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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Why Are Alberta Opposition Parties Blaming Voters the Election Results?

The talk of a new political party or the merger of the Alberta Liberal and the NDP in response to the recent Stelmach Progressive Conservative landslide majority is interesting but if it is reactive it will not get any momentum.

The gnashing of Liberal and NDP teeth after the last election results was more like they were blaming Alberta voters for electing the Stelmach versions of a Progressive Conservative government. They bemoaned that 20% of total of eligible Albertans selected the Stelmach government. Stelmach actually got over 50% of the 41% of eligible voters who bothered to show up on election day.

The Alberta results could also be legitimately framed that the majority of voting Albertans selected Stelmach and it is worth noting only two political parties showed an increase in their popular vote, the Progressive Conservative and the Green Party of Alberta. The rejection of the Alberta Liberals and the NDP means they need to look at themselves instead of blaming the voter or the apathetic Alberta for the performance of their parties in these election results.

Still the opposition parties and vested interest groups wailed and moaned that these election results were unacceptable and somehow undemocratic and the low participation actually diminished the PC mandate. That is utter nonsense.

That kind of reaction from the losers was just insulting the Albertans who had considered the options, made a decision on who to vote for and then took the time to show up and vote. Those engaged Albertan made their preferences known about who they wanted to grant consent to govern the province. It was not the Alberta Liberals or the NDP. The right to vote is a moral duty and not a legal obligation. Enough said!

That said, there is still a problem that threatens our democracy when only 41% of the population could be bothered to vote in the first place. That is not going to be solved by blaming the voter or arranging a shotgun marriage of the Alberta Liberal and the NDP. Even worse is the “solution” of some who are calling a strategic machination to reduce the democratic choices for Alberta voters. This is the end result of the proposal that the Alberta Liberals and NDP collude and not run candidates against each other in certain close ridings to avoid splitting votes.

Instead the oppositions parties ought to be look at ways they can offer Albertan’s a better government through better leadership, better candidates and more resonate platforms. Tinkering with the system with schemes like Proportional Representation is another folly of political parties who just can’t cut it with the electorate.

We need a strong opposition. They help make government better, more accountable and more effective and can provide voters with choices and alternatives. That is the job of the opposition and they need to get on with it. They should quit trying to change the rules and stop blaming voters or apathy for their own shortcoming. More opposition members is an obvious “solution” but remember the four-man NDP Caucus last session was pretty damn effective by all counts.

Reality is when Albertans what more opposition member it will elect them. In the meantime opposition parties should refocus and get serious about being an effective opposition and an acceptable alternative for Albertans if they ever want to govern us. So far they look like they just want to whine about not getting political power.