rachel notley1Act One: ‘History knows all sorts of metamorphoses’—V.I. Lenin

April 16 is set to mark one of the most interesting and important elections in Alberta’s history. Despite the chaos within the United Conservative Party (UCP), and their bigoted, anti-worker platform, they are slated to win. The strategy of the NDP in the election campaign so far is a personality-based campaign around the figure of Premier Rachel Notley. They present themselves as defenders of the status quo, in contrast to the corrupt, deceiving, and hateful UCP. The UCP has been rocked by scandal after scandal involving support from white supremacists, homophobia, fraud, among many other issues. However, it looks like despite the missteps, they will still manage to win. One poll from Ipsos puts the UCP at 53 per cent, a majority government. Meanwhile, the NDP lags behind at a pathetic 35 per cent and is poised to become Alberta’s first and only single-term government. The reason for this state of affairs lies in the fact that the Notley government has alienated its base by moving to the right and cheerleading oil companies. This is a complete about-face from 2015, when the NDP ran on a campaign of “getting Albertans their fair share of the oil wealth” and taking on big oil interests. Four years later, the question of why and how the Alberta NDP capitulated so spectacularly contains a multitude of lessons for the labor movement and deserves to be examined in detail.

The landslide election victory of the Alberta NDP in 2015 came as an enormous shock to the ruling elite. Alberta was known as a right-wing, oil and beef-loving cowboy province which would remain conservative forever. But a combination of capitalist crisis in 2008 and 2014, and the legacy of corruption and austerity of the Progressive Conservative (PC) dynasty, created a desire for change that penetrated deep into the consciousness of the Alberta working class. There had been decades in which billions of dollars were extracted by big oil companies while the provincial government had nothing to show for it. Upon the announcement by then-premier Jim Prentice in 2014 that Albertans were going to have to “look in the mirror” and stomach a vicious austerity budget not seen since the days of Ralph Klein, regular people rightfully discarded the PC party, which had been in power for 44 years, in favor of the NDP.

The NDP’s victory was also aided by a division in the ruling class which expressed itself in the formation and rise of the Wildrose Party. The financial crisis of 2008 and the general contradictions of capitalism created a schism which divided the conservative vote. The effects of the crisis mean that the ruling class cannot afford the reforms and social programs which it was able to offer in the past. Instead they are compelled to ram through cruel austerity budgets, the likes of which UCP Leader Jason Kenney is preparing now. But the ruling class in 2008 had lost control of what had been its political vehicle for 40 years, the PC party. The Stelmach/Redford wing which dominated the party was representative of the more enlightened capitalists, the ones who wanted social stability to prevent an outbreak of class struggle. They planned to funnel some cash into infrastructure spending, reverse cuts to education, and balance between the working and ruling class to prevent a breakdown. This was not at all what the ruling class—mainly the oil barons—wanted, especially in a time of economic crisis. They wanted an all-out attack on workers, and so they backed and funded the Wildrose Party as their new executive team.

After the NDP victory in 2015, the right wing was thrown into a frenzy, and began a long and arduous process to patch up their differences and unite Wildrose with the PCs. The ruling class and oil barons in Alberta entirely supported this idea and actively sought unity to regain their rule over the province. Uniting the right-wing vote would maximize their chance to get rid of the NDP in the next election and return to what they considered normalcy. Uniting under one banner had worked in the past for the right wing; for example, in federal politics in late 2003, the Reform Party/Canadian Alliance merged with the Progressive Conservative Party to form the modern Conservative Party of Canada. Jason Kenney himself was involved in this merger. Under Stephen Harper that party would form government in 2006 and rule for 12 years. The process of fusion, however, did nothing to reconcile the differences between the two wings of the ruling class, and is the reason why the merger was so long, painful, and full of scandals and purges.

Having two political parties is a luxury that the bosses can only afford when the party of organized labour is weak or non-existent. That was the experience of the rise of the British Labour Party in the 1920s, and which has been repeated in country after country, province after province. Now class relations in Alberta have been simplified, with one party for the bosses and one party for the workers. The capitalist class may think that with a UCP victory Alberta will go “back to normal”, but 2015 marked a fundamental change in class relations. There will be no going back to another 43-year Conservative dynasty in Alberta. Now workers know they can win, and the class struggle in the streets, workplace, and ballot box will be hotly contested in the years to come.

