Carbon Tax Rant

Commentary, Politics, Rants, Society
carbtax

My Facebook feed strikes again

I’m actually sharing this post not because I agree but because it’s kind of a terrible idea, and I’d like to explain why I think so.
It misrepresents what the carbon tax is.
 
The carbon tax isn’t revenue in the same way that something like income tax is. The money collected from the carbon tax MUST go towards paying for initiatives to combat climate change and reduce Alberta’s dependence on oil and gas. This money doesn’t go into their larger government pool to spend on whatever government things they want.
Maybe you think the NDP should be funding energy innovation from their regular revenue, or maybe you think they shouldn’t be funding such innovation at all. I think that since continued government funding on innovation in oil and gas is what allowed this crazy profitable industry to get started in AB in the first place, maybe it’s that industry’s turn to fund the next innovation.
I think we should keep the tax. It’s only fair that industries that have profited so immensely for so long while contributing to climate change also now contribute to repairing the damage and building a more sustainable future. To be fair to these industries, it seems like a good number of oil and gas companies are willing to step up to the plate in this regard. It’s just Conservative politicians and media who are having a hard time with it, and spreading shit like this around so that you’ll vote for them instead of the NDP in the next election.
 
It misrepresents what federal equalization payments are.
Transfer payments don’t work like this, and people need to stop sharing stuff that propagates this misconception. It’s dishonest at best. This makes it sound like the Government of Canada takes money from the Government of Alberta and gives it to the Government of Quebec. What actually happens is this: the Government of Canada collects income and business taxes from ALL Canadians, and some of those taxes get distributed to poorer provinces so that they can maintain a minimum standard of public services.
Stopping transfer payments doesn’t give more money to the government of Alberta, it just leaves the Federal government with more money, and all the provinces with less. Maaaaybe if the Feds also lowered income and business taxes at the same time (good luck with that), it would result in some individual Albertans having a tiny bit more money in their pockets at the end of the year, but the people who would benefit the most from such a move are the people who need it the least (i.e. super wealthy people who pay higher percentages and larger sums of tax). So you would be giving money back to mostly wealthy people across the country and taking services away from mostly poor and middle income people in have-not provinces. And the government of Alberta would still have to find the money to support their economic and climate goals from somewhere, so in this plan nobody’s goals get accomplished and almost everyone is worse off. Well done. *slow clap*
I disagree with stopping transfer payments because I have this crazy notion that as long as we’re united as a country, we should continue to have a minimum standard of healthcare, education, and social security across ALL provinces, not just the ones with lots of oil.
Also, can we just stop shitting on Quebec all the time? It’s not a good look, Alberta. 1. They’re not the only ones who accept equalization payments. 2. Asking for some of the tax revenue to offset the risk of having a pipeline run through your province is not unreasonable and doesn’t make them the bad guy here.
They’re raising a straw man to distract you, which helps no one.
 
To all my conservative-voting friends and family – they’re just building up a straw man for you to take down. Most of the stuff they say to demonize the NDP is distorted, exaggerated, or outright false. The NDP surely aren’t perfect, but they’re no worse than the PCs were, and some of their initiatives stand a really good chance of actually working and making life better for Albertans. They’re willing to take risks and try new things in a way the PCs haven’t been for a long time, and that’s very much what we need right now. Give them a chance.
While some individual PC and Wildrose politicians are good representatives who are on your side, each of those parties as a whole is most definitely not. They don’t care about whether or not you have a job in the industry, they only care about winning the government and propping up their corporate friends. Don’t buy into it and share their bullshit oil vs. NDP propaganda. Do your research, understand the issues, and demand that they do better by you as voters. Challenge them to stop the fear and hate mongering and instead build a conservative party that is actually conservative and actually cares about your bottom line. Engage in meaningful debate, consultation, and advocacy with the current NDP government to have your voice heard. Ignore the strawnotley.

ELECTION!!!1!!11!!!!1

Elections, Politics

Our good friend Jim has called an election for the 5th of May. Since I’m a political science bachelor with a lot of non-politically-minded friends, I thought I’d actually make an effort this year to observe, dissect, interpret, and publish the goings-on of this provincial election in the hopes of making it seem a little more convenient and easy to understand, and a little less intimidating or overwhelming, for those friends.

I should state at the outset that I’m not a fan of the Progressive Conservatives, and that is definitely going to show in this series of posts. I’ll try to give them fair treatment, but I can’t guarantee anything.

So how does this whole thing work, anyway?

In order to make an informed vote, you need to understand how both the political system and the electoral system work. Not understanding them may lead you to cast a vote that doesn’t actually match what you want or need from the government. How can that be, you ask? I’m going to start with some voting 101 to get you up to speed.

For my busier friends out there, here’s a TL;DR summary:

https://nosuchnothing.wordpress.com/2015/04/10/election1111-tldr-summary/

1. Parties vs. Representatives

Most elected representatives in provincial politics (known as MLAs) belong to a party. Parties work as a team to set goals and get things passed in the Legislature. Sounds nice in theory, but it gets a bit weird in practice.

