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Monday, April 16, 2012

Are You A Wildrose Supporter? Take the Quiz.

Wildrose is making headway because Albertans want change. But I can't help wondering if Wildrose is the change Albertans want. So I'm doing my own vote compass. (If you haven't done the actual vote compass yet, do so). This questionnaire reflects specific issues that have arisen during the campaign. The desire to punish the Progressive Conservatives is strong. But are Albertans who say they will vote Wildrose actually believers in their policy? Take this 13 Question Quiz (because 13 is lucky) and check the links to see if your beliefs really match those of the party and some of its candidates.

1. Do you believe that social issues should be decided by referendum?
a) yes b) no

Wildrose suggests that "social issues like abortion" could go to citizen initiated referendum (See pg. 51). This sounds democratic, but can lead to real difficulties, as has been the case in California ballot initiatives. Wildrose says that all referendum initiatives will have to pass a review by the courts saying that they are legal and would not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, all anyone seeking a referendum has to do is to suggest Alberta invoke the notwishstanding clause in order to get around the Charter. Some, including Alison Redford, who is also a lawyer, suggest that government by referendum is merely a way for those who disagree with court decisions to get around them. Critics express concerns that government by referendum is cumbersome. Other critics say it opens up social policy to special interest groups, as Rick Mercer so brilliantly pointed out in his famous Doris/Stockwell Day skit. Those with the most money (or in Rick's case, the most humour) will win, not necessarily those who are in compliance with human rights legislation observed in the rest of Canada. I suggest anyone who wants to govern by referendum is interested in power, but not in the hard work of actually governing. They will throw all of those tough decisions back to the voter. If you believe that we elect our representatives to do the hard work of representing us and making policy, and that it is the role of government to govern, you might not be a Wildrose supporter.

2. Do you believe that "conscience rights" should supersede human rights enabling public servants like marriage commissioners to deny marriage to gay and lesbian couples?
a) yes b) no.

Wildrose's vision of conscience rights is discriminatory"Conscience rights" means that public servants like marriage commissioners can deny marriage to gay and lesbian couples. Marriage commissioners are a public option for those seeking legal marriage but not necessarily a religious marriage. No one has ever said that religious institutions must go against their own beliefs.  Freedom of religion is already protected under the Charter. Wildrose policy would lead us into the past. My own belief is that if a marriage commissioner can't do their job for all members of the public, they should not be a marriage commissioner.

3. Do you believe the Alberta Human Rights Commission should be dismantled, along with its work in education and advocacy?
a) yes b) no

Read this link, from the University of Calgary Faculy of Law blog for a scathing critique of the Wildrose position on Human Rights.

4. Do you believe pharmacists should be allowed to deny birth control and emergency contraception to customers?
a) yes b) no

"Conscience rights" gives pharmacists this option. In many Alberta towns, there is only one pharmacy. This would leave many women without options and timely access to emergency contraception such as Plan B.

5. Do you believe Doctors should be able to refuse to refer patients for medically necessary services that they disagree with, like abortion?
a) yes b) no

"Conscience rights" means doctors could do just that. Some people argue that doctors shouldn't be forced to perform abortions if they don't want to. No doctor is currently forced to perform abortions against their will.  This is a red herring and fear mongering by the Wildrose. No doctor is trained in everything, and doctors who perform abortions seek out the training to do so. Any doctor performing abortions does so voluntarily. What conscience rights means is that doctors who are anti-choice can refuse to refer women for medically necessary services, or send them to anti-choice places like Pregnancy Care Centres where they will not get the help they are asking for.

6. Would you like to have a referendum on whether abortion should be de-funded or de-listed in Alberta, or any aspect of abortion? 
a) yes b) no

If you're sick of hearing about abortion in the news now, a referendum will only make things worse. Regular readers of this blog know I get bored repeating the same arguments over and over again. Read the case against delisting or defunding here. The whole "I don't support it so I don't want to pay for it argument" is problematic on many levels. What if I'm not keen on war? I guess I can hold back my taxes that go to the military then. Well, it doesn't work like that. All of us pay for stuff we don't use, and sometimes don't even agree with. Our investment in each other through programs supported by our taxes is one of the only pieces of evidence that we have that we care about each other and are willing to work towards collective goals. It's why the streetlights are on at night and the traffic signals work.

7. Do you believe that there should be more privatization of health care in Alberta?
a) yes b) no

Liberals claim that approximately 30% of AHC is already privatized. This will only increase under a Wildrose government, as their policy documents describe (see page 31 and onwards).  Key supporters of the Wildrose are also key proponents of privatized medicine. As a person who has had cancer, I can tell you how important publicly funded health care is. I've seen a lot of the system, and it works. I would be dead, broke or both today if I lived in the United States where health care is private. Rather than increase privatization, I'd like to see an increased investment in public health care like dental care for children and drugs for cancer patients. No one should be denied health care because they can't afford it. But hey, that's just me, and it's my blog.

8. Are you aware of Danielle Smith's elected history, her disastrous ten months on the Calgary School Board? Are you aware that her past statements conflict with recent assurances that she is personally pro-choice and supportive of gay rights? (I know, this was two questions, but they are related.)
a) yes  b) no

Danielle Smith has little elected history, (a grand total of ten months) and what little she does have has been chronicled here on this blog and by Daveberta. Warren Kinsella has also published a few of her choice quotes from the past, indicating what her thoughts really are on social issues. Yes, they were compiled by Kinsella, a liberal, but they were spoken by Smith, and that's what matters.These must be examined carefully by all voters.

9. Are you aware of the backgrounds of Wildrose candidates like Allan Hunsperger, Link Byfield, Ron Leech and John Carpay, and do you agree with their beliefs? 
a) yes b) no

10. Do you believe Alberta should adopt "firewall" strategies and isolate itself in Confederation by opting out of the Canada Pension Plan, and creating its own immigration policy?
a) yes b) no

The Wildrose platform (p 79-82) revives what has been called the "Firewall" vision of Alberta, based on a letter written and signed by many current Wildrose supporters which suggested Alberta be more isolationist. The Wildrose platform suggests Alberta opt out of Canada Pension and create an Alberta only pension plan. It suggests we create our own immigration policy, again opting out of the Canadian vision, our own police force instead of the RCMP, and that we opt out of environmental legislation that might impact Alberta business. My own opinion is in other provinces, this kind of talk would be called separatism. I'm a firm believer in federalism and that Canada is stronger when we all work together.

11. Do you believe Alberta, as a wealthy and resource rich province, should not support poorer provinces through transfer payments and we should keep our wealth to ourselves?
a) yes b) no

Wildrose policy suggests we need to "aggressively address the issue of interprovincial wealth transfer," because currently, as Canada's richest province, Alberta gives more than it gets. Transfer payments are intended to ensure all Canadians have equal access to social services regardless of where they live. Wildrose does not believe Alberta should help its neighbours. This is unlikely to make us welcome in a national conversation.

12. Do you think climate change is unproven?
a) yes b) no

Danielle Smith isn't sure she believes in climate change.  If you answered yes, you've found your party and Smith is your gal to lead you against science and logic.

13. Is punishing the Progressive Conservatives worth voting for people whose policies you don't know or disagree with?
a) yes b) no

If you answer yes to any of these questions, maybe Wildrose is your zone. If you answer no, I urge you to think twice about giving them your vote. Anybody but Wildrose.

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