Immediately after the election results became clear, the mouthpieces of the capitalists began a ferocious red-baiting campaign, saying that Alberta’s economy was now finished. The bourgeois press and right-wing politicians said that socialism, high taxes, and red tape would kill the economy, and that all investment in the province would pack up and leave. This campaign was led by none other than television celebrity and failed Conservative Party leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary, who described the situation as “a horror movie unfolding” before the NDP government was even sworn in. His advice for investors? “If you are a fiduciary, you can’t put money in Alberta right now.” The day after the election, the “fiduciaries” or investors expressed their horror not only in the press, but also in the stock market. The TSX’s energy sub-index fell sharply with other energy stocks despite oil prices slightly recovering since the crash of 2014. Many investors immediately vocalized that they were moving their investment to Saskatchewan companies. All this despite the fact that the NDP was not even sworn in yet.

For the super rich like Kevin O’Leary, the election of the NDP was like a horror movie. Rachel Notley’s campaign was run on a platform of soft reforms such as an increase in corporate taxes from 10 per cent to 12 per cent. This increase was modest to say the least. It put Alberta’s tax rate just a half a percent higher than those of Ontario and the Northwest Territories, which are the lowest in Canada. The rest of the provinces have a tax rate which is the same or higher. In fact, corporate taxes under Ralph Klein were higher even after his regime cut them from 15.5 to 13.5 percent. These comparisons show what a farce the hue and cry raised by O’Leary and his class was. They hold up Klein as the best thing that ever happened to Alberta. But when the NDP enacts a policy similar to what existed under Klein, they lose their marbles. This reaction shows the naked hatred the ruling class has for the NDP; no matter how soft their platform or how much they bend to pressure, the capitalists want nothing other than to destroy them and retake political control.

This red-baiting campaign has not ended since and will not be over until the capitalists are rid of the NDP. Going into the election, NDP lawn signs have been defaced with swastikas and slurs. One sign had written on it “DEATH TO MARXISTS”. These attacks have been fueled by the corporate media and the UCP. Kenney himself described the NDP tax policy, again the same policy with lower corporate taxes than Klein, as “good old-fashioned socialist politics of resentment”. Another instance of red-baiting was when Kenney threw a tantrum reacting to Notley reading the Story of Mouseland popularized by Tommy Douglas to school children, describing it as “socialist propaganda”. The corporate media has also been relentless in its attacks against the NDP. Even the National Post, the press mouthpiece of Conrad Black, admitted that there was a campaign of red-baiting that started before the NDP took power. The Edmonton Sun wrote last year, criticizing the NDP, “Saddling business with ever more rules and regulation and taxation, making it more and more difficult to make a reasonable profit, does nothing but scare away investment and kill jobs.” while calling them socialists four times in less than two pages—and that was supposedly an article of praise for the NDP! Other highlights include Ezra Levant’s hit piece where he said that Notley would only succeed “if she gives Albertans a broom, not a hammer and sickle.” The Financial Post published an article horribly titled “Rachel Notley’s NDP gets gropey with Alberta’s Heritage Fund” (which conveniently mentions very little about the PC dynasty that squandered the fund). And who could forget when former justice minister Peter MacKay said of the reaction of the federal PC party to the Alberta election results in 2015, “It was more like a morgue. Someone said it was like—it’s Albertastan now,” meaning a country from the former Soviet Union!

This campaign from the right wing should have been an early clue for the NDP government that the ruling class has no interest in cooperating with the NDP. Despite this vicious propaganda campaign, Rachel Notley made it clear that was her intention to appease the oil barons, saying: “They can count on us to work collaboratively with them. And I’m hopeful that over the course of the next two weeks, they’ll come to realize that things are going to be A-OK in Alberta.”

Act Two: Stuck between two great classes directly facing each other

Because of the oil crisis, the NDP were presented with an incredibly difficult situation. There was high unemployment, many workers applying for EI, oil companies demanding handouts, and little government revenue. And of course the base of their party, workers and youth, were expecting the reforms they were promised. Notley herself stated that her and her party “reject the politics of austerity.” But they took power in an economic downturn, one that even made Wildrose Leader Brian Jean admit the current period is not “a great time to govern.” The NDP was also stuck between two great classes, the workers and the capitalists, whose interests are completely opposed to each other. If the NDP acted on behalf of the workers, it would only be to the detriment of the capitalists and vice versa. Handouts to oil companies would mean austerity for the workers. Investment in social programs would mean less handouts for oil companies. So the question was posed: Who is going to pay for the crisis? The capitalists and the right wing wanted the working class to pay for the crisis with an austerity budget, as had always been the norm. But the NDP wanted to please all sides and tried to use Keynesian measures racking up billion-dollar deficits. As time went on and the situation became more dire, the NDP would eventually be forced to pick a side.

