A little shimmy to the right

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Those concerned about the possibility of a deficit budget in this province can look westward for an interesting note of comparison.
Alberta has long had plenty of Conservatives, both federally and provincially. And many Albertans like their Conservatives to the right of centre.
Thus, Ed Stelmach is experiencing a minor defection. Two members of his caucus crossed the floor to join the upstart Wildrose Alliance.
Former cabinet minister Heather Forsyth from Calgary and backbencher Rob Anderson from Airdrie-Chestermere have been critical of Stelmach's leadership and say they look forward to working with Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith.
It makes only a small dent in the Conservatives' majority - they still retain 68 members in the 83-seat assembly. The Wildrose Alliance now has a total of three.
But it's interesting all the same to look at the concerns - and the raison d'Être of the Alliance, concerned about spending and gradually taking a lead in opinion polls. Stelmach's popularity has been waning largely because of the economic downturn that has put Alberta's once booming energy-fuelled economy on the skids.
It would be a stretch to pin that on a premier, especially considering the downturn is a global phenomenon. Yet as the premier runs a deficit to help keep people employed and spends on infrastructure, he is being lambasted by the more fiscal-minded for not making deep program cuts.
Remember, too, this is a province that eliminated its overall debt several years ago and enjoyed several years of surpluses. Wealth from energy reserves is a happy thing.
This is also the part of the country that gave us the Reform, then Alliance, parties just a decade and a half ago. It's interesting to see this similar dynamic now happening on the provincial level.
Canadians tend to like centrist parties. But one wonders with ballooning deficits all over whether we'll see a renewed movement of reformers.

Organizations: Wildrose Alliance, Conservatives

Geographic location: Alberta, Calgary

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