More and more it seems, voters are facing stark choices when they go to the polls — choose hope, choose a future in which we work together and support one another, or choose fear and self-interest.
As Alberta prepares to go to the polls next week, United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney would have us choose the latter. Cut taxes. Cut services. Cut overtime. Cut supports for the LGBTQ community. Cut enough, they say, and things will get better.
Rachel Notley and the NDP, on the other hand, offer a realistic vision for the future of their province in which their province's prosperity helps lift all Albertans — not just wealthy executives and their companies.
The NDP is offering a platform based on hope and a strong belief in the ability of Albertans to face the challenges ahead of them by working together.
Watch: Alberta leaders go toe-to-toe during election debate. Blog continues below.
A slump in oil has many in the province worrying about their economic future. From the very beginning of this election, Notley's message has been that the best way to face that future is to work together, support one another and build a strong province for all.
"The question is this: do Albertans stick together or do we turn on each other?" Notley said as she launched the election last month.
"Jason Kenney wants two Albertas — one for the wealthy and one for the rest of us. He wants two Albertas divided over people's rights," she said. "I want to continue to build one Alberta."
Fear can be a powerful motivator, but so can hope.
When Kenney asked on Twitter recently of people were better off after four years of an NDP government, he sparked a Twitter storm with the hashtag #BetterOffWithRachel, of people citing her government's poverty reduction, affordable daycare, support for the LGBTQ community and more.
In other words, the kinds of things that create a more equitable society that puts the priorities of working people ahead of those of the rich and powerful.
Kenney, by contrast, is pushing a massive corporate tax cut that would drain the Alberta government of some $7 billion. He is also promising to balance the budget, this would require cuts to public services such as education and health care — something that would especially hurt lower-income families.
Beyond his destructive tax cuts, there are plenty of good reasons to keep Kenney out of the premier's office, from his head-in-the-sand approach to climate change, to his plans to gut overtime pay, to his commitment to make farm work more dangerous and onerous, to the questionable candidates attracted to his party, to the very question of the legitimacy of his own leadership of the UCP.
Not so long ago, Kenney was using his influence as a member of Parliament to push for stripping Albertans of their human rights.
Guilt by association can be a dangerous road to go down, but at some point you have to wonder why so many white nationalists and anti-gay activists thought they might find a home in the UCP, and why they thought a party led by Kenney would not only welcome them, but would want them on their team.
The obvious reason is that Kenney himself has a past that, if he weren't the leader, could easily get him kicked out of the party himself.
Kenney, after all, cut his teeth in politics advocating that basic rights be denied to members of the LGBTQ community. It was just 21 years ago, as well, that Kenney urged then Alberta Premier Ralph Klein to use the Notwithstanding Clause to override a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that gay Albertans are protected under the Human Rights Code.
Think about that. Not so long ago, Kenney was using his influence as a member of Parliament to push for stripping Albertans of their human rights. There are so many great things an MP can and should do for their country. Denying people of their human rights isn't one of them.
Kenney's past, the legitimacy of his current leadership of the UCP, the people who have chosen to be associated with him and the future he is promising Alberta with his destructive policies all add up to Kenney and his party being just too dangerous to be elected.
The choice before Albertans is clear, an equitable and strong future or one based on corporate giveaways for the rich — and cuts for the rest of us.