Alberta’s recent change from blue to orange will have a ripple effect for many organizations across the province – and the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association is already poised to make the most of the shake-up in the political sphere.
The NDP won 53 ridings in the recent Alberta election and 41 per cent of the popular vote. The NDP’s previous best showing in Alberta was in 1986, when the party took 16 seats. The Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta is now the official opposition, taking 21 seats, with the conservatives trailing at 10.
Tony Sykora, president of the ACSTA, said the association responded immediately to the provincial political shift.
On behalf of the ACSTA membership, Sykora said the association already sent letters of congratulations to each party leader and is following up by sending each a one-page letter to introduce them to the ACSTA. The communication will also provide facts about Catholic education, the importance of Catholic education as a choice for parents and that it is an important dimension of Alberta’s successful publicly-funded education system.
“This provides a great opportunity for ACSTA to contact new MLA’s to educate and inform them about the long history and value of Catholic education in Alberta and Canada,” Sykora said.
The ACSTA actively sought face-to-face meetings with key elected officials across the province to build relationships and express a willingness to work with government in providing Catholic education to those who desire an education based on the Gospel values of Jesus Christ.
In fact, Sykora said only two days after the election, the ACSTA made contact with Premier Rachel Notley and anticipates meeting with her in the next few weeks.
But even before the election was decided, many Catholic school boards and trustees were engaged with candidates during the campaign.
Sykora pointed to a questionnaire returned to the Edmonton Catholic School District by Alberta’s NDP party which includes a blunt show of backing for Catholic education. “We support publicly-funded Catholic schools,” the response reads, which Sykora said is an integral reply to an important question.
Indeed, education was a hot topic during Alberta’s election campaign. In fact, Notley’s party was calling for an additional $179 million to stabilize funding from kindergarten to Grade 12, as well as reducing classroom sizes.
For now, the association is focusing on that initial meeting with Notley and Sykora said ACSTA is looking forward to working with the new leadership.