Diagnosis – desperate: The state of Alberta’s democracy

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.

Comments 3

  • […] According to Stratton, “Political life in the province is in desperate straits.  Albertans need someone who understands and can describe a better way forward to run against the premier in Calgary-Foothills.  There is no one better placed to articulate these fresh and more democratic directions than Green Party leader, Janet Keeping.  Keeping’s “State of the Province Address” is posted on the GPA web site at http://greenpartyofalberta.ca/diagnosis-desperate-the-state-of-albertas-democracy/ […]

  • “Wedded to old style industries” is well said.

    After discarding any notions of self-centred intent on the part of MLAs in this province, I think it boils down to a lack of foresight (or any incentive to have foresight).

    Why plan for the future when you can do every conceivable action within your power (including ones that harm the rights of the people of Alberta) and continue to be handed landslide majorities every election? And it’s pretty easy to make promises for the next year if you never have to consider their consequences.

    I’m still optimistic that it’s not too late for Alberta to take on some of the most pressing issues involving human sustainability, but our current regime is certainly working against this.

  • Re: “Diagnosis – desperate: The state of Alberta’s democracy”

    We have the mother of all democratic deficits in Alberta.

    Just because we can vote does not mean we live in a Democracy. Albertans have no say in the policies that affect their lives except at election time. In the last election the Conservatives got 43.97% of the vote yet received a false majority. This is not what real democracy looks like. It is what undemocratic petro state politics looks like.

    Our environment is in shambles because of a lack of real democracy. Our health care has long waiting lists because of a lack of real democracy. Our economy is not diversified and is a petro state boom and bust economy because of a lack of real democracy. Our education system is driving kids into huge debt slavery because of a lack of democracy and we have a Premier who also worked for the banks. We lack industrial diversification because of a lack of real democracy.

    If Alberta had real Participatory Democracy 30 years ago, where people make decisions, not just politicians, our Province would be in much better shape all around. We would likely look more like Norway, where they have a trillion dollars in their savings fund to be used for rainy days. Our economy would be much more stable at this time as resources would be better used with more value added.

    Make way for the elimination of the Great Conservative Democratic Deficit. Unleash the Mother of All Great Alberta Democracy Upgrades. It starts by voting for the #1 rated party to upgrade your democracy. Vote Green in the next Provincial election . if you can, to unleash the beginning of the Great Alberta Democracy Upgrade. Better yet run for the Greens in the Provincial election to make way for that better day.

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