Yearly Archives: 2012

Lethbridge ready to hit the ballot box

Alberta will be choosing a new government today. Five candidates will be fighting for a seat in Lethbridge West, and four in the East, but only one person in each riding will be heading to the legislature.

Polling stations around the city will be opening at 9 a.m. and will remain open until 8:00 p.m. Longer than usual line-ups during the Advanced Polls, and all the excitement surrounding this Election will likely bring more people out to the polls, so do yourself a favour and try to get there early to avoid the line-ups, if you can.

Find your Polling Station

What do you need to bring if you’re not already registered to vote?

Registered voters won’t need ID unless officials at the polls question their identity, but for those who aren’t on the voters’ list, you’ll need to prove your identity and address in order to be able to vote. That could mean a government issued ID with your photo, name and address.

Alternatively, voters can prove they live in a riding with two valid original documents. One piece must include your name, and the other your address (see full list below). Voters also have the option of swearing an oath, and have another eligible voter from the same poll (ie. neighbour or roommate) vouch for your identity.

Valid Identification Documents

  • AISH card
  • Alta. Forestry ID card
  • Alta. Health Care Insurance Plan card
  • Alta. Health Services ID band (patient wrist band)
  • Alta. Natural resources ID card
  • Alta. Service Dog Team ID card
  • Alta. Wildlife (WIN) ID card
  • Baptismal Certificate
  • Birth Certificate
  • Can. Air Transportation Security Agency ID Card
  • Can. Blood Services card
  • CANPASS card (border services accelerated service system)
  • Can. Border Services Agency Free and Secure Trade card
  • Can. Border Services Agency Nexus card
  • Can. Forces Civilian ID card
  • Can. Forces Health card
  • Can. Forces ID card
  • Can. Passport
  • Citizenship card
  • Can. National Institute for the Blind ID card
  • Attestation of Residence (issued by the responsible authority of First Nations band or reserve)
  • Bank/credit card statement or personal cheque
  • Correspondence issued by a school, college or university
  • Government cheque or cheque stub
  • Income/property tax assessment notice
  • Insurance policy or coverage card
  • Letter from a public curator, public guardian or public trustee
  • One of the following issued by the responsible authority of a shelter or soup kitchen: Attestation of residence, letter of stay, admission form or statement of benefits
  • Pension Plan statement of benefits, contributions or participation
  • Prescription bottle insert
  • Residential lease or mortgage statement
  • Statement of government benefits (Employment insuracne, old-age security, social assistance, disability support, or child tax benefit)
  • Utility bill
  • Vehicle ownership or insurance certificate

Question of the Day: Political Quote of the Day!

April 23, 2012. On this momentous occasion: Alberta General Election No. 28, the Question of the Day is:

What is your favorite quote about politics?

Here is mine, discovered only minutes ago…

“People often say, with pride, ‘I’m not interested in politics.’ They might as well say, ‘I’m not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future or any future.’ Politics is the business of being governed and nobody can escape being governed, for better or worse. … If we mean to keep any control over our world and lives, we must be interested in politics.” – Martha Gellhorn.

Send in your favorites by throughout the day and we’ll try to get them posted ASAP! Click to comment here.

CK

 

April 18 Topic: Negative campaign advertising.

What is  sometimes referred to as “American-style” negative campaigning seems to have become the norm in Canada as well. Attack ads have been blamed, in part, for the downfall of the federal Liberal party. Rick Mercer has ranted about the use of attack ads by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. The provincial Tories and Wildrose have been at one another’s  throats, with the Liberals quick to draw attention to the faults of both “conservative” parties and their leaders. Brian Mason of the NDP sent a letter to the other party leaders early in the campaign, urging an end to the “negative personal tone” that had developed, but one has to wonder if he would need to go on the offensive if his party were a front-runner.

Here in Lethbridge, various candidates have reported that their campaign signs have been removed or vandalised. Is it possible anymore for someone to be elected simply on his/her own merit, or do all candidates have to prove that they are “not as bad as the really bad guy”?

What do you think? Please submit your comments below!

 

April 17 topic: Public Opinion Polls.

Do you cringe when you pick up the phone and hear a recorded message asking you to rank your views on a scale of 1-5? Or do you enjoy strongly agreeing or strongly disagreeing with various statements? Do you ever base your decisions on what is the most (or least) popular option as reported in a poll? Do you believe what you hear in the mainstream media about how Albertans are likely to vote, or who the front-runners are? Do political opinion polls unfairly influence undecided voters? Are you concerned with polling accuracy? 

