How I Voted In Alberta’s 2015 Election

2015 Alberta Election

This is how I came to my decision, your issues may vary. I present a breakdown of my vote before elections to encourage others to vote and to really think about who they cast a ballot for.

Election Day is May 5. Elections Alberta has all the info to find your local polling place.

Three times I was asked to run. By three different people. Three times I was courted as a candidate for my riding of Calgary-Bow in the 2015 Alberta Election. Three times I said no.

I wanted to run. 9 yr old me, the one who got inspired by politics in the wake of Trudeaumania wanted to run. I didn’t run. I can’t. As a media member, I would have to go silent for the length of the campaign. My success at being elected as a progressive candidate in a very conservative riding would have been a long shot. I would have had to end a 25 year radio career for, likely, a less than 10% chance at starting a new career in politics.

I couldn’t take that gamble. If I could have stayed on air while campaigning, I would have done it to simply bring greater voice to education issues in the campaign and within my riding, but the rules didn’t allow me to do both. So I had to stand aside.

Camping With Kids Near Calgary
The past few weeks of the campaign I have watched intently as the Prentice PCs issued a budget that didn’t add up, called an election they didn’t need, and trampled the campaign trail with repeated missteps.

I have swung many ways during the campaign when it comes to how I would vote. There are many ways to phrase a ballot question when voting. You can vote on an issue, you can choose a party, or you can choose a local candidate.

My family grew up voting Liberal in federal elections, except that one time my mother voted for Flora MacDonald because she was the better local candidate. So I could break party ranks if a local candidate would step up. I could support Rachel Notley of NDP, if I was in her riding. I would vote for Jeff Wilson of PC in Calgary Shaw, if I lived there. I would vote for Liberal Laurie Blakeman if I was in Edmonton. I could be persuaded to vote for Derek Fildebrandt of the Wildrose if I had a farm in Strathmore. Greg Clark, Alberta Party leader, is a no brainer in Calgary Elbow.

But I don’t live in any of those ridings.

PARTY AND ISSUE LEVEL

I took the CBC Vote Compass quiz and my answers put me left of center economically, and neutral socially. I am more conservative than the Alberta Party, Liberals, NDP, and Greeens, more liberal than the Wildrose or PC. The party I most closely align with is the Alberta Party.

My 2015 Vote Compass Results

But I have an issue with the Alberta Party. While their leader, Greg Clark, is a positive, hard-working politician, his party platform calls for an end to the funding of independent schools. As a parent who abandoned the ineffective public system for an independent school that has embraced my children and nurtured their learning to where they are no succeeding, I can’t vote for a party that will triple my tuition bill.

I see independent schools as an important release valve for the public system. My sons draw 70c on the dollar from the government vis a vis public school students, and bear the province no infrastructure costs. Having independent schools pick up the slack actually provides the public system more resources to serve their student population. Ending that independent school subsidy would bloat the public system with increased per student costs causing a further reduction in the quality of education. I can’t support a party that would end that funding.

The Alberta Liberals are a dead party. Dr David Swann is going through the motions, and apart from Laurie Blakeman, the party is dead. The NDP are more interesting. While Rachel Notley is charismatic and has momentum, I’ve lived through BC NDP governments. I’m not a union sympathizer, and I don’t think I can swing my pendulum that far left.

On the right, you have a Wildrose party with a new leader who is saving the right things when it comes to social policy, but is just so lost when it comes to fiscal policy. Brian Jean is cracking a fierce whip on social conservatives within his party hoping to avoid bozo eruptions, it’s a policy Danielle Smith would have been smart to follow. But when he starts talking economics, he loses me.

The robotic “we won’t raise taxes,” rhetoric just doesn’t work. Ralph Klein pulled this sort of magic years ago, cutting spending to balance the budget and the province’s infrastructure has never recovered. We are deeply in debt for new schools and hospitals and roads, and trying to trim spending by $5B won’t get any of that built. A smart and broad taxation rethink is needed, and the Wildrose are not the ones to do this.

Vote PC? Are you kidding me? I never thought I’d vote PC,the last time, and I did. I did it to stem a socially backwards Wildrose tide. This time? No. Not with how they handled Bill 10. Not with how they have handled education. Not with how we need to “look in the mirror.” Not with how “math is difficult.” Not with how “you’re being set up, buddy.” No. I will not support the PC party in Alberta.

LOCAL LEVEL

So I was hoping for a local candidate to inspire my vote. No such luck.

