Opinion: Stop letting Albertans over 40 decide the future of our province

Apr 15 2019, 11:45 pm

Written for Daily Hive by Andrew Phung, a born and raised Calgarian. He is a Canadian actor and comedian, and currently stars as “Kimchee” on CBC’s hit TV show Kim’s Convenience.

Imagine the most important decision you’ll ever make. For me, it was questions like, “should I pursue acting and comedy full time or do my MBA?” For others, it might revolve around having kids or travelling the world.

Now imagine asking your grandparents to decide. I hope you like Vietnamese soap operas because my grandparents are all up in those.

When polls open tomorrow, Albertans will collectively face one of the most important decisions in generations. The average Albertan is 37.9 years old. If you’re older than that, you’re probably already a voter. If you’re younger than that, ask yourself one question: do you trust older people to decide what direction Alberta will take?

“Young people don’t vote.” It’s about as much of a cliche as “millennials sure love avocado toast.” There are good reasons for that. Avocado toast is hella delicious. Young people live incredibly busy lives. And every election, older voters turn out in droves.

If you’ve been hearing anything at all about this campaign, you’ve probably heard radically different ideas about where Alberta needs to go. You might know about RCMP investigations. I ain’t saying anyone’s guilty. I’m just saying that’s a legit thing happening right now.

Whatever your political leanings, the differences come down to the most fundamental questions about who we are as Albertans.

Some know women have the right to choose. Others have ties to organizations who want to pass pro-life legislation. Some want gay-straight-alliances primarily to be about kids. Others want private religious schools and parents to determine whether a GSA actually forms.

It goes beyond social issues. Some candidates see climate change as a hoax, others see it as our biggest threat and opportunity. Some candidates believe in trickle-down economics, others believe you need to build supports for young people. Some think everyone deserves the same minimum wage, others think your employees should be able to pay some people less.

Then we have the economy, education, and health care. There is so much at stake here!

The platforms and basic assumptions differ widely. There’s a good chance that you and your grandparents don’t see eye to eye. Older voters are more likely to be locked into a party, and, historically speaking, more likely to vote conservative.

The future of Alberta could be determined by a few hundred ballots. In the 2015 election, Calgary-Glenmore was literally a tie on election night. I’m not kidding — after two recounts, the winning MLA won by just six votes. SIX votes! That’s the Backstreet Boys plus their one friend who wasn’t in the band but just kind of hung out with them.

You can fit more people into a minivan. If you haven’t voted before, it’s worth taking the time to cram yourself into that Honda Odyssey and head to the polling station.

This election campaign is already different than past votes. Nearly 700,000 Albertans cast their ballots over five days of advance polls last week, smashing records for early turnout. That’s nearly half the total turnout from the 2015 election. Yo, we’re straight up crushing it!

It’s a good sign for younger people, who are often too busy to find their polling station or mail an absentee ballot. New rules this year made voting easier. Advance polls were brought to more than a hundred more locations, including work camps, post-secondary campuses, rec centres, malls, and airports.

You may have missed the advance ballot. That’s okay. Maybe you’ve never voted before and don’t know what ID to bring. You don’t even need a driver’s licence. You just need one piece of official mail with your address and an ID with your name on it. You can vote with a bank statement and your debit card.

You can find your local polling station in less than a minute on the Elections Alberta website.

The average age of Albertans is 37.9 years old. If you’re younger than that, you will live with the consequences of this decision far longer than the older people who, for some, already made up their minds months ago.

Imagine the most important decision you’ll ever make. Don’t leave it up to your grandparents!

I’m a Calgary kid born and raised. I love this city and province. I hear and understand the frustrations that many Albertans have. I also see and am blown away by the amazing things happening in our province.

Regardless of what you believe in, and whichever party you support (and you don’t need to support any one party!), you NEED to vote. Go make a plan to vote. And add your voice to the future of Alberta.

Not to sound cheesy, but the decision we make on Tuesday will affect the years to come.

Polls are open from 9 am to 8 pm on Tuesday, April 16. Click here to find out where to vote.

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