After surviving four years of a bad provincial government, we shouldn’t set ourselves up for another four more. Sadly, with Danielle Smith in the running, this feels inevitable.
Currently, the United Conservative Party (UCP) members are preparing themselves for a new leadership vote. Tonight, Alberta’s new premier will be announced. Currently, there are three potential members of the party that are in the lead: Brian Jean, Danielle Smith, and Travis Toews. While it is difficult to predict who will win leadership races, Danielle Smith is still currently a viable option. Although many Albertans fear she would have a negative impact on the province, she’s still far too popular for comfort.
You may say that she’s just another candidate like all the rest. But, as a student who just survived a pandemic under UCP leadership, I cannot help but find myself worried about Smith being a successful candidate. Ultimately, Smith does not strike me as someone who would fix the issues Kenney created. In fact, she would likely add on to them.
The pandemic was hard on everybody, and students were no exception. People were separated from loved ones, students were forced into remote learning, and many lost their jobs. As well, the feelings of uncertainty that came with COVID-19 were overwhelming. Honestly, these stressors only worsened under the UCP government.
On top of the pandemic, students also suffered from the cutbacks Kenney and his government made. Since 2019-20, the provincial government cut 33 per cent of the University of Alberta’s Campus Alberta Grant, amounting to approximately $222 million. Rising tuition, on top of the frustration and isolation from the pandemic, have made it harder for students to focus on school. In short, Kenney and the UCP did no favours for students.
As a result, I’m nervous that someone like Danielle Smith could be the next person to take leadership. Smith values freedom in the form of her Alberta Sovereignty Act, a legislation that refuses federal laws that “negatively impact Alberta’s interests.” This is unconstitutional. You cannot ignore how the fundamental aspect of this act is to ignore federal law.
With a province deciding to supersede the power of the federal government, problems can arise. Trying to bypass federal legislation and ignore court rulings would ultimately be bad news for everyone involved, Albertans especially. The hostile nature of this act could hurt a lot of people, since Alberta would constantly be at odds with Ottawa. Ultimately, this would lead to political instability. People shouldn’t trust elected officials or political leaders that bypass any checks in power for their own gain.
The way the UCP acts is just a self fulfilling prophecy. Students get ignored, the UCP makes decisions against our interests, and we pay the price for it — rinse and repeat. Smith and her bill, would only be adding on to this long list of grievances. This bill is just a futile attempt to fight back against Ottawa, with no real chance of results.
Students would get caught in the crossfire, leaving us at an even greater disadvantage than we already are.
A conservative government is not sustainable for university students. But, a conservative government led by Danielle Smith would be the worst-case scenario. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the Alberta Sovereignty Act proposes to be nothing short of that.
This act aims to be a power grab and would be to the detriment of Albertans, especially students. Albertans should be weary of a possible Danielle Smith win tonight. No one has to toe the party line, especially if that party line does you absolutely no favours.