Similar Topic: How the Wildrose Lost My Vote by Cole D.
With the Alberta 2015 Provincial election less than two weeks away, now is the time to understand firmly what party will have your vote. I have read through the different party platforms, as I was unsure of whose name I would be checking off on my ballot this year, and have given my vote plenty of thought. The Wildrose Party, led by Brian Jean, has my vote, and here is why.
I am a firm believer in living debt free. If you cannot afford something, then don’t buy it. I understand that there are certain situations where debt is almost required, but not to the extent that we have let our politicians get away with for far too long. This growing attitude of pay it off later is the same mindset that put Alberta as the highest average household debt at $124,838 in 2014. I’m not innocent either, as I am currently paying off student loans. The difference being is that I have made cutbacks to my life style, and currently work two jobs as well as operate a business, to ensure that I am debt free within the next 18 months. I would rather not have both the jobs, but I understand that short term sacrifices for long term gain is a key to success. As far as I have seen in the various party platforms, the Wildrose Party is the only party that does not plan to borrow their way out of debt.
One of the first parties I looked into was the Alberta Party (AP). My curiosity was peaked, because I hadn’t really heard of them, and did not know much about their policies. In their platform, one of the first issues they bring up is protecting frontline workers, and balancing the budget over six years. They plan on doing this by installing a progressive tax system, which will be fairer to the average Albertan family. I take issue with the word fair, and believe that too often it is used as a way to tip the scales toward which ever demographic has the most voters. The other main point of the AP budget is the increase of corporate tax by 1%. While this sounds nice on paper, not enough people see the potential ripple effect that even this small amount could have. Are we all really naïve enough to believe that large corporations won’t increase the cost of their goods in order to maintain their profit margin? For all that we know they could increase their profits, and then blame it on higher tax rates and added expenses.
If there was one key point in the AP platform that lost my vote, it is their approach to funding all of the budget reversals and social programs. It is the Alberta Parties view that we should use Alberta’s credit, while we have good rates, and borrow the money needed. We should then commit to paying those loans back in a reasonable time, and run the province like a house with a mortgage. Considering that the root words of mortgage translate to death pledge, I am definitely not on board with this plan, and believe that in a province as rich as Alberta, a debt load does not makes sense. It seems that we have forgotten how to sacrifice for what we want, and assume we can take everything and let someone else pick up the tab.
The next platform was the NDP, led by Rachel Notley. This platform went straight to the masses, and opens with a promise to raise minimum wage to $15/hour by 2018. While this has every barista and dishwasher jumping for joy, an increase such as this most likely would hit small businesses hard. Most of them would not be able to afford this, and would have to raise prices or cut hours. What is needed is a staggered minimum wage system, where employees who are under 18 and/or living at home can be paid less than a “Livable Wage”, which would be the minimum you could pay an independent adult. The NDP also wants to reverse the Progressive Conservatives (PC) plan to reinstate healthcare levies, and put a heavier tax load on the top 10% of taxpayers because once again, that is what’s fair. Clearly I don’t understand the word fair, because anything that takes from ten percent to ease up on the other ninety percent doesn’t sounds very fair, not matter what their financial standing. Fair, in my opinion, means that whatever you are talking about can be put in the exact opposite position without any problems. Certainly high-income earners can pay more, and maybe they should; but stop calling it fair. We could say it is unfair and they have to live with it, and those with incomes breaching seven digits probably won’t loose much sleep.
A subtle detail of the NDP platform that I noticed is the amounts of women’s programs that want to enact. They want to create a Women's Ministry, widen the women's shelters program, and help support different organizations working to end violence against women; they likewise support a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. I agree that something has to be done about domestic violence, as far too many people have become accustomed to this form of treatment during some point of their lives. I do not believe, however, that we should focus solely on one gender over the other. While it is true that women encounter spousal abuse more often, it is only by 1%(Link to study provided below); and a focus on ending abuse in its entirety is needed.
And finally, the Wildrose Party (WRP). The attention grabber in this campaign platform is no increase to taxes, while balancing the budget by 2017. This platform has the shortest timeline to debt elimination, and for good reason. The majority of increase being put toward repayment is due to cuts being made. Eliminating corporation grants, reducing government travel and advertising (by 50%) and renegotiation of equalization payments are the cuts that are easiest to agree with, as no ones jobs are directly affected. The renegotiation of equalization payments stands out to me, as it follows a basic principle of financial wisdom. If you want to fill a bucket with water, plug the holes first. Other holes that the WRP plans to plug are a reduction of the number of ministers, a roll back of cabinet and MLA raises, and a reduction of Government of Alberta managers by 33%(over 3 years). Also on the Klein-era chopping block are AHS (Alberta Health Services) managers and consultants, being reduced by 50% over the course of this budget. It truly is unfortunate that anyone should loose his or her job, but this has become a reality no matter who wins the election. The entirety of cut backs (not all listed) will create a $48 million surplus in 2017, compared to the current PC budget that would have us $1.047 billion in debt. Personally, this gives me about a billion reasons to support this budget.
The most important thing that I want to emphasize is that whether you agree or disagree with me please go vote. As I have said before, I would rather see a party I didn’t vote for win with a 90% voter turn out than an election with a voter turn out below 75%. Just remember to vote for what is in the best interest of the province, not yourself. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”
Household Debt Alberta 2014
Alberta Party Platform
Benjamin Franklin Quote