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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Oberg "Sells" Himself

You gotta love Dr. Oberg’s view of democracy as captured in the cryptic comments of the “Benevolent Dictator” at Renewing the One Party State site. His posting says it all. “Dr. Oberg, it is one thing to lose and election it is another to lose your honour in the process.” The Edmonton Journal story headline captures the essence “Union Oberg backers buying memberships.”

The brain trust at the Alberta Building Trades Council has decided that as “Union Bosses for Oberg” they know best how their members should vote and are reported to be prepared to prepay for $10,000.00 of “free” PC party memberships for union members and have even hired staff to process the program. Gotta admire the efficiency of it all – don’t you?

What is the message here? Suspend your citizenship and do as you are told as a union member! “We a putting up the Five Bucks for you – and therefore you will vote Oberg.” What evidence supports the reports that the Union Boss is saying "Oberg…has been onside with the issues?” Do you think teachers and parents of students would agree?

Don’t ask why this top down directive to suspend independent thought and citizenship is happening. We are told why. The reason is clearly stated in the Journal story as because of someone’s “long standing relationship” with Dr. Oberg.

Who exactly is it that enjoys this “long standing relationship” with the good Doctor, and what is it based on - pray tell! What were the deals and the dealings that set up this “long standing relationship?” Ought we to be looking for “skeletons” as part of our questioning or is that too harsh?

Do the union bosses actually believe that individual members will do as they are told with a one person one vote secret ballot system? Are individual union members pleased that their funds are being spent in this way? Is it clear what benefits they will be getting if they play along in support of this “long standing relationship?”

Since we are selecting a Premier for the entire province as a consequence of this PC leadership campaign, is it unreasonable for the rest of us to ask what promises and preferences are being proffered to whom in exchange for what because of such an "investment" in the Oberg campaign?

I have no problem with groups getting organized to educate and engage members, networks and their spheres of influence and encouraging individual Albertans participation as citizens. What these “players” are doing however is nowhere close to passing the “sniff test” but it is within the financial “rules” of the game, such as they are.

So then it ought to be open to the rest of us to be free to inquire as to surrounding facts and get clarity on some details. We ought to feel free to pass some judgement about the motivation and appropriateness of this approach and its impact on an open and transparent democratic participation process (sic). Is there a "cost" if anyone steps out of line and does not pick up a "free" membership card? What is the consequence if someone steps over the line and openly supports someone other than the "anointed Oberg?"

Are we to surmise from this that we now know what Dr. Oberg’s wholesale price for access to him will be as Premier? Will this be the ante needed to get Oberg interest and engagement- the $10K range – or is that an early-bird special for this group only?

We Albertans need to think long and hard about this, especially the individual members of the various unions who make up the Alberta Building Trades Council. Do we want a PC Party leader and Premier of this province who is only interested in obeying the letter of the law and could give a damn about the spirit of it? Is that the kind society and leadership we want? If so, feel “free” to pick up your “free” membership and forget about the cost to your freedoms of thought, expression and perhaps even of association.

As Dave Hancock’s campaign slogan says, its Your Values, Your Alberta and Your Choice!