Saturday, April 11, 2015

Karl’s Alberta Election 2015 synopsis

I’m going to try to write this post as unbiased as I can, bearing in mind that I do typically lean Liberal in my political choices, but am definitely not married to that party at a provincial level. Or any level for that matter. OK, here we go.

So, the conservatives have had the run of the province under a variety of leaders since 1971, or 44 years. The electorate today seems to be divided into 3 groups. Those who like the Conservatives and have no issue with what they’re doing. Second are those who traditionally vote Conservative but have been or are now disillusioned with their recent performance. And lastly, those who don’t vote Conservative. It’s rather unfortunate that the last group is in the minority, because they haven’t stood a hope in hell of ever changing the guard. There are a number of reasons for this. Among them:

  • The left side of the political spectrum isn't united. It is split between the Liberals and the NDP.
  • Albertans in general continue to have an obsession to shun anything named ‘Liberal’, due to a decision made by a federal Liberal Prime Minister who not only made said decision 35 years ago, but is also dead and buried.
  • There are still a lot of people who equate the NDP with communism or overt socialism.

There has always been a glimmer of hope with the group who typically vote Conservative, but aren't too happy with their party. They want to vote for someone else. They really do. But they have some baggage to unload before that can happen:

  • Most Conservative supporters in Alberta's big cities are what we call ‘small c’ Conservatives. They’re not extreme right wing people by nature. They already regard their party as about as Liberal as you would want to get, so going more left is risky at best.
  • Those that are ‘big C’ Conservatives were pretty much already disillusioned with the Conservative party as it was, and jumped ship when the Wildrose party was created.
  • Conservatives in general are obsessed with taxes. They are anti-tax. Tax is a four letter word. They are convinced that any other party is sure to add taxes and increase the ones that already exist.

So I feel it is my duty to speak directly to these people.

The risk to voting for Wildrose is not only simple, it’s overt. The most extreme Conservatives live there. If you give them a mandate, you may as well start shutting schools and hospitals down. The poor will suffer like never before, and the well-to-do will be walking around like there’s nothing wrong, because they can still afford to pay for all the things that now cost extra. Private schools and private clinics in droves.

The risk to voting Conservative, again, is straight forward as well. You’re basically sending them the message that it doesn’t matter how inept, out-of-touch and power-hungry they have become. Nothing’s going to come of it. Worse, they’re making it up as they go. Once they finally understood that the health system can’t afford any more cuts, they brought in a health tax. Unlike the former health care premiums we used to pay, which employers could pay if they wanted, and the poor got subsidized, the new tax is applied across the board. Great for the rich, not so much for the poor. Once the Conservatives realized that the new Cancer Centre had been put off long enough, they used smoke and mirrors to make like they were going ahead. Folks, they’re building a half-centre. The other half can be dealt with later. Will the new centre be accessible to mass transit? No. Will the Conservatives find a new way to generate more revenue? No. They increased our income tax. They took a small cut in pay. Will it make much of a difference? No. There is no courage to do what is necessary to right this ship.

What about the Liberals? Well, Raj was a huge disappointment. He became leader, but he didn't really lead. Maybe the Liberals in Edmonton don't have their volume turned up very high, but we rarely heard a peep from them in Calgary. Now Raj has quit and what was old is new again. Dr. Swann, former Liberal leader is back at the helm. What are you going to do this time? My guess is – not much. I’m a Liberal for crying out loud, and I don’t have any faith in their ability to make a difference. I think I am not alone in this conclusion.

Alright. Let’s talk about the NDP. I didn't know much about the NDP (in Alberta) before this week. But I have noticed that a lot of people are talking about them. What does their leader, Rachel Notley, stand for? She says that she stands for "better public health care and education for Alberta families, and for protecting vulnerable Albertans." That doesn't sound very radical to me. The NDP candidate running on our riding is a health care advocate and is also a strong proponent of properly funding legal aid in Alberta, which I know from experience has seen huge cut-backs, even though nobody talks about it.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Taxes. Get over it. You can't buy, live in and look after a house without the money coming in. And we don't have the money coming in. We are the only jurisdiction that doesn't have a sales tax, and up until now, we've been able to squeak by. But now we're in such a tight spot, we can't even afford to keep up with the natural increases in sick people, students and infrastructure.

So sit down, think real hard, and ask yourself, doesn't another party deserve a chance? What's the worst that can happen? You get 4 years of damage and then you get to elect someone else.

Elect someone else.

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