Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Alberta Re-elects 11th Straight Conservative Government

Wow! Pretty impressive victory for Conservative Premier Ed Stelmach who took over the leadership in 2006 from former leaders Ralph Klein and Peter Lougheed whom began political reign in Alberta in 1971. Eleven straight victories is quite the accomplishment for any organization let alone a political party. After capturing 72 of 83 available seats, and increasing their popular vote, by roughly six percent, I was a little surprised to see a low voter turnout, but 41 percent failing to vote was actually shocking. Alberta media outlets report Monday's results as the lowest voter turnout experienced in their provincial elections. In 2003 New Brunswick saw its largest decline since 1967 with a measly 69 percent of registered voters turning out to cast their ballots.

I suppose there are a number of reasons why people fail to make it to the polling stations, but today's system is more convenient than previous elections years. With advance polling stations offered to absentee voters on election day and special ballots for those who cannot physically make it to the polling booth - what gives?

I once heard that if you don't vote you lose your right to speak up. I am convinced that's hardly the case today given that many people from other provinces still call and write to me about issues concerning New Brunswick. So, is voting becoming lost in a generational disconnect between politicians and youth? Is the public that cynical and disenchanted with politicians and party politics that they just don't care anymore? Or is there some other reason why voters aren't making it out to vote?

I'll let you decide.




Spinks said...

Cynical it would appear but regardless, I have little time to listen to complaining about government from someone who won't even make the effort to vote. Those people truly get the type of government they deserve.

mikel said...

I doubt too many lose sleep because SPinks isn't taking the time to listen to them.

However, the reasons are right there for people to see, there are lots of public opinion polls done. If a person believes that a government is acting in a corrupt manner then not voting is simply an extension of that. A person HAS to pay taxes, so can't get out of that, but getting out of voting is easy.

A poll done in 1999 by Elections Canada came up with some interesting findings. A full 40% felt that it simply made no difference who they voted for. Another 40% said they were too busy to either vote or learn the issues, or both. The other 20% said 'other'.

You can add into that the horribly dysfunctional electoral system. NB is a good example of that, a province where the former Premier got more votes than the sitting Premier in a two man race hardly is an advertisement to get people excited about voting.

So its not 'cynicism', its simply a recognition of how the system works. In NB if you are an NDP voter you know that you are wasting your time voting, its bizarre to hear the complaint against non voters-in fact they should be listened to MOST.

NB is a good example last election, since there really were no real fundamental differences between the parties. Graham dumped the public insurance line which almost got him elected the previous time, as the NDP lady said at the time..they could ride the same bus.

That's the same at the federal level, and in the states as well. People simply realize that there is little difference between the main parties and the electoral system ensures their vote can't get in any different voices.

T.J. Burke said...

It sounds like Mikel favours a proportional representation voting structure. It's an interesting debate and one that has many variations. I still think there is more to lower voter turn out than just plain old cynicism and both parties are the same so my vote means nothing. Citizens are to informed and educated to believe that. I tend to believe there is voter disconnect in our generation particularly within the 19-40 age bracket. As an analogy, look at our service clubs today. There are hardly any volunteers in this age bracket. Go to a local Ysmen breakfast and you will see what I mean. Visit a Knight of Columbus or Kinsmen meeting and you will see a sea of grey the same people you see at the polls.

Charles LeBlanc said...

For the first time in my life? I might not vote in the next Provincial election.

The reason?

It doesn't matter which political party is in power because it's the bureaucrats who runs the show.

From what I'm learning so far? The Liberals are much worst than the P.C.'S?

Lots of talk but no action.

The issue of drugging our kids is much worst with the Liberals because Mike Murphy gave more power to the school system to drug our kids.

Rights for boarders and Roomers?

Out the door.

But there's one issue that I want T.J. to address?

I want to know what he thinks about people being charge by the Police and once in court? They have no right to a lawyer?

I'll be waiting for an answer.

P.S. If I don't vote? This means I got to keep my mouth shut for 4 years!!!

Do you think I can do it???


mikel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
T.J. Burke said...

Ok Charles, I am a firm believer in democracy and the right to freedom of expression but when you make outlandish remarks you better be able to back them up! First, what form of proof do you have to suggest the Minister of Health is giving more power to schools to drug kids? I mean come on! My mother, brother and wife are all school teachers and you can't give a child an aspirin these days without written parental consent. Even then, a specific teacher administers the prescription. In pre-schools the law requires all medications to be locked up to avoid accidental usage.

