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Tuesday, 15 April 2014 15:11

The Alberta voter can only take so much

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It’s been scary. Really scary if you’re a voter in the province of Alberta. It’s one frustrating news item after another.


“Tales from the crypt horror stories. We’re surprised with the number of stories coming out,” said Medicine Hat MLA Blake Pedersen in an interview recently.
Yes, yes it has been. There has been a lot for the Alberta voter to digest. In this case as a Wildrose party member, Pedersen was referring to the story about former Premier Alison Redford wanting a VIP premier’s suite built in Edmonton’s provincial building.
“We’re discovering, not only the premier’s office knew, but other ministers and other officials were privy to this info...,” added Pedersen.
Soon after the conversation, the Wildrose Party released more information regarding Alberta Health Services spending $250 million on consulting contracts in 18 months. As part of that a senior health executive received $250,000 for extra consulting fees. Also made known was that the nine departing staffers from the premier’s office were given a total of $1.3 million in severance packages. Earlier this week, more revelations about Redford’s daughter being flown around in the government jet far more than first thought and Tuesday they received information that Alberta Health Services tendered $1.1 billion in untendered contracts for two years. For the opposition parties, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
Pedersen says it was government insiders which got this information into the hands of the media and let them run with it. Wow, insider stuff. Would the provincial Conservatives really want to discredit their own leader? After polls looking to see who is the most popular leader in Alberta, Redford was sitting at 18 per cent — the lowest in the province. If political party members were willing to try and push Ralph Klein out, it’s a slam dunk they would do the same to Redford.
“That’s the amazing thing about the downfall, it was brought forward from within ... it was the insiders that brought it down,” explains Pedersen.
He adds the PCs also strayed away from a debt-free type of attitude to where “debt is good” and straying towards Liberal and New Democrat ideals, which in itself was quite confusing for the voter.
This is Wildrose Danielle Smith’s time to shine. If ever there was a time for the Wildrose, it’s now. They have to prove not only are they a viable option politically, but almost on a moral scale too.
This all makes for great political discussion fodder. It’s wonderful for the opposition parties and for water cooler discussions, but it’s not good for the collective political psyche. Sad thing is, voters are getting so used to it, it’s like being desensitized to violence on TV or the movies.
After a while there’s a ceiling on those “next levels” until the point people either completely are wary of any elected official or they don’t care. There’s a fine line between cynicism and apathy. Pedersen is aware of it.
“People are getting shellshocked ... there are so many stories and people are shellshocked and there’s numbness. People are really, really disappointed in elected politicians,” he explains. “All of this stuff makes it harder on the rest of us. I just want to tell people ‘believe us, engage in us’, we’re different.’ Hopefully there’s minimum damage to the voter, but right now it seems like it’s hard to get the voters’ confidence. The biggest downfall for me right now is the attitude people have with the government now.”
When the next election is called, it will be fascinating to watch not only which party forms the next government, but if anyone can restore political faith.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor