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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Front Runners Campaign on "Anybody But" and "Let's Kick Some Butt"

As the campaign heats up to the sprint to the finish line interesting events are happening. For example, Ted Morton’ campaign slogan says “More Alberta – Less Ottawa.” But he has a bunch of Federal Conservative MPs from Ottawa in Alberta campaigning for him. Does what he really mean is “More of Ted’s Alberta – More of Ted’s Ottawa.”

The Edmonton gay and lesbian community supports Jim Dinning. Good to see the Pride Centre of Edmonton getting involved. The Edmonton Journal says they view Dinning as the “lesser of the evils.” Did they really mean to say that “Morton is the evil of two lessers?” I hope they at least vote Stelmach as #2.

Stelmach is the choice of people who want to see the province work more collaboratively and comprehensively in practical integrated ways to deal the full range of challenges before us. If the contest is all about the “Clash of the Calgary Titans” it is quite scary when you consider the consequences for the whole province. It is entirely avoidable too if everyone voted Stelmach as your #1 choice but that is unrealistic. At least make Stelmach your #2 choice regardless of who you vote #1.

The two front runners are polarizing forces for sure, as tonight’s debate will no doubt confirm. Albertans are looking at all three Leader/Premier candidates this week in terms of what motivates them, who is closest to them and who has influence on them and who controls access to them and, finally, how will they govern.

Policy differences are important but not the deciding factors. The choice between Morton and Dinning is being decided by many party members and interest groups as the lesser of two evils. I think that undervalues the obvious skills, abilities and talents of both Dinning and Morton. It is not just about who will govern but how they will govern that is unsettling to many as they look at Dinning and Morton.

The ballot box questions are concerns over the values and the motivations for each of the candidates and the public’s evolving perceptions of their personalities and characters. The choice is also being decided through a lens of a significant trend towards fragmentation of the province.

The fragmentation of Alberta into special interest groups who are becoming very involved and engaged as strategic voting blocks from unionists to evangelicals. The various regions throughout the province are also looking at voting strategically for candidates based on competition for critical government attention to their issues. The PC party is fragmenting internally too. I wonder if we aren't just auctioning it off to the Alliance Party by voting Morton.

The divisions are reflected in many ways including geography that is north-south, urban-rural, in the corridor and outside the corridor. There are value differences of intolerance of differences to embracing inclusion and diversity. Intergenerational differences about what to do with non-renewable resource revenues and surpluses are showing up. There are fault lines forming even amongst industry sectors as they scramble and compete for staff and workers, and we have not even highlighted Edmonton and Calgary issues.

So Alberta – ask yourself, what are the skills, insights and character qualities that are needed to deal with this reality? Who has earned the trust and respect of the widest range of people in all the “places” that is becoming Alberta today? Who sees this balkanization as a barrier to Alberta achieving its potential and living up to its promise - and will do something about it?

Who can ensure we make Alberta’s defining characteristic as being the best example of what is best about Canada as opposed to becoming a U.S. Republican Party facsimilie? Who is best able to use their leadership skills to ensure we don’t turn Alberta into a mini-middle east of irreconcilable differences were self-interests and radical factions compete for power and control?

This Saturday we all have unavoidable choices to make and serious consequences to consider as we decide on our Premier for the next two years. Even staying home and not participating is making a choice to let others decide this issue for you. Lack of knowledge can be cured by going on the candidate's websites and informing yourself. Indifference to the chance to make a difference is inexcusable.

The future is ours so long as we don’t blow it on Saturday. Overcome the frustration, the anger and deal with the angst and vote for intelligent, skilled, compassionate and effective change. Think about what is in the best interest of you and your family. Think about what is best for your community and the province as a whole when you vote. I have done that reflection and I am voting Stelmach/Dinning in that order.

Remember we are all in this together, alone!