After yesterday's provincial election here in Alberta, I am closer to understanding what it must feel like to be a Maldivian in this era of rising sea levels.
I knew that by virtue of living and working in Edmonton's Old Strathcona neighbourhood, my existence in this province was mostly constrained to the bubble of Alberta's "liberal oasis". In this area of town, almost everyone seems to be on the center-left side of the political spectrum. Before the election, NDP signs were ever present throughout the Garneau and Old Scona neighbourhoods, and indeed, our NDP candidate Rachel Notley took the seat with almost double the amount of votes as the second place Conservative Party candidate. It's hard to imagine that the Conservative-dominated legislature is just on the other side of the North Saskatchewan river - about a kilometer away.
But if you start to move outwards from my riding in any direction, the prevailing political attitudes start to shift to the right. I noticed this while watching the CBC's interactive flash player map of the city during the election coverage. Each riding was coloured-in with the shade of the winning political party. There was Strathcona in the middle of town, saturated in NDP orange. Surrounding this riding on the North West are three ridings coloured in Liberal red, and another NDP orange riding just above that. Effectively, the center of Edmonton went orange and red, but surrounding that is a deep dark sea of Conservative blue, a blue that represents more than 37 years of neoconservative, right wing, social-spending-slashing blue; a blue that conveys the secretive nature of the Energy and Utility Board, which spied on farmers concerned about plans to build power lines on their lands; a blue that connotes the Premier who decided to sue a poor university student for having bought the URL edstelmach.ca; a blue which represents a failing environmental and royalty scheme which will see the expansion of the tar sands - the largest industrial project in the world (and one of the worst emitters of CO2 and pollution on our fragile planet); and a blue which reminds me of a drunken alcoholic Premier who stumbled into a homeless shelter and humiliated the very people who's poverty he had only helped to secure.
Yet despite having been lied to, spied on, cheated on, and left to their own devices for 37 years, 41% of Albertans decided to elect - for an 11th consecutive time - the very bastards who have been doing all the lying and cheating. This has been the lowest voter turnout in the history of the province, and astonishingly, contrary to many pre-election predictions, the conservatives have gained an even stronger position in the provincial legislature, with the NDP losing half of its existing seats, and the liberals losing 7 of their 16 previous seats to the conservatives.
So here we go again - another 4 years of a bad deal. At this rate, this liberal oasis I am currently sitting on - this island of orange and red - will soon sink into the rising blue sea. It's time to light a flare in the hopes of being saved. Or perhaps, like the Maldivians, I should join a coalition of small island states.