With no star candidates in Calgary Bow, my ballot is littered with warm bodies, on both sides of the spectrum. The PC have served up a lawyer who will ride the back benches, the other parties have just given names to appear to force a competition.

For example, look at the Liberal Party nominee’s website:

Matt Gaiser Calgary Bow

A big beef I have with politicians and social media is they only use it when they want to get elected. A scan of the social accounts for the other candidates, or even a googling of their issue related records, turned up nothing. They joined social just to campaign and they have not been a long standing voice for anything before running for office.

The NDP candidate, Deborah Drever, had a grand total of one tweet as of April 28. No bio information, no website, no campaign issue statements, just one tweet that is nothing but a link. That’s not instilling me with any confidence in Rachel Notley‘s crew.

Deborah Drever Twitter

A neighbour dropped by an NDP leaflet the other day, and I chased after her and walked a block with her to get her bearings on the campaign. “Rachel’s great,” I said. “But why should I vote for Deborah?”

“Oh, uh, I don’t know,” she said. “She’ll be true to all the NDP values and she’s on board with all the policies. And she’s young.”  Sorry, that’s not enough for me. I want someone who has gotten their feet dirty in local issues,  cares about the community, has tried to make a difference and now wants to go next level.

I tried a Google search of the Wildrose candidate, Trevor Grover, to get beyond the empty talking points of his generic election website and found nothing.

trevor grover google search

None of those images are even the Trevor Grover running for election. That’s not good.

I did, however, get a response from the Alberta Party candidate, Jonathan Himann on his Facebook page. I’ve been lobbying back and forth with the Alberta Party over their platform for independent schools. They use carefully constructed language stating they will defund schools that are “not in the public good.”

So I asked, pointedly, if my son’s school is on that list. I got more talking points. I’ve gotten talking points from the Alberta Party twitter account too. They must have a list. They won’t share it. A direct question with a political response dancing around the request does not bring my confidence, especially from a candidate with, literally, nothing to lose.

I also tweeted each and every candidate throughout the campaign asking policy questions, local issue questions, and more. I only received a response from the Liberal candidate telling me his campaign had a different account. He never answered my question.

Considering I’ve received responses from federal party leaders during campaigns in the past, this points to absolutely no commitment in my riding from any of the candidates. The PC candidate has likely been muzzled from head office, the others don’t give a flying fig.

STRATEGIC VOTING

I’m open to strategic voting. I voted PC in the past to block the Wildrose, and if a local candidate or a provincial party emerged strongly enough, I would vote strategically to block the PC candidate.

Change Alberta says my strategic choice is the NDP’s Deborah Drever. Nope. Not with one tweet it’s not.While I think Notley’s Crue would be a strong and effective opposition voice to balance the left side of the legislature, I can’t hand them the keys. I can’t vote for a candidate that looks too much like those that were swept in to Ottawa during Quebec’s Orange Wave on the wings of Jack Layton.

Even Change Alberta acknowledges the apathetic opposition to the right wing candidates.

Gaiser has no social media presence and there is no evidence that he is running a campaign. Himann has a Facebook account with 103 likes but no indication of a campaign in Calgary-Bow. He also has a recent Twitter account with 31 followers. Drever is the social media leader with 246 Facebook likes but her overall use of the Facebook account is limited.

Only a heavy dose of strategic voting could put this seat potentially in the winner’s column for progressives.

I’m in a progressive hinterland.

HOW I VOTED

I was going to spoil my ballot.  I couldn’t, in good conscience support any of the parties because of their stance on education or fiscal issues. I couldn’t support any of the local candidates because they didn’t bring enough to the table or didn’t address any of my issue related questions.

Instead, I gave the Vote Compass quiz to my 7 yr old over breakfast. I asked Zacharie all the issue related questions, and I marked my ballot with his party of preference.

After all, if federal finance minister Joe Oliver says the problems with the economy are for “Stephen Harper’s granddaughter to fix,” then maybe by my son casting a ballot this time around, we can get a head start on Alberta’s issues.

To see how Zacharie decided I should vote, see the post and video on DadCAMP

In the end, I hope we end up with a PC minority on May 6. I don’t think any of the opposition parties have presented a platform entirely worth switching for, but the PC needs a serious wake up call. A strong opposition perhaps draws all the parties to a middle ground where common sense can rule the day.

So that’s my reasoning. Yours may be different, but find a reason to vote. You can vote in the Advance Polls this week or on May 5. Elections Alberta has all the info to find your local polling place.

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