The week began with a sharp drop in temperature, which also coincided with a palpable increase in the ferocity of provincial politics. As it reaches the stage where the merger between the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose political parties appears to be a foregone conclusion the Alberta government and others on the left are increasing their attacks as their polling plummets and the second term in government they envisaged grows more unlikely by the day.
I continued research into the policy implications of the changes to the electoral laws in Alberta and the effects this will have on public policy development. This province now has some of the strictest legislation in the country, with a maximum of 60c per constituent allowed to be spent after the electoral writs are issued during an election year.
This development means that PACs are now vital to elections and alongside unions will provide the NDP with a fierce and well-resourced infrastructure to promote their leftist agenda. Ontario has similar restrictions on political donations and has for some time. During their 2014 provincial elections unions spent $18 million, which was more than every political party combined. It would be naïve to assume as many do that the supporters of free markets and reduced red-tape will always be the best resourced. Convincing the public that less government is in their best interest is the most challenging aspect of campaigns.
The founder of the Manning Centre kindly took me to watch his grandson’s hockey game on Tuesday evening. The speed at which one can move on ice with skates is very impressive and is almost overwhelmingly so when I compare it to the days when I used to play field hockey. I endeavor to visit a Calgary Flames game while I’m still in Alberta. A junior game had plenty of excitement, but seeing it at the professional level will be a real treat.
Over the weekend I was taken shooting by a colleague at a private range west of the city. This was a new experience for me and was thoroughly enjoyable. Being the first time I’d shot a gun, it gave me a more informed perspective in the debate back in Australia around gun ownership laws and whether they need to be strengthened, maintained or relaxed.
I’m now confident that guns are as safe as any other weapon or tool if used correctly and that the current process for obtaining one is unnecessarily onerous. If a person is of suitable mental health, has an unblemished criminal record and is assessed on appropriate safety techniques, there isn’t a reason to continue the culture of fear many Australians have regarding firearms.
We frequently hear that Australia has turned into a ‘nanny state’, yet when countries such as Canada (which are widely regarded as more progressive than Australia) have less regulation and restriction on guns, tobacco, alcohol and medicinal marijuana, our country has more progress to make in reducing restrictions and allowing people to make more decisions for themselves.