Sunday, June 08, 2008

Don't Just Complain About Politician's Pay - Act Like a Citizen and Make Them Earn It!

OK Alberta, if we are paying our provincial politicians so handsomely, and we are, then it is time for the citizens to get engaged in their democracy and be sure we get our money’s worth form our politicians.

So whatever your issue, concern, fear, hope, aspiration, insight or just plain observations are about life in Alberta, you need to let your MLA know. In the process you might take the time to learn something about your MLA as well. Lots of info is on the Internet – just Google them. If they don’t show up much in Google, that should tell you something about how effective, engaged or capable they are as your political representative.

Learn lots about them and where they stand on issues on issues by going to Hansard and searching your issue or concern and the name of the MLA. You can find out lots about what your democratically elected representatives are interested in and what they are doing and saying in Hansard too. See if they have a website and visit it - regularly. Do a blog search in Google again and see if they are reaching out and commenting on issues and ideas that way. If there is not much happening on their websites, like regular updates, comments and content changes, I would be wondering if they are doing their jobs for you.

If they are not really engaged in getting in touch with you and not very involved in commenting or communicating on issues of the day and making little attempt to clarify policy and political efforts for you, are they worth the money you are paying them?

Here is a link for you to reach your MLA. Don’t just dash off a quick insulting email or nasty phone call to the constituency every time you get ticked about something. Citizenship is not just about venting. Show up at town hall and community events where your MLA is speaking or aTake the time to write a real letter, put a stamp on it and walk down to the mail box. The mental and physical exercise will do you good. It shows you are thoughtful and considered in your comments because you invested more time an effort. It has a larger impact on the politicians you are trying to communicate with too.

It is time for Albertans to start acting like citizens again. Passive aggressive cynicism is dangerous as our default position for citizenship. Exercise your right of free speech or risk losing it. Tell your MLA what you are thinking and concerned about. Be forthright, frequent, fair and civil in your comments and communications, but for your own sake get at it. Make you politician earn that hefty raise they just gave themselves. Let them know what is on your mind and why. Offer ideas and solutions, not just criticisms and ask for responses.

Get informed on what is going on politically in matters that interest you. The Internet can be your best friend for such information and it is easy to find with search engines. Reach out to your friends and families and help them to get and stay informed so they too will re-engage as citizens and make an effort to make a better Alberta for all of us.

The politicians are not likely to roll back the pay increase so bitching about is one response. My suggesting is more strategic. Make them earn their new pay cheques by insisting they know and show their stuff on the issues and concerns of Albertan like you. But you have to let them know what is on your mind and what specific concerns you have and what you think could be done better. It is time for Albertans to start to act like citizens again.