For as long as I have lived Alberta politics have been a pretty cut and dry situation. The one party system, countered by a weak and power stricken opposition gave a certain spin to how things are done here.
Giant swings would over turn governing parties, and throw weak opposition after weak opposition. The closest we came to creating an empowered opposition was prior to “King Ralph’s” ascent to leader of the Progressive Conservatives and Premier, affectionately known as the “Getty years”.
In my time following Alberta political culture I saw the need for Alberta’s opposition parties to unite, to create a stronger and more resilient vocal opposition. I failed to see the alternative, and here it is, happening right before us. Two new parties have emerged in the last year – the Wildrose Alliance and the Alberta Party. While being institutionally and political different, the two parties have a distinct advantage: they want to win.
Yes, I’m sure the Alberta Libs, and the NDP’ers are keen for a few more seats but you can tell the fire is out of their bellies. In our political system, and with our political culture it is fairly clear it is unlikely for a long-standing party to sweep out the old government and become the new.
But here we have two young whippersnappers, ready and willing, and jumping into bed with whomever gets them the press. A brilliant strategy. The opposition has toned down their ideological rhetoric, the tool the two traditional parties had to distinguish themselves from one another and the PCs, and have agreed to disagree unless they agree.
Luckily, they find themselves agreeing on one very important issue: the PC’s management of health care.
If one cared to look deeper, it would be obvious their policy stances on health care are fairly different. One one end of the spectrum you have the Wildrose Alliance.
“Just look at what we’ve got after a generation of PC-Liberal-NDP politics, a centralized bureaucracy of
socialized medicine bogged down to the point of paralysis. “
On the other, the traditional party of health care protection: the NDP.
“Brian Mason and Alberta’s NDP led the fight against repeated attempts to introduce for-profit health care. Brian Mason wants to deal with rising costs and shortage of services by focusing on innovation and efficiency within the public health system.”
The Alberta Party is still under going policy creation, and the Alberta Liberals fall somewhere in between – though with Dr. Swann’s medical background and Sherman’s decision to join the party they are quickly emerging as the critical authority and champion of health care information and rights. .
These parties have come together, some made up of former PC members, to act as an opposition should. They are pooling their resources to critically examine the governments actions and the effects those actions have on Albertans. It is some give giving holiday for everyone who did not vote for their PC candidate. Further, for the 60% of Albertans who didn’t vote at all, it is illustrating why they should.
Even if your vote does not chose the winner it can contribute to a great discussion, it can empower someone to take a closer look at policy creation. There is more at stake in a democratic vote than the governing party. Without a strong and empowered opposition, we as a province as weakened. Citizens disengage from voting or further action. They see a one party system and little hope for change. The cracks are sealed up and by the time the water starts leaking it is too late.
I for one am greatly encouraged by this show of opposition. I challenge all the parties in the Alberta Legislature to continue examining the government’s and their own actions critically, past the election regardless of where the chips fall.