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UCP Nomination and Voting

Lisa Sygutek

Mar 15, 2023

The UCP nomination is over and I want to comment on the process of the voting rather than the winner.

I will preface this with the fact that I have been a Returning Officer in two municipal elections, long before I decided to run for Council, so I think I can safely comment on the procedure here in the Crowsnest Pass.

I have been a card-carrying conservative my entire adult life. When I was in university, I was part of the young conservative organization. I believe in the party, well the party I used to know and understand, and I must tell you I don’t understand this party anymore.

My first experience with the new Livingstone-Macleod Constituency Association (CA) was at the Annual General Meeting a few months ago. I was excited to see how this CA ran and where it was heading. What I experienced was basically a take-over by the ‘Take Back Alberta’ (TBA) faction. 

There was a list of candidates running for the CA Board. As the nominations opened up from the floor there was an abundance of people putting up their hands to run. More than I’ve ever seen in a CA nomination. It was bizarre. There was honestly a sense of extreme hostility in the room. It felt like a coup. After the Board elections, I found out that around 80 percent of the Board had been replaced and many of the new Board members were a faction of the TBA group.

I must tell you that I love Alberta and I love Canada. There is no way I want our province to leave federation. I think that we must have a strong voice, we must fight for our place in Confederation, however I do not want to leave my country to do so. 

I left that meeting with an extremely bad taste in my mouth. 

From that meeting was the nomination process for the next UCP candidate for Livingstone-Macleod.

I have to say that the campaigning for the position also left a bad taste in my mouth. There was a lot of vitriol going around and again a sense of anger with a touch of separation sentiment. 

On election day, I was dismayed to see that there was only a two-hour window in which to vote, and the venue was at the Coleman Seniors’ Centre. It’s a beautiful centre, but way too small to host an election.

When I arrived, people were all over the place, to the point that it was chaotic. We were told to bring a piece of identification, mainly your drivers’ licence, and you could vote. What they didn’t say was the if your membership papers didn’t have your physical address on it, you needed a second set of papers with your physical address on it. How hard is it to send people a notice that says VERY clearly to bring two pieces of ID. It’s pretty easy to email UCP members; they email me weekly for donations. 

Apparently, I wasn’t the first to miss the memo because eventually most people needed to go into two line ups, line ups that were out the door, because their physical address was not noted in the paperwork the party has for membership.

I persevered, and 20 minutes later, was able to vote. Many were turned away and told to go home and get the proper papers (not nicely I may add). The problem is that the window was only two hours. To add to the chaos the WIFI was sporadic and so you had to wait while they tried to hook up to check if they had your physical address. 

Also, the man running the show was incredibly rude. I witnessed him loudly telling people to leave. The funny part is that the same people denied the vote in the Crowsnest Pass for lack of ID, were able to vote in Pincher Creek without their ID. 

I’m embarrassed by how the process was handled. People who were denied, people outside the building were asking me for help. I’m assuming because I was a Returning Officer for them in the past and a Councillor here in the community. I can tell you there was no helping the cluster of a mess that took place that day.

The UCP should be embarrassed by how they handled this nomination election. They put into place the process and the people running it, and they should do better. If you can’t run a nomination election properly, how in the heck are you going to run this province properly.

Never in my 32 years of being able to vote have I been so let down by a system.

It’s a lack of communication, it’s a lack of procedure, and it’s a lack of common sense. 

I have voiced my concerns about my party and this TBA faction, and I seem to hear a similar statement that many of us can no longer relate to where this party is headed, especially in this provincial constituency.

I now feel I am in a space where I have nowhere to go. I will never vote NDP, so what then are my options? I will be looking at the platform of the Alberta Party. Perhaps it will resonate with me. I like to see myself as a fiscally conservative and socially liberal. I’m not a socialist, which is what I see in the NDP, but neither am I a militant separatist which is how I’m seeing a good faction of the UCP heading. 

I’m sad. Sad that my party is fractured by an extreme right conservative group and people like me who are moderate are left bereft. 

I’m sad that I feel I can’t support a party I so loved. 

I’m sad that if we vote for the Alberta Party it splits the conservative vote and opens the door for the NDP to perhaps win. 

I’m just sad with the state of political affairs in this province and this country. 

I had so much hope four years ago when we united.

I did not back Danielle Smith, I really wanted Travis Towes to win. That said, I am surprisingly content with Premier Smith on many fronts as the leader, but I am very worried the TBA has now become most of my party. 

Remember, when you make promises to get elected, eventually you will be expected to tow the line. 

Only 1,346 people in our provincial constituency who held memberships voted. That says a lot. Are people apathetic or are they as disenfranchised as I am. I guess we will see in the provincial election in May. All I know is unless the party changes dramatically within, this could spell trouble for the UCP as we get closer to the day.

If you are wondering what the TBA means, I suggest you google Professor Duane Bratt, PhD and listen to his video. He explains the faction better than I ever could. 

I’ve been so upset I have talked friends who have been in the political game for many years. 

This was their response: “many people feel the way you do. Perhaps we can get some veteran politicians to speak up for the mainstream folks like you. That may involve writing columns and reassuring residents as an attempt to offset the TBA influence”. 

From my recent conversations with many of the party faithfuls, many of them identify as fiscally conservative and socially liberal. My worry is that the TBA is so ingrained in the UCP that there is no place for mainstream folk like me, and that breaks my heart.

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