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Back in 1990, in a fit of pique, I cast my vote in Ontario for Bob Rae and the NDP. I never expected him to win. I was just mad at the other guys. Imagine my surprise when I woke up the next morning and discovered he was premier. The entire province was aghast. I thought it would be a train wreck, and it was.
Will Rachel Notley be a train wreck? I don’t think so. Unlike Mr. Rae, she doesn’t feel like the leader of a left-wing horde of crazies who got in by mistake. She feels like a gust of fresh air blowing the cobwebs out of all those stale backrooms where old boys lurked.
When Albertans woke up the day after the election, a lot of them were smiling. Ms. Notley is by all accounts level-headed, smart and down-to-earth, like her dad. Even though most of them didn’t vote for her, she’s riding an upswell of goodwill.
Mr. Rae’s crew were red-diaper socialists who really did think that capitalism and big business were the root of all evil. They despised the private sector so much that the poor saps who happened to work on Bay Street couldn’t even get an audience with the government. Ms. Notley has set a different tone. She has been courteous to the oil and gas people, some of whom have practically gone into cardiac arrest.
She clearly has no intention of killing the geese that lay the golden eggs (even if they’re not as golden these days). She’s even said she’ll work with the Harper government. Such sentiments are anathema to certain NDPers, who booed her when she said that. In response, she told them to grow up.
Whether the adults can keep a grip on their eager-beaver bunch of rookies remains to be seen. (Mr. Rae had a hard time of it.) Personally, I think Ms. Notley should send all her NDP greenhorns for crash-course internships in the oil patch. No doubt they’d learn a lot.
The oil patch might learn something, too. They might learn how to talk with people other than themselves. I am a big fan of the oil patch, but they haven’t been all that good at endearing themselves to the general public.
For the rest of this column, click here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/rachel-notleys-victory-shows-the-system-does-work/article24386991/