Warren Kinsella says here and here that Progressives should vote for Alison Redford's Progressive Conservative Party in Alberta's Provincial election. It is a formulaic and emotional appeal to strategic voting. It presents no argument that such a vote would accomplish anything useful. The strategic voting argument is always stated as an urgent imperative, and is insulting to our intelligence. (So is this video, by the way.)
I will grant you at the outset, that a Wildrose government is the worst of all possible outcomes for Alberta. It's not an Alberta trait (in majority) to be ignorant racist anti-science homophobes. Few Alberta leaders (except perhaps Ralph Klein) have been so tolerant, even welcoming, of these malignant views as Danielle Smith. And yet, you can find those same views in the Progressive Conservative party any day of the week. They just manage their message better, that's all. I would rather face these people out in the open, rather than have the PC party's rodeo clowns wave their arms in my face and tell me they don't exist. I thought it would be obvious to Alberta's Progressives that voting for Alison Redford's Party will not solve any particular problem, and will probably make things worse.
So, I won't be voting for Alberta's Progressive Conservative Party under any circumstances. I never voted for them in any election from when I first started voting in the early 80's, and I likely never will. Voting for the PC's to stop the Wildrose is a waste of time and energy.
Fear and Loathing
Trying to provoke fear reactions does not work in politics when you are behind. Tim Powers is right about the Chicken Little argument, but he is wrong about the fear being unjustified. Scaring people didn't work with Stephen Harper. We Progressives in the west knew what this train wreck would look like back in 1993. But moderate conservatives (in Ontario mostly) and the corporate media knew better, and said Harper was harmless. Now they act surprised and concerned. The same kind of media failure and cognitive distortion put Danielle Smith where she is now. Her superficial charm seems to appeal to some. Additionally, almost all of the fear tactics are being forwarded by PC supporters, with a bit of help from friends with typewriters.
A Credible Opposition
Regardless of who actually wins the election an effective, ethical and progressive opposition is more important that it has ever been. You must realize that next week we could have a legislature consisting entirely of conservatives. In 1982 Grant Notley and Ray Martin were the sole opposition members to Peter Lougheed. Power should never go unchecked. The PC party will be in no position to function as official opposition, even though they will likely win that status on numbers. Alison Redford will probably resign Monday night. Last time they picked a leader it took almost a year, in what could be best described as a farcical infomercial that was fraudulently passed off as a general election of sorts. The PC party will likely break down in infighting. I think they are far too arrogant and used to playing god to be an effective opposition. They have no idea what the opposition does. With the PC and Wildrose the only parties in the Legislature you can bet that most of their time will be taken up with their family feud. Aside from that being boring as hell, we have a lot of important issues to deal with. Do you believe that 40% or 50% of Albertans who are not conservatives deserve no representation?
Voting into Decline
One good reason not to vote for the PC Party is that they are in steep decline. We know the mythology about 1935 and 1971. In both of those election years long running ruling parties were dumped. The 2012 election may or not follow this pattern entirely; however history would suggest that if Albertans say they are done with the PC party then they are really done with them. This may be wishful thinking on my part, but I think it is quite possible they could go the way of the Social Credit Party. Either way, if you are a progressive in Alberta it would make more sense to take a longer view and vote into the future. The project of fixing Alberta's political culture will take longer than any of us thought. It's also worth considering that moderate conservative parties (red toryism) are in decline in many places. Conservative organizations seem to be more radical these days, more tea party like.
The PC party doesn't have an especially good record on the issue of gay rights. Stockwell Day, formerly Alberta's Treasurer and Social Services Minister had an appalling habit of saying stupid hateful things about gays. They did remove the right of gay people to be foster parents, and that prohibition has been upheld ever since. Between 1991 and 1998 Delwin Vriend's human rights case against the Klein Government and the exclusion of gay people from basic human rights protection worked it's way through the courts. The Alberta government fought Vriend through to the Supreme Court of Canada, where they lost. Apparently it was quite expensive. The result was the Supreme Court writing sexual orientation into Alberta's Human rights code, by force if you will. The Alberta government has never apologized, nor have they ever acknowledged gay rights as human rights in any way. I think it remains controversial for them. And then there was Bill 44 which came out of nowhere. Some would say it was an attempt to stop discussion of gay issues in schools. That may be true. The Stelmach Government just wouldn't be honest about the purpose of the bill.
I know the Wildrose will be worse for gay rights, with their jocular hate speech and the threats of referendums. But at least we know that in Canada the courts will side with gay rights. I'm not afraid to admit that I fear the worst.
Under future PC governments the output of carbon dioxide from industry will likely double or triple, with little or no mitigation. The Wildrose officially does not believe in climate change. They had to articulate that position clearly to attract support from industry and their collection of little weenies who bravely brag online about wanting to assassinate David Suzuki. Neither party will be effective on environmental issues. Not much of a choice on a fairly important issue.
Close Races and My Riding
Some pundits are saying that almost half of the ridings have a less than 10% lead for the front running. This, and the apparently large number of undecided voters will make the election interesting, among other things. But in my riding the Alberta Liberal candidate has a pretty good chance of winning. To me that represents a better choice than voting PC. And no, I'm not endorsing the Alberta Liberals, but I'm also not especially turned off by them.
Officially I'm still an undecided voter. But I plan on voting as in other elections, in agreement with my basic values. I know that this time next week we will be facing a whole new set of problems. A lot of us won't be happy. Democracy and good will will be on the run.
Please recommend this post