A year of headline-making change
Tuesday, Dec 26, 2017 06:00 am
The 150th anniversary of Confederation, 2017, has been a year of headline-making change in Alberta political life.
In Didsbury, citizens elected an entire new town council in the municipal election Oct. 16.
Jason Kenney is the newly-elected leader of the United Conservative Party.
David Khan is the new Alberta Liberal leader, Romy Tittle the new Alberta Green Party Leader, and the Alberta Party is without a leader after the unexpected resignation of Greg Clark.
In Alberta, after a decade of political drift and the unexpected, one-sided NDP victory in the 2015 election, there are now two able political leaders – Rachel Notley and Jason Kenny – leading the government and the official Opposition in the legislature.
The political careers of Brian Jean, David Rodney, Richard Starke and Derrick Fildebrant have taken hits this year.
Calgary lawyer and UCP leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer emerged as a new voice in Alberta politics, but needs some oxygen that Jason Kenney may or may not give him.
Federally, the shine is off the Liberal resurgence in Alberta.
Calgary-Skyview MP Darshan Kang has succumbed to allegations of sexual impropriety. He continues to hold his federal seat in Calgary -- but is unlikely to run for re-election.
Calgary-Centre cabinet minister Kent Hehr embarrassed himself when his notoriously brash tongue insulted a group of thalidomide survivors seeking fairer compensation, and a woman suing the government for maternity leave benefits.
It now falls to Edmonton-Mill Woods MP Amajeet Shoi, Liberal minister of infrastructure and communities, and Randy Boissonnault, elected in Edmonton-Centre and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues, to shore up Liberal fortunes in Alberta.
The drama of all these changes affirms the strength of our political system.
Voters have the last word.
Elsewhere around the world, political leadership is changed by assassinations, uprisings in the street and coups d’état in the halls of power.
In Canada, we hold elections.
Some things did not change, politically, in 2017.
Terry Leslie is still the mayor of Sundre, Lance Colby the mayor of Carstairs and Jim Romane returned to the mayor’s chair in Innisfail.
In those three towns and on the Mountain View County council, a majority of incumbent councillors were re-elected.
This shows there is an underlying stability that the common sense of voters delivers to politics.
There is an expression, “plus ça change, plus c’est le même chose” or, in the Bon Jovi song, “the more things change the more they remain the same”.
In Alberta, an alarming number of eligible voters don’t cast ballots in provincial elections.
According to the official results from Elections Alberta, only 35 percent of the eligible voters cast a ballot in the Calgary-Lougheed byelection this month.
In the byelection in Calgary-Foothills in 2015, the turnout was 37.8 percent and Calgary-Greenway in 2016, only 28.5 percent of people on the voters’ list voted.
In the 2015 general election, the participation was a shabby 53 per cent.
Cynically one could say that conservatives do better when turnout is low.
But that’s not reassuring as it means that most adults will not accept the government in power.
What results is not apathy -- it is dangerous alienation from politics and political leadership.
- Frank Dabbs is a veteran political and business journalist and author.