The NDP did deliver some basic reforms that had a positive impact on the lives of working people. They froze university tuition, increased funding to education, lowered school fees by 25 per cent, introduced and expanded a $25/day child-care program, made it illegal for schools to out kids in gay-straight alliances, and reformed the labor code. They also ended the flat income tax that had been put in place by Ralph Klein. This was a completely regressive tax that benefited the rich and made lower income earners who already found it difficult to pay their bills pay taxes they could not afford. They also reached a land settlement with the Lubicon Lake Band, an issue the PCs had ignored for decades.

By far the most important conquest of the Alberta NDP is the $15 minimum wage rolled out in 2018. The right wing and corporate media fear-mongered about this change for months and months. The Financial Post published an article consulting “a worried cadre of business owners and economists” and wrote that to them, “it is a looming nightmare. On the Day After $15, they say, Canada will be wracked by inflation, wayward youths, unemployment, bland hamburgers and robots taking our jobs.” Four years and a 40-per-cent raise for more that 300,000 workers in Alberta later, inflation has remained similar to how it had been in the five years prior to 2015. Unemployment has also plateaued after the worst effects of the 2014 crisis and has fallen from 9.1 per cent to 7.3 per cent. Instead of robots and bland hamburgers, more than 300,000 workers, two-thirds of them women, have moved closer to a living wage from one of poverty. The ruling class screamed as if the sky was falling before the $15 minimum wage was implemented, not because they were worried about its effects on inflation or employment, but rather because they were worried about its effects on the thing they care about the most: their wallets.

One of the main demands of the 2015 NDP campaign was a review of oil royalties, which was announced in the summer of 2015. Alberta has been getting milked of its oil wealth by multinational corporations while working class people benefit little. In 2014, Alberta had the lowest public spending relative to GDP in the country at 13 per cent. This low level of spending meant that health care, education, and other social programs were being put on the backburner, all while Alberta was getting the lowest oil royalties compared to countries of similar economic development. For example, in 2013 Norway realized revenues of $87.69 per barrel of oil, Alaska $38.54, and Alberta just $4.38. But the problem was that the NDP were in power in a time of economic crisis. Oil prices had fallen sharply and would continue to fall until it was less than $30 per barrel. The oil barons would not stomach small increases in royalties even when oil prices were high and they were reaping massive profits. When the Stelmach government raised the idea of raising royalty rates, it caused a breakdown in the PC party. The mere prospect was so disgusting to the ruling class that it became a key trigger in the division that created the Wildrose Party. The oil barons realized that they had lost control of their traditional political vehicle, the PC party, and began pouring money into the Wildrose Party seeking a new executive team. In 2008 the Wildrose Party raised a mere $233,000. By 2011 they had $2.7 million to work with. These funds paid for a campaign bus, advertising, TV time, and staff which kickstarted their rise. This growing prominence would lead to PC MLAs Rob Anderson and Heather Forsythe crossing the floor to the Wildrose Party in 2010 and the Wildrose becoming the official opposition in 2012. Stelmach was even called the “Chavez of the North” for daring to suggest that the oil barons pay a little bit more to the public coffers.

If the oil barons raised a big stink about a royalty review when oil prices were relatively high, they were absolutely livid when the NDP announced another review after the oil crisis had set in. They screamed that they would prefer to close up shop, pull investment out, and take it somewhere where their God-given dividends will not be molested. To carry out such threats is called a capital strike. Now faced with a massive economic downturn, a vicious red-baiting campaign, and the threat of a capital strike, the NDP delivered on their promise of an oil royalty review and assembled a team of “experts” to conduct it. The experts announced their intention to “provide optimal returns to Albertans as owners of the resource” and to “continue to encourage industry investment”. The review details the NDP’s strategy of capitulation to the oil barons. In fact, the Calgary Herald said that “Rachel Notley didn’t just extend an olive branch to oil and gas leaders and investors on Tuesday. She brought the whole tree and shook it, raining down petals of praise and friendship.” A closer look at the “experts” writing the review reveals some characters who stand clearly on the side of the bosses and against the workers. For example, Dave Mowat was at that time CEO and president of ATB Financial and Peter Tertzakian was the managing director of Arc Financial Corp. Both of these men work(ed) for firms that invested billions in the oil patch. When Mowat worked for ATB he was among the highest paid executives in the province, cashing in a salary of $3.138 million. With millionaires and the bosses’ lackeys at the helm, the royalty review suggested very few changes and no new revenue, leaving Albertans with the same share of the oil wealth as before. The NDP accepted the review, marking their first big retreat from conflict with the capitalists.

