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Several editorials over the past few weeks have discussed how low the energy has felt around this election race.   After the writ was dropped, much was made over the fact that for the first time in many years, a large number of voters would be going into this campaign undecided as to who they would vote for.  Three weeks in, the “undecided” segment of the population remains undecided, and all parties are concerned about the potential impact of a low turnout at the polls.
It’s not really difficult to understand why many voters are feeling too overwhelmed to fully engage in the political process.  Sometimes just living in this Alberta can seem like a full time job:  Our cities are well over capacity and our infrastructure is in crisis; Childcare is both unavailable and unaffordable; Quality of life is declining while the cost of living is on a constant increase. 

While the hum of this election goes on around us, we are re focusing on paying our bills, and looking after our families.  
The danger of an overwhelmed electorate is that it’s easy for big decisions to sneak through without the right questions being asked until it’s too late.  We’re witnessing that right now, in the discussions about royalty rates that have made up such a large part of the discourse this election.  A hodgepodge of deals were made several decades ago, and only after Albertans lost over a billion dollars in oil and gas revenue did the Conservative government, who made the deals in the first place, even initiate their flawed plan to re-evaluate the system.
This same government is now making hundreds of billions of dollars worth of similarly bad deals across the province, by way of privatizing public assets. And – just like with lost oil and gas revenues – the true cost of these deals might not be known for generations, because these are private business arrangements.  This keeps citizens unable to learn the logistic and financial details that have been agreed to on their behalf.
What we do know is this: the Stelmach government has signed on to allow private financing and major maintenance of 32 schools in Edmonton and Calgary.  This means that the government is squandering the borrowing rates available to the province of Alberta, thereby wasting assets that could enable the building of even more schools.  This also means that when something major goes wrong with the schools in question, we’re going to have to rely on multinational corporations to get around to doing the repairs.

When CUPE issued a report that demonstrated that these things, the government declined to even read it. 
Maybe they feel they can count on a beleaguered populace to not make them accountable for this plan. Maybe they felt like parents are so desperate for new schools they won’t care that they are getting fewer of them for more money and less transparency.  Maybe they feel that – much like the architects of the early royalty arrangements – they’ll have long retired before they can be taken to task for what they’ve done. 
It would be nice if they were proven wrong. Because if their gamble pays off, and they’re able to keep voters from asking too many questions about these deals, they might just get themselves re-elected.

It will be our kids who pay for this.   They’ll be attending schools that rely on overseas businesses to keep the heaters working. They’ll be footing the tax bill that ensures private profit. 
And in several elections, they’ll be where we are now.  Shaking their heads at a missed opportunity for public investment, and wondering how it was that big business was able to take control of something that should have belonged to all Albertans in the first place.