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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nice To See Alberta Ministers Musing About New Ideas in Public

Anyone who has read this Blog for any length of time knows that I am a card carrying member of the Alberta PC Party and friend and fan of Dave Hancock, Alberta’s new Minister of Learning.

So with that bias disclosed let me say Hancock has been making some interesting moves in that of portfolio of late. Suggesting that school planning has been “insane” and that perhaps school boards are worthy of more respect and responsibility than they have been in the past decade and maybe ought to have some more political power.

I have to say I am surprised and encouraged by this new openness and policy commentary actually making news coming from Ministers like Hancock, Liepert on health reform and Morton on land use issues. This is kind of political using before matters get to Cabinet good for democracy and key to achieving a re-engaged and informed citizenry.

There seemed to be a message controlling chill over government MLAs and Cabinet Ministers expressing opinions before Stelmach became Premier. For sure, once a Cabinet decision has been take that position is, and should be, gospel for all Ministers. If they don’t like it they can resign from Cabinet. It has happened.

As a citizen I am as interested in what range of options is being considered and how policy issues are being explored before they go behind the closed Cabinet doors for decisions. I want to see want is left on the cutting room floor as these who govern us make the hard choices on our behalf. This new openness is so much more respectful of Albertans.

It is important that our policy makers show that they are informed, engaged and actively exploring options that, in the end, serve the common good. If the politicinas want to earn our respect and gain our trust they need to show citizens that they are not just in a sheep-like acceptance of a top down pre-ordained and dictated “political solution.”

I credit Premier Stelmach for this change in attitude and governing philosophy. The old-style pre-ordained political positioning that is pushed through a public consultation process purely for show is hopefully a thing of the past now too.