Thursday, August 09, 2007

What Albertan's Want The Next Election To Be About - Part 2.

My post yesterday dealt with the relative importance of the top and bottom issues in our conjoint study on 15 key policy issues done in the fall of 2006 during the Alberta PC Leadership campaign. We noted the management of environmental issues around water, land and air quality was the #1 issue on the minds of Albertans who participated in the study.

Environment has been #1 before but historically gets bumped when election time happens and other issues take control of the political agenda. That is not likely to be the case in the next Alberta election, presuming it is held in the spring of 2008. This because of how dominant the management of the environment is to the value concerns of Albertans now and for the future.

The posting identified the low end issues too but here are some results from the middle of the field. They were issues that were getting lots of news coverage but they were not the dominant concerns on the minds of influential Albertans last fall. They included creating a diversified value added economy (7th), maintaining public infrastructure like schools and roads (8th), addressing labour and skills shortages (9th), safe communities (10th) and quality and access to post-secondary education in at 11th place.

All of these are important issues but the ranking and intensity of the concern of Albertans means they are not most important issues for government to deal immediately with if they want to have a policy and political that satisfies the concerns of the majority of citizens.

Next we asked about how Albertans felt their government was performing in each issue area. The overall average performance rating of all issues was only 28.60 percent. Nothing to write home about but not unexpected given that government had been drifting for about 7 years up to that time.

The best performance by government at 51% was in the area of having safe communities, the 10th ranked issue. This is not too surprising since we only asked influentials who are very connected and involved in their communities and would naturally feel safe in them. A statistically random survey that did not focus on engaged citizens and opinion leaders may show different results.

As for the most important issues, like the environment, the performance rating was only 18%. Lots of room for improvement there! Health ranked at #2 performance ranking was well above average at 38%, not bad at all. Reducing poverty the 3rd most important issue saw a performance rating of only 16%. Lots of work to do there! Managing growth was the 5th ranked priority and only had a performance rating of 12%. That is some of the low hanging fruit for Ed Stelmach and one of his five key principles.

In fact Premier Stelmach’ Five Priorities fit very well with the concerns of Albertans that we identified. Why then is he having trouble connecting with Albertans? It is not his policy agenda or his political capacity. It is summed up in 2 words, communications and execution. That is where improvements have to be made and time is a-wastin.’