Janet Keeping, Leader of the Green Party of Alberta
1. The results
The voters of Calgary-Foothills have spoken and the result is to elect the Wildrose candidate, Mr. Prasad Panda.
The turnout looks to have been 875 more voters than the October 2014 by-election. This is an increase of about 3% in the voter turnout.
And that increase is a good thing.
We wish the new MLA for Calgary-Foothills every success in dealing with both helping to solve the very real issues that face the people of Calgary-Foothills (e.g., the shocking lack of services and amenities through much of the riding) and the environmental, social and economic issues facing the whole province.
Most of all, speaking for me personally, I wish Mr. Panda the wisdom to identify the most compassionate and sustainable ways forward. We live in complex times. Simple-minded steps are unlikely to be actual solutions.
I send fond thanks to the people of the riding with whom I was able to engage in conversation. Thank you for your precious time and for your thoughtfulness. I always come away from door-knocking during elections reinforced in my conviction that most people care about others a great deal and are guided in what they do – with their vote and in many other ways – by that concern, as well as of course by what they need for their own immediate situation.
Margaret Thatcher was never more wrong – and she was often disastrously wrong – than when she said there is no such thing as society. There certainly is: we are in the messes we are in (environmental, social and economic) together and it is only through collective, democratic action that we will solve them in an acceptable way.
2. My thanks
What to say? Without you I’d probably still be wandering the streets of Calgary-Foothills alone, hungry, thirsty, lost and confused ….
Seriously, you are the lifeblood of any campaign and everything you put into the campaign is hugely appreciated. Words are cheap, I know, but what else do we have? Thanks for everything. I hope you enjoyed yourselves in the process.
To Chris for agreeing to work as our campaign manger in this endeavour – many elements of this campaign were new to Alberta Greens, from the videos, to the 4 X 8 signs, to a real GOTV effort. We have benefited hugely from the vigorous and credible campaign we’ve run in this by-election. Many people have complimented us on the excellent effort. And we needed Chris’ expertise to make this happen.
To the GPA Executive Council for the decision to go all out in this campaign – it was a tremendous learning process and we impressed a lot of people along the way. We stand in much better shape for future elections because we fought this one hard.
And to my wonderful, good-humoured family – thanks for your support. To Phil for all that you always do, for your patience and encouragement. And to our three children who understand and even share – to varying degrees, it is true – their parents’ political passions.
3. The democratic process
You all know I am sure what Churchill said of democracy: “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”
At some point in every election campaign we should give thanks to the many, many generations of activists who went before us and struggled mightily, often with grave consequences to themselves, for the rights and freedoms we enjoy. The most important part of the work we do in an election campaign is remind people that democracy, and those rights and freedoms that do not exist without it, are fragile – democracy has to be supported, nourished, engaged with, or we risk losing it. It’s a hard truth, but it is the truth.
And without patting ourselves on the back, I think, we did our bit to enhance democracy in Alberta in this by-election campaign.
Every time we refused to go simplistically negative but worked to offer a positive vision for the future, every time we opted to encourage hope rather than engender fear, we were bolstering democracy in Alberta and doing a good thing.
Our time for electoral success in Alberta will come but in the meantime, the journey is worth all the work because we honour and support democracy in the process, we open minds to another way of thinking about the situation we and the rest of the world are in. At its best the work is inspirational, even fun.
4. What’s happening in the broader world
It’s impossible to ignore the horrors of what is happening in other parts of the world. I am thinking especially of the migrants trying to escape the chaos of the Middle East and especially what is happening in Syria.
I encourage all of us this evening – after a great celebration and much needed rest – to put some of our time and energy to insisting that Canada do more to alleviate the suffering we are seeing. We can act politically (through working in the federal election campaigns) and in other ways as well.
The struggle for human dignity goes on. Here in Alberta where many people live lives of quiet desperation amidst all the apparent, but often very superficial, affluence and many, many more lead extremely stressful lives because we have failed to build communities that support them with local schools, day-cares, community meeting spaces, and all the other services they need close to home.
But also around the world where innocent children die because … well, why? It’s very hard to understand, very hard. But more important, it’s impossible to accept. We have to resolve to do what we can.
Have a great evening, and again many thanks for all the good, Green, democratic work.