This gif is surprisingly relevant.

In Canada, party members have to vote together. If a representative wants to propose something, the rest of the party has to agree with them or it won’t happen. Decisions are often made behind closed doors between party members, and then brought to the legislature for a vote. MLAs rarely act alone on their own initiative, but pass everything through their party first. Once the party has made a decision about something, everyone has to vote in favour of it, regardless of whether or not they personally think it’s a good idea. It helps parties stay organized and consistent, which is good, however…

Imagine: everyone in your riding wants to increase corporate taxes. Literally every person.

If your MLA’s party also wants to increase corporate taxes, then your MLA can vote in the Legislature to increase corporate taxes.

 

However, if the party disagrees, then your MLA must vote against corporate tax increases, even if every single person they represent wants them to vote in favour.

If they refuse to follow the party and vote the way their constituents want them to, they run the risk of being kicked out of their party. They won’t lose their seat in the Legislative Assembly, but they may as well have. Because the MLAs in parties work as one, without a party affiliation your MLA is on their own most of the time so it’s very difficult for them to get their voice heard.

This is the face they will make.

2. Leadership

With Canada’s party system, the Premier is not chosen by a direct vote of all Albertans, but by the party with the most seats in the Legislature. Each riding has a seat, and elects a MLA to represent them. Whichever party can win the most ridings gets the most seats, and therefore gets to run the show. They decide amongst themselves who from their party will be the Premier, and they can change that person at any time without any input from Albertan voters.

Important note: Our entire system works on a first-past-the-post basis. This basically means that you don’t have to have the most, you just have to have more than anyone else. In terms of leadership, this means that you don’t have to have the most seats in the legislature to have control of the government, you just have to have more than any other party.

A majority government happens when the party in power has a majority of the seats. That party can basically do whatever it wants because it has a majority of seats and, because all party members must vote together, a majority of the votes.

The little “x” in the corner of this image is a lie.

 

A minority government happens when the party in power has more seats than any other party, but doesn’t have the most seats overall. This means that even though they control the government, the other parties can out-vote them if they work together.

A LIE, I TELL YOU!

 

3. Voting

Voting also works on a first-past-the-post basis. A candidate doesn’t have to have the most votes to win, they just have to have more votes than any other candidate. Seems to make sense, but there’s actually a huge problem whenever you have more than two candidates. I’ll show you:

If…

Candidate 1 got 30% of the vote

Candidate 2 got 70% of the vote

Candidate 2 wins.

However, if…

Candidate 1 won 25% of the vote

Candidate 2 won 20% of the vote

Candidate 3 won 22% of the vote

Candidate 4 won 23% of the vote

With 10% being spoiled ballots (meaning they were blank, illegible, etc)

Candidate 1 wins with only 25% support.

Yikes.

4. Making a decision

So how do you make a decision on how to vote? There are lots of strategies you can look at implementing, but I’ll tell you right now what NOT to do:

DO NOT vote based only on the party. Many people always vote for the same party regardless of which candidate is running in their riding, and this is a mistake.

DO NOT vote based only on the candidate. Some people want a particular person that they like to represent them, which is nice in theory and a good strategy in some places, but in Canada this is also a mistake. Voting can’t be that simple because of that party system I explained earlier, which is why it’s so important to understand how it works.

Shut up an listen, bald angry dude. This is important!

Deciding how to vote is a tricky balancing act between a candidate’s qualifications and promises, and the actions, policies, and promises of the party they belong to. A particular candidate might seem really competent and have great ideas, but if their party is going to ignore those ideas then you might have to settle for a candidate you like less that belongs to a party you like more. On the other hand, you may love a particular party, but if the candidate running for that party in your riding is an incompetent boob, a lot of important on-the-ground work might get messed up if they win, so you may have to vote for a better candidate from a party you like less.

How you balance that will depend on what you care about. If you care about local matters, like how your constituency office is run and how issues are dealt with in your riding, then you’ll want to give more consideration to the quality of the candidate than to the quality of the party. If you care about provincial matters, like the budget, or public policies and laws, you should give more consideration to the quality of the party, rather than the quality of the candidate.

I know it’s hard, but I believe in you!

You can also simply vote against the party/candidate you like the least. Lets say you despise the PCs (as I do). You don’t care who wins in your riding, as long as it’s not the PC candidate. You’d want to look at various polls and other predictions to determine which candidate seems most likely to win over the PC one, and then vote for that candidate in the hopes that others will have the same idea and your collective votes will push that candidate over the threshold they need to beat the PC one.

AND THAT CONCLUDES VOTING 101!!!!! Contact me if you have any questions, and I shall endeavour to answer them.

In following posts I will attempt to break down each party’s platform into easily digestible little bits so that you don’t have to do any reading yourself (because no one really wants to read through a party platform – booooooooring!), and also give a review of some candidates’ histories, qualifications, and promises. Can’t guarantee I’ll get around to all candidates, as there are many, but I’ll start with those in Edmonton and Calgary and work my way out from there!