Friday, February 19, 2010

Will the Renewed Alberta Party be a Game Changer?

There is a “Renewed” political party that has just arrived on the Alberta scene. It is born from the amalgamation of the Alberta Party and the Renew Alberta initiative that was intent on creating a new centrist political party.

There are some very interesting historical and contemporary aspects to this revitalized and revised Alberta Party. Historically the Alberta Party was a response to the mid-80s Preston Manning political movement that resulted in the Reform Party. In talking with Alberta Party board members the membership and motivation behind the Alberta Party has become much more centrist in it outlook and political philosophy. It is still a group of dedicated Albertan who are very interested in democratic change and political transformation in the province.

As a result of this changed political approach, the Alberta Party started talking to the younger blood of the Renew Alberta initiative about working together. With some genuine generosity of spirit from all those involved, a way was found to reform the old Reform mentality and to adapt the Alberta Party into a more progressive and moderate that resulted in the amalgamation with the Renew Alberta people.

This new consensus is most evident in the interim co-chair model of the Alberta Party that has Edwin Erikson from the original Alberta party serving with Chima Nkemdirim of the Renew Alberta initiative. There are some interesting co-creation opportunities the renewed Alberta Party may offer around a new way of thinking about politics. What if politics was about citizens assuming and ensuring that Alberta had a political culture that was about a public service responsibility again? What if the general well-being was the operating principle of political culture instead of gaining and retaining political power?

The creative energy that can emerge from the renewed Alberta Party based on diversity of experiences and backgrounds is also very interesting. Consider the obvious diversity between Edwin and Chima as they work together to make a renewed and revised Alberta Party a reality. There are age and generational differences, cultural differences, the different urban and rural aspects of both men all auger well for a more comprehensive and respectful way of understanding the wide array of Albertan’s concern and contributions we all make to ensure the success of our province and the legacy we leave our children. This is a fascinating political experiment that could be a game changer.

That game-changer possibility at this point is just that. If the Alberta Party merely becomes yet another conventional command and control, top-down power based machine then nothing much will really have changed. However if progressive minded citizens engage and insist that this new Alberta Party initiative be something more inclusive, accountable, transparent that acts with integrity, and not just talk about it, then there may be hope. If nothing else it will force the existing political parties and governing institutions to adapt to a more public service based political culture.