Saturday, April 18, 2015

Our Little Election in Alberta

This Alberta election matters. It matters because we have an opportunity to press the “reset” button on what kind of Government we want, what kind of public services we want and what strategy we want to collectively pursue for the common good.

Some are getting excited by polls. I am not. I have been around for some time – indeed, I am so old my blood type has been discontinued and I have to put a deposit on a boiled egg in the café. Here’s why I am not excited. While there is both a sense of disaffection with the longest serving democratic government on the planet (Singapore is not a social democracy – I was just there) and a sense that there may be a realistic alternative, the polls don’t tell us who will turn out.

Voter turn-out is very low in Alberta – less than 55% of eligible voters bothered to show up the last time around. The last time we passed the 60% number (and then just by 0.2%) was in 1993. For some elections – 2004 and 2008 – we haven’t been able to get much more than 40%. My best guess is that the lower the turnout, the more likely the PC’s are to retain power. The higher the turnout, the more likely there will be an upset.

It is also early. Polling is on May 5th (just two days before the UK election, which is a wildcard election – a coalition looks likely and the Conservatives and Labour need allies to secure government). May 5th is seventeen days away. A week is a long time in politics. Two weeks is a lifetime. Seventeen days is almost a millennium. Wildrose Premier Jim Prentice will turn off the charm and get aggressive, Rachel Notley will come under considerable pressure to explain how she will “balance the budget” (as if anyone has to) and the real Wildrose Leader (you know, Johnny Come Lately) will get wilder and less rosier. No one really cares what the Liberals say or do. The Alberta Party – which seems like a party with common sense practical ideas and thought through action plans – still has trouble being heard, though its use of social media is smart.

Alberta does not have a Monster Raving Looney Party, which Britain once had. They had interesting policies like “let’s get rid of the environment – it’s far too big and difficult to keep clean!” or “all Government accountants should ride power generating bicycles to produce energy everyday while doing their work!”. Well, I don’t think Alberta has such a party but reading the PC and Wild Rose manifesto’s and statements, I am not too sure.

My point here is simple. It is all about getting the vote out. Whether you support a party or not, we all need to get everyone in our network voting.

Indeed, I am keen on voting. As a former election agent for the Labour Party in the UK (Cardiff North, 1974) we had a simple statement: “vote early and vote often!!”. Good idea.

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