One of the great challenges of living “away” is that we live in political limbo. We can’t vote here, as we aren’t citizens; but we can’t vote in Alberta, as we’re not residents. Sigh… It’s difficult to be so politically connected and, yet, so distant from the immediate process. Over the last few weeks we’ve been following the details of the Alberta election, through our friends on Facebook and Twitter and through Canadian media, as they have posted missives about the upcoming vote in our (second) home province. It’s been really difficult to watch! It’s as though our hands are tied and we’re being held hostage, while forced to watch a bloodbath unfold. Yes, folks… the Wildrose Party, under the wild leadership of Danielle Smith, may well prevail in next week’s election. We’re sorry… really sorry… that we can’t vote with you (or against you, depending on your “persuasion”…though we doubt many of our friends/followers/readers are persuaded that way). So, herewith, a few tips, for those of you with voting rights.
First – please remember that “strategic voting” can actually work, especially in the wilder regions of Canada. Now, for the record, we’re on the left of the spectrum (remember that diagram Dan made during the federal election…). We’ve door-knocked for the NDP. We lived, for years, in the only NDP riding in Alberta. We think Sarah Palin is nuts (entertaining, yes! But silly, nonetheless (Dan edit: we don’ think she’s nuts, she is nuts…that isn’t a judgement but an absolute, and even she probably agrees.). However, in Edmonton, voting for the conservative party can (at times) be the lesser of evils. That said, you may be best to go with the Liberal or NDP candidate; it all depends on your local riding and see what makes sense given the candidates and traditional voting patterns. (Dan again: wow, I never thought I would hear Lisa say that voting for the conservatives would be OK unless she had somehow convinced me to move to…hmmm, where? Tajikistan? Kryzigistan? some other third-world banana republic?) It’s a very right-wing culture in Alberta; so voting for the conservatives can actually save you from the depths of a greater evil. To get you motivated, a few examples (with thanks to the Edmonton Sun – traditionally known as a right-wing rag, but hey… very useful at the moment):
What Danielle Smith has to say on university behaviour codes: “It is perfectly reasonable (to) expect its students to refrain from practices that are biblically condemned, and sign a pledge not to get drunk, swear, harass, lie, cheat, steal, have an abortion, practise the occult, or engage in sexual sins such as premarital sex, adultery, homosexual behaviour and viewing of pornography.”
WTF?? At least she didn’t say that uni staff had to behave as such. Whew…we might have had to look for new jobs (or been forced to moved to Australia. Hmm… why did we move?).
Here is what Danielle Smith has to say on abortion: “… Any politician who challenges the status quo gets pilloried by the media, abortion rights groups and opposing politicians … Yet, second- and third-trimester abortions are a horrific practice … Most Canadians respect that the decision is between a woman, her doctor and God, but I’m sure they also agree that the taxpayer should not be on the hook to pay for it.”
Wow! Really? Is this the type of person you want to have in charge? And if the woman’s god and doctor agree, shouldn’t it be publicly funded?
In fact, there is a Facebook site devoted to “The Crazy Things Danielle Smith Says/Does“. It would be funny, if it weren’t true… Then there is the story of candidate Allan Hunsperger who wrote a fascinating entry on his blog in 2011, noting that if gays and lesbians didn’t change their sexual orientation they would “suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell.” Seriously?
And no, this doesn’t just affect Alberta. If the Wildrose are successful, the tenor of elections could change across Canada. Alberta is one of those places that has a lot of power, even though they think it all rests in ‘the east’, which is all that communist area east of Lloydminster (but only as far as Quebec; the French are dead to many folks in Alberta, and the Atlantic provinces are just a drain on the public purse; at least, that’s what we heard many people say when we lived there)… But really, a lot of the political and financial clout does reside in big sky country, and if some bad shit happens there, the crazies in the rest of the country will be motivated and mobilized to turn Canada into another Texas.
So, although we never really considered ourselves ‘Albertans’ we are…and, more importantly, we are Canadians, and also just…how do we describe this…citizens of the world who care about other people’s freedoms and rights and well-being. So, we implore all our friends in Alberta to:
- do your homework. Read the papers, Google the election details, whatever. Just try to be educated about the issues and what you can do about it.
- vote: it is your right, and with that right comes an obligation to be part of the political process. If you can do that, you will make us happy. But we will be even happier if you
- vote with a goal in mind. Yes, voting on emotional or ideological grounds is important, but sometimes voting against another one is more useful and beneficial in the long-term.
And for people outside of Alberta who have friends and relatives there, please discuss the issues with them and try to make a difference. We don’t want crazy people running the country… but even though Alberta is guaranteed to have a crazy undesirable premier, at least you can help it being one not completely wacky.
And in the words of some other caring, young folks out there, “We must stress, we are not affiliated with any party — not funded by or organized by any party. We are simply young people who have a strong opinion.” [Lisa edit: they took the words right out of my mouth; I never thought I’d vote PC either… but having lived in T-Towne, in one of the most uber-conservative ridings in Alberta, I can see how that might happen]