By medicinehatnews on April 17, 2019.
At the time of writing this column, the election results are still unknown. However, as a Chamber of Commerce, we couldn’t possibly have a column in the Medicine Hat News the day after the election and not have that as our focus.
What we do know is that there were 13 registered political parties in Alberta with 492 candidates running across Alberta. The Alberta NDP, Alberta Party, and United Conservative Party were all running candidates in each of the 87 electoral divisions, followed by the Alberta Independence Party with 63 candidates and the Alberta Liberal Party with 51 candidates. All other parties ran candidates in fewer than half of the ridings. We also know that there is greater likelihood of success when running candidates in every riding in our province.
What we don’t know at the time of writing, is what the composition of government and the distribution of seats will look like, which will be the topic of conversation today.
What our Chamber has focused on during this election was raising awareness of the priorities, providing an avenue for people to become informed about the candidates and encouraging a high voter turnout percentage. This is because we believe informed decision making always yields better results and higher voter turnouts results in confidence that our government was chosen as a result of the choice of a vast majority of Albertans. Interestingly, the largest voter turnout was 81.8 per cent, which occurred in the general election of Aug. 22, 1935. The smallest voter turnout was 40.6 per cent on March 3, 2008. In our last election in 2015, voter turnout was 57.02 per cent with 1,495,404 ballots cast and a 54.37 per cent turnout in 2012.
In order to raise awareness of our priorities, we campaigned on our Chamber platform, ‘#VoteProsperity’, in an effort to encourage people to become informed about the policy priorities needed to create a more prosperous Alberta. We also took great strides to inform the public about candidates within our ridings by posting information about candidates and the platforms of each of the parties, by providing candidates with questionnaires, which were also posted online when we received them and by hosting forums on April 2 and 3 with the subsequent video recordings along with the leadership debate being publicized on our website following each event, encouraging people to make an informed vote based on this information.
Vote Prosperity was also used as a platform to influence party policies that would be beneficial to Alberta heading into the election. We used this platform as an opportunity to provide candidates with information about the concerns within our community and across Alberta and to provoke thought and consideration around the ways in which we could build on these recommendations.
Whether or not individuals took a deep dive into our recommendations, we know that our fundamental pillars would resonate with every Albertan, as we recommended that parties seek to strengthen business competitiveness, grow provincial trade, build healthy communities and improve government accountability. As your Chamber, now that the election is over, we will continue to work with our government on policies that are needed for a prosperous Alberta and we will use our policy recommendations as our platform to move these conversations forward.
We congratulate and thank all candidates for putting their names forward in this election, as each of them ran because they are passionate about our communities and want to make life better for the constituents within our ridings. We acknowledge that it takes a significant amount of time and effort for candidates to allow their name to stand — it’s an all-consuming endeavour that takes significant dedication and sacrifice. That effort should be rewarded, appreciated and encouraged.
As a non-partisan organization, we work with all elected representatives and we will continue to influence government policy to make sure that policies and decisions are in the best interest of our community and our economic prosperity. Only then can we ensure that all Albertans benefit from the growth and success of our province.
So I ask, the day following Election Day — did you let others decide for you? Did you make sure to Choose Your Alberta? Did you #VoteProsperity?
Lisa Kowalchuk is the executive director of the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce. For more information on this column or the Chamber, contact 403-527-5214.