Hey Canada. Got a minute? I think we need to chat.
It’s not really about the election last night, but more about what the election means and how we’re feeling about one another. As an Albertan, I watched #CBC and #CTV until about 10:00 pm and failed to see even one poll reported from Alberta. Sure, you might see a sea of blue and think…”typical”, but you might not see what’s happening below the surface.
For the first time in my life, I voted Conservative. Not because I believe in their platform, appreciate the leader or believe in economy above all else. I voted Conservative because I thought they’d be the only chance that Ottawa might begin to understand the depth of hurt, frustration and sadness that is being felt here.
Let me be clear, I’m not whining. I’m trying to communicate that there’s something else going on here in Alberta that the rest of Canada doesn’t seem to understand or appreciate. I don’t want to separate – I love this country. I’m just sad that my fellow Albertans continue to be out of work, that the social programs I’ve worked the past couple decades to support are being overwhelmed with people experiencing poverty and emotional distress, that families are breaking apart, and that addictions continue to trap more and more good people.
I’m sad that the hard work happening on the front lines and in the offices here in downtown Calgary to make Canada’s energy sector the most environmentally conscious around the world are being overlooked. I’m sad that we are having conversations about a 16 year old European girl as if that’s the most important conversation to be had. We are allowing ourselves to become entrenched in political soundbites as opposed to taking the time to understand that there are multiple perspectives around people, progress and the planet that don’t have to exist as polar opposites.
I care about whales and it would be tragic to see a news story about a whale lost to a shipping accident. I also care about people, but we don’t do a news story each night about the lives lost to addiction, homelessness or suicide – in many cases due to an economy that isn’t providing for the needs of people across the country. It’s not an either/or and we have to stop treating these issues as such.
I am Albertan, but first and foremost I am Canadian. I think it’s time that we set down our ballots, step off our platforms and meet with one another to truly understand our shared values. We might have different ways of expressing those values, but I refuse to believe that a shouting match between East/West, Indigenous/non-Indigenous, wealthy/poor, immigrant/non-immigrant, gay/straight, man/woman….is going to move us forward.
Let me suggest a starting point for this conversation. It’s one based on respect, a willingness to listen for understanding, and curiosity. It’s a conversation grounded in trying to understand and finding possibility in diversity. It’s a discussion about solutions…not problems. It’s about making Canada the best it can be for the most Canadians – and for those that are struggling, a recognition that they’re not left to go it alone.
Is that too much to ask? I’m inviting you to this conversation.
Originally published October 24, 2019 at Todayville.com