the work she’s done to modernize royalties, diversify the economy and care for the less fortunate will come to fruition leaving Alberta Trump no choice but to slink back to the swamp of US politics where he belongs.
*Ms Soapbox welcomes any proposals to re-examine NAFTA and the TPP. The ISDS clause that allows foreign corporations to sue Canada if laws change in a way that negatively impacts their bottom line violates national sovereignty.