COMMENTARY: After growing up in southern New Mexico and El Paso, Texas for most of my life, due to a bad economy in Las Cruces and my urge for an adventure, back in January of 2014 I decided to pack my things and move to Calgary, Alberta, in Canada. Other than the shock of coming from a place that’s sunny almost year-round to dealing with freezing temperatures on a daily basis, I was in for a learning experience.
The quality of life in Calgary was incredible. The crime rate was so low for a city of 1.2 million people that I never had a reason to lock my door. The economy was strong to the point where several fast food establishments had job openings starting at 15 Canadian dollars an hour (equivalent to 13 U.S. dollars at the time when I was there; minimum wage at that time was 9.95 Canadian dollars an hour).
There were hardly any “bad parts” of Calgary I could think of, and it seemed that you could move up economic classes if you worked hard. To my surprise, other than the health care system, Canada does not have as many welfare programs as we do here. To top it off, institutions like the University of Calgary did not have a bloated budget like UNM does, and yet it is one of the top Universities in North America.
I asked myself, what is Alberta doing differently than New Mexico?
I got involved with the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta and made friends with members of the Alberta New Democratic Party. Going to the Conservative meetings, never did I hear them bash the other side. One memorable meeting I attended was about how an elementary school needed to be expanded. The constituents and the legislators were not just listening to one another, they planned how to bring it forward to the Alberta Legislature and get it done.
On the side of the New Democratic Party, a few of my friends that were involved in the Party invited me to one of their discussions regarding tax reform in Canada. While we had our disagreements, I was still given my place, and they understood where I came from.
Coming from a place where Democrats in our New Mexico state Legislature and in the party waste no time bashing Governor Martinez, Congressman Pearce and conservative ideas, and Republicans waste no time bashing Hillary Clinton, the U.S. senators from New Mexico and liberal ideas, this was refreshing new perspective. I was exposed to a place where political parties don’t waste time bashing each other and instead work toward solutions that fix problems.
All the political parties in New Mexico need to work on implementing solutions, whether they are in control or not. It is very sad that in a state where we are ranked low in education, have the highest property crime rate in the nation, and see diminishing economic opportunities, our lawmakers are playing blame games in Santa Fe.
I urge all lawmakers and candidates up and down the ballot for this year’s election to stop going after the other party. Govern. Take all sides into consideration and implement a solution that will fix the state’s dire problems — not benefit your political career, an agenda or a special interest group.
Learn from our Canadian neighbors. It is amazing what happens when we respect each other and have dialogue with one another.
Abraham Keyvan is the president of the University of New Mexico College Republicans and has worked on various campaigns throughout the state. He is a second-generation immigrant. His mother is from Mexico, and his father is from Iran. Agree with his opinion? Disagree? We welcome your views. Learn about submitting your own commentary here.