Finally, people being charged and not offered the opportunity to speak to a lawyer is unconstitutional. Look at section 10 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. On the rare, and I mean rare occasion, you hear of this happening throughout parts of Canada. When it does happen, depending on the evidence elicited from the police, a good defence lawyer usually has it excluded.

Hassan said...

So, is voting becoming lost in a generational disconnect between politicians and youth? Is the public that cynical and disenchanted with politicians and party politics that they just don't care anymore? Or is there some other reason why voters aren't making it out to vote?

In the case of disenchanted voters and youth not turning out to vote, we need to look south of the border for how to remedy that problem, two words: Barack Obama.

Essentially, people and youth need a candidate who speaks to them, listens to their concerns and inspires them -- this is something that Obama has done very effectively - especially amazing after the disillusionment of the Bush Presidency and the do-nothing Congress. Obama has shown that the '08 election doesn't have to be just about voting NOT-Bush, but about voting for someone.

Two other American candidates who have appealed to youth and drawn in new voters are Mike Huckabee (for his humour and fun and entertaining campaign style) and Ron Paul for saying like it is (sorry to steal your phrase ;).

I think this US election should be studied closely by politicians and political parties here in Canada on how to inspire voters, connect with them, and thus draw them out to vote (especially young voters).

Charles LeBlanc said...

The way T.J. is posting the comments and blogging?

Hey? Why don't Spinks, myself and other bloggers quit and rant in here?

I'm a rookie blogger anyway so therefore I may as well begin in this blog.

Hey Mike?

Be easy on the politician blogger....Don't discourage him from blogging issues....


Sh@t!!! I'm leaving more comments in here than my blog!!!!

Not a good sign!!!


As for Shawn Graham being a nice guy?

I'm changing my attitude towards Shawn pretty quick.

He's the leader of the Party so he's the one who must take the blame when things goes wrong.

I'm waiting for the verdict of the Liberal Party for what happen to me at the Christmas Party at Sweetwaters and then we'll take it from there.

My God??? I'm more long winded than Mike???

Ok...I'm out of here!!!

Charles LeBlanc said...

Sure...I can answer your question T.J....

I confronted Mike Murphy since he's the health Minister when are we going to have a study on the way our kids are being drugged?

His answer- That's the school responsibility. Government don't get involved in the system.

That last phrase might not be correct because I was surprise when he said - That's the school responsibility.

You're the one who presented the petition of 10,000 signatures to the house T.J. so you know the Liberal MLA'S all the signed the petition asking the Government for a study.


The lawyer question?

I was arrested in Saint John and was told that I had to represent myself in court because it was a secondary offense.

The chances are that I would have been found guilty and be on probation.

Being Charles? I would have soon broke the probation and ended in jail.

Being Charles? I would have had an attitude behind bars and punched a guard in the head.

They would have told a Judge- Charles LeBlanc has a behavior problem. He has ADHD!!!

The judge would have increase my sentence by a couple of more years and I could have ended up like AShley Smith.

All this because the Police charge me and I had to represent myself in court.

Legal Aid in Saint John refuse my request twice for a lawyer.

How many people are in jail because they had no right to a lawyer?

Sh@t T.J.!!!!! I'm wasting my time in this blog!!!!!


I'm a rookie blogger remember???

Ok...going back to my blog!!!!!

Spinks said...

Over at CanadaEast a week ago I was taken to task for not calling Charles on some of his stuff more often. My response was I cut him a lot of slack because I still believe he does a lot of good with his blogging and I do believe that.

Still. I have to side with T.J. on this one Charles. There are lots of different topics to call the politicians on and hold their feet to the fire but no matter how it gets spun, that accusation just isn't true.

mikel said...

Charles can answer his own question but he has done that quite often at his blog. For the drugging I'll just add the point I made when he first brought up the issue which was that the AMA set out a series of guidelines which must be followed in order to determine whether a child has ADD. The total cost was approximately $80,000 and it took over six months of various placings in various educational environments to ensure that it was actually the childs brain thats the problem.

Whether that is being done was never answered, because of the cost I'd be very reluctant to believe it is. For Charles, you should go to the library and check out 'teaching the restless: one school's no ritalin approach in helping children to succeed'.

