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November 29, 2019
I've written a few lines here and there about personal indecisiveness when it comes to separation talks.
I am a real Alberta patriot who lived here most of my life and loved the province dearly. Just like many others, I went through severe changes in the last couple of years and got beaten down to the ground by the rapid changes in economy and politics around the private business.
On the other hand, I love Canada and traveled through it many times. I saw good and evil in my travels, everywhere I went. Mostly, good. I made great friendships with kind, honest, smart people in every province. It hurts to realize tables turned dramatically, and one of the best countries got torn at the stems.
Many would admit they are in the same boat. The change is always frightening and not necessarily accepted by all. But in civilized society, the changes can be stripped of the fear factor through being faced in a refined way. That way is the open referendum to have the majority decide the future of this province.
We should live by the rules of majority, folks. That is the only way to get along. That's where the arguments stop. Walking away from that classic, historically proven to be the fairest way of settling the disputes, was the reason for the ongoing "divide" happening in this great country over the last decade.
There are multiple parties, social media groups, and just as many opinions by those who have greater access to MSM and hold power, dumped on the average folk today.
Founders of such parties are self-appointed individuals, without a solid track of being able to lead the group and fight for the interests of that group. I am not entirely dismissing their capabilities to do so, but it will take a lot of time. Time has always been the ally of politics in this country. But now it became the luxury that none of us can afford anymore.
From the perspective of the fairness of defining the eligibility to vote, - once these parties become federal, as they all seem to head towards that direction, they will take the ability to vote on the topic of provincial matter from many eligible voters. Elections Canada lists citizenship as the primary qualification for voting.
I know some permanent residents from Europe and other parts of the world who lived here for many years, paid local taxes, participated in the growth of the local economy. They should have the voice in this referendum, too. It is silly to assume they have to have citizenship to vote on the future of their province. Maybe, it is the federal politics that prevented them from applying for that citizenship?
Further, - the Clarity Act does not clarify much when it comes to debating if the separation can go through painlessly and what is required to enter the process. Though ordered by the Supreme Court, the federal politicians never revisited the topic of the provincial referendum's majority.
What to do?
Go back to the basics of civilized society and hold that referendum already, regardless of the criticism that Kenney's government receives from both the opposition and insiders. Jason Kenney is still the Premier, and this is his chance to prove his commitment to the province and in the way that is less challenging, as many would think.
It is essential to proceed with the referendum as soon as possible, as tensions continue to rise, and the possibility of the civil unrest becomes less of fiction. Critics cite the lack of funds to conduct the vote and the absence of eligibility criteria.
The good news is that there are ways for making the referendum happen, and they are not your traditional ballot casting. The following is just a suggestion which I hope will open the door for further product development. Someone has to start somewhere, right?
Everyone who has ever been issued a driver's license or an ID card in Alberta is considered an Alberta resident. Since the topic of the referendum represents the provincial matter, this simple fact sets the path to defining the qualifying criteria for the voter with ease.
When Calgary Mayor N.Nenshi allowed himself to share his view of "Wexit" as idiotic in front of the surrounding media, he provoked the same epithets directed at himself. There are knowledgeable, well respected, and very involved with the community professionals who support the idea of the separation. So no favor was done by labeling them "idiots" for trying to view the possibility of this option.
At the same time, Nenshi did create a backdoor for himself admitting that the movement to separate had rooted from the intense feelings of alienation throughout the province.
That example of two sides of the issue presented by one person clearly illustrates what is going on here. That is even before we go through the platforms of some of the mushroom style popping parties promising changes. I have expressed my opinion in regards to the parties before. I do not see a valid point in creating yet another political force, which will attribute to nothing more but further division and other promises that will remain just that - promises.
The system that currently holds this information is the ROADS (formerly, MOVES), accessible by any Registry Agent in Alberta. Like any database, it can provide stat values such as length of possession of the ID issued in Alberta.
This method reasonably sets the qualifying length of residence criteria at four years. Since the learner's permit can be issued at 14, and the existing voting policies still set the age of the eligibility at 18, four years will be the bottom reasonable minimum. This time frame sits nicely at all angles - the voter must spend a fair amount of time in this province.
The above is not a completely foolproof method, as will be described below, but it is a start. Generated by the system, the list of the eligible voters based on the four-year criteria will provide a good idea of anticipated voters pool.
The second step of the criteria should be proof of tax filing in the province. Here the process can get a little complicated, but not to the extent of becoming unmanageable. Proof of filing is essential since it does justify the right of the voter to participate in a discussion that imminently includes the economic future of the province.
I am not an IT guru. Still, I do know that the two systems - the provincial vital stats and tax information can be factored together into the eligibility formula without many costs.
I would not object to being proven wrong. It could only be for the ultimate benefit for all involved, from the strictly opposing to the actively supporting the idea of separation.
The action is needed. Somehow we do need to settle the issue and stop the speculations and vagueness in general understanding of the core of the movement to separate.
We have an excellent example of Quebec with its referendum question and the confusion it created, to know what not to do to speed up the process of defining which direction to go.
Do you want to separate from Canada? Yes/No. End of story.