Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wildwhat A-who-now?

I periodically embarrass myself. It's true; once I announced to an entire cafeteria packed with other women that the "first male in the lounge" had arrived (made a spectacle, really) just to discover that no, he hadn't, but a very pissed off short-haired women had arrived. Compare that with the fact that I deadpanned the belief that politician came from two words (Poli- meaning many and -ticks meaning blood-sucking creatures) to a completely unamused, dead-silent sociology class (That joke is classic, you losers!) I have a pretty wide penchant for humiliation.

It is with this chagrin and good humor however that I discover that I have precisely no idea about the nature of the party that is, according to the last political poll to come off the pipe, rivaling the conservatives so hard they might need to pick them as a wedgie once they are in privacy. For those who haven't seen it rest assured it isn't the Liberals, who probably couldn't get a good showing here in Alberta if they turned themselves into Nutria thongs for the Conservatives to wear on the political stage. (I'm not saying I'm Conservative or Liberal, just observing the climate out here.)

From just a brief viewing of them, however, I'm not convinced they're going to be a solid choice. I had vague flashbacks to my "TeenLife" magazine reading days just from perusing the front page which had a link so I could "Speak Out!" to share my "Health Care Horror Stories"  (OMG! Then, when I bent over to pick up my ultrasound, my stethoscope fell down! LAWL!)and they're really pushing the whole "By the people, For the people" schtick by insisting their policy is built from the ground up. This practically assures infighting and cliques; I'm willing to guarantee in five years their meeting room looks like the set of "Mean Girls". This plan is reflected quite solidly in their education policy,  which promises to return power to the parents and school boards. I had never seen (or even imagined I'd see) the complete opposite of the "No child left behind policy" but here it is: The first and most important step is to have educational funding follow the student. They acknowledge that this program would suck the life out of smaller schools and cause a "coagulating effect" on larger schools, but so be it. This almost seems like a continuation of the policy that was being bat around to merge the Catholic and Public school boards and systems. They're apparently also going to bring in a "tailored to the child's needs" policy of education, but it is almost too easy to point out how much additional strain this is going to put on our educational system, not to forget the friction this could potentially cause between students in Alberta to other provinces. "I'm in grade eleven!" "Really? I'm in grade flowering butterfly, just moved up from grade colostomy bag!"

Their environmental policy at least acknowledges the beatings we're taking in the global arena over our Oil Sands, but their three pronged attack makes me think of Satan's trident. The first one is clean air (which is apparently good? I was hoping we'd reach a state where I could chew my air while I breath it, but fine) they plan to address this issue by moving the provincial focus from our current sources of energy to natural gas. This will create demand and bolster a local industry while reducing emissions and save us money because it's cheaper! I don't want to point this out because they are so obviously pleased with this plan but points one and three are mutually exclusive; their "triple win" is on a crash course. If the demand rises, sure as I order desserts with dinner, the price is going to go up too (Hot damn, I'm all set for my Macroeconomics final!) I'd love to have an opinion on whether or not it will reduce all emissions but I know so little about the industry, I will have to leave it at a skeptical "Sure".
The second portion is clean water, which they are going to achieve through a bunch of regulation and standard enforcement. Not to mention praying really really hard for new technology that will Hail-Mary the tailings ponds away. I've never seen an official government policy that called for a Deus ex Mechina but I'm excited to be a part of it.
The third portion is clean land, which they plan to achieve by streamlining the process through which new ventures which might cause environmental damage can be approved faster because then they can get to the recover phase faster. Get it? Me neither. Then again, I'm not one of those people who like to whip band-aids off as fast as possible, so there might be some nuance I'm missing. They also plan to establish an environmental ombudsman board to address environmental concerns and such.
Want to hear the punchline?
They think there's too much government regulation!
I don't want to suggest that having a "ground-up, everyone-has-a-good-point" policy in place is leading to a schizophrenic campaign that works at cross-purposes, but it almost smells that way.

The final aspect I'll look into for today (I'll cover the last three tomorrow) is their view on post-secondary education. I am not childish enough to point out that in the Alliance leader's speech to the University of Calgary she refers to "less students", which typically means a measure of quality, so she is functionally saying that the students getting in are worth less, so I will have to find something of value to pick on. Their plan of attack is to reinstate tuition hike caps (Please note: tuition hike caps, not tuition caps) and crack down on institutions that charge non-instructional fees. You know, like health benefits, LRT, and other boring things institutions like to tuck into their student's goodie bags.

The last contradiction readily apparent in their education policy is that they point to Alberta's track record of advancements born from our Universities' research departments, but then says that we have nothing to show for the billions the PCs have poured into Post-Secondary. It's a minor point, hardly worth noticing, but again it just underlines the lack of cohesion present in this party, and the fact that they are just telling us what we want to hear. Then again, that's definitely par for the course when it comes to political parties so perhaps I am just being naive.

Part Two should hit the air tomorrow.

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