Why Do So Many People Vote Against Their Own Best Interest?

September 15, 2011 :: Rachel Notley
Moderated by Christina Cuthbertson

Alberta is facing many problems as the next boom approaches. Besides environmental and infrastructure challenges, it can be argued that this boom will once again benefit the wealthy and the larger corporations while most other people in Alberta will gain little in terms of quality lifestyle.

In the past, Alberta has witnessed many booms and busts, but still realized long-term growth in the size of the economy and a dramatic increase in wealth, particularly for well to do individuals and large multi-national corporations, who receive sizeable subsidies and pay little or, in some cases, no taxes. Quality of life indicators such as income security, personal disposable income, Food Bank non-dependency, housing affordability, leisure and family time, and educational attainment show that middle and low-income Albertans are struggling to keep the status quo and many are being left behind. Funding for health care, education and essential social services arguably suffer more at every bust cycle, begging the question: What is the Alberta Advantage?

That being said, who is to blame for this inequality? If governments act according to who elects them, it can be assumed that people vote against their own best interest since the overwhelming majority of us are in the middle to low-income bracket. The speaker will speculate on the causes of and remedies to such behaviour.

Speaker: Rachel Notley MLA

Rachel Notley grew up in Fairview, Alberta as one of three children born to former Alberta NDP leader Grant Notley and his wife Sandy. Rachel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of Alberta, and a law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School.

She was elected MLA for Edmonton Strathcona in the 2008 provincial election. Prior to being elected, Notley pursued a lengthy legal career focused on labour law, workers' compensation advocacy and workplace health and safety issues, including eight years in British Columbia.

In 2002, Notley returned to Edmonton and has since held positions with the National Union of Public and General Employees, Athabasca University, and as a labour relations officer with the United Nurses of Alberta. Rachel lives in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona neighbourhood, along with her husband Lou and their two children Ethan and Sophie.

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