Friday, 8 May 2015

Celebrate Democracy

If you have never worked at an election before, I highly recommend it.

There is something almost sacred about it.

One person after another enters the polling station, presents ID, receives a ballot, chooses a representative, and drops their slip of paper into a box. There is no chatter. People often seem lost in thought, absorbed in the seriousness of voting.

The atmosphere is at once respectful and festive, tense and friendly, nervous and hopeful.

On Tuesday I worked as a scrutineer in a largely aboriginal community hours from any major centre. The polling station was in the college. There was a sign telling people to take off their muddy shoes and they did, walking in stocking feet into the room to vote. Old and young, with wheelchairs, canes, and with babes in arms.  In they came, in a steady stream. One by one they cast their ballot and left. I had no idea who they were voting for until the votes were counted.

At a previous federal election, I worked as a poll clerk. New Canadians came in, voting for the first time. Many had never been allowed to vote in their native land and were proud and excited to cast a ballot. One gentlemen almost panicked when he thought his name was not on the elector's list. I wondered where had he come from- what had he witnessed to cause such a reaction?

The vote count itself is conducted with complete transparency. The name of the chosen candidate on each ballot is read out loud, the ballot shown to anyone who wants to look, the totals tallied by poll clerks and scrutineers from each party who check for accuracy. Even though those working the election are from different parties, there is a feeling of teamwork and respect for the end result. Everyone believes in the process. And to anyone who says the results must be rigged, you have not worked a Canadian election.  

A serious business, voting. A grown-up thing to do. Something that makes me proud to be Canadian.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Do the Right Thing

So this guy says "you just don't get it," referring to my position on Alberta's NDP. Apparently I do not understand the "economy".

Here's what I DO get.

In 2001 the corporate tax rate in Alberta was 15.5 %. The economy was booming.  In 2007 it dropped to 10%. Another thing happened in 2007. The first deficit budget. For past 7 years the corporate tax rate has been the lowest in the country, steady at 10% and the province has run a deficit for those same 7 years. Coincidence?

In every budget you have revenue and expenses. As anyone who has watched "Till Debt Do Us Part" knows, if you choose to reduce your income, you can either cut expenses or go into debt. The PCs chose debt. The Wildrose choose cutting services. The NDP choose to increase revenue-from those who can clearly afford it.

Pouty millionaires club. 
On Friday PC donors raised $800,000 for the Prentice campaign. These wealthy business people have enjoyed their cosy relationship with the government for decades and now fear they will lose their undue influence. On the same day this fundraising dinner was held, 5 millionaires held a press conference to support the PC party, telling Alberta voters to "think straight" and  threatening, among other things, to withhold their (tax deductible) donations from the Stollery Children's Hospital if the NDP is elected and they have to go back to the corporate tax levels of 7 years ago- a mere 2% increase on their profits.

John Cameron of Keller Construction. 
"I can't afford a raise in taxes...
Why is it always the corporations?
Why is it always? Why? Why is it me?"
Keller donated $16,000 to the PC party.
It's pretty hard to feel sorry for multimillionaires. It's just a bit hard to sympathize with guys who say "Why is it always me?" when it's clearly never them- they are the ones receiving government contracts and tax breaks. Especially when we live in a
province with the highest income inequality in the country. When these are MEN telling us what to do-in a province with the highest gender wage gap in Canada. When we live in the last province in the country to increase minimum wage above $10/hr.  A province that - despite being the "economic engine" of the nation- still insists on a minimum wage that is below the poverty line.

As a teacher, my salary has been frozen for 3 years while the cost of living has increased by over 5%. Tuition for my 3 university students has nearly doubled. Did I reduce my donations to worthy causes?  No. Because was raised to do the right thing whatever government was in power.

Oh, I get it all right. 
I get who has been controlling the provincial agenda.
And now it's time for change.
Time to do the right thing.