In Alberta, our “citizenship” is something we have been able to take for granted for a long time. HIstorically we have had little reason not to trust the vitality of our representative democracy and its supporting institutions.
We have believed in the Integrity, Accountability, Transparency, and Honesty of government. We had good reason to believe in and rely on the personal positive qualities of Good Character in those we elected, regardless of partisan affiliation.
As a result, we Citizens became content, complacent, and compliant as we presumed our Democracy was strong, enduring and we blithely relied on it to continue without concern for the darkening clouds emerging on our political horizon.
There was no perceived need for much effort on our part. As citizens, we parked our responsibility for personal agency and chose not to be engaged in our political culture. We were intent on exploiting the Booms and hunkering down through the Busts with blind faith that recovery was inevitable and growth was perpetual.
As Albertans, we accepted that oil price induced Boom and Bust cycles as inevitable and the destructive impacts as acceptable. We had the attitude that “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” but what we failed to realize was our economy was broken, along with our political culture. We failed to see the writing on the wall because after all this was Alberta and we had the “Alberta Advantage.” Another myth that masked reality.
As for our broken political culture, we held the myth of stability from majority governments. In fact from 2011 to 2019 we always had majority governments but with 6 different Premiers. That’s not stability in any real sense.
But until recently, our personal freedoms were not seen to be at risk, The Rule of Law was still sacrosanct, and elections were fair and the results reliable. Political Norms were honored, discourse and debates on issues were civil and taken seriously, at least by elites and partisans.
We believed in Representative Democracy and accepted that individual votes were an effective way to collectively define our mutual goals as a Province. The democratic process, epitomized by free and fair elections, was accepted as the way we decided whom we would entrust with the task of governing us. Governing was about protecting us, empowering us as individual citizens, and creating means for us to collectively make progress and co-create genuine prosperity.
Well, all that has changed and changed dramatically in the 16 months since we gave the Kenney-controlled UCP the absolute power of, yes, another majority government. We can’t rely on free and fair elections anymore. We can’t presume the Rule of Law.
Based on policy, programs. and the laws the UCP has passed, we can’t presume Accountability, Transparency, Integrity, and Honesty from our Provincial government. We sure can’t rely on them to protect us as Citizens and empower us as a society to realize our potential.
The Change imposed by the UCP is based on a simplistic closed-minded Hard-Right Ideology. We have elected a government that is inadequate for meeting the complex economic, environmental, and social challenges of these times, even without COVID. What we have enabled is a dogmatic out-dated Authoritarian approach to governance. Pretty sure most Albertans who voted UCP did not bargain for what we got.
The UCP wants to eliminate as much government-based public services as possible, as quickly as possible. They are out to take away regulations that protect us as citizens, consumers, workers, and as owners of the natural resources.
They are intent on hobbling institutions in health, education, environment, social services, and that preserve, protect, and promote Democracy as we value it. They want to replace government with business by taking what is valued as serving the public interest and turn them into profit-based operations serving private interests. There are places and roles for marketplace approaches to deal with some of the challenges of these times, but complex public service areas are not included.
We are three years away from the next provincial election, but a year away from the next municipal and school board elections. We need to make those elections all over Alberta a Referendum on the Kenney government. We must do that because Kenney is out to take over control of municipal governments and school boards and make them report to him, not local citizens.
We need to stop that from happening. We have a year-long journey to make sure we turn away from Authoritarianism, to turn back towards Democracy. We can do that through our Citizenship. That means becoming a More Aware, Better Informed, Effectively Engaged, Assertively Activist Moderate, Progressive, and Pragmatic Voter.