Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
November 6, 2006
Next Tory leader plays for high stakes
Alberta's Progressive Conservative Party will be electing a new leader in the next month. While leadership races are normally in-house events for the party faithful, this race has a particular importance for all Albertans.
The next Tory leader will also become premier of Alberta at a crucial time in the province's development. He will also be the leader of the party that has governed this province for more than 35 years, with no apparent end in sight to that rule.
The Progressive Conservatives are allowing any Albertan who is a Canadian citizen, at least 16 years old and a resident of the province for six months or longer to buy a $5 membership up to and including voting day. It provides a unique opportunity for Albertans of any or no political persuasion to take part in electing the province's next premier. Albertans may want to consider whether they should avail themselves of that opportunity.
For Catholics, voting for the next premier is an act like any other - one's choice should be a serious attempt to apply the principles and teachings of the Catholic faith. Contrary to those who say there should be no connection between faith and politics, we hold that a serious Christian faith will be lived out in every aspect of life, including politics. There can be no divorce between faith and life.
Nor is this relationship between faith and politics devoid of content. All citizens should ensure that they do not use their vote to support those who deny basic human rights such as the rights to life, family, freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom from all forms of slavery.
The Church sees the human person as a social being with a transcendent orientation. This is a drastically different view than that of liberal individualism, which sees the person as fundamentally alone, with a major role of government to protect that zone of privacy.
The basis of Catholic social teaching is the love of neighbour. So, we want to end abortion, protect the natural family, ensure that all people have a rightful share in the wealth of society and protect the natural environment from excessive degradation. We favour as much of society's decision-making and creative initiative as possible to come from the local level. We support the dignity of work and of workers.
Alberta faces unique challenges at this point in its history. The exploitation of our vast fossil fuel resources has been allowed to grow without adequate planning for the housing, education, health care and transportation needs of a rapidly growing population.
Respect for the environment has taken a back seat to immediate development. Questions have been raised about whether the owners of the resources - the people of Alberta - are receiving adequate compensation for the use of those non-renewable resources.
Despite our province's wealth - or perhaps because of it - we are focused excessively on today. The Heritage Savings Trust Fund has been allowed to languish instead of growing to provide a basis for future planning. Nearly 25 per cent of students do not complete Grade 12 diplomas within five years of starting Grade 10. While our population is growing, that is due to immigration rather than a replacement birth rate. The needs of children, the elderly, the handicapped and injured workers are too often ignored.
Alberta faces big challenges in the years ahead, challenges government must help us to face. Leadership forums at centres around the province began last week and there will be a prime time televised forum Nov. 15 on Global TV. Those who decide to vote in this process would do well to familiarize themselves with both the candidates' personal characters and their stands on the issues affecting Alberta's future.
- Glen Argan
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