I've said before that I don't often dabble into politics on social media. Most of the time it just isn't worth it. The reality is that if I say something that someone doesn't agree with, they let me know, usually in the most rude way possible. Not everyone is like that, and There are many people I have reasonable, constructive conversations with, but the public and anonymous nature of mediums like Twitter nasty things get said. I've talked about that before here.
Because of that, i've stayed relatively silent on social media about the current Alberta election. I wrote a post here at the start of the campaign about how I wasn't sure who I was going to vote for, and that I would let the chips fall. With 6 days to go until the vote, one thing has become clear, the Wildrose Party does not deserve my vote. I've tried to write this post about 3 times before deleting it every time, but this time, I'm just going to write and see what happens.
The Wildrose party has tried to brand themselves as a fresh alternative to the PC. A new, better conservative party that goes back to the roots of what the PC party used to be. However, as this campaign has gone on, and more light has been shed on the Wildrose party, the real grassroots of the party have come to light. It's always been clear that the Wildrose party is a right-wing party, but just how right-wing was obvious until this election campaign started.
First off, I literally cannot believe that conscience rights have become an issue in an election in this country in 2012. I know that there are still many difficulties with regards to these types of issues, but it really is hard to believe that this has become an election issue in Canada. Not even Stephen Harper's Conservatives have dared to wade into these waters. Stephen Harper went out of his way years ago to make sure that everyone knew he would not be pursuing any agenda on things like abortion, and it has been a non issue since then. Yet for the Wildrose party, it will not go away. Now, admittedly this isn't for a lack of trying by Daniell Smith. She has, to her credit, indicated that a Wildrose government would not pursue conscience rights in the legislature. Though she did say that the reason for that was because any legislation likely would not stand up to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in court. However this issue keps coming up because members of her party keep bringing it up. From a campaign staff member bringing up abortion (which is what started all of this), to a candidate having to explain a blog post from 2011 with a complete anti-gay tone. This just keeps coming up, and will not go away.
Now, Danielle Smith could have ended these issues simply by saying that these things that have been said are not reflective of the Wildrose party and that those members do not speak for the party. However the simple fact is that she can't say that, because those things *do* reflect the beliefs of the party, and if she outright denies it she will face eroding support from within her own party. Instead she has to downplay the issue, saying that every person is entitled to their own opinion but that her party cannot pursue that agenda. Frankly, that is not good enough.
The Wildrose party believes in citizen initiated referendums on any legal issue that is not related to the budget. In theory, a referendum on issues, especially controversial and divisive issues is a good idea. But the main reason why we have the type of government we do is because having every person vote on every issue is horribly inefficient. The entire reason we have a government is for we the people to elect them to make those decisions for us. IT is unreasonable to think that referendum will work on many issues.
The other, more practical problem with citizen initiated referendum is that it is slanted in favour of wealthy lobbying groups trying to push an agenda. Those groups that fund a campaign to try to initiate a referendum are at a significant advantage. The state of California has a similar rule with referendum, and the result has been terrible. There are some issues where that state has become paralyzed and unable to act because of referendum initiated by wealthy lobbying groups trying to push their own agenda. Citizen initiated referendum is not good for democracy, it is a hinderance to it.
The latest gaffe, which I am adding to this post after almost the rest is written, came today from a Wildrose Candidate in Calgary. This past weekend he stated during an interview that he believes that he has an advantage in his riding because he is Caucasian. I don't have much to say to that, except that it is yet another example of how narrow the party really is. That is something that you simply cannot say. It is my hope that the people of that Calgary riding show the Wildrose how costly views like that can be for a political candidate.
Denielle Smith has promised that once the province returns to surplus, a Wildrose government will distribute $300 to every Albertan every year. At first blush, that sounds like a good idea, but again, once you move past the "oooo, $300! Shiny!" aspect and look at the realities, it is easy to see that this really isn't a good idea. While $300 would be nice, that is literally less than $1 per day. You cannot buy a cup of coffee for less than $1. Now, I will admit that $300 for low income families would make a difference to them. But again, this $300 would only come in years where there is a surplus large enough to support it. Which means that a low income family cannot even depend on this money coming every year. Some years we may get it, some years we may not. That makes it impossible to plan around and count on, which makes the idea and the promise of the Dani-dollars pretty much irrelevant. I would much rather see the $300 to me, or roughtly $1.2 Billion that would be paid out, to be spent on something more worthwhile, like infrastructure, healthcare, or education. Put the money somewhere where it can be better used.
