Political “taste” is dangerous.
Every creature fights for freedom. It’s a built-in mechanism which a human can’t get rid off. I want something, and I try to get it. I did when I was a baby, and I still do when I am an old man. When I was little, I just screamed, and now I learned that if I want something I have to give something in return. I also learned that I could give things freely and enjoy things that others give unconditionally. That is more or less the Christian view.
How is it determined what I get, and what others receive, is a question that only a few can answer. It is related to the way we are governed. A government policy determines the size of the share of the pie by legislating the rules of the game. Most people assume that governments levy taxes and waste the money but it doesn’t have to be so, it’s a choice the government makes. We may have a leader who spread the wealth to most or all people, or we could have leadership that gives the lion share to a few. They convince us to vote for them simply by marketing their party well and convincing us that a few are blesed and they will share with the less fortunate.
My children and their generation grew up in an environment that provided a comfortable living for the millions of workers and middle-class people. They are too young to remember the big fights, strikes and marches that led us to the world we have today. The generation following me is looking at us and wondering how come they don’t have what we, their parents did, and often sink themselves into debt trying to get things they consider basic needs fast. Try as they may, they are overall slowly sliding back.
The reason is the inability of most younger people to comprehend how politics influence their lives. They assume that they will be screwed equally by all politicians, so they don’t vote. Those who do, often go by “taste” or by the popularity of individual candidates. It’s a big mistake you are making, my younger friends, and you may pay for it dearly.
Political parties have one main goal in mind and that is to be in power. Some try to improve the lives of voting public while others cater to a few who in turn influence a lot of others in various ways. The “choice” position to be in is to keep them guessing since they will give you more before you sign the deal. A community that provides a safe seat for any one party will get less than another which is a swing area. If your community is decisively one party or another, it stands to be punished if your side doesn’t win in the elections. A good example Calgary losing the CFB garrison that moved to Edmonton some years ago, and Fort MacLeod losing the police college a few years after.
Nobody can prove that this kind of things happens, but one can make guesses. Elections, especially nowadays are unpredictable. Poles prove whatever people wish to read into them and they change fast. One little event can change an election in the last minute if it captures the public’s imagination and sentiments.
I remember talking with an old-timer here, Tino. He met Pierre Trudeau here, I believe around 1971. He told Pierre that the Pass lost the coal mines and now was dwindling to nothing, and Trudeau said he would see what he can do. Tino was not sure how things happened but one after another, things did, and the local economy improved. The Crowsnest Pass didn’t become a ghost town as other places often did. Now we are looking forward to another mine opening and improving our local economy.
I am not a politician nor even have I studied much political science. Yet I have a gut feeling that people should not place all their eggs in one basket. In my opinion, we should not declare that we are a one-party area even if some of us are a hundred percent sure that we know which party will win the next elections.
Our mine is not going to open immediately and there will be an election before it does. When politicians look at Southern Alberta, they should be seeing the potential for winning seats, both on the left and the right. Instead of being a block of one political persuasion, they should be made to compete for our votes and support projects that are important to us.
Alberta has been a guaranteed center for Conservatism for many years until one day it changed. Now about half of us are open to new suggestions, and all political parties are trying to please us. That is a good thing and let's keep it that way.
The small communities in Alberta live in the shadow of two big cities that may cancel each other at election time. Our hope is to be viewed as the potential tiebreakers. For that, we must keep ourselves as possible candidates of both major political forces. A small community should have strong representation so regardless of who wins, we are seen to have the potential for both parties and they will not punish us in order not to hurt their future chances that we may be on their side. Freedom is not a right; it is something that people gain.
The photograph is from the book Trudeau’s Tango by Darryl Raymaker. It shows Pierre Trudeau at a multicultural luncheon in Blairmore July 1971. The original is from the Galt Museum and Archives.
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