Saturday, January 16, 2010

Public Protests Grow as Albertans Show Discontent With Government

Congratulations to all those caregivers, citizens and families who are involved in and helping those with developmental disabilities in Alberta. Your rally was amazing. I wish I could have been there.

The disconnect of the Stelmach government with citizens is growing. The discontent of Albertans with the political culture of the province is growing too. Last week marked a turning point where Albertans are no longer prepared to be differential to the powerful forces in politics and government.

The Whitemud Citizen’s Forum on Health Care last Monday was organized by four self-described “ordinary citizens” and drew over 500 people in one constituency in Edmonton.  More of these protests are being organized all over the province by other "extra-ordinary citizens." The PDD service sector agencies organized a mock "bottle drive" rally to help fund the Stelmach government so they did not have to brutally and unilaterally claw back funds from disabled Albertans.  They drew over 1200 to the rally in Edmonton on Thursday night. Then on Friday Join Together Alberta launched a campaign to hold 22 town hall meetings all over the province to fight the service sector funding cuts that are said to be coming in the next Budget.

Albertans are clearly fed up and are now standing up and gathering together to be heard by their government. I see discontent everywhere and I smell democracy in the air in Alberta again.

Indifference, complacency and cynicism are attitudes that progressive Albertans can no longer afford. This province and its resources belong to the citizens of Alberta, not the politicians or the corporate tenants who we give social licenses to so they can create wealth for more than just shareholders and executives.

Premier Stelmach is right when he says to attract investment business requires certainty. That certainty in our energy sector does not come from giving the resources away by foregoing royalties and ever increasing subsidies to the industry. That is just selling off the topsoil from our non-renewable resource and giving away the natural capital birthright of our young and future generations of Albertans.

Alberta’s investment certainty to the energy sector is not created by absurdly low taxes and ridiculously low royalty rates.  Real investment certainty in Alberta includes a place where industry have assurances of a educated, skilled, trained and healthy workforce.  Where they can depend on the rule of law and a justice and policing system that is independent of government that enforces that rule of law.  Certainty comes from a quality and reliable banking system, no government and political corruption like most other energy producing areas of the world.  Alberta has clear and fair environmental laws and project approval processes that provide certainty.  We have no civil wars or terrorists threats but discontent is growing.  We have no government or dictatorship nationalization threats of their investments and no concerns over kidnapping and ransom of employees as happens in so many other energy producing countires.  We have a stable currency and we have the closest proximity on the planet to the largest energy market in the world plus all the necessary infrastructure in place to deliver the energy to theat market.  With oilsands there are enormous and reliable sources of supply with no uncertainty over exploration and discover costs.  In oilsands the Alberta taxpayer shares the investment risk via royalty forgiveness until all capital costs of projects are totally recaptured. The list goes on.

Compare that to the shabby treatment our government is giving to the most vulnerable citizens in our society from foster children to seniors to the disabled and you have to ask yourself “What is wrong with this picture?” The answer is becoming more obvious. We always get the government we deserve in a democracy. If our governments can’t change to respond more appropriately to fulfill their duties to citizens then citizens must change their government.  That is becomoing more obvious to ordinary Albertans who are standing up and speaking out.  And it is about time.

Reboot Alberta is one of the ways progressive Albertans are using to get their message out to government.  That message is that things need to change in Alberta's politics and governance. Citizens have a duty to help their government change - complaining is a good place to start but it is not good enough all by iteslf.  Change has to happen in the attitudes of the government and what gets their attention, time and resources. If the exercise of the power of politics takes precedence over the duty of our elected representative to govern, then citizens have to step up and make the necessary changes.

Citizens will have to wake up and make political and governance changes we need at the ballot box in the next election. Albertans also need to help create some viable alternatives to the existing political culture.  Right now we seem to have choices two viable choices, the right wing PCs and the extreme right wing Wildrose Alliance. Reboot Alberta is a place to have that discussion and to start dealing with that democratic deficit too.

How do Albertans get their government to listen and internalize the messages they have to hear?  How do we help our government make better public policy decisions?  How do we get our government to be more open, accoutable and transparent in its decision making?  How do we attract our best and brightest into a politics based on public service and not a political exercise of pure power that uses intimidation and bullying to promote its policy agenda? 

Democracy is in the air in Alberta - but it is not yet on the ground where it counts.  That will depend on citizens acting as owners and stewards of their democracy.  I see green sprouts of democratic reform but there is a long way to go.


  1. As a Parent of a child with developmental disability, and a person with a work related disability , I have witnessed the corruption of the Alberta Government in favor of the Corporations, many times over, to say there is no corruption in Alberta,is out of blindness; it is just not as exposed as it in other countries , why you may ask? due to the GoA's control of Media, that in itself should make the average person suspicious. From cover-ups of child welfare to Bill44 & 50 which were/ are being pushed down the Citizens throat for the purpose of corporate favors, there are many situations here in Alberta that need to be criminally investigated.

  2. Thx for the comment KWM - when I say corruption I am talking criminal corruption. You have a point and what you are talking about is sometimes called Casual Corruption. Where officials don't do their duty or use tactks to avoid doing their duty.

    Harper proroguing the Commons to avoid his government's accountability about Afghan detainees is a perfect example.

  3. Anonymous12:55 pm

    Ken I am in total agreement with you. I have registered for the Reboot Alberta weekend in Kananaskis and look forward to learning more. People are very angry and need a constructive conduit for that anger. In May when the stupidity in Health Care was occurring (the specific incident was the removal of the laser machine from the Rockyview) I told my MLA then that we, the citizens of Alberta have voted our governments out before and we can do it again. Since May the ground swell has been amazing. I know that the Wildrose Party is not the answer but they have come at a time where there needs to be an alternative. If nothing else, they have Ed Stelmach and the PC’s very worried. You can tell by the cabinet shuffle; with Ted Morton they are trying to out-Wildrose the Wildrose Party. I am very confident that the discontent evinced by the people of Alberta will continue and we will see change.

