April 3 2019 —
On April 16, just as students at the University of Calgary start writing their exams, Albertans will go to the polls to vote in the 2019 provincial election.
Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party are hoping to swing Alberta voters back to the right, while Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party wants to hold onto power. Either result is plausible.
This election is the first since 2015, the year that marked the end of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party’s dynastic, 44-year-long span as the head of the provincial government. That streak of 11 election wins was broken up by Notley and the NDP, who won a majority government in one of Canada’s most shocking provincial elections ever.
Alberta’s political landscape has shifted dramatically since then. The Progressive Conservatives and the opposition Wildrose Party merged to form the UCP to avoid splitting the vote on the right in future elections. Political hot topics over the past four years have typically landed at the intersection of economy and environment — economic diversification, pipeline construction and the carbon tax, to name a few.
Messaging about the election has been nearly impossible to avoid, whether it’s in the form of social media posts, attack ads or unsolicited texts from “Mary” from the UCP or “Ryan” from the NDP.
Much of the messaging we’ve seen so far has been heavily divisive and controversy abounds — particularly within the UCP, who recently dropped a candidate in Calgary for their leaked white nationalist text messages, as just one example. But as political messaging becomes more and more nebulous with each passing election, it’s important to make sure that we are critical and discerning about what we consume and why the parties are presenting it to us.
We want to make sure that U of C students are well-equipped to make an informed vote on April 16. In this issue, we interviewed five of the six candidates running for election in Calgary-Varsity, the riding in which the U of C’s main campus is situated. If you live on campus or in the surrounding student-centric communities like University Heights, Banff Trail or Charleswood, these are the candidates who will appear on your ballot.
For each candidate that we talked to, we asked the same prepared slate of questions, focusing on their stances on youth and student issues such as tuition, post-secondary funding for deferred maintenance and a variable minimum wage, as well as the general issues that they believe to be most important in this election. Read these interviews on pages 13–17. Additionally, our interviews with Jason Copping from the UCP and Anne McGrath from the NDP will air at 11 a.m. on CJSW 90.9 FM on Tuesday, April 9.
The Calgary-Varsity candidate who we don’t have an interview with in this issue is Christopher McAndrews of the Alberta Independence Party. You can find information about him online at albertaindependence.ca. If you reside outside of Calgary-Varsity, you can find information about your candidates via the official Elections Alberta website.
Beyond our candidate profiles, we have an overview of the election on page 11, where a U of C political scientist provides an overview on what they expect to see from this election.
One common thread in our interviews is that candidates say that this election is monumentally important for the future of this province. They’re right.
Be sure to take a little break from studying for your exams to cast an informed vote on April 16.
— Jason Herring, Gauntlet editor-in-chief
Read all of our candidate interviews here: