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Opinion

The 5 Stages to an Alberta Party Election Loss

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The Alberta Party managed to attain 5x more votes than they did in 2015. Yet were the biggest losers of the 2019 election cycle. To be honest I believe we would have been well served to have the AB Party win a couple seats in the legislature. However, that is certainly not how things went down on April 16th. They gained 5x the votes and lost all three of their seats. 



I have seen some curious behaviour from former Alberta Party candidates as of late and it got me to thinking: ‘What is the AB Party (both party and individual candidates) going through right now?’ Lets explore what I believe to be happening and where I think they need to go to turn (what is now a fringe party) into the opposition.



5 Stages of the Alberta Party Loss



Denial
As mentioned The AB Party went into the election holding 3 seats, hoping to build upon their party growth. What they attained was actually pretty incredible. They recieved over 5x the amount of votes they had in 2015. From 33,867 to 170,872. The response to attaining 0 seats was not surprising and was somewhat humble In my opinion. Mandel cited being proud of the AB Party brand and, frankly, they should be. However, he was wrong for blaming polarization as the reason for the loss. You cannot simultaneously gain 5x the votes and blame polarization. The one thing missing here is that there has been no recognition that their platform was extremely weak. They continue to be in denial that their ideas were not inspiring, their vision was lacking, and their boldness was not focussed on any areas of importance. The AB Party is currently in denial. I do, however, think they are moving past this. Slowly but surely. 



Anger
Although we have not seen a direct example of anger from the Party we have started seeing some pretty broad examples of anger throughout the AB Party team/former candidates. I have seen individual candidates who have generally touted themselves as the calm and collected type start to lash out. I have seen insults directed towards conservatives and towards anyone who disagrees with them in general. It is clear that after a couple weeks individuals are starting to feel angry. This is to be expected it is, after all, a human trait. It is now a month after the election. Candidates who worked so hard for so long are realizing what the election cost them both financially, and emotionally. They find it freeing not to be under the “do no harm” mantra of the party system anymore and are beginning to say how they really feel. This is where the rubber really hits the road. The AB party was supposed to be different, made up of candidates who respond with thoughtfulness and consideration. The blinders are being pulled off and we are finding out that the AB party is just another party. They are no different than anyone else. They have their spin, they have their ideology, and ultimately they were fooling themselves into thinking they were different. Perhaps this is an opportunity for their candidates to prove me wrong and pull back on some of the over the top anger and remember that anger is in general, just not worth it. 



Bargaining
We have seen a very very clear example of bargaining this week. The AB Party refuses to accept the fact that they are no longer in the Legislature. They have asked for money from they LAO with the intent of being a quasi opposition without a seat in the legislature. They want the funding to do the research while they no longer represent anyone. This is just part of the steps of grief that the AB Party is facing. They are trying to hold on to what once was but no longer is.



Depression
I don’t think the AB party is here yet. Depression in the party sense is devastating. We are going to see growing disinterest from individuals who gave so much before the election. We are going to see folks question ‘What is the point?’. They are going to question the AB party principles, they are going to ask themselves if they should just try to change the NDP or UCP from within. There will be some individuals who pull back and you won’t hear from them again. This is the stage that the Party’s head brass need to address head on. They need to quickly work on inspiring individuals and they need to come up with a plan to allow individuals the time to “shut-off” after a tough election while ensuring they don’t lose touch. If the depression symptom spirals out of control their party will die. On an individual sense, and with sincerity, I do ask anyone who finds themselves getting into this stage to take the time to reflect on the greater good in life. Please seek help if you need to. Depression is nothing to joke about and, yes, an election loss is a legitimate reason for someone to become depressed.

Acceptance.

I do hope the AB party is able to move to acceptance quickly. Let’s look at a few things that the AB party needs to accept. 

1. They ran a terrible platform – Yes, there were things in their platform that were amenable. However, it was choppy there was no consistency. It focussed on things that Albertans didn’t care enough about. They were bold in all the wrong areas. 

2. The AB party made a mistake kicking out Greg Clarke as leader – There was no opposition MLA that I liked more than Greg. Make no mistake, (while Greg may not admit it himself) Greg’s demotion was a result of a coup from old PC members who didn’t like Jason Kenney. They were quick to join the AB party and place their own person in the position of leadership. Stephen Mandel may have carried the party to 5x more votes but there is no doubt it was on the kindness and likability of former MLA Greg Clarke. 

3. They cannot blame polarization for their loss – If they knew that the election was going to be a polarizing one they were perfectly positioned to create themselves as the opposing pole. Instead they positioned themselves as an outlier. The election was polarizing, yes. However, as I already said, they cannot simultaneously blame polarization while championing 5x more votes.

4. They are not different than other parties. – Trying to run a party as though Ideology doesn’t exist is a fools errand. The thought that they are going to do politics differently and its all going to turn out does not come from humility but rather just a vain attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the public. Trudeau is a perfect example of the AB party narrative. He was going to do politics differently too. The AB party just isn’t different from other parties and the idea that they think they are is actually quite frightening.
5. They need to stop talking, and start working – The AB party is doing themselves no favours by silly maneuvers such as asking for money from the LAO. They need to stop this nonsense and come to grips with the fact that they are now no different than the FCP, the AAP, and the AIP. They should look at the votes they attained as an opportunity to fundraise, not as a passage to being taxpayer funded. 





In Conclusion: There is a lot of room for the Alberta party to grow and become the official opposition in 2023. However, this will never happen if they get stuck where they are. They need to move beyond the Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and Depression stages and start to accept their failures so they can embrace the reasons for their incredible success at achieving 5x more votes than they did in 2015.