Another pretty big issue I have with the Wildrose is the attempt to gain votes by digging up the Edmonton city center airport issue up from the grave. The debate over the City Center Airport in Edmonton was very bitter. An entire civic election was fought over it, and at the end of the day, the decision was made. I'm on the record saying that I was an airport supporter and did not want to see it closed. However, the decision has been made, and the issue is over. I respect the democratic process and in this case, I consider the issue closed. Danielle Smith has no right to be trying to bring up a civic issue that was decided well over a year ago. And really, it isn't even a very smart issue to bring up, because at best it will create a divide in those who might support her. And considering that the pro-airport side lost, perhaps she picked the wrong side.
That gets me to my opinion about Danielle Smith herself. In my opinion, Danielle Smith has campaigned not on her party's platform and strengths, but on the premise that she can just say "the PC's are bad you should Bote for us" While there are many people, myself included, who are not all that happy with the PC party, I would hope that the average person has the ability to see through that. I've simply grown sick of Danielle Smith only talking about how the PC's have been in power too long and are arrogant and need to be voted out. That is a fine argument, however the Wildrose consistently fails to talk about what they actually want to do that is better, only what the PC's are doing that is wrong. She claims to have travelled the province for the last 3 years, so she knows what the people want. but if all she can come up with is "the people don't want the PC's, so vote for us!" than I really question what she has actually been doing. I would also like to point out that aside from one leader's debate less than a week ago, she has never actually engaged in government. She is not a MLA, and has turned down three separate chances to run in by-elections in the last 3 years in an attempt to become a MLA. You would think that the leader of a party would want to get into the legislature as soon as possible, but instead she has chosen to sit on the sidelines for 3 years, talking about how things need to change when she has made no attempt to get into the legislature to make the changes she claims to want. I do not believe she has handled herself very well during this election campaign, and has had to spend too much time downplaying and back-peddling from things that members of her party has said, instead of focusing on what the party actually does want to do. Oh, and she also said she doesn't believe in global warming. While the degree of human involvement is something that is unknown, I think it is safe to assume that climate change is a real thing, and anyone who tries to say that it is not needs to give their head a shake.
The last 3 weeks have really shown where thiss party really stands. When looked at carefully, this shouldn't be very surprising. the Wildrose party is made up largely of right-wing Conservatives who formerly supported the PC party. The Wildrose was born from the feeling that the PC party had moved too far to the left, and a new, truly conservative party was needed. That is why you see the types of things coming out of this party that we have seen. Conscience rights, anti-gay remarks, and other remarks that border on simply being racist. Just as we don't see extreme left-wing beliefs and opinions in modern politics, we should not be seeing a party that goes this far to the right. There is a degree of tolerance and being moderate in political policies that is not just necessary, but required, to be relevant in a modern, developed nation. Say what you will about how far right federal Conservative party leans, the old Reform party was too right-wing to succeed, and the Wildrose party are just as right-wing as they were. I could talk about more things in the Wildrose platform that really scare me. Like their attitude towards cities, health care, or education, but I am trying to keep this shorter than a 20 page essay, so I'll eave it at this.
Now, let me finish by saying that just because I am not going to vote for the Wildrose party, that doesn't mean I'm particularly happy with any of the other parties. I am not a fan of Alison Redford, Raj Sherman, or Brian Mason. I especially do not like that Alison Redford is premier only becuase of a promise to restore $100 million to the education system. I greatly enjoyed when the other leaders pointed that out to her during the leader's debate and piled on at the same tie. But for as much disdain as I have for the PC's, Liberals, and New Democrats, I quite frankly cannot in good conscience vote for the Wildrose party.
That being said, while I won't say I don't care at all who you vote for, I really hope that you will go out and Vote on April 23rd. If you've read through this whole thing you're likely the kind of person who is going to vote anyway, but it needs to be said. I don't think I have to tell anyone that this will be the closest election in Alberta in a generation, and the best way to ensure that the party with the majority of support does come into power, we need a large majority of the people to vote. PC, Wildrose, Liberal, New Democrat, just please go out and vote. Remember that wars have been fought, and are being fought in other parts of the world for people to gain the basic rights we take for granted. Please exercise them, even if your political leanings do not match mine.
(One last footnote, because I know I will hear from at least one or two people: I have not talked about the Alberta party at all, andhe reason for this is simple: the AB Party is not running a candidate in my riding. It is pretty hard to care about a party or take it seriously when I am not able to vote for them even if I wanted to. I've been told by an AB party supporter that they plan a big surge after the election is over, and that for the next election they should have a candidate in my riding. That seems to miss the point, no?)
p.s.: I welcome constructive discussion at all times. However non constructive discussion will be treated as such and removed/ignored.