The Erosion of Rights

“Believing without questioning is an insult to the human conscience” – Abhijit Naskar

I have purposely been trying to stay politically quiet for the past four weeks while fuming internally. I grew up in Calgary but have had the opportunity to live and work in other areas of our great country Canada. However I continue to return to Calgary because, no matter where I was living, I have always been a proud Albertan. After an almost twenty year absence I have retired back to Calgary because it is MY city.

I have been an advocate and activist for the past fifty years and I am watching the erosion of so many gains I fought hard for over those years. It is time for me to speak up. I can’t be telling everyone else to speak up when I have silenced my own voice. I have been writing this for weeks now, then editing, then rewriting, then editing, then rewriting just to avoid looking like I’m angry and pissed off. That reticence has kept me from speaking out and the truth is, I AM ANGRY AND PISSED OFF. I’m sitting in the shadows while our new government is ripping our hard fought for democracy apart.

I have been hearing a lot of “voter remorse” on social media in Alberta lately. I wish I could say I’m surprised but sadly I’m not. I am continually disappointed when I begin to assume that everyone uses, at least, a modicum of critical thinking. I truly believed that most people would have seen past Kenney’s campaign of hate, fear and misinformation. To me Kenney’s pre-election promises were pretty unrealistic and, when you scratched the surface veneer, substantively lacking. That screamed “FACT CHECK”.

I didn’t vote for hate or separation and the people I know who did vote for the UCP have not been able to point at any misgivings or abuses piled on the NDP in the campaign of misinformation. They just kept drinking the cool-aid thinking Kenney would return them to the glory days of the 80’s energy abundance.

I was here for those days and trust me when I say they were good days but they also had their down times. I was here when mortgage rates were over 20% and hundred’s of mortgage holders were just walking away. I was here when a deregulated system allowed energy companies to declared bankruptcy then abandon wells, pipelines and other useless infrastructure for the tax payer to pick up the tab.

Anyone that believes for a minute that the 80’s were the party days Kenney’s pushing were undoubtedly snorting more coke than common sense. An eight ball of common sense and the ability to apply two minutes of critical thinking should have been enough for anyone to recognize the difference between realistic election promises and divisive rhetoric.

However when I question people today on who they believe the Conservative Party is to be they keep going back to the days of Diefenbaker. They just can’t get their heads around how far the new Conservatives have drifted so far from those guidelines so they wrap themselves in a warm quilt of cognitive dissonance while sipping hot chocolate.

The Conservative Party of today is like a five layer cake with bull-shit pudding between each layer. It has been blended, sifted with and mixed by so many angry disenfranchised power brokers that it has not just blurred but erased and redrawn the political lines of what Conservatism is. Meanwhile the voter is paying the price. I keep hearing “I didn’t vote to separate”, “I didn’t vote to eliminate the RCMP”, “I didn’t vote to turn over my pension”, etc. However these are the ideas being tossed around by the Kenney Conservatives and opposition be damned. For people who haven’t been paying attention a short review.

Over the past 30 year the Progressive Conservatives come so close to ash on so many occasions. Like minded parties like the Reform Party of Canada began to circle. Reform was little more than a resurrecting Social Credit substitute that managed to attract enough of the more far right of the Conservatives. Although I don’t deny the Social Credit did some good work in the almost 40 years of power in Alberta they became so tied up in their personal ideologies they lost sight of the democratic process and were completely wiped out in 1971. History can be so important.

A number of the Reform Party members began to realize that their very existence was damaging the Conservative power base by fragmenting that sector of the electorate. After some backroom meetings, strategizing and the establishment of some power brokers the Canadian Alliance Party of Canada grow from the ashes of the burnt out Reform Party in 2000. The Phoenix that arose from these ashes blurred the lines of conservatism even more by swinging the pendulum even further to the right. In this attempt to wipe out the Liberals those who had been centrist for most of their political life were being squeezed out of the conversation.

A consequence of this new political reality left room for the New Democrat Party to shift slightly towards centre. With the Canadian Alliance having moved so far right the Liberals were left with a larger and more diverse collective of voters. The New Democrats were able to recognize an opportunity to advance their political futures by encroaching on more of the centre voters. With the changing demographics of Canada and a generalized disenfranchisement of the electorate the NDP were primed for the future and no longer seen as “that leftist” party their past had indicated. This set the political buffet for the new world of the 21st century.

One of my scariest moments was the entertainment of a private members bill (Bill 207) disguised as an act to protect the “conscience rights” of healthcare providers. These rights are already protected from the Canadian Charter to most professional associations. Providing further, poorly worded legislation, would just be another step for an ideology to further muddy the waters of choice. This is just another Machiavellian tactic Premier Kenney has a long history of practicing with little to do with political party platforms.

To close let me say two words to you, FACT CHECK. Words matter and the improper use of a word can destroy the democracy generations of Canadians (both born and immigrated) have work so hard to build. Is your lack of knowledge destroying our country or do you take the time to keep us moving forward? You’re damn right I’m pissed off and, if you believe in a free open democracy, you should be as well.

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