The Alberta Party and the Political Spectrum

One of the things I like the very best about the Alberta Party is that it really doesn’t fit into the classical left/right political spectrum.  Granted, I’ll argue that “left” and “right” are far too encumbering labels that don’t really reflect the diversity of views in politics.  But too often it’s too easy to try to shoehorn a party into a narrow definition.

The attempt to broaden the scale by adding a second axis is a small improvement.  Parties are thusly ranked left vs. right on both their economic and social views.

Now, economically I get ranked pretty far right.  The problem I have is that I don’t feel our provincial governments have been aligned with my economic views.  Their budgets have not been particularly prudent, they have demonstrated a willingness to jump into deficit spending that makes me extremely uncomfortable, and I disagree with their unwillingness to present fiscal data openly (as shown by the complaints about how the government presented it’s numbers during the recent budget update).  In my view there’s been a lack of foresight in planning.  An inability or unwillingness to get off a reliance of oil and gas royalties as a primary funder of government services neglects both our obligation to future generations once reserves have been exhausted and a blase attitude towards the volatility of commodity prices.

We rely upon our abundant resources in Alberta.  We need to take care that we use our resources wisely, that we get full value for non-renewable resources, and that we protect our bountiful province for our future.  We absolutely must ensure our children receive the very best education we can offer, to ensure they grow to become the citizens who will take us into the future.  

This is fiscal responsibility.  Retain maximum value for our resources.  Invest in our future.  Borrow wisely and with extreme caution, and save for the future.  Being fiscally conservative means a lot more than just having the lowest tax rate, it involves using foresight and good planning to invest wisely.

Socially I guess I’m much more progressive.  I’m finished with governments passing terrible laws in order to pass judgements on the rest of us.  For what?  So we can debate using the “Notwithstanding” clause over same-sex marriage?  Forget it.  Laws need to be as unobtrusive into our lives as possible, and when they do intrude, they damned well better be clear.  If every single citizen in Alberta can’t understand the laws that get passed, all the laws are diminished in value.  Clarity matters, without clarity in our laws we cannot hold each other to account.  Without fairness and equity in our laws, we risk holding everyone accountable under the law.

My progressive social perspective has been tinged by knowing so many good people suffering on stagnant AISH rates, who strain to make ends meet on social assistance, who feel lost and despair.  People who feel locked at the end of a marionette’s strings, people who feel they must dance to a bureaucrat’s tug rather than do what’s right for them.  Clawbacks that prevent escaping poverty’s cycle.  In a province where so many do so well, we really need to look at that rising tide and make sure none of the boats are anchored down.

Am I left or am I right?  A little of both, I suppose, but then again so is everyone else.  The most hardcore, “Right-minded” individual I can think of gives openly and generously through his church.

The point of the Alberta Party not really fitting into the spectrum is magical for me.  It is not that we are post-partisan.  Frankly, we’re a party, and by definition that makes us partisan in and of itself.  But we are a party where no one has ever looked at me sideways and said, “You don’t belong here.“  The only questions that have ever been asked of me are:

 - What are your pressures and concerns as a family, and as a community, as an Albertan?
 - What are your hopes and aspirations as a family, and as a community, as an Albertan?
 - What are you grateful for, living in Alberta?

The Alberta Party is much, much less concerned about whether I fit into that “centre-left” or “far to the right” side of the spectrum.  They care much more about what solutions to our collective problems I bring to the table.  They are focused on the answers.  That is why I belong.