State of the Province – 2015
Diagnosis – desperate: The state of Alberta’s democracy
By Janet Keeping, Leader, Green Party of Alberta
The future is green, but Alberta is further than ever from green.
After 44 years of one-party rule Alberta has a government wedded to old-style industries that are way past their best-by dates – intensive oil and gas, such as high-pressure fracking and bitumen extraction from the oil sands, coal-generated electricity production, reckless forestry and large-scale, ecologically destructive agriculture.
We need all these industries but not in their present, unsustainable form.
On what many consider the defining issue of our time – the need for action on climate change – Alberta is a laughing stock.
And environment is far from our only serious failing. For example, the gap between rich and poor is larger in Alberta than anywhere else in Canada and it continues to grow. For another, our cities continue to sprawl in a costly, soulless manner.
There is an ever growing recognition that we need to go in radically different directions – greener, fairer, more sustainable. And if Alberta does not move quickly, we will be left in the dust as successful smart businesses providing good jobs develop elsewhere.
But trapped in its old-style thinking, our government reflects no understanding of the need for profound change. No wonder it can’t get our public finances right. The PCs think it’s good government to pander to the oil and gas companies when we desperately need them to pay their way through higher taxes and royalties.
More than ever we need a citizenry engaged in the political process, but the opposite is the case: Albertans are increasingly alienated from the democracy that is supposed to advance their interests but instead operates in the interests of the rich and the destructive, old-fashioned industries which prevents the greening of our economy.
Recent events have made matters much worse. Most spectacularly, the crassly self-serving defection of many Wildrose MLAs including then-leader Danielle Smith to join the PC caucus deepened the cynicism. Our political life is now theatre of the absurd – in some profoundly tragic way, it is almost entertaining, but in fact verges on the totalitarian.
Albertans desperately need a new group of legislators led by a different party or, better still, a coalition of progressive parties. The election expected to be held this spring won’t produce a new government, but it could result in a larger number of progressive MLAs, but only if every Albertan asks her- or himself the question: how can I best use my vote?
Where you have a Green candidate on the ballot, I urge you to vote for him or her. Where you don’t, please vote for the most progressive candidate available to you.
The future is green; it’s urgent that government in Alberta get with the program.