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Monday, January 29, 2007

Will the Alberta PC Government Change Before Albertan's Change the Government?

I had a very enjoyable lunch today with one of Edmonton’s great arts and culture supporters, the Edmonton Journal’s Todd Babiak. We talked about many things – not the least of which is how to get the arts and culture sector more support and respect from the powers that be in the government of Alberta. He posted some of our discussion on his blog today, commenting that I believed Alberta was ready for a “change in government.”

I do believe there is a mood out there for a change in government. The advent of the environment as such a strong top priority issue amongst Alberta is ample evidence that people want some serious change. Ed Stelmach’s leadership win against the “traditional powerful forces” in the PC Party indicates the PC Party wanted changes.

I think Albertans want change, need change - and I think we shall see change. Here is an extended version of my comment back to Todd on what “change in government” (Alberta style) has meant and may mean again:

HI Todd – I enjoyed lunch today too. Thanks for taking the time. You are right about your blog comments that I see the mood “out there” is for a “change in government."

One change I hope for, and am optimistic about, is that the arts and culture life of our province has a toehold again in the awareness amongst the powers that be. A toehold is not a foothold and that is what is really needed to move this agenda forward politically and policy-wise.

I believe that foothold can be established with the provincial government this year. A great deal more communication and relationship building has to be done between the art and culture sector and the government policy makers for that to happen.

I have been in the PC Party since the Lougheed days and have seen the “government” change at least 7 times in that period, but always with the change coming from within the PC Party. In the waning Getty days the PCs were at 17% in the polls and we changed with new leadership.

We have a much stronger position in the polls today and have another new leader. I fully expect the needed “change in government” will also be part of an internal change exercise inside the PC Party. It has to change in ways that responds to the new realities of Alberta and to provide the new kind of governance that Albertans want. If the Party doesn’t change the way they want, the people of Alberta will force the change in the next election.

I just love democracies and free and open societies!