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Taking It to the Streets in Alberta

Here’s why I marched to protest UCP policies. And why I’ll keep marching.

Susan Jane Wright 30 May 2024The Tyee

Susan Jane Wright was a lawyer and an executive in the energy sector before she became a writer. Follow her work at Susan on the Soapbox, where this piece first appeared.

“Nothing is real that does not end on the streets. If tyrants feel no consequences for their actions in the three-dimensional world, nothing will change.”
— Timothy Snyder, historian

On Saturday we joined hundreds of Calgarians at the Enough Is Enough rally at city hall. It was one of eight rallies being held in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Sylvan Lake, Vermilion and Medicine Hat.

It was organized by Alberta Accountability Alliance, whose website says, “We believe in holding government accountable and advocating for the best interests of all citizens and the environment.”

The rally addressed a number of toxic and ill-conceived United Conservative Party policies including the attack on the rights of transgender youth, reorganizing Alberta Health Services, underfunding public education, ditching the Canada Pension Plan, allowing coal mining in the Rockies, kneecapping wind and solar energy and interfering with the decisions of local governments.

Not only are these policies cruel and divisive, they’re being rammed down our throats with no consultation, no transparency and no accountability.

It is no surprise that we’ve decided enough is enough.

As we mingled with the crowd, listened to the speeches and enjoyed the music, I was struck by a number of things.

Three more years

The next election is three years away. Think about that for a moment.

Danielle Smith and the UCP were elected in May 2023 and a year later their cruel and inept policies are driving thousands of Albertans to protest in the streets.

We’ve tried phoning and letter writing, but Smith and company aren’t listening when we tell them we don’t support what they’re doing.

So we’re taking it to the streets. Timothy Snyder calls this “corporeal politics” and encourages citizens to “put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.”

And yes, three years to the next election is a long time, but the upside is this gives us time to build a strong, resilient movement that will help push the UCP into the trash bin of history in 2027.

We are not alone

What made Saturday’s rally special was the fact (to use Snyder’s words) that we made new friends. This was a non-partisan event, a call for action that attracted a diverse group of Calgarians representing all segments of civil society. People we’d never met before were there with us united in a common cause.

From the minute we arrived and met the woman handing out signs from the trunk of her car to the minute we left with the family who, like us, was locked out of the parkade, the message was clear: We are not alone. Together we can get rid of the Alberta Agenda.

The zombie agenda

In 2001 former prime minister Stephen Harper and five of his acolytes spelled out the Alberta Agenda in a letter (the Firewall Letter) to then premier Ralph Klein, who, incidentally, was not foolish enough to adopt it.

The Alberta Agenda festered for 20 years, then rose like a zombie in 2021, all slicked up with a brand new name, and a brand new political party, the United Conservative Party, to carry it forward.

This time it stuck. And we’ve been paying the price in missed investment opportunities, underfunded and crumbling public services, and misery ever since.

The no-longer-conservative conservatives ran their experiment. It’s a disaster.

Now it’s time for anyone who is tired of right-wing economists, political scientists, CEOs and fringe leaders setting the agenda for Alberta to stand up for their values and demand better from their government.

That’s why my family and I will be attending future Enough Is Enough rallies. And if we miss one, we’ll attend the next one.

Because a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon is a small price to pay to protect our province from those determined to drag us back into the last century.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Alberta

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