However, as for the post above, I love to be a contrarian but not all the time-but the 'barackstar' thing is the LAST thing we'd want to see in Canada. This guy is a total media production and it is very much an image driven campaign.

What I mean by that is that if you actually look at his policies, he's as much a republican as bush is. Like Kerry last time the democrats don't want to look 'soft' so basically are just 'less crazy republicans'. I can't over estimate that any time you have a 'less crazy' candidate thats something to be desired, but its not a model for young activists.

Again, if you want to see activity go check out charles pictures of the youth volunteering. Politically, youth are very active, especially in NEw Brunswick. YOu can tell 'the kids are alright' when they do stuff us geezers disapprove of.

So like I've said over at David Campbell's blog, he and journalist Alec Bruce were at the atlantic converence in Saint John doing nothing but badmouth the protestors, yet since that time they've pretty much echoed every criticism of atlantica that the protestors were advocating.

Protests are where the youth are most often evident, they often don't vote but are VERY politically active, you have to be to take those kinds of risks.

However, us geezers are usually bemoaning the fact like the one mentioned above, that 'the kids' aren't being involved in ways WE would like them involved. What young person is going to join the 'knights of columbus' or the kinsmen? Kids haven't gone through the successive years of brainwashing and had kids, which makes people afraid of everything so they 'settle down'. They see through the bs, which is why they are more likely to be organized in communal groups or at protests. Hell, look how many kids were walking down the road with the "free hugs" sign-you don't get any more politically active than that. Again, its the 'go to a party meeting and let somebody else do the work for you' that can be seen more cynical, and by kids more hypocritical.

Charles LeBlanc said...

Sh@T....Mike??? Will you go away????

You're wasting my valuable time in this blog!!!


Six months to diagnose a child with ADHD???

Maybe in Ontario but not here in New Brunswick.

It takes around 30 to 45 minutes.

The school sents all the info to Dr.Meek in Saint John. < Whick reminds me? I got to blog that guy? >

He decides what kind of drugs to give a child.

I heard many many many stories during my six months protest and the government should do a study on this issue.

KIds on drugs will later on in life end up on welfare or in jail!!!

That's a fact!!!!

There's so much noise in the classrooms, these very intelligent kids are distracted.

These are facts!!!!

The Pedgehog said...

I have to agree with everything Mike is saying. First of all, when you are an NDP voter in this province you DO feel like you're throwing your vote away. I love to vote but it is always disappointing to leave the voting booth knowing that your little piece of democracy only matters if you're voting for the "right" people. It sucks. I think a lot of young people (such as myself) feel very disillusioned with the electoral system. PR would be a HUGE improvement.

The other thing is that political involvement is changing. Mike is right - the youth are out in the streets, and on the internet; because in this day and age, that's how you do politics. The majority of young people I know are frustrated with the electoral system but at the same time, are very interested in being politically active and effecting change. That's why political action is evolving - heck, it's the reason you're blogging, TJ! There are better ways of making change happen these days, and the youth are tapped into that.

I do agree that it's disappointing to see low voter turn-out, and I really do think PR would make a world of difference. But people who assume the youth are disinterested or cycnical just because they're not voting are not seeing the bigger picture. It takes a lot more energy to organize, protest, volunteer and the hundreds of other things we're doing than it does to cast a vote every few years.

T.J. Burke said...

Great stuff Pedgehog! I want to make sure that you realize that my remarks about low voter turn are not to be construed that all youth are cynical about politics. In fact, many are interested in many forms of political expression as pointed out by the previous bloggers - student protests, student council, etc.

However, engaging the 19-25 year old crowd to become more involved in our democratic process or political party system when trying to identify with politicians in their 50's and 60's can be quite the challenge. This is one of the biggest complaints often heard.

I do agree with your comment that youth are tapped into innovative ways to spark political action. I just wish more were prepared to devote that time and energy into creative political change for any political party.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

CharlesL said...

Young people in New Brunswick have been turned off from politics because, for all the show and dance, New Brunswick politicians don't need them.

Much is made about young people being eager to vote but the truth is that there is a small minority of young people who are vocal and passionate about it.

The majority feel like their voice doesn't get heard, like they're not as important a demographic and they have little influence.

And in truth we're right. New Brunswick's population is getting older and us twenty-five and unders are leaving, in droves.

The local candidates in the last election never visited me at home. I live in an apartment building, that would have been a lot of work for them to knock on all those doors. My only interaction was with boilerplate direct mail.