Another important policy rolled out was the carbon tax. This was the NDP’s attempt to do its part to tackle climate change using a market-based approach. Although it had very little impact on emissions, the tax has had a big impact in eroding political support for the NDP. The problem is that the tax raises too little income to invest in any serious green energy infrastructure, and disproportionately puts the economic burden on workers who are already under pressure. In a time of economic precariousness and layoffs, regular people see this as the government reaching into their wallets when they can afford it the least. It makes even less sense when the capitalists are the ones who make the key decisions around the production of carbon emissions and who are therefore most responsible.

As Fightback wrote in 2016:

“If the NDP really wants to take ‘strong and decisive action’ to tackle climate change and defend the workers at the same time, they should aim the carbon-tax directly at the oil barons. It is interesting to note that Suncor, one of the biggest oil producers in Alberta, is supportive of this broad-based carbon tax that targets ‘end users’, i.e. the working class. It is not because the Alberta oil barons suddenly had an epiphany that the wellbeing of the planet should trump over profit. It is a calculated move by the oil barons to shift the financial responsibility of climate change to the workers and thus protect their bottom line.”

And further:

“Can a progressive carbon-tax – one aimed directly at the corporations – solve the environmental crisis? The answer is a resounding no. The reason is twofold. First, the environmental crisis that we are facing is too big, complex, and urgent to be solved with mere taxation. We need a rationally planned economy, on an international scale, to radically alter production and exchange. The anarchy of the market under capitalism and the profit motive stands in the way of achieving this. Second, we are faced with the inherent limitation of progressive taxation as a demand. While Marxists support progressive taxation, we understand it has serious limitations, especially in times of economic crisis. Those who put forward the demand for progressive taxation also need to be prepared to face the wrath of capital. If big business responds with a capital strike, as they often threaten, we should be ready to take the struggle to the next level. We should respond to their capital strike with a capital ‘lock-out’, i.e. nationalization and expropriation. Those who only put forward progressive taxation without the readiness to mobilize the workers in the face of a capital strike are bound to capitulate and betray the workers.“

Instead of making the NDP a beacon of sustainable governance and pragmatic climate action, this policy has merely given the UCP a lever to rally its base. A poll conducted in 2017, near the time when the policy was rolled out, showed that 64 per cent of Albertans opposed the carbon tax.

Act Three: ‘I don’t work for big oil, I work for Albertans’

With this precedent set, the Alberta NDP attempted to implement certain reforms, but were too locked in by a lack of revenue, lack of planning, or lack of scope to make a positive impact. For example, they began phasing out all coal for electricity to eliminate coal emissions while attempting to provide an alternative for the now unemployed coal workers. When these workers are laid off from the coal plant, they are given EI for a little less than a year, a moving fund of $5000, and a tuition voucher for $12,000 to pursue post-secondary education. This is completely inadequate given the situation. The job market these coal workers are jumping into is horrible. Ten years ago in Alberta, it was very easy to get a job, especially in the energy sector. Now, it is not. People are working longer hours for lower wages, working multiple jobs and still living paycheck to paycheck. Additionally, school costs money. Even though the tuition might be covered, one still has to pay their living expenses while attending. This implies student loan debt. And then once that ordeal is through, the coal workers now have to compete with younger graduates for limited jobs which don’t pay very well. This is not the kind of green energy transition that workers will get on board with. A realistic transition to green energy that can seriously tackle emissions and maintain good union jobs for workers in obsolete industries is not within the bounds of capitalism. As it stands right now, there is no way to fund the massive investment in green energy, retooling, and retraining which are all required without taking from the bank accounts of billionaires and executing a plan that the private sector has no interest in.

