It’s been an interesting ride since 2015. We knew the election of the NDP would mess with our orientation in Alberta Politics. But this has simply got to stop.
A political party should be seeking the best for Alberta. But in a number of recent circumstances, that is not what the UCP is doing.
Take for example the response of Wayne Anderson, MLA for Highwood and supporter of Brian Jean during that party’s leadership race.
The enemy is not the NDP. The enemy is a lack of vision or plan for the future. While the NDP indeed have that lack of vision fiscally, the UCP seem to have it universally.
And what does it say about an MLA who is willing to make public statements that amount to “I’m giving up my values just to ensure we get rid of the enemy”?
That’s exactly what the UCP have asked us to do; get rid of our values. I have never met a person who honestly believed the next statement, espoused by the UCP’s new leader, to be true.
Compassion is not a function of prosperity, it is a function of humanity. This statement in and of itself suggests that human rights are conditional, not inalienable. This is an exact example of giving up our values simply to get those damned NDP out.
I’m not a major fan of the NDP, because I don’t believe they are seeking the best for Alberta either. While I am pleased with much of the social direction they have taken, they seem to have missed the high school CALM 20 class where you were taught that debt is something you have to pay for.
As I have written recently, there are two kinds of debt; the kind that has a monetary value, and the kind measured in assets such as schools, hospitals, oil, the Alberta Treasury Branches and the Alberta Investment Management Corporation, and other infrastructure. If you neglect the monetary debt, you run the risk of not being able to pay the debt-servicing costs. If you neglect your assets, you run the risk of having to write them off due to neglect, as Ralph Klein’s government did with the Calgary General Hospital, yet also require replacement. Either way, neglected debt is something too easily kicked down the road to future governments.
That’s what the NDP are doing. They are kicking the debt-servicing issues down the road to future governments. It is also what the UCP are suggesting they will do; kick the neglected assets down the road to future governments.
If you subscribe to the polarization of Alberta’s politics, you truly believe there are only two options; the NDP with their social policy by fiscal irresponsibility, and the UCP with their social conservatism and disregard for the costs of our standard of living.
This is not us, Alberta. We care about each other, and we don’t need prosperity to do it. But we are also wise with our finances and assets, and should expect our government to be the same.
As former NDP MLA Karen McPherson stated as she left that caucus to sit as an independent, “we are missing the middle where we have more in common with each other than we are different. Albertans need political choices that inspire them, not scare them.”
McPherson is now an Alberta Party MLA.
Some would have you believe that a “middle ground” is not missing in Alberta, that the NDP are already centrist, and that seeking something between NDP and UCP will simply serve to continue the process of polarization. While perhaps true from a political science perspective, in the Alberta context this is simply not true. Polarization is characterized by strict adherence to party lines at all expense, to the point where subscribers will even dispense with their value system. Extremism in the Alberta context is not extreme socialism vs. extreme fascism (which aren’t even polar opposites to each other as one is an economic concept and the other is a governance concept), but rather staunch and blind support of a particular party.
The only way to prevent this extremism, to allow the fluidity that Alberta politics desperately needs in order to have good governance, is to ensure a middle ground that connects the two extremes exists.
Albertans are wayfinders. We orient ourselves, choose a path, make sure we keep to it, and when we achieve a destination we celebrate. This is true entrepreneurially, socially, fiscally and even politically. Our problem is that we are still trying to reorient ourselves. But that means we must orient ourselves to more than simply forward and backward. We must also think of up, down, left, right, and all the spaces in between.
In the middle.
Come on, Alberta. Let's be wayfinders together.