Reboot Alberta

Wednesday, February 15, 2023


In a previous post we challenged you to contemplate what worries you and what your public policy, government programs or democratic processes are on your mind .  We provided a 4H Framework Tool to focus and guide you through that analytical process. 

This decision making will come earlier for some and more challenging for others. What is keeping you up at night is usually more personal and family based. We don’t often see those life-challenges in political terms, but we can, and perhaps we should, depending of course on the nature of the problems.

Then there are the community-based concerns,  What is happening in your networks of friends, work, and activities from leisure to working situations that is impacting the  life of your and your family.  These are often matters of local government, institutions, or community organizational dynamics.  They could be matters of public safety, transportation, addiction, development, just to name a few.

Next we have the macro areas of concern that are at the provincial or federal government levels.  These are usually the ones in the news media coverage and tend to dominate partisan political messaging. 


According to a very recent Abacus Data survey, the top three policy issues on the minds of Albertans these days are:

#1 The Cost of Living (67%)

#2 Improving Health Care (50%)

#3 Managing the Alberta Economy (34%)

The next three top of mind issues are also interesting and cluster in the 21%-25% range of Albertans as most important.  They are:

#4 Keeping Taxes as Low as Possible (25%)

#5 Affordability of Housing (24%)

#6 Standing up for Alberta with the Federal Government (21%)


Of course these are provincial based political issues but they may be part of your personal and community-based level of concern as well.  These issues are a good place to start to drill them down into a more granular and detailed consideration for you and your more specific concerns.

What is interesting in a political context for the coming election is which of the two legacy parties, the UCP and NDP, are “most trusted" to deal with the specific issues.  This can give some insight on the power of these issues to influence the outcome of the May election.  

For example, look at the issue of “Defending those working in the oil and gas sector.” This is all about the uncertainty of the global move to alternative sources of energy away from fossil fuels.  The politics about the “Just Transition” for energy sector workers is also part of the issue. 

The UCP, at 53% trust, has overwhelming trust to deal with this compared to the NDP at 20% trusting them to deal with the issues.  Also, there are 23% of Albertans who are “Unsure” of whom to trust to manage this issue.  That is a significant portion of the population.  

However, this issue is significantly important to only 14% of those Albertans surveyed.  So while the UCP is strong on this issue, it is not likely going to be determinative of the election outcome, if there is a good turnout of voters.  


Remember the world is run by those who show up.  This is especially true at election time. What if this issue is a dominant vote driver for many who are feeling significantly impacted personally and in their communities, like oil and gas based rural Albertans.  If they organize around this issue, drive support and their fellow citizens of like minds show up, while others who could care less and are carelessly irresponsible about showing up to vote, this issue could end up being influential on the election outcome.

On the other end of the issues spectrum is the Cost of Living, critically important to 67% of the survey respondents. This shows how close this election could be, because 37% trust the UCP and 26% trust the NDP, 22% are unsure while 5% pick a Third Party to trust.  

In reality there is very little a provincial government can do about the cost of living.  They can’t control inflation in housing, food or transportation, which are some of the major contributors to the rising cost of living. They can reduce taxes and user fees and subsidize vulnerable to partially shield them from the impacts.  

But these are band-aids put on what are bullet wounds for many.  And none of this pragmatic reality will stop the two major parties from trying to sway vulnerable voters with their ideological rhetoric, political propaganda and even spreading  misinformation in the weeks now and up to the election.


The chart of the Abacus Data analysis of the most important issues shows who is perceived as the “most trusted to deal” with each issue.  This is an interesting issue prioritization, but also an indicator of the perceived  strength of each party on each issue. The clear dichotomy between the economic issue of trustworthiness of the rightwing UCP vs the social trustworthiness of the leftwing NPD is not surprising.  It shows where the fault line that divides our political culture.

There is utility in this information for the motivated majority of us who are independent,  nonpartisan, critical thinking citizens.  You likely fit into the Unsure category on some issues as you consider your personal what to vote for issues.  You could just as well be leaning to the left or the right on other concerns.  This information is not much help in deciding to vote based on party leadership or ideology, based on a for or against assessment call.

So remember, the world is run by those who show up and know what they want, and how to get it. That could be and should be you this election and afterwards.

Sunday, February 05, 2023


This post is part of the series for Alberta Rebooters to consider their personal situation as we approach our voting decisions in the May general election.

I’ve posted on the importance of elections as a chance for change, and charting our way as citizens in uncharted economic, social and environmental times for Albertans.


Now I am sharing a 4-H framework tool for you to use as you consider what you will be voting for, and why, in the election. The framework starts with what is on your mind, individually, for your family, and your various communities and organizations you connect with. Do you understand why these are concerns for you?  What’s in your Head? 

Then we asked you to consider what is in your Heart about those concerns.  What are your feelings, fears, and sense of what better would look like if you could make changes? Next is to look seriously about what you are doing about pressing for the changes you see as needed.  This is the Hands on part.  What steps are you taking to be, and bring about, the change you want to see?  

The final step in making a better voting decision is about Hope.  What is your big picture view of what the next Alberta could, should and would be if we were effective, engaged, active and aspirational as citizens?  What are the core principles and values we should live by as persons and and as a people?


The top of mind issues in Canada, and I suspect in Alberta as well, are Inflation/Recession, Healthcare, and Housing, and Public Safety is also emerging. So this post will explore how to use the 4H Framework in terms of Economic perceptions and concerns from data in an series of recent national polls. Where are you in relation to the survey data?

Abacus Data finds that perceptions are that 46% of Canadians think the  economy will shrink in the next 12 months. Only 28% believe there will be growth while 26% say it will do neither.  Consumer behavior can be self- fulfilling prophecies.  But add in the fact that 20% of Canadians could only cover one week of expenses, and 43% say they would survive a month from their savings if they lost their job. 

That reality has to be a big Head and Heart driven issue for many Albertans too.  The Leger poll done in the same timeframe shows 48% of Albertans hold cynical pessimistic expectations of future declines in the economy, the most in the country, but not by much.

Leger finds the big personal economic worries are sustained value of investments (64% - Albertans 71%), safety of savings (61% - Albertans 68%), able to pay bills (53% - Albertans 60%), carrying credit card debt (46% - Albertans 53%) and ability to meet mortgage payments (40% - Albertans 42%).

As for our sense of a recession, a year ago 34% of Albertans said we were definitely in a recession, and now 30% believe that to be true.  Asked Iif we are probably already in a recession, a year ago 63% believed that, while now 74% perceive that to be the case.  Again, the highest numbers in the country.


Most of these issues are global in nature and way beyond the scope of governments to do much about,  them other than to help with adaptations and mitigation.  But we should expect some pragmatic, honest and actionable strategies from the Alberta political parties for us, as independent citizens, to evaluate, support or reject with our ballots this election.

So are these worries your worries too, on a personal and on a bigger picture level?  As individuals all we can do is adapt our discretionary spending and seek more revenue through wages and otherwise.  We may have to reduce our personal investment risk and look at other behavioral changes to meet our fiscal obligations.

Of course there are many more concerns about healthcare, education, public safety, uncertainty over climate change and energy transition impacts on Alberta jobs, to name a few.

I hope this information is helpful in your efforts to focus on your 4H process in your Citizen’s Journey. So stay tuned, stay attuned, tune up your citizenship and do not tune out!  There are Authoritarian forces organizing to take over Alberta this election. 

Our democracy is at risk.  Use it or lose it.