Because of the lack of revenue, the Alberta NDP had to implement cuts somewhere in the budget. This was foreshadowed by Notley in late 2017, indicating that in the 2018 budget the government would have to “compassionately tighten our belts” One of the most scandalous of these “compassionate” belt tightenings was the enforcement of a public sector wage freeze. The leadership of the ATA, AUPE, and other public sector unions quietly sold out their rank and file and accepted no raises in exchange for no layoffs. This is effectively a pay cut with inflation, and the insurance against layoffs is not worth the paper it is written on. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in that province’s election leadership debate that ”not one single person will lose their job.” Since then, he has made cuts to education that will likely result in the elimination of approximately 10,000 teaching positions. Should the UCP win the next election, they will similarly be the ones negotiating public-sector contracts, and have already pledged to freeze spending. A freeze would have dire consequence for Alberta’s aging population as there will be an increased need for care. This is not to mention the pledged 20 per cent cut on all spending that Kenney has been silent on as the election ramps up. The implementation of a public sector wage freeze marks a point of movement to the right from the Alberta NDP. The NDP’s base is workers and youth. People vote for the NDP because they are supposed to be on the side of labour, not for the party to implement cuts.

Once it was established that the NDP would not increase royalties or tax private companies, the Notley government looked for ways to increase government revenue, and desperately tried to revive the oil sector for this purpose. For royalty revenue to increase, the oil sector would have to bring more oil to market. The best way to do that is to build pipelines. Early in Notley’s reign she held a case-by-case position on pipelines, opposing Northern Gateway and Keystone XL for similar reasons, mainly “the economic viability of more upgrading in Alberta”. At that point, late in 2015, oil prices would go as low as $39.50 a barrel. Both of those pipelines would have also shipped to the United States which has been increasing its own oil production in a big way since 2012. Notley did, however, support the Energy East and Kinder Morgan XL pipelines, saying that getting a pipeline to tidewater would be “important for our energy market”. Notley said that pipelines need to be considered on a case-by-case basis, with consideration of its impact on good union jobs, the environment, and the consent of the local population.

But as time went on and the lack of government revenue became more of a problem for Notley, her position on pipelines shifted to one of fanatical support for any project, no matter how irrational. This led to her support of the corporate bailout of the Trans Mountain expansion by the Trudeau government, which will bring a negligible amount of jobs, enormous environmental risk, and fierce anger from the local population. Notley went as far as instigating a trade war with the B.C. NDP-Green coalition government to bully them into dropping their legal challenges to the pipeline.

The NDP has now become one of the biggest cheerleaders of pipelines on a national scale and the mouthpieces of the oil corporations in Alberta. In fact, Brian Jean, then-leader of the Wildrose, was able to say, “I don’t work for big oil, I work for Albertans”, which is a farce because the Wildrose Party was the vehicle the oil barons jumped on and elevated once they lost control of the PCs 10 years ago. Regardless, the point still stands. Notley has moved completely into the camp of the same oil companies that she railed against in her 2015 platform. This is her biggest betrayal to date. When people voted for the NDP en masse four years ago, they were voting not only against the crooked PCs, but for the NDP, the party of workers and the oppressed. The party was expected to “get Albertans their fair share of the oil wealth”. To see them move from the camp of the workers to the camp of the oil companies and buckle under their pressure without much of a fight puts a disgusting taste in the mouths of many.

The cheerleading for the oil companies was not limited to platitudes, appeals to the federal government, or even ridiculous inter-provincial trade wars. The Alberta NDP has given them cash handouts, including $800 million in loan guarantees and $200 million in grants to build new bitumen upgrading facilities. After the first billion was announced, another $2.1 billion was forked over, this one for the petrochemical industry “to diversify”. Under capitalism workers are always told that there is no free lunch, that we need to work harder, and that it’s a dog-eat-dog world. But the reality is that when huge companies experience a downturn, they can turn to the government and receive an all-you-can-eat buffet. Notley’s government has gone so far as to fork over $3.7 billion to buy rail cars to ship oil in the absence of new pipelines. This plan only has the ability to ship 120,000 barrels of oil per day. For reference, the proposed Kinder Morgan twinning pipeline has the capacity to pump 590,000 barrels per day. The use of $3.7 billion of public money to do the job of the private sector is a colossal waste when there are 14 boil water advisories in the province, and 100 people freeze to death every year on the streets of Edmonton.