Well, why not another poll, while we’re on the topic. On a scale of 1 to 5, (with 1 being none and 5 being a whole lot),  how much consideration do you give political polls before you mark a ballot? Then leave a comment to tell us why you think so, and how you feel about polling in this election.

You could also participate in our unofficial survey about the party you are likely to vote for! (surveys not based on recognized statistical methods)

Care to Vote, or Vote to Care?

To all Lethbridge citizens,

I have always wondered, as an “average Albertan”, why it is that so few of us vote? We have opinions about everything, and seem fairly comfortable talking about those opinions with our friends and coworkers, but for some reason that has translated into less than half of us making it to the polls in recent years.

Since moving to Lethbridge in 2003, I have been continually impressed by the community-minded, caring, interested, and generally optimistic spirit of the people who call this city home. If I had to describe Lethbridge with one word I would say that it is a “hopeful” city. Given these impressions, I was very surprised to discover that voter turnout is on the decline here as well!

Since the electoral districts of Lethbridge West and Lethbridge East were created in 1971 (the year that the PC party first came to power in Alberta), voter turnout in Lethbridge has declined from 74% to 34%. Over this same time period, the population of eligible voters increased by 43568 people, but in 2008 there were only 4991 more votes cast than in 1971!

While I hesitate to advocate voting without educating yourself about the candidates, parties, and issues, I have noticed that once people make the step to start voting, they start to care more about politics in general because they have invested some small part of themselves in the process. The only way our votes can matter is if we vote, and the only way we can influence the direction of government is to get involved.

Visit www.facebook.com/Bridge.Gap.Vote (a voter challenge initiative with a goal of increasing voter turnout in Lethbridge to 80%) and www.electlethbridge.wordpress.com (a site devoted to engaging the citizens of Lethbridge on all things political)

Sincerely,

Colleen Klassen

An “average Albertan” who would love to see Lethbridge voters be much better than average!

(This letter was also submitted to the Lethbridge Herald and posted on Bridge the Gap’s facebook page)

Lethbridge-West post-secondary forum, crowd-sourced recap

Last Thursday, students at the University of Lethbridge had their issues addressed by the candidates seeking election in Lethbridge-West. One source reports there were as many people standing as there were in the chairs provided, and the big turn-out is certain to reinforce the need for student issues to be addressed by the incoming government.

In the past four years there’s been a lot of turmoil in the Post-Secondary Education system. Alberta’s universities took a big hit in 2009 when  the stock market slide caused shortfalls in investment income from endowment funds. The University of Calgary, for example, had to write down their asset backed commercial paper, slashing its endowments by 1/5. While endowments don’t represent a large portion of a Canadian university’s budget, they are very important for providing scholarships and other financial aid.

At the University of Lethbridge, the Board of Governors was forced to cut $11 million from their budgets for 2010 and 2011, $5 million of that came from operating costs and the other $6 million government funds that would no longer be available. In the 2010 provincial budget, the shortfalls from a $200 million cut PSE funding caused the U of L’s projected deficit to increase to $9 million. The U of L did not dramatically raise tuition, however, but made up the losses in a reduction of services and staff hours, lay-offs to administrative supports, and strategic hiring freezes for certain faculties.

2010 was also a big year for student activism in Alberta. Protests broke out on campus’ throughout the province, and students even gathered at the steps of the Legislature to protest cuts to PSE funding. If nothing else, Alberta’s students have proved they deserve to be heard and sitting at the bargaining table, and they certainly had a lot to say during the candidates forum last Wednesday. From twitter, here are their opinions of the candidates and the forum:

–Forum has begun! Great turn out, lots of students & faculty. PSE issues the hot topic. #yql #uleth #abvote http://pic.twitter.com/gMI0oZml

– Big turnout @ULethSU Leth West All Candidates Debate! Students are engaged & voting. #abvote #uleth http://yfrog.com/kkddfzdj

– #yql #uleth west debate. @SPhillipsNDP with most detailed and useful env’t policy. Real solutions to real problems #abvote #NDP #abndp

– @SPhillipsNDP is running circles around the boys at #uleth forum#abvote

– Education:LIB-invest,no tuition;PC-quality,limited increase;NDP-stable funding;WR-stay home loan remission. #yql #abvote #uleth

– Had to leave #yql #uleth west debate early. Sorry to go, fun to watch@SPhillipsNDP totally owning the show. #abvote #abndp

– #uleth #abvote #yql Lethbridge West. My choice based on today’s forum: NDP. Surprised how much she agreed with WR’s comments, though.

