Going Back to Our Future

As we head into the final leg of what feels like an American campaign season, people have been asking to see platforms before they vote for the leader of the United Conservative Party.  Most of those people likely won’t be voting in the UCP leadership race but that doesn’t make the question any less important… just less likely to be answered.

An interesting point was brought up today: are businesses likely to make decisions based on a platform without substance like the one Jason Kenney is touting?  I’ll admit my initial reaction was to laugh.  Businesses, especially large ones, are not a one-person operation; they have boards and shareholders to answer to.  However, after careful consideration, this may be one of those circumstances where the lack of a platform is going to be an issue.

Photo credit: Pressfortruth.ca

To begin with, the only unknown in the UPC leadership race is Doug Schweitzer and he’s actually put together a fairly informative platform for businesses and individuals regarding taxes and regulations.  Both Kenney and Jean, and even Fildebrandt if he actually runs, are known in the political circles of Alberta conservatives. Certainly few have forgotten the Hail Mary from the 5 CEOs a few days before the 2015 election; Alberta businesses and jobs were at stake if voters elected an NDP government.

Mr. Kenney managed to raise over $500,000 prior to October 1, 2016 from 2,129 donors (which is an interesting number considering he only managed to earn 1,113 votes from the “membership“).  The final tally for his expenses for the leadership race was just under $1.5 million which means he raised almost another million during the five and a half months of the actual leadership race.  While many might look at it as a shady deal, his lack of policy and platform speaks to a lot of people because he says he’s a conservative and he is pro-free-enterprise.   Never mind the fact that most Albertans and, honestly, all other political parties in Alberta (even the NDP) are as well.

The narrative, though, has been set and is entrenched in political discourse.  The phrase “job killing carbon tax” has been around since 2012, coined by federal conservatives against the NDP.   It worked for Kenney’s team then and he has found a very willing audience in Alberta to regurgitate the same talking point.  It doesn’t seem to matter to his supporters that a federal carbon tax will be implemented by 2018 if provinces don’t already have one.  Add to that narrative the fact that a number of high emission industries in Alberta have been paying a price on carbon since 2007, and you have yet another red herring.  No one needs to be deceived by their political representatives but the onus is on the individual to learn the truth.

People often look for someone to blame when times are tough.  Change is difficult for a lot of people, especially those who expected their careers to take them through the rest of their lives.  The future is not the same as they thought 40 years ago and Alberta has an opportunity to keep up or be left behind.  The UCP may be the political party of new but their plans and ideas are years behind the rest of the world.  The question is: which direction will the voters in this province take us?

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