Sunday, March 07, 2010

Reboot Alberta Survey Helps Define Progressive Values in Alberta

One of the directions coming out of the Reboot Alberta launch event late last November was a request to get a better understanding about what we meant by the term “progressive” in a 21st century Alberta context. Part of that exploration was a number of blogs and discussion papers posted on the Reboot Alberta website under the “What is a Progressive” link.

Another part of the exploration of “What is a Progressive” was a conjoint survey to study some value preferences that progressives see as important to guide and drive policy advisers and politicians when they make laws, regulations and public policy pronouncements that impact the lives of Albertans.

The survey tracked 22 such values using a most/least approach to determine the highest and lowest values that progressives believe should be applied to how we are governed. The survey also asked some attitudinal and satisfaction questions and asked about some engagement questions about Alberta too. It also looked at the influence of the participants and inquired about if survey participants were cultural creatives too. The survey results also give some significant insight in what it means to be a progressive in Alberta these days.

A total of 544 people completed the survey between January 30 and February 11, 2010 and a pretty distinct and consistent picture of what is an Alberta progressive emerged. The top five values progressives want to see used to guide and drive politicians were overwhelmingly dominated by Integrity, Honesty, Accountability, Transparency and Environmental Stewardship. Over 90% of participants have one of these values and their #1 choice. This consistency of progressive beliefs about what are the important values to judge how well we are being governed is very strong.

I was curious if these values were rated to high is because they are so obviously foundational to good government that they would of course rise to the top. Or was it because the perception is that yes they are important but there is a sense we are not seeing them applied now so that is why they are the most crucial governing values. I surveyed the 124 people at Reboot2.0 with those choices. Rough count was about 80% at Reboot2.0 had done the survey. An even larger number at Reboot2.0 believed these values were most important because they felt they were lacking in how we are being governed today.

That straw vote at Reboot2.0 pretty much determines the reasoning for the dominance of these values and provides some significant focus where Alberta’s progressives thinking about politics, governance and power in our province these days.

The next grouping of important value drivers for progressives in Alberta who did the survey was Wisdom, Well-being, Equity, Fiscal Responsibility and Respect for Diversity. When you add these values to the top five you start to get a substantial sense of what progressives in Alberta are thinking and paying attention to their relationship with democracy, politics, government and governance. On Sunday Morning participants at Reboot2.0 were asked to look at this group of values and use them to share what they saw as a preferred vision for Alberta. I will share those outcomes and their implications for the political agenda in Alberta in future blog posts as well.

I will also share the outcomes of the Influentials assessment and the level of Cultural Creative engagement of the survey participants. Influentials are the 10% of the general populations whose opinions matter to the rest of us as we try to make sense of a complex and fast changing world. The Reboot Alberta survey participants are astonishing Influential with 88% of them qualifying in the survey. That means if the progressives in the Reboot Alberta movement ever start using their influence they will be a force for any political party, government, governing agency, board or commission to pay close attention to what they are saying. That influence is already being shown given the rapid rise of participation and awareness of Reboot Alberta in the 100 days or so since it came on the scene in late November 2009.

The alignment of progressive Albertans with the growth or the Cultural Creative component of society is also extraordinarily strong. Paul Ray has done extensive work on defining and tracking the growing power and potential of cultural creatives to influence the society we see emerging in Alberta. Again a full 86% of progressives who took the survey were overwhelmingly in sync with the values of cultural creatives. The 18 value elements Paul Ray uses to test for qualifying as a cultural creative were used. I will deal with some of those elements and the implications for progressive values and the future of Alberta in follow up blog posts.

The survey tested the level of satisfaction and personal engagement participants had towards the province. This was perhaps the most interesting aspect of the survey findings. It shows that progressive Albertans are kind of iffy about what they say about living in Alberta and if they would strongly recommend people move here. But they are overwhelming committed to the future of the province and believe their personal actions are contributing positively to the future well being of the province. That coupled with a very strong sense of dissatisfaction with how we are being governed currently and a belief that the government is not listening nor considering the opinions of progressives.

This all makes for a very volatile political future for the province espeically IF Alberta's progressives decide to engage, use their influence and start forming into an activist citizen’s movement.  That would be a new force to drive some serious changes in the direction of the political culture of our province.  It will be an effective counterbalance the more radical social conservative, social libertarian and short-term shallow fiscal and environmental policy thinking we have seen happening in the province.