Five bucks could be blown on a specialty coffee at Starbucks, or the same five bucks could help determine Alberta's next premier.
Canadians rarely get the opportunity to vote directly for their leader, but with Premier Ralph Klein's official resignation Wed., Sept. 20, the $5 investment it takes to purchase a Progressive Conservative Party membership, combined with a trip to the polling station on Nov. 25 means Albertans can directly pick the next ruler of this fair province.
Despite their rainbow of political stripes, all students should jump on the PC leadership-race bandwagon. This is a big time for Alberta. With the province swimming in resource revenues--and the price of oil reaching record-breaking highs--the incoming Tory leader has a projected $4.1 billion surplus to doll-out, and the incoming premier's priorities will have a lot to do with where that money goes.
For students who want to see long-promised changes to the post-secondary system, like increased access and quality, finally come to fruition, getting the right man or woman in charge is important. This spring, the Alberta government released the results of a year-long review of PSE entitled A Learning Alberta. While short on details, the report contained promising tidbits--and some recommendations for change, but if the upcoming Tory leader doesn't see PSE as a priority, the post-secondary file will once again be shelved to collect dust.
While the mere thought of becoming a card-carrying Tory is enough to make a Green Party supporter blue, students should have no problem shelling out $5 for an extra chance to participate in democracy. With nine candidates in the running and each prioritizing different issues like education, healthcare, the environment, policing and child-care, at least there are options.
In addition to a crisp fiver, there are a few criteria to get your name on the voters list on Nov. 25. Voters have to be at least 16-years-old and a Canadian citizen who has lived in Alberta for six months. Memberships can be picked up at any candidate's office, at the Calgary and Edmonton Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta offices, on the party website, or even at the polling station itself.
If this whole idea of voting directly for the next Premier is exciting, it's worth considering a Federal Liberal Party membership as well. A youth membership is an equally affordable $5 and the age restriction is lowered to 14 years, so students can sign up their little sister while they're at it. The Liberal leadership vote happens at the end of November. Maybe Stephen Harper will do something stupid in the near future to topple his minority government and Canadians can vote for the prime minister, too. Anyone want to talk gay marriage?