– The forum hosted by @ULethSU was lovely. However, I question if whoever decided it would be 50mins had ever been to one prior#abvote #uleth

– Thoroughly enjoyed the candidate forum at #uleth@SPhillipsNDP is a great speaker. She made me a believer! #abvote

– Forum Comment: #boora not a great speaker, underwhelming. Can tell he is passionate though. #uleth #ablib

– Forum Comment: #Phillips good speaker, surprising agreements with Wildrose, but came across as angry at times. #uleth #abndp #abvote

– Forum Comment #kinahan not great speaker when off notes, could be a sheep. Good to have an educator in that party though #uleth#wrp #abvote

LGBTTQ forum highlights equality for all Albertans

The Lethbridge provincial election candidates had the opportunity to speak to  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, two-spirit, and questioning (LGBTTQ) citizens this last Saturday at the Community of Christ Church, and although it was a balmy spring afternoon, it was the lively discussion inside that was making the candidates sweat.

It was not a closeted debate, but rather opened the floor to include the broader issues every Albertan faces regardless of sexual orientation. Education, especially Post-Secondary was on people’s minds, as well as the environment and electricity de-regulation and healthcare, but overwhelmingly, equality continued to come to the forefront of every issue.

A topic that came up repeatedly was de-listed surgeries, and many at this forum were especially curious to hear the candidates thoughts on the recent de-listing of sexual re-assignment surgery, which was cut in 2009 for a total savings of $700, 000 annually.

Bridget Pastoor’s previous experience within the Liberal caucus may have played favourably to this crowd, she says if elected, she would be better positioned to fight for the re-listing of the surgery. “As a Liberal I voted against it, and as a Conservative voice within caucus I would fight to have it re-instated.”

Pastoor argued that because so many in society see transgendered persons as an anomaly, that, “they don’t understand the pain and the depth of searching that someone has to go through to know, and to realize, and to be able to actually come out and say, ‘you know what I’m in the wrong body. There is something wrong, and this can be changed and I can live a productive life the way that I was meant to live’.”

Rob Miyashiro, who has replaced Pastoor as the Liberal candidate in Lethbridge East, said he agreed with Pastoor, and says, “The amount of money that you save by denying those surgeries is minuscule,” in a province with a budget as large as Alberta’s. Miyashiro added, “I certainly wouldn’t support that being out of the budget, I would vote for reinstatement, absolutely.”

Both Tom Moffat (Leth-E; NDP) and Bal Boora (Leth-W; Lib) both agreed that it was would be in-line with their party’s policy to re-instate the services, and Boora also agreed that more money from Alberta’s wealth should be put back into de-listed services.

Shannon Phillips (Leth-W; NDP) saw things differently, however saying de-listing gender re-assignment surgery, “really isn’t about money, this about de-listing under the Canada Health Act in areas the government thought they could get away with it.” Phillips suggests that the broad de-listing of services during the last legislature, is intentional to lower the expectations of Albertains for the public health care system, and to privatize more health related services. “This is creating a market where one ought not exist. This is a public health issue.”

Greg Weadick (Leth-W; PC) argued that de-listing services was necessary to overspending into huge deficits, but said its important for government to reassess some of those decisions over time. “I can honestly tell you that, yes, I did vote in favour of delisting this and a number of other things, including chiropractic, which for seniors which we just brought back this budget,” he told the audience.

“Do we have to continue to consider what we do when we make decisions? Absolutely. As time goes by are there reasons to reconsider each and every one of these decisions we make? We do that on an ongoing basis.”

Missing from the podium were the two candidates representing the Wildrose Party, and their absence was criticized on the floor. Through out the election, there has been out-cry from  against Danielle Smith refusing to be open about her party’s stance on “conscience rights.”

In their platform, the WRP have said they would eliminate the Alberta Human Rights Commission, and replace it with a Human Rights Division within the Provincial court system. Their platform also says that they believe the Human Rights Commissions to be the single worst offenders of human rights, and in areas, such as freedom of speech, “politically correct activists have used them to punish religious and right-winged commentators.”

Rick Mercer launches attack ad against Lethbridge Liberals

Things had seemed pretty tame on the campaign trail in Lethbridge as candidates were wrapping up the first week of the election, but all that changed Sunday morning when out of no where popular CBC Television comic Rick Mercer unveiled a new attack ad which appears to be directed at the Lethbridge Alberta Liberal Party.

Mercer hasn’t indicated whither or not he plans to run in a Lethbridge riding, however speculators suggest the 10% slash to the CBC in last week’s Federal Budget could be forcing CBC employees like Mercer out and likely west,  “where the jobs are.” Career move or not, Mercer will have a hard time catching up to any of the candidates running in Lethbridge at this point, but this attack could be just the beginning of more dirty politics and the Mercer War Machine to come.

