It’s been said that the United States is a center-right country and Canada is a center-left country. Actually, given the evidence, it should be said that both countries generally prefer the center when it comes to selecting its leaders. According to nearly all the opinion polls, Canada’s oil rich province of Alberta was set to choose the Wildrose, Canada’s version of the Tea Party, as its government. Instead, this past Monday (April 23 ) it decided to keep the incumbent and mainstream Progressive Conservative party, stewards of Alberta for 41 consecutive years, as its government.
True, Alberta is probably Canada’s closest version of Texas. It has the lowest tax rate in the country, is the home of Canada’s largest reservoir of fossil fuels and generally is seen to be the jurisdiction with the strongest libertarian streak in the country. Over the decades, the governing Progressive Conservative party has become a reliable and stable fixture, despite the obvious fatigue voters are beginning to feel with 41 years of rule. The Wildrose party, with striking similarities to the U.S. Tea party including its brand of conservative populism and its economic libertarianism, seemed at the end of the day, too extreme even in the Canada’s most pro-free enterprise province.
Just as in the United States, Canada has its ideologically based parties, but when it comes to electing its prime ministers and premiers, it prefers that their leaders govern with the widest consensus possible. In a parliamentary system, governments can often be found with a majority of seats but with less than 50 percent of the popular vote. Any government that is insensitive to this reality will eventually pay a price at the next political rendez-vous. Pragmatism and compromise are preferred to rigidity and ideology.