  4. k.w.m9:19 am

    I am sorry on not being clear on the crime Mr.Chapman, but I am talking about Criminal Corruption, from fraud to bribery, extortion to criminal intent, even attempeted murder and death threats, all by Alberta Government agencies employees, while the Legislative is aware they refuse to act upon it, therefore they are promoting this behavior by doing nothing.

  5. Graham Fletcher3:19 pm

    Just to clarify a point: Ken's insistence that proroguing is "casual corruption" on the part of Mr. Harper reveals only Ken's bias, and not constitutional truth.

    Prorogation is a legitimate and legal legislative tool. Whether biased folks like Ken want to call it "afghan detainee" issue avoidance, or Chretien prorogues because he couldn't take the heat of Adscam, it is a tool used when the ruling party believes that a time-out from a dysfunctional session of Parliament is in order, since nothing is getting done as Parties spend more time on political grandstanding than actually getting work done.

    Luckily Ken has me around as an impartial, balanced third party objective person on which to rely, and to point out the error of his wild-ass statements.......:)

    You're welcome

  6. Sorry Graham, but prorogation, in this case, is not a legitimate legislative tool. Harper used it simply to take the heat off his party.

    Got a reference on Chretien proroguing due to Adscam? I know he did it in 2003 when Paul Martin replaced him.

    Contrary to your statement about work not getting done, there were a number of bills killed by prorogation. Now, the work has to start all over again because of Harper wanting to avoid questions.

    And isn't it Harper who's always complaining about the work of Parliament being held up? Why would he force so much work to be repeated if he was really that concerned?

    The least we could all do is at least be honest in talking about why Harper prorogued Parliament. Frankly, I have no respect for governments of any stripe that can't answer questions truthfully and honestly.

    If Harper's government has nothing to hide on the Afghan detainee issue, then let the hearings continue to confirm that.

    Harper could just as easily had a holiday recess and picked up where he left off and the legislation would still be in process.

  7. I would also like to congratulate all those who are involved in and helping those with developmental disabilities in Alberta on the success of their rally.

    I applaud all those that are standing up for democracy and free speech. Political reform is desperately needed in Alberta and in all of Canada. All too often we see examples of how elected officials get around democracy or in a subtle way prevent free speech.

    At this point in our history we are as far away from democracy as we have ever been in Alberta and in Canada, that needs to change.

  8. Anonymous12:04 pm

    The problem is we need to be cutting in difficult times. The PC's - Phony Conservatives - are not doing so and we can't trust them. Only the Wildrose Alliance will bring our finances back to where they should be - unlike this left wing blog.

  9. Anonymous4:18 pm

    Is that the real Joe Albertan? I read on facebook that his account was hacked and an impostor is posting under his name.

  10. Anonymous11:04 pm

    The fact is we need more cuts to bring us back out of deficit. The Wildrose Alliance will do this where the PC's have failed. This left wing blog doesn't get that.

  11. Yeah right Anon 11:04, the last time we did that we created such a huge social/infrastructure deficit we ended up paying inflated custs to catch up when times were good. Time for a more balanced approach and I don't think WAP is up to that job other than to repeat history.

  12. Anonymous8:59 am

    A "balanced approach?" I agree! The last time we did that we created a balanced budget and no debt. We need more cuts and we need them now.

  13. Yes I'm the real deal. There is an individual that feels they need to be destructive and stupid, I have chosen not to even address this person any longer. My passwords have never changed on my e-mail or facebook account which is what I need to get control of the Real Joe Albertan" facebook page. They authenticate dthat I have never changed passwords so therefore the claim of being hacked was false. This person has an agenda and makes stupid comments and acts like they support the WRA at the same time saying stupid things to discredit them. If you check my blog I do not support any party or candidate, this other person does. This person is not very bright either, he can't seem to write more than two sentences at a time. Check out my facebook profile and the"real Joe Albertan" I have control of both now, FB gave me the other one because after I explained what was happening they saw right through tis person. Some people have little to no morals.

  14. Joe Albertan - make it easier on yourself and improve your credibility with the rest of us by just using your real name.

  15. I understand what you're saying Ken but I would rather people not know who I am, I have no political aspirations and I am not doing this for money. I just want to make a difference by making people aware of what is happening. Besides Joe Albertan stands for all of us, it's you and it's me, the average guy. I accept all opinions whether I agree or not. My privacy is important to myself and my family so I will chose not to release my name. If circumstances change that may change.

  16. Anonymous3:32 pm

    A few months ago Joe Albertan made comments that added to the overall discourse. Suddenly he became incredibly negative and this was likely when Joe Albertan was hacked and now is being posted by an impostor. Sad that he expects us to believe otherwise.

  17. ^ This is the person that is trying to discredit Joe Albertan. If you can read you may want to check out my blog. The only negatives you will read in there are in regards to the current Alberta government and their abuse of power. This "Anonymous" person has been the one that will post pro WRA comments.

    Here's a little something you can do to confirm this. Go to the blog and see if you can find any support given to any individual or party, you won't. This person ^ on the other hand makes stupid comments and follows it up with supporting the WRA. That tells me it is a diehard PC supporter that is behind it. Check with the Face Book administartion and they will tell you that the profile has NEVER had the password changed, so how could it have been hacked? You believe whatever you want, I support your right to do so. You on the other hand are promoting a government that does not believe in personal rights.

    I will not be drawn into childish and futile games with this person.

  18. Anonymous5:09 pm

    A childish fake username like Joe Albertan seems like the pot calling the kettle black.