They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And yet, Albertans continue to vote Conservative year after year, expecting their needs will be addressed. For roughly 70 years, the Conservatives have obtained more than 60 per cent of the popular vote in Alberta.
Unsurprisingly, Michael Cooper was re-elected to represent St. Albert, despite his very public, and embarrassing, use of a quote from the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto and subsequent removal from the House of Commons justice committee.
The predictability of our province is precisely why we continue to be ignored.
Take Stephen Harper, for example: our Calgarian, Conservative prime minister, who many assumed would have Alberta’s best interest in mind. In his nearly decade-long tenure as prime minister, he put less money into Alberta than Trudeau has in the past four years, created a larger deficit than the current Liberal government and successfully tied up Alberta’s pipelines in court.
But the worst decision the Harper government made was in regard to the ever-controversial topic of equalization. No changes were made to benefit Alberta; rather, Quebec and Ontario were made the focus of Harper’s tweaks to the system.
Ultimately, the Conservatives know they can count on the Albertan vote and have therefore turned their attention to winning seats in the East. When the 34 seats in Alberta are never in play, there is no incentive for anyone – Conservative or Liberal, Trudeau or Harper – to put our issues at the forefront.
Asking the average Albertan to vote Liberal is laughable – Trudeau is the man Albertans love to hate. But as long as we continue to drink the blue Kool-Aid, we invite federal Conservatives to count our votes as guaranteed and therefore focus their attention elsewhere.
The re-election of Trudeau has left many Albertans feeling desperate, frustrated that our collective needs will be ignored. But we fail to recognize that our history of predictability is a key reason we continue to be taken for granted.
It seems our overall political literacy, or lack thereof, is a contributing factor as well.
The Albertan separatism movement, Wexit, has gained significant momentum online; however, it fails to take into account our ability to market our resources.
It has also failed to consider the treaties that promised every square inch of Alberta to its Indigenous people, who would rightfully be able to sue for the land if Alberta was to separate.
Ultimately, Alberta has a history of being taken advantage of at the federal level. But our efforts should be focused on uniting with our fellow Canadians and making our concerns heard.
The beauty of democracy is that it extends beyond election day. You can make your concerns known to Mr. Cooper and other elected officials, and demand that changes be made.
We cannot continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. And while we cannot change the election results, there are multiple avenues through which everyone can get involved.
Jennifer Hamilton is a local student and writer.