Drug use, taxes, wokeness — young UCP voters cite election priorities

Danielle Smith addresses a crowd of supporters during a rally on May 25th, 2023 (Clayton Keim / The Press)

Inside of a tent perched on the outskirts of the Grey Eagle Casino, Danielle Smith gave a speech to an energetic crowd of supporters promising “reduced taxes,” “gang suppression units that go after guns and fentanyl,” and a “25 per cent seniors discount on personal registry services.”

Smith ended the event with a call for voters to “choose between the NDP’s campaign of negativity and fear, or the UCP’s campaign of positivity and hope for the future.”

Held four days before the election, the event served as a rallying cry to the UCP’s core demographic of Albertans aged 40 and over.

Although older voters made up the majority of the crowd, there were a number of younger people present.

“Public transport [and] the drug crisis, that’s a big thing for me,” said 16-year-old Ian Pollett. “I’ve been taking public transport to school for a while, and seeing all the homeless people doing heroin, crystal meth, and all that stuff just concerns me and makes me scared.

“I feel like Danielle Smith is going to do an amazing job counteracting the drug crisis and getting people off the street and getting them the help they need, instead of what Rachel Notley is planning on doing, giving them free drugs and naloxone kits and all that stuff.”

According to new data published by the Angus Reid Institute, younger voters will play a critical role in the Alberta election. While younger voters have historically supported the NDP, they are also the least likely to turn out to vote.

In the 2019 election, voters between the ages of 18 to 24 had a 53.9 per cent turnout. Voters between the ages 65 and 74 had the highest turnout at 79.1 per cent.

“Conservatism is something that all the cool young kids are doing. I’m a member of the queer community, I don’t care. It’s hip to be square, and we just love being conservative,” said Rio Aiello, another young voter in attendance. “I just think we’re moving away from George Bush-style politics and more to Donald Trump style. It’s not about being a businessman; it’s about being a rock star, and the rock stars today are not the left, it’s the right.

Angelica Toy, aged 21, said that, “I’m going through the university system right now, and I’ve noticed a huge change in how they’re pushing the woke agenda and stuff. I’ve noticed a huge destruction that’s come upon our country. As a Christian, I find a lot of policies are now infringing on Christian values and the traditions that we’ve all come to appreciate in Canada.

“We’re a place of God and country, and they’re trying to make us into a place of immorality and maddening God.”

About Clayton Keim 7 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Clayton Keim is working as a writer for The Press in 2023.