Last year Ms Soapbox made a list of New Year’s resolutions for Rachel Notley.
Happily, Ms Notley delivered on the list, with the exception of resolution #4 (Ms Soapbox failed to anticipate the arrival of Jason Kenney on the political scene).
Rather than rewrite the whole thing Ms Soapbox decided to create a list of things she’d like to see happen in 2017.
She’d like your input.
Things to strive for in 2017
- The end of Trump-style politics
Politicians like Jason Kenney say they want to avoid the “nasty, negative, irresponsible populism” of Donald Trump but they never miss an opportunity to inflame Albertans by telling them Alberta is wracked with “despair and recession” and they should put their faith in Mr Kenney to put an end to Alberta’s economic slide.
This is straight out of the Trump play book.
And it works.
When a supporter approached Mr Kenney in a café and said “Go Trump” and that he was “totally fed up with Alberta’s communist” politics, Mr Kenney didn’t bother to explain that Trump was not running in Alberta and Albertans live in a democracy, not a communist state.
Mr Kenney just smiled and shook the fellow’s hand.
If we want to stop the spread of Trump-style politics in Alberta the press and all political leaders, including Brian Jean, must call out politicians who indulge in it.
And the public needs to wise up, which leads me to…
2. More facts less drivel
Mr Kenney is utterly transparent about his intention to use public despair (his words not mine) to capture the hearts and minds of voters.
He describes the situation in Alberta as “a human tragedy” and admits he overlooked local issues when he was a federal Cabinet minister because he may have viewed Alberta’s economic malaise “too statistically”.
One of the statistics Mr Kenney is willing to ignore is that Albertans pay $7 billion less in taxes than their closest neighbours even with the NDP’s carbon levy and tax increases.
Another fact Mr Kenney is downplaying is that Justin Trudeau would not have approved two major pipelines if Rachel Notley had not implemented a Climate Leadership Plan.
Those who don’t like these facts respond with anti-Notley memes like “cavemen walked everywhere and the glaciers still melted”. What?
Ignoring the facts and posting idiotic memes do not encourage political discourse.
Speaking of social media…
3. Less mass distraction, more public engagement
Where do you get your news…no wait, do you even get the news?
George Monbiot attributes the election of Donald Trump, in part, to the rise of celebrity culture as played out in our newspapers and on social media.
He refers to a study by Nick Couldry and Tim Markham that found citizens who follow celebrity culture, including reality TV, music and fashion are less likely to be politically engaged than those who stay current on traditional political issues like the economy and the environment.
Celebrity followers are three times less likely to be involved in local organizations and two times less likely to volunteer. They believe they have no influence over government and it doesn’t matter who is in power.
This is not happy news but it illustrates the challenges we face in getting the public to focus on the issues and critically analyze the Trump-style politics coming at them from Jason Kenney, Kellie Leitch and their ilk.
4. Human dignity
Rather than review all the instances where civil rights and human dignity have been trampled in the political arena under the guise of an attack on political correctness, let’s focus on an issue we’re all familiar with—gender pronouns.
Contrary to popular belief, people who express a preference for a specific gender pronouns are not special snowflakes who have been triggered; they’re human beings entitled to the same level of respect as the rest of us.
We’ve learned how to refer to women as Ms; it won’t kill us to ask someone what pronouns they prefer and to use them appropriately.
5. Happy Birthday Canada, but…
Canada will be 150 years old this year.
We should pause and enjoy our good fortune, but also remember that now more than ever we need to protect our democratic institutions from the populists, racists and power hungry politicians who would tear them down.
Right, that’s my list…now it’s your turn.