By Cristina Paolozzi, November 29 2019—
How many times have you heard someone complaining about the United Conservative Party’s budget? If your answer is too many times to count, that should sound about right. Day after day, the news trickles in about which public services will be cut, how much more money students will have to pay or how many employees will be affected by the latest rounds of lay-offs. It’s easy to get tired and drained by this onslaught of nonsense. We all know it’s bad. We all know it’s unreasonable. But what do we do, particularly as students? Between multiple jobs, student loans, full-time classes and probably a bunch of other extra-curriculars, it’s not uncommon to find individuals hustling in an attempt to boost their resumes. With so little time and energy, there’s barely any left to give when it comes to organizing, let alone organizing effectively.
What can I say, The Man’s got me down. Big time.
What infuriates me the most are the individuals who are attempting to work alongside this government as if they can be reasoned with, as if they have demonstrated that they are at all responsive to student issues or willing to listen to student voices at all. I’ve tried to remain pretty well neutral through all this, wanting to hear both sides and find the truth in the middle. The truth is that if you keep allowing bologna to exist, it will eventually be seen as legitimate. There comes a time when you have to make a decision and take a side. I love the middle. The middle row in a lecture hall, the middle part of a jelly-filled doughnut, the very centre of a trampoline which gives the most bounce. Politically, the middle can be a dangerous spot to exist. Usually I enjoy a bit of banter, but in terms of Kenney’s UCP government, I am absolutely sick of trying to hear the other side when attempting to figure out what they’re going to do next.
I am just about ready to call for Joker-style anarchy in the streets of Edmonton. But I know that’s inciting violence, so we should probably just avoid that. And anyway, what does violence get us? What should we do, then? It doesn’t freaking matter, as long as you do something. Write, sing, act, dance, protest, make a poster, call your MLA, tie yourself to a tree, tie yourself to a pole, sit on the ground in front of fat-cat businessmen and never move, show up to picket lines, join a union — hurry, they’re going fast — take your horse to the old-town road and ride until you can’t no more — what is the difference! I’m certainly no expert in political movements, however, in my personal and most humble opinion, doing anything is better than doing nothing at all.
If you voted for this government expecting meaningful change, you’re naïve. Not only has Kenney engaged in suspicious activities such as firing the election commissioner, but he’s also defended the decision as well, on the basis that it’ll save money. Huh? If you voted for this government for the purposes of attempting to bring back a dead oil boom, you’re delusional. While the energy sector has taken heavy hits in the past couple of years due to falling oil prices, the proposed tax cuts in some places and tax increases in other places — namely with regard to tuition — will only benefit the billionaires. If you voted for this government hoping to quash any fundamentalist “dirty hippies” who want to demolish borders and raise taxes, you belong to a generation no one should be listening to anymore. This one is just a personal dig, I’ll admit to that. If you voted for this government because that’s who was going to win anyway, you’re spineless. Speak out and get informed, it’s not useless to vote against a perceived majority, even if you’re struggling between voting for two different parties. And if you didn’t vote at all, you don’t deserve to take part in this conversation. Full stop.
The choice that we’ve made as a province is hurting instead of helping. It isn’t about affordability, it isn’t about maintaining our jobs, it isn’t even about having a voice in the West that can compete with the major Liberal sentiments in Québec and Ontario. We’ve moved far beyond making any lasting improvements to our province and hopefully, Kenney’s government will be remembered for attempting to dismantle us, rather than bring us together. The fact that “Wexit” is a thing, and something people are talking about legitimately is both parts extremely stupid and extremely scary. I only hope we see this government for what it really is — manipulative, unwieldy and in it for themselves.
This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.