Edmonton is the Provincial capital of Alberta which sits 3 hours north of Calgary. As part of a continuation of the Manning Centre’s political engagement events, I travelled there on Tuesday afternoon to assist my colleagues in advising Millennials on the different ways in which they can become involved politically. This province never ceases to amaze me. Only a few hours from Calgary and political opinions vary significantly.
As the regional capital, Edmonton houses a large public sector workforce, along with many blue collar workers involved in oil extraction farther north of the city. Politically Edmontonians are more progressive than their southern counterparts, in fact, every seat from Edmonton in the provincial legislature is held by far left New Democratic Party (NDP). At the Manning Centre’s event, there was no interest in reducing taxes or government debt, which are both areas of keen interest at the three evenings hosted in Calgary.
Before the event, I had time to take a tour of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Constructed in 1909, the fourth floor of the building houses 20 Australian palm trees, which was a pleasant surprise so close to Australia Day. It was particularly interesting to discover that all Canadian provincial legislatures are unicameral. When a political party wins a majority, this is significant compared to Western Australia where we have a Legislative Council.
Many of my colleagues joined me in the spirit of Australia Day, with one bringing Tim Tams and a boomerang. Another co-worker photoshopped my face onto Crocodile Dundee. I hung the flag in the office for the day, which received a lot of compliments; however, nobody was game enough to try the Vegemite I brought with me! I was treated to teppanyaki at lunch, which was close enough to a barbeque to celebrate our national day.
On Thursday evening, I attended an event at the Petroleum Club hosted by MLA Derek Filderbrandt ‘Alberta’s Conservative Future’. Filderbrandt represents the Wildrose Party, who are currently in negotiations to merge with another provincial Conservative party (The Progressive Conservatives).
Polling done by the Manning Centre demonstrates that the majority of both parties’ membership supports the merger and in the state legislature both vote together 90% of the time. Due to the first past the post voting system, two Conservative parties competing hands votes to the NDP. Currently, 100,000 people in Calgary are out of work, and strong opposition to the far left government’s policies of increased tax and regulation are essential now more than ever.