Column: Introducing Tristan Turner, progressive columnist

Editor’s Note: It is not every day a 15-year-old writer makes themselves known to a publication. So when one expressed interest in writing about social issues and federal politics, we thought we’d act on our policy to give youth in the community a voice and let him write what he wanted to write about. – SD

As is well known, Alberta is not commonly perceived as a bastion of progressive political thought. From the rise of Canada’s most extreme, irrational and borderline comical provincial right-wing political party, to the establishment of unusually active right-wing policy analysis and advocacy groups – such as Sun News Network commentator Ezra Levant’s own ‘Ethical Oil’ – I believe it would be safe for me to state that this is Canada’s most Conservative province, without being accused of hyperbole.

So I will admittedly say that Progressive activists, pundits and commentators (For future reference, when I use the term ‘Progressives’ I generally mean anyone who would place themselves on the ideological scale after moderates and somewhere way before Trotsky) are one of our province’s most finite resources. Except in the eyes of most, these resources are often viewed as annoying ‘quacks’ who make us red-blooded Albertans do things like evaluate facts or challenge the order of things.

I am one of these ‘quacks’. Or, to be more precise, a duckling. I’m an innocuous fifteen-year-old social justice advocate, political activist and, yes, a New Democrat. If ever there was a sentence that could inspire simultaneous gasps among the Morinville populace.

I began becoming involved in Alberta’s political scene last year, when, for my birthday, I requested a membership with both the provincial and federal NDP. Shortly after, I attended the New Democratic Youth of Alberta’s Annual General Meeting, where I was abruptly thrown into the vague, yet incredibly demanding position of ‘Federal Youth Liaison’, a role I fill to this day.

After a slow start, I began to entrench myself in the party, making dear friends, formulating strategies, redesigning the caucus’ website and eventually campaigning in the 2012 provincial election. I organized much of NDP candidate Trudy Grebenstein’s campaign in Morinville, and volunteered on multiple occasions in the now NDP MLA Deron Bilous’ campaign.

In recent days I have been more active than I ever have been before. I’m a key Alberta participant in the Lethbridge Declaration campaign, a movement to rebuild the NDP federal vote in the prairies.

Additionally, I have been given the slightly arduous, yet enjoyable and exhilarating honour of serving as the Co-Editor in Chief of the New Democratic Youth of Alberta Catalyst, a progressive youth partisan political publication.

After all of this political activity that has suddenly sprung up in my life, I took a moment to evaluate the nature of the political discussion in my community. When I engage local Morinville denizens and citizens, they almost always seem to be left-leaning and socially progressive. That is, until I ask them what party they marked on the ballot in the previous federal election, to which they almost always respond with a lauding adoration of the Conservative Party.

To me, this is perplexing. How can someone inhibit a set of political beliefs, yet vote against them consistently?

Then, I noticed that Morinville has a robust local publication released by Morinville media baron Stephen Dafoe. Immediately I realized what better way to build the local conversation around public policy development on the provincial and federal level than submitting material as a political columnist for The Morinville News?

Well, here I am. The newest member of this publication, Morinville’s leading local news provider. I couldn’t be more exhilarated about the opportunity to begin to offer a context that will be formative in crafting the dialogue around politics in this community.

I aim to provide humour, civility and a progressive context to analysing political and social events that have an impact on our community and our nation. Whether we agree or not, I hope you, my readership, will continue to analyse my columns for the sake of broadening your understanding of the competing perspectives on social, political and economic issues.

I hope you will keep an eye out for my bi-monthly articles in the future, and I can’t wait to begin the dialogue we can shape together.

-Tristan Turner

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