Strategists at all level of campaigns in NB focus on older generations first, wisely, because they're more likely to actually show up on poll day and there's a lot more of them.

The few direct attempts at getting young people involved are dismal failures that any seasoned advertising professional could warn you about, they treat young adults like children and therefore get ignored.

Much ado is made in the popular media about how young people need to get involved in politics but the truth is in New Brunswick that politicians need to get involved in the lives of young New Brunswickers.

Stop blaming young people for not participating in government and start giving us a reason to.

Canadian Rods said...

Hi TJ,

This is my first visit to your blog. It's interesting that topic topic deals with the issue of low voter turnout. I too was raised with the belief that if you didn't vote, you lose your right to complain.

How ironic it is that only a handful of our Federal Liberal party members showed up to vote for/against the Federal budget this past Monday. I would suggest that they too have lost their right to complain. What message does their action (or really inaction) send to the voters who took the time to vote in the Federal election when the people that they sent to Ottawa don't show up for a key vote.

Regardless of political stripe, what is your take on our elected representatives abstaining from the voting process?

T.J. Burke said...

Charlesl please read my response to Pedgehog. Again, no one is balming youth or not voting.

T.J. Burke said...

Hey Canadian Rods. Excellent point! If you are elected to represent the people who elected you, you should be present during crucial times in Parliament. In other words, have your but in your chair when its time to vote. On abstaining from votes, I've seen people do it when it offends their personal, moral or religious beliefs.

NB taxpayer said...

I heard in interesting facet to this years election. Since 2004, there has been considerable economic growth in Alberta with thousands of immigrants flocking to that province on a monthly basis, some from as far away as India and China and others from within the country where things aren't going so well, especially Atlantic Canadians. One of the pundits had mentioned that these "new" mostly undecided voters had the potential to swing the election over to Taft since they had no longtime loyalty to the province and the natural governing party, the PCs.

However, it looks as if many of these individuals may have chosen Stelmach in the voting booth. So my question is to you, if many of these individuals were NBers and they voted PC, does this mean that outmigration may have an impact on the next provincial election in our province? Or does it mean the NB Tories aren't doing a good job of selling true conservative principles in their own province?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, great to have you on board. Love the diversity of your blog topics.

T.J. Burke said...

Thank you for posting NB Taxpayer. Outmigration is a trend that can certainly affect an election. In Alberta's case it may be beneficial. For example, hundreds of Newfoundlanders are finding employment in Alberta. In fact, a CBC documentary aired roughly months ago that followed the lives of several families from the "Rock" who now refer to their new home as "little Newfoundland." Although they may not have any political affiliation or strong connection to the ruling P.C.'s, they may feel the present government is doing a fantastic job promoting employment and providing for its new employees and casting a vote their way couldn't hurt. I mean, who could argue with 90-150k per year, a free apartment and a flight home once a month on the company dime.

As for what the NB Tories are doing in terms of selling conservative principles in our province, let's just say that II might not be the best to answer that. However, I will say that once their new leader gets elected that a clear platform and vision may actually surface!



Edward said...

I am a 19-25 year old with a strong interest in politics. I vote at every opportunity, but it is hard not to be disillusioned with the whole process.

Our current first-past-the post electoral system is incredibly outdated. It was designed for a simpler time, when politics was polarized, not a spectrum like we have today. When there were only two parties, FPTP was the optimum electoral system, since the winner in each riding would naturally obtain a majority of the votes cast. When there are more than two parties, FPTP does more harm than good, since it allows candidates to win seats without obtaining a majority of the votes cast. The result is that a party can potentially receive 25% of the popular vote across the province, yet because their votes are dissipated, rather than regionally concentrated, they might not win a single seat.

FPTP promotes regionalism. It promotes illegitimate majorities. It leads to the feeling that, unless you vote for the winner, your vote is meaningless.

By changing our electoral system to one that incorporates an element of proportionality, such as a mixed-member proportional system, we could reinvigorate the democratic process in our province. By maximizing the worth of every vote cast, not just those cast for the winners, all voters are able to make an impact on the electoral process.

There is a lot of data out there that demonstrate that when democracies move away from FPTP and introduce an element of PR voter turnout increases significantly. MMP has also been shown to lead to a dramatic increase in representation of women and ethnic minorities.

MMP is not a fix all solution, but it is a logical step to take if you are concerned about waning interest in politics and a declining voter turnout.