HI Dave - good to have you comment. But I have to stand by my concerns over the Wildrose Alliance Party being a scary alternative and not open to open political debate and good governance.
Of course the WAP AGM as a well produced and well-managed event -but that is not the point. The reporting on the event was that is was more like "stage managed" to ensure only certain and deemed acceptable voices of the membership were heard.
Of course there are fringe elements in every party. I was part of one of them in the PCs for years but it never stopped me from speaking up. It occasionally got me chastised and denied me access and influence on the power structure of the PC government. But that was not often and besides, that is the price one must be prepared to pay for being an independent voice in the face of old style politics.
Of course the fringe elements might hurt the WAP if they got the spotlight. And the media loves to distort the attention to the conflict not the content or substance of the debated issues. Look at the recent G20 television coverage for evidence of that.
However, if those fringe voices truly do not represent the mainstream thinking of the WAP then let them be heard, be openly debated and then defeated on principle by a vote of the membership. Lets not decline into political manipulation or pandering pragmatism just to stifle and hide the truth of those voices in the "big tent" merely because they may embarrass us. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Fringe elements who are not persuasive should be defeated in a vote of all party members, but only after being heard, respected and understood. In many cases if it were not for fringe elements nothing would change. Wasn't it GB Shaw who said to the effect if it were not for the unreasonable man there would be no progress at all? Is not the unreasonable man the essence of a fringe element? All change happens at the margins why shirk from the margins?
The culture of refusing to listen to the other side of an argument is the essence of old style politics and undemocratic and a slight to free speech.
I was talking about the undisclosed influence of certain powerful private sector funding sources for theSmith leadership campaign not the WAP election campaign. When we don't get to know who is paying for the Smith leadership campaign we need to worry about where we are headed as a democracy. That same can be said for the Morton, Oberg and some of the Stelmach PC leadership donors too.
The reason Smith says she will not disclose is because her donors are afraid of the government. That is interesting. I applaud Smith's AGM speech for spotlighting the intimidation innuendo and threatening culture in some parts of the PC government saying communities and organizations will be cut off government funding, even if the money serves some of our most vulnerable citizens. They are being told there will be consequences if they don't be quiet, compliant and show support the PC party. as government. I have been a victim of that kind of subtle bully of late since I quit the PC Party last December.
I don't see why any political party leadership campaign is not subject to the same campaign funding disclosure rules as elections. Then your comment Dave about us getting to see the leadership campaign funding sources would be true. But now that disclosure is only about election campaigns where the laws are strict and clear. It is not a means however of us getting to know now who, if any, is pulling the strings of party leaders
I think is it disingenuous at best, for private citizens and private sector funders to be allowed to use fear as a reasonable excuse not to exercise your citizenship rights to support whatever political candidate they may wish. If this degree of fear is true, then our democracy is in deeper and more dire straits than even I think. A political culture of fear leads to the decline and eventual demise of open representative democracy. I do not want to say fascism is around the corner but it is definitely down the block if this is truly the case in Alberta and allowed to continue.
If the Smith leadership campaign donors are truly fearful of retaliation from the PC government did they propose a policy resolution for full campaign disclosure of all political party leadership campaigns? That kind of progressive accountable transparent and honest public policy would go a long way to raising my appreciation that the WAP is offering a different and better way of governing.
We cannot allow ourselves the luxury of hiding behind an excuse of fear of our government as a justification for anonymity - even if it is true, it is not justified. If we are afraid of our government and intimidated from exercising our right or free speech and free association we not only lose them, we invite the dirty political tricks of the Nixon era to be normative again.
When someone aspires to be worthy of our consent to govern us, the fact that they get to do so through an internal process of a private club called a political party is not a sufficient reason not to have full disclosure of leadership campaign funding.
With 40 years of a one-party state, the Alberta population has been lulled into inertia, indifference and overwhelmingly cynical about the consequences of not being informed and engaged citizens. Changing that mindset is the essence of the progressive citizen's movement called Reboot Alberta.
Our conjoint survey research shows that the most important values we progressives want from our political leaders are INTEGRITY, HONESTY, ACCOUNTABILITY, and TRANSPARENCY AND ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP. The recent random sample of all Albertans had FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY instead of ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP but all the other values were in the top tier of progressives and average Albertans. There is a values consensus and a longing for political change to align with those basic political values again.
I applaud when anyone offers themselves up as a candidate for the duties and responsibilities of political servant leadership. But I suggest all citizens had better be more vigilant in pursuing evidence from those who aspire to public office or political power to demonstrate these values. They better be at the core of their characters and their campaigns and continue into how they govern.
I don't think the WAP massaging their policy messages just to divert attention away from their "true conservative" principles is any way to show evidence of alignment with those vital political values Albertans require of our political class. We need to be shown and have every right to expect those values be extant from all our actual and aspiring servant leaders...not just the WAP.
As always Dave - great to engage in conversation with you - sorry for the long response.