Election Conundrum

Editorial Comment - Chris McKerracher is a columnist for the Pipestone Flyer

Diana McQueen, the MLA for our constituency and the province’s Municipal Affairs minister, has put me on the horns of an electoral dilemma. The problem is that I quite like her. I have had a chance to talk to Ms. McQueen often over the years. Unlike her predecessors, Tom Thurber and Tony Abbot, McQueen is a far more visible, approachable presence in our community. She has attended many Calmar Prairie Player performances, not to mention the annual Fireman’s Ball and numerous other local events. She has been, in my observance and opinion, a most capable, community-oriented politician who has worked hard and done a good job in the position. The fact she’s in cabinet, makes it apparent my opinion of her ability is shared by those in her party.

It was nice to run into Ms. McQueen at Calmar’s Volunteer Appreciation Night (see what I mean?) She came to our table to chat about our group’s next production and I was flattered she took the time to renew acquaintances. So what’s the problem?

The issue is that I have concerns about the party in general and Jim Prentice in particular. The more I consider the budget, the corruption of the WRP, the steamrolling of fixed election date legislation, and other signs of arrogance and ruthlessness, the angrier I get. It’s not just the 59 new taxes, either; most aimed squarely at the lower middle class. It was that they were so small minded, they halved the income tax deduction one gets from charitable donations to 11.5%. The deduction for political contributions remains at 75%, however. It’s obvious who makes the rules. (Hint: not groups that only get 11.5%.) It’s no wonder some people see political parties as gangs in suits that hijack the government to line their own pockets and the pockets of their friends.

I have lived in this province my entire voting life. I recall how excited everyone was when Peter Lougheed swept to power in a blue and orange tsunami. There have been some sketchy times for the Tories during those four decades but they always hung onto power. This time, however, there is a level of anger from people in the coffee shops and around the coolers at work I have never witnessed before.

Will it mean a Tory loss? It’s hard to say being unable to put much stock in polls. Their track record lately in picking winners is about the same as my picks for 649 numbers. Albertans are a careful lot; small c conservative folk mostly, who don’t switch loyalties easily. That is one of the reasons we tend to elect, not governments, but dynasties that last so long they must inevitably be brought down by their own accumulated baggage. The need to turf them, to inject new ideas and shine some light in the darker corners of the government, becomes a must. Whether it happens this time is anyone’s guess but it may come down to whether people in my circumstance choose their incumbent or decide to finally switch teams.

So what does one do when you feel you have been well-served by a politician but have concerns about the party’s platform they must support? On the one hand, it seems patently unfair to punish someone who has excelled, despite their party affiliations. On the other, we don’t want to mirror the folly of the American federal system that allows bad government to happen because everyone almost always votes for their incumbents. The same voters who give Congress single digit approval ratings still overwhelmingly vote for the people responsible for their low rating.

The approach that makes sense is to do research. Don’t vote out of reflex. Read each party’s website. Try CBC’s online Vote Compass. See what pundits of every stripe have to say. Follow the leaders and the candidates in your constituency on social media. Remember that no party will perfectly match all your beliefs. It’s about finding the closest fit, not a perfect fit. It does take time and effort to be politically aware but not nearly as troublesome as winning back democracy that has been lost to apathy.

Once you’ve examined the parties’ platforms, judged their ability to bring them about and their credibility they will do as promised, rate the candidates of the parties whose platforms have merit. Pick the candidate you feel will do a good job implementing the platform.

Either that, or there’s always the standby; flipping a coin. Just don’t complain about the result.

Just Posted

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Most Read