Educational Issues of Current Concern

Making Democracy Work for Alberta’s Future

Political engagement does not require a lot of time and money. By becoming politically engaged with the party of your choice, you can help determine the conditions under which you teach and your students learn. Perhaps most importantly, your engagement will help demonstrate to them through personal example the values of citizenship and democracy.

Participating in a Political Party

Political parties are the foundation of a functioning democracy. Alberta has nine registered political parties, four of which are represented in the 26th Alberta Legislature. They are the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, the Alberta Liberal Party, the Alberta New Democratic Party and the Alberta Alliance Party.

Joining a party offers you many opportunities and privileges. It makes you eligible to elect your party’s leader – who may turn out to be the next premier of Alberta. In 2004, both the Alberta Liberals and the New Democrats selected new leaders, and it is anticipated that the Progressive Conservatives will do the same in the next year or two. Sometimes, these leadership votes can be as important as an actual general election. In 1992, for example, the Progressive Conservative members’ choice of Ralph Klein as party leader meant that he also became the next provincial premier.

Joining a party gives you the right to attend policy conventions, which is another way of helping shape the future of the province. Government legislation often finds its roots in party policies. At conventions and other parties meetings such as Annual General Meetings (AGMs), you will also have an opportunity to meet and influence Alberta’s current and aspiring lawmakers. Becoming a party member is also crucial to gaining the contacts and the knowledge necessary to running for office yourself.

Last but not least, participating in a political party can be genuinely exciting – no more so than during the high-stakes, high-pressure environment of an election campaign

There are very few requirements made of aspiring party members. You must pay a membership fee. These vary, and at certain times in Alberta history, parties have even waived fees altogether. You will pay no more than $20 annually, and possibly as little as $5. You must be a resident of Alberta. However, you do not have to be a citizen of Canada.

Once you become a member, you will be notified of all important party events, such as conferences, conventions, AGMs and leadership races. These events are usually only open to members. However, if you are not yet a member, you can usually buy a membership at the event.

Now is the best time to get involved. Between elections you have the best opportunities to secure an influential position in a political party and make a difference. There might well be another election as early as 2006.