Thoughts on the complexity and importance of making informed decisions in the provincial election by WAVE committee member Tanya Edison.
I have to preface this with the fact that I’m new at caring about the political.
I am really trying to be civic-minded and connect my responsibility to vote, while keeping my real-life situations in mind: grandma of girls, tax payer, mortgage holder, 9 to 5’er in a construction and affordable housing organization. There’s not much time to become savvy before April 16.
I downloaded the party platforms and took the time to read them over. Oh, but wait, only the two giants that are crushing the pack. For me, it seems like there’s no room for anything else. I listen intently to public radio but get distracted and switch to easy-listening when politicians are arguing over infighting and party contribution illegalities. If it weren’t for my politically-active friends on social media, I don’t know that I could tell fake news from the real at this point.
A digital gadget and gizmo to find if you will land on your left side, right side or somewhere around the middle. There are a few different interfaces on the net to try that will help you find your position. I tried one just to see what the algorithm thought my political stance would looked like. My computer froze and the result was in a queue to reload and try again. At that point I just went back to trying to match up platform promises with my list of priorities using an old fashioned pen, paper and highlighter.
My list of wants: affordable housing, access to education and health care, gender equity in government and pay, to take care of our poorest and most vulnerable and ensure a greener and fairer future for my granddaughters to live in. Not much in there about big corporations, oil and gas industry, high-load corridors, or super labs… but that’s not because those issues aren’t important. Those issues just feel disconnected from me. I live gender inequity. I know what it’s like to not feel safe in my city’s core. I know homelessness and I want a healthier tomorrow for my body and my planet. I’m trying to connect the dots so I can see the whole picture and understand how change in government would affect my future.
As I go through the policies, it feels like humans versus industry. One party raises Alberta’s corporate tax to 12% and implements strategies for energy efficiency and renewable energy under a climate leadership plan. The other party would remove the cap on oil sands emissions that would take away operating funding for Energy Efficiency Alberta. How can I make this complex strategy personal to me? I work in the housing sector with mainly new Canadians and new homeowners. There is a real need as more and more homes are being built and more and more families are becoming first-time home owners. There needs to be a program in place to help educate families on their new responsibilities and an initiative to teach energy efficiency which will save everyone money. And we can’t forget that with housing stability, there is a health and education benefit.
If all the issues that concern me are tied to the human condition, like homelessness and poverty, gender equity, women’s safety in the downtown, and education, it’s hard for me not to feel like industry and privatization is a big boot stepping on the vulnerable. While it feels to me like if you support big industry, then you automatically can’t support a greener and more human future, I don’t think that’s the whole story. We need industry to support our economy. Without jobs, there are no futures.
It truly is a regret that I have not followed politics more closely. The effects of complacency are real and now there is an overwhelming tension of losing safe ground. I needed to get out the pen and paper and sit down with the policies and find out where the ideals I value will align with the policies that are in black and white of each party platform. It has taken me the last 3 days investing time and making a conscious effort to learn where I stand. Figuring this out diffused the emotionally-charged feelings the decision used to be only days ago. I feel my beliefs are even stronger. With enough knowledge of where these very different platforms want to go, I can feel the choice in my bones, but my brain is equally engaged.
This election has me totally invested; mind, body and spirit. Understanding the complexities is doable and as simple as highlighting what doesn’t sit well, checking what does and building your values into your own mini-party platform of ‘Youisms’ and seeing who you would run under if, tomorrow, you decided government leadership was for you.
But, I know, I’m not done just yet! To add to the work I must do as a proactive citizen is to review one of the most important questions that comes years after the vote: Did they fulfill those policy promises?
Is there’s an app for that?