Opinion

Red Deer’s population grew by 195 since 2015

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2019 RED DEER MUNICIPAL CENSUS = 101,002

2016 RED DEER MUNICIPAL CENSUS= 99,832

2015 RED DEER MUNICIPAL CENSUS= 100,807

In the four years since 2015 Red Deer has grown by 195 residents or less than 0.2% in 4 years.

Timberlands grew from 1834 residents in 2015 to 3038 residents in 2019 or 1204 residents, for a growth of about 66% so where did we lose all our residents? Let us look at the neighbourhoods north of the river.

Residents living north of the river in 2015=32,005, 2016=31,228 and finally 2019= 30,576 for a total decline of 1,429 residents.

Let us break it down;

……YEAR………..2019.…………….2016.……………..2015

Kentwood-………….4235.……………4267.……………..4299

Glendale………..….4284.……………4288.……………..4430

Normandeau……….3275.……………3530.……………..3603

Pines……………..…1725.……………..1718.……………..1851

Highland Green……3896.…………….3920.……………4065

Oriole Park…………5200.…………..…5244.…………….5300

Riverside Meadows..3423.…………….3686.…………….3810

Fairview…………….733.………………710.……………..761

Johnstone…………..3805.……………..3865.…………….3886

Total……………….30,576.…………31,228.……………32,005

So it looks like we just relocated residents from north of the river to new subdivisions like Timberlands. In an age where we are trying to limit our footprint Red Deer expanded our footprint faster than our population growth demanded. New neighbourhoods require infrastructure ($), schools ($), sewers ($), water ($), roads ($), transit ($) etc.

30,000 plus people live north of the river down from 32,000 plus 4 years ago, but still a large community. I wrote about this very topic in 2016 and was given the brush off by many in city hall. One city councillor suggested that I have more children to populate the north side.

The issue was not taken seriously in 2016 and again in 2019.

I wrote that Lethbridge would overtake us and become the 3rd largest city in Alberta, and they did.

I dove deeper to see what was happening in local neighbourhoods and found that the north side of the river is being decimated and annexing or new neighbourhoods are fuelling our growth.

People keep telling me it is the provincial economy that is preventing growth. Lacombe grew by 7% last year, Blackfalds has seen record growth, Penhold, Sylvan Lake and the county grew in the same province, so I discount that theory.

My thinking is perhaps more closer to home. The other communities invested in their residents. New recreation complexes that required per capita investments that dwarf Red Deer’s by huge margins, up to 100s of percents.

Red Deer has neglected the residents north of the river. For every dollar they spend north of the river they spend 20 south of the river. No high school north of the river with 4 current and 2 planned, south of the river.

If the city could just bring their culture from 1980 to 2020 then maybe we will not lose so many residents from north of the river. It is time to stop neglecting the residents living north of the river.

Start investing in substantial recreational facilities north of the river after years of building so many south of the river. Build the next aquatic centre north of the river, build the next school, especially high school north of the river.

For the whole city the powers that be need to wake up, and invest in it’s residents. It has been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It is time to wake up, what the powers that be have been doing has not worked, the census proves it, it is time to do things differently.

No I am not having more children, councillor.

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Opinion

Politicians focus too much on the wallets of the few.

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We welcome opinions from our readers like this one from Garfield Marks of Red Deer, AB.

According to the Ethics Commissioner, Trudeau broke ethical guidelines on behalf of a big corporate entity, SNC-Lavalin, and as expected, it appears, everyone is calling for his resignation. I am confused, but hasn’t almost every politician of a major political party, for the last few decades, been advocating breaks for big corporations and the top 1%.

Didn’t Alberta elect a Premier who had to pay an ethics violation fine when he was a federal cabinet minister? Does he not lead a party who had issues with electoral fraud, kamikaze candidate and members issued $75,000 in fines by the ethics commissioner, due to actions during their leadership race?

Was it not a conservative government that supposedly just gave a $4.5 billion tax break to businesses? Was it not a conservative government that was supposedly lowering taxes for the top 1%? Was it not a conservative government(s) that was cutting services to everyone else to pay for these tax breaks?

Here in Alberta was there not lots of promises of jobs to rationalize billions in tax breaks for corporations only to find out that Alberta then subsequently lost 14,000 jobs in July alone?

I am not saying that Trudeau’s actions pressuring the Attorney General to give a deal to a big company is okay, but don’t they all do special deals for big corporations? Don’t we as tax payers subsidize the oil industry, cow tail to unions, pay homage to gun manufacturers, serve the auto industry, and placate the wealthy? The average voter just pays for them.

My wallet sure feels those political fingers. My costs keep going up, while my income hasn’t kept pace.

My mind has tuned out the politicians, and their desire to woo the rich and big corporations, and my heart is focused on the future, and my family.

Scientists and engineers have made great discoveries and given me some great things like cars, computers, cell phones and medical break-throughs but these same non-partisan intellectuals have also made huge unsettling discoveries, and given me causes for concern.

Issues like climate change, reminiscent of second hand smoke, are concerns to our health and our lives but are not given the same level of regard as tax breaks for the big corporations.

Second hand smoke was a major health care cost but tax breaks for cigarette companies and tobacco growers were the demands.

There is an election this fall and here in my riding there is no contest, as the conservatives will win, then become a seat warmer no one hears about, till the next election. My concerns will be ignored, my wallet will get thinner to placate the more well to do.

I do think it is about time to move on from focusing on the wallets of the few and focus on the health of the whole community. The person or party that can convince me that their focus is on the whole, for the future and not on big corporations and the wealthiest in a realistic manner, will get my support and vote.

Will my wallet survive the next election? I hope so, but I cannot be certain. I am worried we might get a Trump-like Prime Minister out of protest and the climate crisis will be pushed back and my wallet will be front and centre for political fingers for another few decades.

Is there another option?

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august, 2019

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