RebootAlberta 3.0, a gathering of progressive thinking Albertans happened last Friday and Saturday. It was inspired by the initial efforts of Dr. David Swann, Leader of the Alberta Liberal Party and his “Let’s Talk” efforts to reach out to progressive political parties. That effort, while sincere, failed because it was political party to political party. The traditions of turf, pride, partisanship and the competitive nature of politics doomed such an effort at co-operation.
What occurred to me was that such a meeting of the minds could happen at Reboot Alberta since we have established a reputation to be inclusive of progressive thought leaders from a wide range of political affiliations. I met with David and approached the idea and he was very supportive. A quick check in with the other Reboot Instigators and key individuals dedicated to the cause of a more progressive political culture in Alberta and Reboot3.0 was on its way.
The opportunity for a conversation on what can be done to coalesce the progressive perspective into a political force in Alberta was the focus of Reboot3.0. This focus is part of the progression of RebootAlberta as it works towards a more informed and focused sense of citizen engagement. We were very successful in creating the space for politics to be introduced directly into the Reboot community discussion with a panel of partisans. They presented their perspectives on politics in their parties and the Democratic Reform Project was also part of the presentation. Thanks to Troy Wason on behalf of the Progressive Conservatives, Phil Elder speaking for the Democratic Reform Project, Chris LaBossiere as President of the Alberta Party and David Swann the Leader of the Alberta Liberal Party for participating and making that part of Reboot 3 so interesting and informative.
We had two critical flaws in this process – and I take responsibility for both. The flaws were that the timing of Reboot3.0 was coincidental to the NDP Convention in Red Deer so we were unable to get someone to participate in the panel from the NDP. I have to give kudos to Nancy Furlong, the President of the NDP, for her extra effort in trying to finding us someone to come and speak at Reboot3.0
The second critical flaw was that we did not invite the Wildrose Alliance Party to participate. I canvassed the crowd at Reboot 3.0 asking if I should have invited them and the significant majority said yes. I didn’t invite them because I don’t believe they are interested in progressive public policy. While that may be true, we did have a couple of Wildrose Party members attend Reboot 2.0 because they were “dragged along by their wives.” However they were farmers and ranchers who had a serious interest and experience in conservation issues so they fit right in on those terms.
In any event, one of the key elements of RebootAlberta that participants really value is the safe and respectful space it creates for meaningful and diverse conversations that includes all progressives of all political persuasions, partisan or otherwise. The discussions often highlight disagreements but at Reboot they are not done disagreeably. Progressives not only respect diversity, they thrive on it so it should not be a surprise that they would want to hear what the WAP had to say about promoting progressive values in the Alberta political culture.
When we discussed the future of RebootAlberta we were asked to convene the next gathering to be known as Reboot 4. I am thinking it may happen in March 2011 as part of the continuation of the Learning Our Way to the Next Alberta project. We will want to expand the reach of the progressive citizens’ network in Alberta. We will want to increase political participation through parties, not-for-profits or otherwise as people self select. We should start using the cultural creative aspects of Alberta as a core ingredient of the Reboot Alberta citizen’s movement in Reboot 4.0.
There will be more on the outcomes and events of Reboot 3.0 in some future blog posts. For now a further thank you to Dean and Glenn Taylor as well as the Alberta Liberal Party for hosting the Hospitality Suites at Reboot 3.0. Much appreciated.