Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Alberta Greens

Despite a slow start, the Greens seemed to have been able to get a lot of nomination papers in under the wire yesterday such that now that nominations have closed it looks like they've got very close to a full slate.

My party will be fielding 61, with a significantly greater Calgary coverage than Edmonton given that we have 22 running in Calgary and 11 in Edmonton. It is notable that I'm running in Edmonton Beverly-Clareview when Edmonton area ridings like Sherwood Park and St Albert are open, ridings the NDP is not nearly so dominant in such that my party should have more potential there. So long as we don't have proportional representation, it would arguably serve the desires of Albertans better to parachute someone in there since there should be significant demand for a WA candidate. It arguably doesn't help my case either to have one of the very few Socreds running in my riding since oldtimers not interested in the three largest parties might think Socred without givng my own party, which has much more of a future than the Socreds, much thought.

But our party is only a month old as of today, and so the challenges of winning even so-called easier ridings are significant. My ties to Beverly - Clareview are greater than to St Albert or Sherwood Park and it is easier for me to get around here on foot. The object is not to get me into the Legislature. The object to is give a voice to Albertans who are not seeing their voices acknowledged by the other parties. If I can reach more people in Beverly - Clareview, where I reside, I should run here, although the importance of lots of donations and an army of volunteers is greater than I had previously thought.

Although it isn't clear what the Liberal candidate here seems to stand for (I've met him twice now while out in the riding and he seemed to say he doesn't really have an ideology and has higher priorities than helping me organize an all candidates forum), Dawit Isaac clearly has a relatively big organization and he has been door knocking like mad. This should level off the NDP and Liberal votes such that a third player has a greater chance on the outside lane than last election.

I suspect the Greens are doing better than us money wise although I do not know for certain. The Green candidate in my riding was supposed to be a Trey Capenhurst and now they've switched it to guy named Frederique Pivot. I heard their leader say that their website is doing well for them and the obstacle for getting people nominated is not the 25 signature requirement so much as costs of couriering around original forms and the $500 cash deposit. Big NGOs would be inclined to donate to the Greens while unions donate to the NDP and corporations donate to the Libs and P"C"s. I don't believe we are bringing in any big business money to speak of. If we are, then party HQ should be helping us candidates out!

I'm of two minds about the merits of scraping to run a full slate. If you run a weak candidate, it may turn people off for good. I don't know if the quality of the Alberta Alliance slate in 2004 is helping us this time around or hindering. But on the other hand, the Greens are now in a significantly better position to beat us in the province-wide vote than if we had run as many candidates. The Greens 2008 election platform has absolutely zero to say about the need to build a diversified endowment fund like the Heritage Fund and there is no indication at all that they are interested in broad-based tax relief. If our party should really fail to get any attention and the Greens come out of this election as the perceived fourth party, then we'll have four parties who intend to maintain and increase our record high spending levels, which is the worst way to manage our growth pressures.

People seem to think that our economy should be "slowed down" by tax increases, when in fact that does NOTHING to slow down demand in the province if those tax revenues are not going into an endowment fund that invests outside the province. In fact, the overheating will be made worse with a tax increase because it will likely take money out of the hands of those with a greater marginal propensity to make diversified investments and put it into the hands of those with a greater marginal propensity to consume. Workers who could otherwise be meeting private sector demand will instead be working for the government collecting these taxes from the private sector!

The Green party's call for things like the lowest tuition in Canada doesn't appreciate what students really want and what best serves the interests of Albertans. San Jose State and Stanford are two universities both in the Bay area and I once visited both campuses in the same day. Now Stanford's tuition dwarfs San Jose State's. But the difference in facilities, never mind reputation, is even greater. Would you rather have a Stanford degree and a student loan or no loan and a San Jose State degree? I'd rather go to Stanford and I think most students would too. The point being that accessibility is a greater issue than tuition levels and public policy involves optimization of the trade-offs, not just looking at one side of the trade-off and pretending the other side doesn't exist. Speaking of accessibility, although our government loan programs will ultimately cover any in-province education, they will not cover a Stanford education without help from private sources. Why shouldn't the province make the entire world accessible to our students if they are willing to commit to returning to Alberta? Apparently because we, and in particular the Greens and Liberals, are too concerned with lowering tuition for those who don't have an accessibility problem! I am speaking here as someone with 3 in-province degrees, 1 foreign, a $25 000+ student debt at one point, and as someone who looked very seriously into Stanford but couldn't line up the money sources.

I might go further with my proposal here and say that any Oxford, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, etc grad who files five consecutive annual tax returns in Alberta should get her fifth one absolutely free, and perhaps a couple more after that as well (filing any provincial return requires provincial residency) even if she had never set foot in the province prior to graduation. We'll also try and get him or her married to locals within those years so we get these long term tax assets locked in, ha ha!

But back to the Greens. They were clearly shooting for a full slate and almost have that. Congratulations!

1 comment:

Mark said...

Why would someone with a U.S. or British elite mindset be an asset for Alberta?