Politics of Alberta

Politics of Alberta

The politics of Alberta are centred on a provincial government resembling that of the other Canadian provinces, namely a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The capital of the province is Edmonton, where reside the Lieutenant Governor, his or her premier, the legislature, and cabinet.

The unicameral legislature—the Legislative Assembly of Alberta—has 83 members. Government is conducted after the Westminster model. The province's revenue, although including grants from the federal government, is chiefly derived from management of the provincial resources. Alberta has a system of municipal government similar to that of the other provinces. The most significant exception is that Alberta is the only province in Canada without a provincial sales tax ("see also Sales taxes in Canada").

Albertan politics since the 1930s have typically been characterized as substantially more right-wing than those of any other Canadian province, granting it the nickname "Texas of Canada" or "Texas North"Fact|date=March 2008. The provincial government has been formed by a series of right-wing parties for decades, beginning in 1935 with Social Credit and continuing since 1971 with the Progressive Conservatives. The previous premier of Alberta was Ralph Klein, who, despite making many controversial statements and having had problems with alcohol, remained the leader of the Progressive Conservative party and thus the province, although only 55% of delegates from his party signified their approval of his leadership on the spring of 2006, pushing him into early retirement. [ [http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=485dcef3-bbcf-4459-92b2-ea3c999ea960&k=41307 "Klein receives goodbye hugs, pancakes"] by the Canadian Press via Canada.com, July 24, 2006, retrieved July 24, 2006] Edmonton is the exception as residents have historically voted for left of centre parties, such as the Liberal Party of Alberta and Alberta New Democrats. This can be seen in the 2004 provincial election. [ [http://www.nodice.ca/elections/alberta/ridings-5.php Alberta Elections] (2004)]

Alberta's political stability has led to a series of political dynasties. In this, it is important to note that Alberta is a first-past-the-post system, so even though a party may have a majority of the seats in the legislature, it does not necessarily mean that the government formed matches the wishes of a majority of the population. For example, in the 2004 election, the Progressive Conservative party won 61 of 83 seats (73%) while only obtaining 47.07% of the popular vote, leading for many of the opposition parties to include electoral reform in their policies. [ [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20041109/albertaelection_liberals_20041109?s_name=&no_ads= CTV article] - Alberta Elections 2004] [ [http://www.albertagreens.ca/node/237 Alberta Greens] - 2004 Elections] Compare this with proportional representation, which is one of the alternatives suggested to combat disenfranchisement of people who vote for a non-winning candidate. In its history, Alberta has seen only four parties form governments, none of which has returned to power after a single incumbent defeat:

1905-1921 Alberta Liberal Party
1921-1935 United Farmers of Alberta
1935-1971 Social Credit Party of Alberta
1971-present Alberta Progressive Conservatives

Most of the 26 Albertan general elections held as of 2006 have resulted in overwhelming majorities for the governing party, a trend unseen in any other province in Canada. No minority government has ever been elected in Alberta, nor has any minority ever been brought about due to by-elections and/or floor crossings.

Alberta was the heartland of the former Reform Party of Canada and its successor, the Canadian Alliance. These parties were the second-largest political parties in the federal Parliament from 1997 to 2003, and the furthest to the political right. The Canadian Alliance merged with the Progressive Conservative Party to form today's Conservative Party of Canada, which is led by the Ontario-born Stephen Harper who moved to Alberta in the 1980s.

Both the provincial Progressive Conservatives and the Reform/Alliance parties reflect Alberta's more socially conservative nature when compared to other provinces. Politicians elected by Albertans tend to oppose social policies such as same-sex marriage and gun control. According to a 2001 poll by Leger Marketing, 61.8% of Albertans polled are in favour of the death penalty compared to 52.9% of Canadians [ [http://www.legermarketing.com/documents/spclm/010917eng.pdf Larger Marketing] - 2001 poll] , although death penalty has been abolished throughout Canada since 1976. The outgoing Premier of Alberta, Ralph Klein, has even attempted to establish relations with politicians in the US, including sending a letter of support to US President George W. Bush signifying his approval for the Iraq war. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/story/news/national/2003/03/22/klein_030322.html CBC article] - Ralph Klein letter to George W. Bush]

Some Albertans continue to resent the imposition in the 1980s of the National Energy Program (NEP) by the Liberal federal government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. It was considered to be an intrusion by the federal government in an area of provincial responsibility that led some Albertans to consider separation of the province from Canada. There have been occasional surges in interest since then in the idea of seceding from Canada, but this movement is generally considered to be on the political fringe. The NEP was ended when the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, led by Brian Mulroney, formed the federal government following the 1984 federal election.

Albertans are the lowest-taxed people in Canada, mostly because of the province's considerable oil and gas income. It is also the only province in Canada where there is no Provincial Sales Tax, although the three Canadian territories also do not have a provincial sales tax. [ [http://www.taxtips.ca/provincial_sales_tax.htm Taxation] - provincial sales tax] Unlike the other provinces, which use a progressive income tax regime, Alberta uses a flat rate income tax (currently at 10%). Alberta is one of two provinces that consistently do not receive equalization payments from the federal government (the other being Ontario). In fact, Alberta is the largest net contributor to the program, and the payments are made to poorer provinces to ensure that all provinces are able to provide similar levels of public services. This is largely due to the wealth of the province, which is often attributed to the abundance of natural resources, but could also be linked ot the province's friendly business climateFact|date=October 2008. Alberta is also the only province in Canada that has eliminated its provincial debt. [ [http://www.gov.ab.ca/home/index.cfm?Page=4 Government of Alberta] - Elimination of provincial debt]

In the 2006 election, the federal Conservative Party of Canada won 28 of the 28 seats in Alberta, providing them with a complete sweep of the province. Many of the Conservative candidates were elected with large majorities of the vote. Alberta has for decades been considered a Conservative fortress, no matter which right of centre party they may have chosen to support. Albertans followed strong support for the Progressive Conservatives in the 1980s with the same degree of support for the Reform Party, and the Canadian Alliance in the 1990s, finally delivering a clean sweep for the new Conservative Party of Canada only a few years after its creation in 2003-2004. However, small disaffection with the Conservative Party of Canada over policies enacted during its minority government such as with equalization and the Conservatives' reversal on income trusts led to the founding of the nascent federal Party of Alberta, in 2006.

ee also

* List of Alberta Premiers
* List of Alberta general elections
* List of political parties in Alberta
* Politics of Canada
* Political culture of Canada
* Council of the Federation


External links

* [http://www.projectalberta.com Project Alberta]
* [http://www.elections.ab.ca/elect2008/ Elections Alberta 2008 Provincial Election]

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