Top 5 reasons voters are undecided
Why are so many voters still undecided or apathetic about their election choice on March 3?
We set out to find the top five reasons Albertans may not cast a ballot.
1. No time and not informed
The majority of voters we talked to are undecided because they feel they're not well-informed. They say they're too busy to follow daily campaign announcements and don't have the time to sift through complicated policies. They say they want an easier and faster way to get informed about the parties and their leaders.
Does this sound like you? If so, you’re in luck. Here are five easy steps towards an informed decision.
Have a minute?
1. Leaders 101.
Read the leaders' biographies for a quick summary of their background.
Have 2 minutes?
2. Get Personal
We posed pointed questions to the leaders to get to know them better.
Have 5 minutes?
3. Promise Tracker
Use our handy tracking page to see what the parties are offering in one easy-to-read page. It’s faster than making a cup of coffee.
Have 10 minutes?
4. Catch up on the campaign
Watch and listen to our TV and radio stories. Pick and choose what interests you.
Now that you’re informed, join the debate in your riding. Read what your neighbours think -- they just might help you decide.
2. Broken promises
Some undecided voters told us none of the parties truly follow through with their campaign promises.
"I can’t see any difference between any of the parties," said Vicki Pay, a landowner and full-time mother from Tomahawk, a hamlet north of Drayton Valley. "They all make promises and never keep them. They are more concerned with their own agendas than they are with the province."
Other undecided voters said they feel even those elected as opposition change their stances to suit what is politically popular. They cited health care, education and seniors care as areas where they’ve felt let down by all parties.
We looked into some of the promises made to see if it’s
a fair criticism.
Your View: What broken promise has led to your indecision or apathy?
1. Seniors' property taxes
For years, Alberta's Progressive Conservatives promised to eliminate the education portion of seniors’ property taxes. In this election, they're pledging to not eliminate it but rather to freeze it at 2004 levels for at least the next five years. The Alberta Liberals called this a broken Tory promise with a sharply worded news release: "The truth is that the Stelmach government has let seniors down, time and time again."
- Stelmach promises tax relief for seniors
Liberals promise seniors lower taxes, utility savings
In his 2006 Tory leadership campaign, Ed Stelmach promised to develop a policy to ensure that the raw bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands is processed in the province. Stelmach compared exporting it before upgrading to "a farmer selling off his topsoil."
But on Feb. 22, the third pipeline in the last six months received regulatory approval. The $2-billion Alberta Clipper oil pipeline will export up to 450,000 barrels of bitumen daily to the U.S. This is in addition to the $5.2-billion Keystone Pipeline approved in September and the $2.2-billion Southern Lights project approved in February.
- Enbridge gets approval for $2B Alberta Clipper pipeline
- Bitumen will always leave Alberta: Stelmach
- Former premier says bitumen should stay in Alberta
Stelmach: Will Honest Ed keep his promises?
3. Moratorium on oilsands
In February 2007, Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason called on Ralph Klein, then Alberta premier, for a moratorium on all new oilsands projects "until a public commission has investigated all aspects and recommended a comprehensive strategy to deal with the effects, including greenhouse gas emissions." The NDP has quietly changed its position to a more centrist view, calling for a "slowdown" in oilsands development.
4. Carbon Capture
The Alberta Liberals have been staunchly opposed to carbon capture, calling it "an exotic solution" that wasn’t reliable enough to reduce Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions. In its election platform, the party is now promising to "implement appropriate financial and economic incentives to develop carbon capture and storage technology."
carbon capture make us green?
Edmonton AM | Feb. 20, 2008
CBC Radio's Mark Harvey tells us about the technology behind carbon capture. (Runs 6:34)
- $2B carbon capture and storage plan released
Votes 2008 Promise tracker
5. Auto Insurance
The Alberta Liberals have also changed their position on automobile insurance. During the 2004 election, they advocated for a publicly run auto insurance system. In this election campaign, however, they're not taking a position except to say that they would like to "study" whether the public or private system is better. The NDP, which supports a public system, accused Kevin Taft’s Liberals of "flip-flopping" on the issue.
- Government confident about insurance cap appeal
- Alberta insurance cap on soft-tissue injuries struck down
- Promise tracker
Undecided voters also cited a lack of trust as their reason for still being on the fence. They told us the provincial government cannot be trusted to look out for average Albertans or to make the best use of their hard-earned tax dollars. "The government needs to stand up for the farmers," said Rod Giese, a 42-year-old farmer from Stony Plain. "We can’t trust them to look out for our needs."
Many said they're cynical about lobbying and political favours that are exchanged behind closed doors after the spotlight of the campaign has faded away.
man in Washington left with $105K
call for new conflict rules over old contract
- Premier pushes Alberta lobbyist registry
4. Lack of excitement & leadership
Alberta politics is just not that interesting – not interesting enough to vote, that is. That’s the fourth reason we heard that's keeping Albertans from stampeding to the ballot box.
"My son knows more about [U.S. Democratic candidate Barack] Obama than our own provincial election," one voter said.
Others said it’s not exciting because there’s a lack of leadership and not a clear leader to vote for.
"I think for me, we haven’t really gotten a full thing about what Ed Stelmach’s all about and we’re a little bit worried to see what he has to offer and he hasn’t really been in power long enough for us to really see,” said Jamal Ferris, 28, who works for Telus.
5. My voice doesn’t matter
"It’s the general apathetic nature of Canadian society. A lot of people don’t care because they don’t think that anything is going to be changed," remarked James Vanderhoug, 33, who lives in Edmonton. Cynical voters said they felt the government is not representing the majority of the population, and that it implements policies despite loud opposition from Albertans.
1. Bill 46
Bill 46, which was pushed through in a marathon legislative session, angered many farmers who felt the law limited the right of landowners to have a say in energy developments affecting their land.
"It is big concern for farmers," said Rod Giese from Stony Plain. “We should have more say on what happens on our land, because it’s ours not theirs."
- CBC Radio's Tim Adams reports on the changing rural support (Runs 6:21)
- Marathon legislative session breaks record
- Legislature rally by landowners (Runs 1:45)
- Minister Knight media scrum Nov. 29, 2007 (Runs 5:58)
- Bill 46 changes
2. Tuition secrecy
In 2006, the provincial government proposed and passed legislation allowing the education minister to increase tuition fees without going through the legislature and without limits, despite strong student and opposition MLA protests. The opposition called it “an affront to democracy” and student groups labeled it “undemocratic.” As an election promise, the Stelmach Conservatives are putting limits on their own bill, promising to cap tuition increases to inflation and rolling it back to 2004 levels.
- Promise Tracker – All party positions on tuition
- Education bill takes controls off tution fees: Opposition
- Fight to kill Bill 40 fails to stop its passing
- Regulated tuition policy by fall
- Bill 40: Post-secondary learning amendment act, 2006
- News Release:Legislation paves way for new tuition fee policy
3. Health care
Ralph Klein successfully kept his most famous campaign promise to get Alberta out of debt. But opposition parties and advocacy groups argue that was done at a cost to vital public services, leaving Alberta with a weak health-care system and social services.
In 2005, Klein tried to introduce "third way" private health care. Angry Albertans protested so loudly the government was forced to back away.
- Alberta backs away from 'Third Way' health reforms
- Alberta's private health care bill proclaimed
- Critics denounce Alberta's private health care bill
6. What's your reason?
Why are so many voters still undecided or apathetic about their election choice on March 3? We set out to find the top five reasons Albertans may not cast a ballot. Listen to a few of the voices we heard.
- Do you relate to any of these reasons?
- Is there another reason you're undecided or apathetic?