I'm a full time organizer for IBEW local 424 in Edmonton Alberta. We are the eighth largest IBEW in the world and the second largest in Canada, with 7500 members strong. I read your article ("Solidarity in Diversity, " April 29 – May 5, 2010) and I could relate to it very much. With 7500 members we have a very low member participation rate, for example we would only get about to 200 show up to a monthly meeting.
I struggle each day trying to unionize non-union contractors, and inform and educate younger workers. Being only 34 I find the trend of activism does seem to be growing with people under the age of 35—I won't use the word "youth" I think it doesn't properly define the demographic. It was nice to see an article about unions and solidarity in a paper for a change.
POWER IS WRONG
In her Vuepoint ("Democracy is Choice," April 29 – May 5, 2010), Power suggests that what Albertans need is "a greater diversity of representation not loss of choice." But the choice Albertans need to make is whether they want to ensure [sic] the continued rule of a right-wing government or coalesce to create the potential of a government with different values.
Power is simply wrong when she says that "Liberals are not New Democrats and New Democrats are not Liberals." Realism has caused many former New Democrat supporters, to join the Liberal party. Unsurprisingly most of the policies of these two parties are similar. It's time for progressives in Alberta to get serious, to admit their fortress mentalities have handed the province over to right-wing nutcases.
Co-Chair, Alberta Democratic Renewal Project, Edmonton Chapter
POWER IS RIGHT
In her Vuepoint ("Democracy is Choice," April 29 – May 5, 2010), Power poked some holes in the arguments presented by the Democratic Renewal Project. Despite the hard work of supporters, neither the Liberals or the NDP have proven that their parties have the ability to connect with Albertans outside already supportive urban enclaves. Perhaps the problem is not competition for votes, but that neither of the parties are seen as viable alternatives to the governing PCs? This is likely why we have seen people migrate to newer parties like the Wildrose Alliance and the re-branded Alberta Party.
With declining voter turnout and a growing disconnect between citizens and the democratic process, the solution should be to provide more opportunities for meaningful engagement. Decreasing choice of candidates and limiting the opportunity for already engaged citizens to participate in the democratic system by running as candidates in their communities is not the smart choice.