Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Will Danielle Smith Deliver Us From Evil?

So we are supposed to believe the kinder, gentler more moderate mask of the Wildrose Alliance Party coming out of their first AGM! I’m not buying it and I doubt any thoughtful Albertan will either.

We are being told by the WAP leader that “We’ve enough of socialists and liberals masquerading as conservatives.” Well we are about to get a snoot full of moderate masquerading to divert us from the realities of the reactionary and radical republican like Wildrose. They will try to tell us they are more like true blue caring conservatives and not the Wild West reformers of the past.

Be afraid Alberta. Be very afraid. We need transformative change in Alberta’s political culture for sure. We don’t need to return to the ways of thinking and acting back in Eisenhower’s and Nixon’s days. That is where the WAP would take us – back and backwards. We need to move forward and while the PCs are increasingly inept, the WAP is not the kind of political alternative that is in the best interests of Alberta and Albertans moving forward.

Let’s look at some of the outcomes of the WAP “coming out party” this last weekend at their AGM in Red Deer. First, it was hardly a ”coming out party” when you look at just how much of the authentic and actual beliefs of the social conservative base were gagged and stuffed in the policy and platform closet. Keeping the reactionary radical right base of the WAP out of sight and out of mind is the hope and strategy of the WAP power elite as they pursue personal political power in our province. Instead of bringing Albertans some clarity about the true policy intentions of the WAP we now have more opaqueness and obfuscation as we saw the policy resolutions orchestrated and staged.

Calling themselves “the true conservatives” this group of libertarians and social fundamentalists is still the same as they were before the weekend in Red Deer. They are still playing politics the same old HarperCon way. Say whatever you need to say to get elected then do what you want with the political power at your disposal. Most of the Harper Con MPs are working for the WAP including such enlightened luminaries as MP Rob Anders. The new kids on the block are being well mentored

There is a quote from the Edmonton Journal about a resolution debate on granting “unequivocal right to own firearms” that sums it up so far as the true conservative beliefs behind the soft peddling of policy resolutions. One WAP delegate is quoted as saying regarding establishing the right to bear arms in Alberta “basically I support…what is written here, I’m just worried about how this may be received in the public and portrayed in the media, so I am voting no.” So much for integrity, honesty, transparency, accountability and trustworthiness of the WAP approach to a different kind of politics. It’s the politics of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld being imported into Alberta.

We are all supposed to stay asleep at the switch and suspend our disbelief about the cold cunning and calculating fundamentalist heart of the social conservative base of the WAP. We are supposed to pretend there is a shift in the “true conservative” thinking of the WAP towards the political centre. I think this is no shift to the centre. It is merely a cynical calculating crusade to take political power and move Alberta society to the far right as fast as possible.

I find it eerily ironic that the education guidelines for the Bill 44 amendments to our Human Rights laws by the Stelmach PCs as an appeasement to the social conservatives came out this week too. To refresh your memory, Bill 44 was successfully pressed on Stelmach by guys like Rob Anderson, WAP floor crosser. It allows religious fundamentalists to persecute teachers if they don’t get advanced notice where religion, sexuality and sexual orientation even come up in class. With those restrictions it may be dangerous to even teach the Canadian Charter of Rights, and the Catholic schools are already seeing the dire consequences to their faith based education rights. That is just one example of the kind of socially regressive and intentionally oppressive laws we can expect more of with a WAP government in Alberta.

The “inching to the centre” by virtue of carefully worded revisionary framing of key policy issues are that are to appease the average Albertan and lull us into staying inert politically. Let’s look at some of the manipulation of language to manufacture a myth of WAP’s new found moderation. They watered down a resolution aimed at killing unions and passed a policy to “allow individual workers the choice to determine their membership in labour organizations.” That is the law now! There is nothing transformative, useful or even intellectually honest in that pointless policy stance. It is bound to be overturned on a Charter challenge anyway but that is the fundamental philosophy of the WAP policy approach.

They whitewashed the prior policy to disallow teachers to strike to simply review what services in Alberta are to be deemed essential. Cute and cunning but the motivation to still punish teachers and unions prevails notwithstanding the vague and vacuous wording change.

I love the resolution to establish an Alberta Constitution. That is a real wolf in sheep’s clothing. There are about 8 to 15% of Albertans who are separatists and they are mostly lurking in the bowels of the WAP these days. The idea of a sub-national constitution is absurd, unless of course you intend to pursue separation from Canada. That is the hidden agenda behind that resolution otherwise it makes no sense.

Then there is a semi-secret society of serious and self-serving oil money in Calgary that was behind Smith’s leadership and now they seem to be pushing the WAP itself. They were originally out to spank Stelmach and they did that rather well. They were after Stelmach because he was not one of them and not their puppet – at least not in the first year of Stelmach’s Premiership. Now they are out to unseat Stelmach. Have they found a new and more compliant puppet in Danielle Smith so why even bother to intimidate and bully Stelmach anymore? There is a certain faction within the Alberta energy sector that has effectively become the natural governing party in this province. The operate behind closed doors and were especially influential in controlling the economy and environmental policy under Klein. They seem intent to continue to wield quiet power and behind closed doors influence through Smith and the WAP, just as they did through Klein.

These energy sector tenants have all but effectively taken over the title to the natural resource property that Albertans actually own. And Albertans need to wake up to that reality and change it. The WAP is not the way to take back control of our democracy and reassert the citizen ownership of our resources. Just consider Smith’s response to the recent negligence conviction of Syncrude over the dead ducks in its tailings ponds. She did not assert the proxy position of the people of Alberta. She sided with the company calling for “common sense and restraint I how the verdict is applied.” Not a thought about beefing up enforcement and monitoring or environmental laws and regulations behind that attitude! No calling out the industry tenants of our natural resources for negligence and risking being seen as not worthy of their social license to operate their businesses responsibly in service the public interest as well as stockholders. Nope – Smith was all about not ruffling the feathers of big oil and she chose to dance around any debate on enforcement by using escape clause language like “common sense and restraint.”

There is change in the political air in Alberta but I don’t see the change offered by the Wildrose Alliance Party as anything more than the same old pursuit of political power for its own sake. What is worse is they are already showing they are intellectual dishonestly, a lack of integrity and a less than robust commitment to transparency. Albertans are going to demand those values be demonstrated not just talked about in stage managed political theater before any trust will be bestowed on any political party or leader. Means justify ends in Wildrose country and that is not good enough.