By Rick Strankman, MLA
Drumheller – Stettler
Often times, with the best of intentions, unintended consequences befall innocent bystanders. In the zeal and excitement of achieving a goal or accomplishment, tunnel vision can often take over. An example of this could be the implementation of the carbon tax.
The Alberta government implemented the tax without the consultation of the people, other than their own political cheerleaders. We can only speculate as to what their intentions were when they made the decision to impose the tax. Regardless of their intentions, the damage has been substantial to the Alberta economy and the confidence of potential investors.
Collateral damage refers to the damage inflicted on an unintended target. Whether the consequences are intended or unintended means little to an individual that is the recipient of those consequences, and it does nothing to repair the damage that results.
As political parties in Alberta jockey for position to be the next government, a stark reality is becoming clearer, the marginalization of any meaningful public involvement or input of any kind. Albertans have witnessed an erosion of a connection between political parties and the people they claim to serve, with policy development being created and platforms implemented by the faceless bureaucracy that populates the backrooms.
The political collateral damage isn’t limited to the results of policies and legislation that bring with them unintended consequences. In many ways, the unseen damage to democracy is at the root of the carnage that ensues. Direct democracy is in serious trouble when faceless bureaucrats decide that the voter has only a choice between their carefully selected objectives.
Alberta has a growing serious deficit not only financially but democratically as well. Democracy is about choices; choices that should be left to the people, not faceless bureaucrats that are only concerned with keeping their autocratic apparatus intact.
At some point in the near future, Albertans will be faced with making another difficult political choice. As the days go by, the decision is becoming ever more clouded by a lack of clarity, as to whether candidates will represent their constituents or their party first.
In the past, democracy has been burdened with a lack of free votes for MLAs in the Legislature. The Wildrose party opened that door just a crack by passing the appropriate policy, only to have the backroom bureaucracy and leadership undermine what I considered to be one of the few beacons of democracy Albertans have ever been offered.
In both 2012 and 2015, the PCs and NDP respectively, formed majority governments. The members of both the 2012 PC and 2015 NDP caucuses have, with very rare exception, voted in favour of every government Bill that has been tabled in the Legislature. Theoretically, that means that every Bill the government MLAs have voted on was in the best interests of every riding they held.
Common sense tells us this is simply not the case. This means that at the expense of direct democracy, MLAs knowingly and willingly voted against their constituents’ best interests. Not only were the parties complicit, but they also facilitated, and at times, coerced (whipped) them to do so.
Albertans are rapidly coming to the conclusion that these political entities are putting their self-serving needs first, leaving Albertans behind as collateral damage.