Sunday, 3 February 2008

Election Call?

Well all the speculation says we will have a provincial election call in the next day or two. The campaigning has started in earnest already and is shaping up to be one of the most interesting elections we have seen in Alberta for quite some time. The question is: Are Albertans ready for a change of government? I have included a poll to the blog just for interest's sake. Take part.

The governing Conservatives have held power for over three and a half decades. Albertans under 37 years old have never seen any other party in power. Without a doubt one would have to say the Progressive Conservatives have definitely learned how to govern and how to keep governing. In talking with people around the province, though, I feel many Albertans are tired of a stagnant party and government and are looking for a party to bring new ideas and put a fresh spin on how our province is governed. They are looking for a party to bring some excitement to the provincial political scene the way Peter Lougheed did in 1971.

Lougheed and his party of red tories put a fresh face on conservatism in the province and started the dynasty that governed for 37 years. Is there any one in position to achieve what Lougheed did? Brian Mason, with help from Ray Martin one of the best street fighters the ledge has ever seen, has done his best to showcase the short comings of the Conservatives and elevate the status of the New Democratic Party. Unfortunately, though, very few Albertans outside of Edmonton know who Brian Mason is and what the NDP stand for. They are definitely in no position to knock out the champs and govern.

Kevin Taft, leading the Liberal party and its 16 MLAs, should be well positioned to deliver that knockout punch. The demographic of Alberta has changed drastically in the past few years. Alberta's population has shifted to the towns and cities. 81% of our population is urban, with many of those new people moving into Alberta from the east where, we have seen, they are not afraid to vote for Liberals. The Liberals will, without a doubt, increase their numbers in the legislature. The increase in seats coming from urban ridings. Kevin Taft, as bright as he is, (the most uninspiring political leader I have ever heard speak) has completely failed to ignite the imagination of Albertans. You can't capture people's minds without capturing their hearts. Should the conservatives form another government, and they should, they can thank the Liberals for their leadership selection.

I don't think for a minute that Alberta is ready to return to the days of the Social Credit government that Lougheed tossed out. We have grown as a province and have seen socially progressive change. Albertans will not willingly go back to the days when bars were segregated between men and women with escorts. The Wildrose Alliance is simply a fresh name for a socially regressive movement. The best they can hope for is to steal some of the conservative's traditional support in a rural riding or two. Albertans wouldn't buy the Byfield's rag why would they buy their party?

Many people are tired of the old political parties that have minor differences in policy direction but when in government tend to govern much the same. They feel disenfranchised with no place to mark their ballot. By all accounts the environment and environmental issues are the top concerns not only of Albertans but all Canadians. The Green Party then is the alternative many of those disenfranchised people could vote for. We should see this movement grow from the fringe to a responsible political party with a future. They will receive votes from a respectable number of Albertans.

So, while there is desire for change in Alberta I don't think we are going to see it in this election.

With the choices Albertans have I would hope there is no sense of apathy in this election. All Albertans should be willing to let their voices be heard. Remember in Alberta if you feel there is no one that deserves your vote you can go to the poll, register, then tell the election officer you want to have you ballot marked as being refused. Refuse your ballot. It is a legitimate way to protest the quality of the candidates or the parties and its counted unlike a spoiled ballot.

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