Alberta Election

05Apr12

Well, we’re coming up to a provincial election, and I wanted to research the political parties to see what I could find. I’d actually like to make an informed decision. I thought I’d summarize my research here. I’d like to point out, before I start, that I am quite biased against the conservative and wild rose parties. However, I will try to present their information accurately as possible, with maybe only one or two points of snark.

Liberal –

Huzzah to them for having the most easily accessible party platform. Their healthcare ideas are first, they want to guarantee wait times, and want to give incentives for doctors to become generalists (which is really needed, considering my family doctor is retiring and couldn’t even give away his practice because no one wants to be a GP). They also want to help train foreign doctors to Canadian standards. For seniors, they want to increase home care, in hopes to decrease their dependency on hospitals, which seems idealistic that it would save money. Another thing that sounds good, but is unclear how they would fund it, is a curriculum based, non-profit option for preschool and daycare. In addition to that, they want to modernize our parental leave, which is the worst in Canada. For energy, they want to create higher penalties for companies, and destroy some of the energy cartel that has sprung up. Sounds good, but no reference to where the money comes from. Their ideas on education are great – lunch programs, student loans independent of parent income, forgive parts of loans to grads who work in Alberta. I find the lack of any mention of costs or budgets pretty worrying though. On the other hand, they have some interesting ideas about government reform, to reduce it’s size and cost.  Oh I found their money section, tucked away at the end. They want to increase the tax rate for those earning over 100k/year, as well as for large corporations, cut the same carbon storage plan that Wildrose wants to cut (except the Liberals state they want to promote new, better technologies to control emissions), and cut private school funding (it’s private school for a reason..), in addition to reducing government departments and number of MLA’s/MLA salary. The increased taxation sounds good, but I’m worried large corporations and wealthy individuals will leave the province, hurting us in the long run.

NDP –

Also easy to find, but slightly harder to navigate. They begin, however, by attacking the PC’s, which I disagree with as a campaign tactic. See the end of the Wildrose section for the explanation. For healthcare, they want to protect seniors, increase funding and number of providers, without stating how they will fund, or fix the system. The NDP wants to reregulate and create an independent watch dog for energy companies, and promote local power generation. Their ideals for education are pretty darn vague, saying they want to “work with schoolboards,” as well as the ubiquitous lunch program and smaller class sizes. They want to freeze and reduce tuition fees, as well as institute the same incentive for grads to work in Alberta, all pretty good there. As an aside, I don’t like how they blame evil big corporations for the state of the province (along with the Conservatives), it strikes me as being very paranoid. Their environmental policy is filled with idealistic plans such as grants to retrofit homes, cutting that carbon capture program (I think each party has listed a different amount saved from that), double monitoring, and banning the sale of our water. Their budget is pretty vague about where all the money is coming from, and has a very strange unit, seemingly making their spending look smaller than it is. Additionally, their hatred of large corporations could really hinder Alberta’s economy.

PC –

Their platform seems to mostly surround the things Allison Redford has done recently, such as give pharmacists the ability to renew prescriptions. They also state how they support libraries and education, without really saying anything that they plan to do to support them. They also state that they will be giving grants to agricultural societies to get young people involved in the agriculture industry (can you tell which vote she is trying to get?). Somewhat surprisingly, the PC position on crime (especially youth and gang related) is to focus on community prevention programs, which are more likely to work than incarceration. The part about their budgeting is pretty vague and has a lot of buzzwords that don’t really mean a lot, same with the part about “wellness” and health. Although they sound good, they don’t really have any details (especially about where the money will come from for all these clinics with extended hours). They had a good outline of the budget, which sounds pretty fancy, until you think of things like how much we rely on royalties from oil, and the statistics about wages and employment sound good, except for the fact that ridiculous salaries in the oil patch are skewing the results. While some of the PC platform sounds good, I find myself disbelieving that any of the new proposals will happen, since Redford backpedaled on so many of her leadership race promises. Why should we trust her now?

Wildrose –

They have some interesting ideas about keeping the balanced budget, and a solid goal about how much spending they want to do. However: a warning sign is that they want to eliminate carbon capturing and storage, without an alternative. Does this mean they are human induced climate change denialists? I sure don’t want people in power who deny basic scientific fact. I do, however, like how they focus on the long term cycle of boom and bust that Alberta has to contend with. I’m also worried about their proposals for education. They want to prohibit school fees for public, private and charter schools. However, they don’t say how they will cover these costs for schools, so I interpret this as a cut to schools that they will have to cut more teaching positions and increase class sizes. They also plan to change educational funding so that parents can have more choice in educational programs from public, private and charter schools. This seems pretty decent at first glance, however the subtext says to me: they want to let private and charter schools teach things other than Alberta curriculum, and possibly deny children important facts about evolution and sex education. This seems directly aimed to fundamentalist religious groups. Their plans for tax deductions for children and activities seem positive; keeping in mind the tax cuts and budget balancing they want to do may throw a wrench in the works. They also want to spend a percentage of surplus amounts giving a dividend to Albertans, hard to argue that, seems like a campaign promise to make them popular, like the kid who brings chocolates to buy into the popular clique. Their healthcare plan sounds a lot to me like privatization and a two-tiered system, since they want to allow people to go to independent or out of province facilities for treatment, on Alberta dime. I can’t see how this will make our broken system better, there will still be the inherent bureaucratic nonsense that plagues our system. And how will this encourage doctors and nurses to work in Alberta, since we have a shortage?

The other thing I don’t like, is that they attack the PC party. Similarly to how the federal Liberal party instigated a smear campaign against the Conservatives, the Wildrose seem to promote the idea that they don’t really have a campaign platform aside from “the other guys suck.” Now, I’m not saying that the PC’s have been perfect, or that they don’t deserve criticism – they do. But, a party platform is not the place to put such criticisms. I’d rather see a focus on what their plans are for when they are in power.

So there we go, a summary of the campaigns of the 4 big political parties. I haven’t decided who I will vote for yet, but I strongly feel that it’s time for the Conservatives to lose power. They have instituted some terrible laws, and have not been doing their jobs properly. It’s time for a change.

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