As Albertans face an election later this month and the Conservative Party is seriously challenged by an even more conservative party, the Wildrose Party, we might stop for a moment and ask just how conservative Albertans really are. If the question pertains to social conservatism, the answer is not very.
Last November, a survey taken in Lethbridge by the Citizen Society Research Lab at Lethbridge College, indicated Albertans are a lot more socially progressive than they are socially conservative, and rapidly becoming more so. For example, 82.7 per cent of respondents favoured abortion choice, up from 73.3 per cent just two years ago. Even a majority of the "very religious" supported abortion choice. Gay marriage was supported by 69.6 per cent, up from 58.3 per cent two years ago. Doctor-assisted suicide was supported by 70.2 per cent. Lethbridge seems to have progressed well beyond its one-time reputation as a Bible belt city. Surveys in Calgary and Edmonton show even higher numbers on the progressive scale.
Quite aside from all the stats, in the last municipal election Calgarians chose the very progressive Naheed Nenshi as mayor. (I will tactfully avoid mentioning who Toronto elected.) And, of no small significance, the leaders of the two leading political parties are both women, so regardless of the election outcome we will have a woman premier.
It would seem that socially at least, Alberta is a rather progressive place. Now if we could just get over that addiction to dirty oil.