Premier Jim Prentice has garnered a lot of criticism for his recent comments about Albertans taking responsibility for its current financial predicament. But he had a point about Albertans looking in the mirror.
Prentice asked Albertans to look in the mirror when considering Alberta’s change in fortunes. For many Albertans, that statement came across as patronizing.
It came off as if everyday Albertans were to blame for the change in the province’s fortunes. But what Albertans don’t want to hear is that Jim Prentice is right. Maybe we as Albertans should look in a mirror. After all, as the old adage goes, ‘fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, and fool me for 40 years, then I have a bridge to sell you.’
When you buy a new car, there’s a good chance you’ve done a little research on what you plan on buying before you set foot into the dealership. The reason you do that prior research is to make sure that you’re buying the best car for your money. You want to make sure that you know the value of the car and whether it’s something you want. So if you buy the wrong car, chances are you won’t do that again. You take your time with a car because it’s a significant investment of time and money. The car might only be a transition to something better or it might be something that has to outlive multiple governments.
Unlike your vote, it doesn’t have the same immediate financial weight as buying a car, but it should be treated with the same degree of consideration. After all, your vote enables the changes for the entire province, potentially making that car you want to buy a little more affordable or tuition more manageable.
Prentice, while patronizing in his statement, isn’t necessarily wrong. Albertans have a disconnect between what’s expected from the government and what they put into the government.
If the student protests this year against tuition market modifiers are any indication, then it’s a small wonder why Prentice thinks Albertans might not have the best grasp of the role of the provincial government. Despite the noise made on social media about looming tuition hikes and government incompetence, there’s little in the way of an actual physical presence (because tuition hikes aren’t worth me having to go outside). Internet activism, while nice for getting the message out there, means little when actions don’t back up words. The SU-organized day of action in November had an attendance of close to 300 people, despite the fact that 648 had committed to go on the Facebook page out of 8,400 that had been invited.
This general inaction in showing a desire for change is indicative of a greater problem.
In the 2008 — election, only 37 per cent of youth (ages 18–24) cast a ballot. And yet, students are some of the most ardent critics of the missteps of the sitting provincial government. If you don’t want Jim Prentice to patronize you, then put on a jacket and get outside and get angry. If you don’t show up to vote to change the problem, then maybe you should take Jim’s advice and look in the mirror.