Former US Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil is said to have coined the phrase all politics is local. It’s a pretty popular train of thought south of the border, the idea that a politician’s success is directly proportional to their ability to influence government to act on the issues of interest to his or her constituents.
Former Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Ken Kowalski, if his longevity as a politician and popularity with his constituents is any indication, understood this. But Kowalski is gone from the political scene now and in a few short days we will head to the polls to choose his replacement at a time when there is a real chance the party in power could change.
The question we must ask ourselves as voters is do we keep it local and vote in the interest of what is best for our community; do we take a larger view and vote in the best interests of the region or the province as a whole; or do we take an ultra-personal approach and vote for the candidate who best represents our values, be they philosophical, intellectual or moral.
As Monday’s night’s Al l Candidates Forum showed, the five party options present a moderate to considerably different vision for Morinville, the region, and the province. As that same forum showed, voters in this constituency are concerned with matters on a local, regional and provincial level.
Some have said it is better to have an MLA that is merely a backbencher with the party in power than an MLA who is the leader of a party that isn’t. That would certainly be the all-politics-is-local way of voting.
There is no right or wrong way to vote other than making the choice to stay home – and some would argue that is the correct way to go.
It is uncertain which way next Monday’s election will go. What is certain is the political landscape will change. That does not necessarily mean Redford and her Tories will be out and Smith and her Wildrose will be in. Even if Redford and her candidates are able to convince voters they are the change voters seem to be looking for, the party will almost certainly have less power than it has in the last 40 years.
Talking to people over the past few weeks has been interesting. Left-leaning voters have spoken about voting PC for the first time ever just to keep Smith and her (to-them) abortion-banning, gay-marriage-halting rednecks out of the Alberta Legislature. Others have been elevated by the talk of property rights, conscience rights, voter rights and all the other rights libertarians like Smith are so fond of.
As our columnist Clayton Rosaasen has said previously, this election is really about what flavour of conservatism Albertans will choose.
But while the outcome of the Apr. 23 provincial election is pretty much a coin toss, we all still have a few days to reflect on how we are going to vote and why we are going to vote that way. Do we vote on the broader scale of health care, education, infrastructure and the lure of a little extra oil-generated pocket money? Do we vote for the candidate who is most likely to bring bridges and buildings to our town? Do we vote for the candidate who and whose party best represents our core values as individuals.
It doesn’t matter which way we vote or why. What matters is that we vote. That may be cliché, but we do hope to see you at the polls.