LGBTQ all candidates forum March 31, 2012

So far this has been a colourful election cycle to say the least, and the first of many public forums will be held this Saturday at the Community of Christ Church. This forum will be hosted by OUTreach Southern Alberta and will provide an opportunity for LGBTQ citizens to address the candidates in regards to a variety of election issues.

Further, it will provide an opportunity for LGBTQ voters to assess the knowledge and the interest of the candidates with regard to their concerns and ideas for building a more inclusive province.

Where: Community of Christ Church – 425 – 11 Street S

When: March 31, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

More information…

Albertans head to the polls April 23rd

Well the campaign signs are up and candidates have been out in full force in the first few days of the election, and by all accounts, they’ll need to be if they plan to take a seat on the next legislative assembly.

Although some are saying that the real battle of Alberta will be in Calgary, Lethbridge will be an uphill battle for all respective parties. CBC is reporting Lethbridge-East as a race to watch, while prominent Alberta political blogger Dave Cournoyer bets Lethbridge-West as the more hotly contested riding.

Lethbridge-East

In Lethbridge-East, incumbent Bridget Pastoor will be fighting to win her seat back for the third time, but this is the first time she’ll be running under the Progressive Conservative banner. In November, Pastoor crossed the floor from the Alberta Liberal Party to sit with the ruling conservatives.

The Liberals have held this seat since former Alberta Liberal leader Ken Nicol won the riding back in 1993 and they won’t be quick to give it up. Rob Miyashiro will be running under their banner, and running alongside him is an extensive portfolio of community work which includes his current position as Executive Director of the Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization.

Tom Moffat will return for a second election as the candidate for Alberta’s New Democrats. Moffat manages information technology for the town of Taber, and has volunteered for community groups such as the Lethbridge Homeless Shelter, Lethbridge Fish and Game Association, Lethbridge Folk Club, and the local chapter of Friends of Medicare.

Never far from anyone’s mind in this election is the Wildrose Alliance Party who will be putting Kent Prestage‘s name on the Ballot. Prestage does not enter this race with rose coloured glasses. He served as the campaign manager for former Member of Parliament Rick Casson in two elections, and even made a run for the federal Conservative nomination in 2010.

Pastoor won Lethbridge-East for the Liberals in 2008 with 46% of the vote, beating the PC’s by 867 votes.

Lethbridge-West

Well the sun does rise in the East but it sets in the West, and when the sun sets on April 23rd, this riding could be the one to keep Lethbridge voters on the edge of their seats. Greg Weadick (PC) won the riding in the 2008 election with 43.7% of the votes, and Liberal candidate Bal Boora came in second place with 35.1%. However if you toss in a stronger Wildrose Party and a fiery new NDP candidate, and suddenly this riding becomes a battle on all fronts.

The WRA candidate, Kevin Kinahan, has spent his twenty-one-year career in education, the last ten of which have included administration. Kinahan is in his second school-year as the principal at St. Patrick School in Taber. He’s been a representative for the Alberta Teachers’ Association, and he sits on the planning committee for the annual Catholic School Trustees and Administrator’s Conference. This will be is his first time seeking election here.

Also new to the Lethbridge political scene is NDP candidate Shannon Phillips. Since winning her party’s nomination last September, Phillips has been busy preparing for this election, and with a big showing of support early on in the lawn-sign war, it looks as though Phillips is off to a great start. Coming into the election, Phillips has the most social media assets of any candidate (West or East for that matter).

How this all plays out, we’ll see in four weeks, but in the meantime Elect Lethbridge will be following the all the candidates as they blaze the campaign trail. We’ll also have the latest information on public forums and other opportunities to interact with the candidates. As always we welcome your feedback, and hope you take a moment to read our Posting Policy before you join in the conversation. Please leave your comments below, or send an email to jeff.henry@uleth.ca.

Elect Lethbridge – back in business

Hello there fellow citizens,

With the provincial election getting close and closer to being called – or so my sources say, Elect Lethbridge wants to remain your top site for information on the political affairs in our fair city. We are hoping to keep Lethbridge informed on the candidates, the election, the horse race, and public opinion. It looks to be an interesting election both in the West and in the East.

We are looking for a few passionate souls who are interested in blogging, and compiling information on candidates, and the electoral temperature.

Does this sound like you?

Give me an email at jenn.prosser@gmail.com and tell me why YOU want to be the voice of Elect Lethbridge.