This is something of a rant - rooted firmly in the peculiarities of Alberta's voting patterns, and the effect that has on election campaigns.
For reasons that are only marginally rooted in logic, Alberta voters in the last 25 years have overwhelmingly voted for right-wing parties. This is mostly an artifact of the late 1970s when Alberta was led by one of the most impressive premiers it has ever had, Peter Lougheed. At the time, Alberta's economy collapsed - a victim of a worldwide economic downturn, and Albertans blamed it almost universally on Pierre Trudeau's NEP.
That is mostly a historical footnote in Alberta's politics - however, it has in fact provoked a degree of voter apathy that is positively depressing. In the last provincial election, the Stelmach-led PC's achieved a landslide majority of the seats on the votes of about 20% of the eligible voters.
This last Federal election, however, was appalling. All of the parties appear to have conceded defeat to the Con$ from the start. The Conservatives were so confident in their own stranglehold on Alberta's seats that they didn't bother to campaign at all - most Conservative candidates were nowhere to be seen (often known to be out of province in fact). The local candidates for the other parties ran minimal campaigns, with a handful of signs on public property being about the extent of it. In what I can only call irony, I received campaign literature from the NDP candidate in my riding in the mail ... one day after voting day.
Even conservative voters I know are less than impressed by this past election - the arrogance of their preferred party was clear enough, that voters rewarded them with the massive margins of victory they did is just sad.
Voter apathy and blind adherence to past habits are certainly part of the problem here; but the parties themselves - Liberal, NDP, Green and others all deserve sound thumping for yielding Alberta simply by not even trying. Some of the worst MPs in the parliament are Alberta-based members of the Stephen Harper Party - members that are last on my list to deserve a 'shoo-in'. This past election, the Federal parties have done more to advance voter apathy than they have done in the last ten years.
The Liberals, NDP and Greens should realize that the only party that benefits from apathy are the NeoCon based Conservatives. If you want to unseat the Con$, you have to do it using some of the playbook tactics that gave them the foothold in Alberta in the first place - campaign constantly. Make yourself heard every time the government makes a misstep - constantly ... and when there's an election, get people knocking on doors - all of them! This past election, had any of the parties bothered to actually campaign in Alberta they could have taken a sizable chunk of the popular vote - simply for having bothered to campaign.