Act Four: A very Albertan coup

The Alberta NDP government could have and should have learned from a similar NDP government that buckled under pressure in the same way. That was the government of former Ontario premier Bob Rae. Rae also came to power in a time of economic downturn in the same way Notley inherited the 2014 oil crisis. Both governments experienced a red-baiting campaign and were threatened with a capital strike unless they abandoned promises that would benefit workers instead of bosses. In Alberta, Kevin O’Leary led the efforts for a capital strike. In Ontario, it was billionaire media tycoon and ex-convict Conrad Black. Under this enormous pressure and the poor economic situation, Rae’s government capitulated, abandoned its program of reforms, and attacked public sector workers to pay for the crisis. The logic of the Rae government was that moderation and light cuts against public sector workers would prevent layoffs and further cuts. Thus the “social contract” was born, and the government implemented $2 billion worth of wage cuts to limit layoffs. However, this completely disillusioned and demoralized the base of the NDP, which is workers and youth. In the process, the Ontario NDP paved the way for their own political defeat and the rise of the Mike Harris Conservatives who laid many people off. The exact same scenario is now likely to play out in Alberta. Public sector workers on a wage freeze right now will have their contract up for negotiation with whoever is elected on April 16. Should it be Jason Kenney, there will be layoffs and cuts.

Despite the overtures, compromises, capitulations, and olive branches extended to the ruling class by both Notley and Rae, the ruling class will never be interested in working collaboratively with them. Notley said in the election announcement speech, “I have thrown everything I have into building new pipelines,” which is true. Yet the oil industry is completely behind Jason Kenney. Why is this the case? We wrote this in 2016:

“The NDP, by thousands of ties, is the party historically linked to the working class. Despite the fact that the federal NDP has formally removed the reference to social ownership from the preamble of its constitution, it will never be trusted by the forces of capital and will never be considered ‘one of their own’. No matter how much the NDP leadership tries to reassure the capitalists that they are the most responsible managers of capitalism, no matter how much the NDP leadership tries to position itself as ‘pragmatic centrists’, the ruling class will never view them in this regard.”

The Alberta NDP’s current electoral strategy is failing, just like Bob Rae’s did. Trying to appease and win over or even negotiate with the oil barons was never going to work, and really they have themselves to blame for capitulating and rolling out the red carpet for Kenney. The recent by-election proves this fairly well. If this strategy of fanatical support for private sector oil was going to work anywhere, it would work in the oil capital Fort McMurray. But the UCP won a decisive victory literally uniting the divided votes from last election’s PCs and Wildrose and won with 67 per cent of the vote, while the NDP who received 30 per cent of the vote in 2015 saw no increase.

The announcement of the election for April 16 comes right on the heels of the “kamikaze” scandal in which it is alleged that Jason Kenney, the leader of the UCP, plotted with and bribed other party insiders to cheat his way into leadership over the former Wildrose leader Brian Jean. The affair is currently under investigation by the RCMP. This scandal is incredibly timely for the Alberta NDP, as it allows them to time the election with the corruption of the UCP fresh in everyone’s memory. However, criticizing the UCP while defending the status quo is a failed strategy that will not work when people are uncertain about the future.

This is the failure of reformism in an era of capitalist crisis. In past periods of economic boom such as after the Second World War, the ruling class was willing to grant some reforms to buy class peace. Now, in an era of organic capitalist crisis, the ruling class cannot afford those reforms. The only way to achieve them is to organize and fight. If the NDP wants to secure the reforms they ran on in 2015, it needs to adopt bold socialist politics. Without a plan to mobilize and fight against a capital strike with nationalization and workers’ control, they will be powerless to take on the bosses. Because the NDP was either unwilling or unable to take a perspective beyond capitalism, they accepted it, and once you accept capitalism, you have to play by its rules. Things didn’t necessarily have to play out this way. When the NDP won power, it had a large reserve of support from workers and youth who saw the contradictions between the massively wealthy oil companies and the working class being forced towards poverty by the downturn. These voters wanted change. The reserve could have been mobilized for nationalizations without compensation of the oil giants. The compensation has been paid many times over with the discount low royalty rates. This approach would break the rules of capitalism. Then, we could use the massive amount of wealth that is extracted and hidden in tax havens for social need—for tackling the climate crisis, for child care and pharmacare, for ending homelessness and poverty. Without this perspective, the NDP have to play with the hand they are given, which is one where the capitalists are dealing the cards. The capitalists control the wealth, the oil production, the media, etc., and the NDP and working class as a whole cannot control what we do not own. With no perspective to mobilize and fight the ruling class, they will have their way and use whatever means they have to get it: capital strike, lockouts, red-baiting, and smear campaigns. For the last four years of the Alberta NDP’s reign, fighting the ruling class was not on the menu, and as a result the NDP will reap what they have sown on April 16.