Friday, 6 March 2015

Mirror Mirror


"In terms of who is responsible, we all need only look in the mirror." 
What do you see when you look in the mirror, Mr. Prentice? Do you see a wealthy middle aged white man, who by a lucky combination of nature, nurture, social standing and hard work has become rich? Do you see a handsome frat boy, former lawyer, MP and corporate director- a politician who enjoys private club membership and the odd purchase of a classic automobile? Do you see a man who left corporate banking and a reported 7 figure salary to become Premier of Alberta for a mere $207,000? And who do you imagine standing with you as you look in your mirror? Who do you think of when you think of "all Albertans"?  Other white men like yourself who have indeed had the best of everything? 

“Collectively we got into this as Albertans and collectively we’re going to get out of it and everybody is going to have to shoulder some share of the responsibility.”

When I look I look in the mirror, I see a working mom who has helped put three kids through university as their tuition increased by over 50%. I see a teacher whose salary has not increased for three years in a row, while Alberta's politicians voted to give themselves a 30% wage hike. I see a community advocate and volunteer. And when I think of "all Albertans," I think of the legion of public sector employees who have been collectively serving the the young, the sick, the elderly, and the poor of this province. When I think of "all Albertans" I see rural remote residents whose access to health services has steadily deteriorated. When I think of "all Albertans" I see countless volunteers who support women's shelters and homeless programmes. 
"...all of us have had the best of everything and have not had to pay for what it costs." 
We haven't all had the "best of everything," Mr. Prentice. 26,000 Albertans live on minimum wage which until recently was the very lowest in Canada. 1 in 10 children live in poverty. The average earnings of an Alberta woman is 58% of what a man earns-the worst gender gap in Canada. Our province contains the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. Our burdens are not equally shared.

Ironically, those who have had "the best of everything and have not had to pay what it costs" are those you have said are off the hook when it comes to paying their share-Alberta's corporations- while those who have never had the best of everything will be hit the hardest when public services are slashed.

The problem with looking in a mirror is that you only see yourself. Stop looking in the mirror, Mr. Prentice. Look outside your window. See that Alberta is not just made up of people like you. See the Albertans you have chosen to serve.