The Trojan Horse: Alberta and the Future of Canada
Paul G. Thomas is a professor of political science at the University of
Manitoba, and the co-author of Canadian Public Administration:
Even before this controversial book of essays was published,
Conservative politicians were denouncing it as a left-wing diatribe.
While most of the contributors could be described as being on the
political left (especially in the context of Alberta’s political
culture), other perspectives are represented, and only a few of the
essays are completely polemical in content and tone.
The 21 essays are grouped under five headings: politics, ideology,
economics, policy sectors, and people. There are several analyses of the
Progressive Conservative Party and its transformation under Ralph Klein.
Particularly fascinating is Barry Wilson’s analysis of the passive
response within rural Alberta to the Klein government’s advocacy of
market-based agricultural policies. The government’s shift to the
right is examined in the section on ideology, particularly in Gordon
Laxer’s analysis of the government’s zeal for privatizating nearly
all government functions. Several accountants and economists point out
that the deficit/debt problem was never as large as the government
insisted, that expenditure cuts were actually deeper than advertised,
and that the insistence on preserving Alberta’s “lowest-tax”
status made it harder to adjust the province’s public finances to
changed economic realities. Other essays explore the social costs of
deficit cutting. Even though the Klein government has prescribed some
harsh medicine, the premier remains remarkably popular, and re-election
of the Conservatives seems probable.