What we must learn from the US election
Like many of us I was drawn to the continual chaos of the US election. It was like seeing a car accident, you wanted to look away but couldn’t. But what truly unsettled me were the parallels to what I see happening in Canada. It’s easier to view ourselves as ‘better than’ or ‘more civil than’ our US neighbours, but are we? It’s easier to insist that ‘that’s not the way it is in Canada’ but there is steady encroachment of ‘US style’ politics in Canada.
Let’s look at the similarities. The US has a first-past-the-post system, a system that ends up in a ‘two-party system’ – and so do we. The US allows ‘super pacs’ – and so do we. The US knowingly allows candidates, parties and others to manipulate and avoid election laws – and so do we. The US struggles with deliberate misinformation and organized voter suppression via social media – and so do we. In the US the popular vote, rather than being the true measurement of people’s choice for government, is now essentially meaningless and in Canada it could be argued is well on their way. The list goes on.
Last week the UCP government passed bill 22. This bill abolished the AB Election Commissioner position. The AB Elections commissioner’s role was responsible for receiving complaints and conducting investigations regarding non-compliance with Election and Financial rules. This role continues, but without Mr. Gibson who was shown to be effective in uncovering proven UCP campaign fraud linked to Mr. Kenney. Isn’t this a lot like Mr. Trump’s continual firing of staff and impeding criminal investigations etc?
The UCP government is also taking steps to ‘loosen’ election funding laws to increase eligible election funding limits. There are few subjects where I’m willing to be this blunt, but this is one of them. The UCP was always funded by corporate elites and they want expand the legal processes to get this back.
The 2016 election cost approximately 6.3 billion dollars and the 2020 election is likely worse. In Canada our spending per capita is less but with legislation like this it clearly pushes us in this direction. Mr. Kenney wants to make politics a rich man’s game and someone has to be willingly ignorant of the facts not to agree with the statement that money influences the outcome of an election.
I’ve run as a candidate for various positions now a number of times. I can tell you from personal experiences that there are sections of Cochrane where no matter what I do my signs don’t stay up and I’ve literally seen someone ‘collect’ my brochures from their neighbours. Not only is this illegal but also very personal; my campaign team was me, myself and I, and I spent thousands of dollars of my own money and hundreds of hours. This was undone in minutes because of a few people!
I missed being elected in the 2017 election by a mere 9 votes. The loss of signs (I lost over ½ of my small signs at one point) and information brochures could have been the difference. This could happen to anyone!
We remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect our democracy at Remembrance Day, but we risk that these sacrifices mean nothing if we don’t protect what they fought for. I estimate we are only 3-5 election cycles behind having a full ‘US style’ election and the legislation Mr. Kenney will push through will help take us there. We can and MUST demand that our government strengthen tools of democracy, not deliberately undermine them.
If you have a grandparent or know someone in the Canadian armed forces, please, don’t spit on their grave/spit in their faces like Mr. Kenney is trying to do now. If you have children, please, let’s learn from the US example and not sacrifice their futures!
As always, these comments are not affiliated with any one political party and I would have the same comments for any government that acted this way.
*Noel Edey – Reporter, Cochrane Now