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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why I Am Leaving the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta

I am almost joining the ranks of 97% of Canadians who do not belong to political parties. I will still hold a Federal Liberal membership but I will not renew my Alberta PC membership when it expires at year end. I have been involved in the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party from the mid-70s.' and even took an unsuccessful run at a nomination as a PC Candidate for the 1997 election. I can no longer aid, abet and accept the PCs as my political home in Alberta. There are many reasons but last straws are what people notice. My last straw has arrived.

I take my philosophical political positioning as a social progressive and a fiscal conservative. To many that is an oxymoron but to me it was a balanced and comprehensive approach to governing. That is why I was so comfortable for so many years in the PCs even through the extremes and mistakes of all Premiers since and including Lougheed.

Well the Alberta PCs who are elected to government are no longer progressive, hardly fiscally prudent and as for having a conservation consciousness – forget it. They are no longer aligned enough with my values to continue to be my political home. I know from personal discussions, emails and meetings that I share that realization with many other disillusioned PC party members. They also see the other conventional political parties as merely variation of a tired, inadequate, exclusive and clubby political culture. The Wildrose Alliance is offering an even greater and deeper sense of the tired old conventional politics of a (thankfully) by-gone time.

I see no vision or enthusiasm from the PC government. I see no capacity to respond effectively to the complex changing times in Alberta. They are merely hoping to return to the Alberta of yesterday. They are waiting for commodity prices to return so things and be “normal” again and we Albertans will get to print yet another bumper sticker asking God for yet another boom.

Danielle Smith's Wildrose Alliance Party has deep roots in social conservativism and religious fundamentalism. Stuff they don't want to talk about - until they are elected. There is an unnerving sense that they are thinking that they can win an election with one narrative and once elected, govern the future of the province with another. It is as if they want to take Alberta back to repeat a time that is even farther back into our history. They want to take us back to the conservative times of Ernest Manning and Harry Strom with the added benefits of the moral metrics of Bible Bill Aberhart himself .They want an Alberta where the old TV sitcom series “Father Knows Best” would be considered a modern-day documentary.

So, after about 35 years, I am currently politically homeless, but I have hope. Reboot Alberta is the wellspring of my hope. I see is a way to find a more just, fair, inclusive, prosperous and progressive province. Reboot Alberta is becoming a political movement that is about a new kind of citizen-based pioneering leadership, citizenship and stewardship. It is not about gaining political power. It aspires to greater goals.

I sense from the growing Reboot Alberta community that we are at the trailhead of a new journey. It is a new personally accountable path where citizens take responsibility for the new situational dynamics of being Albertans. We are discovering that the new Alberta venture is about undertaking to actively pursue how we can adapt. That adaptation includes becoming an ecological enhancing economy and an inclusive, cohesive caring society with high levels of innovation, achievement and accomplishment.

I want my Alberta to be about a proud people, with organizations, institutions, industries and communities where our living and learning go hand in hand throughout our entire lives. I want a striving society that honours and encourages different ways of thinking, that is caring, curious, inclusive and diverse. I hope for a society that honours the gifts we all have as individuals and encourages us to strive for personal accomplishment for our own benefit as well as to the greater good.

We must be aware of and honour the past. We must be realistic about the present (think oilsands). And we must once again become engaged in accepting responsibility for the future and the consequences of our actions on future generations.

Reboot Alberta is going to be about citizens coming together in this spirit. Progressives will show an active intent of finding ways to empower, enhance and expand our capacity to design and deliver on a vision for better Alberta based on a more integrated, more inclusive and more accomplished society. We need to be sure our society is served by our economic endeavours and not the other way around. We must seek a better definition of responsible and sustainable growth. Growth and prosperity must accept that there are constraints of nature. We have to change how we measure success and progress. We must take a longer term view based on values, not just a quarterly accounting statement.

Integrating our economic and social growth has to be done in ways that promotes and produces adaptive self-reliant capable and confident citizens in a cohesive, creative, dynamic society. We have to constantly anticipate and adapt to find new ways to thrive within and respecting the capacity of the planet. This is to my sense the fundamental stuff of what we need for progressive politics, policy, governance and government in our Alberta.

We can’t continue to celebrate and expand our capacity to exploit as a species while continuing to ignore or try to engineer our way around realities of the natural ecological constraints of our place and the planet. Success can’t be about being a bigger “Have” place when others are destitute and dying – all too often due to our ignorance or indifference. I don’t what to merely strive for Alberta to be the best place in the world. I want it to be the best place for the world

I can't seem to find these topics of conversation happening much, if at all, in the dominant political cultures of the province these days. But I have been able to find a significant number of Albertans in the Reboot Alberta movement who are longing and yearning for those kinds of conversations. At the Reboot Alberta Launch at the end of November one of the participants called conversations "game changers." I pray that he is right. I am seeing that those conversations have started within the Reboot Alberta community. With some encouragement, tending and nurturing, they will gain traction and momentum. Then I would not have to find a new political home, I, along with others, will be building it.