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Monday, August 30, 2010

Don't Believe the Buzz About an Early Alberta Election

There is low level buzzing about a possible spring 2011 election in Alberta.  While in politics anything is possible I don’t put much credence in any early election, at least not right now.   There are many reasons why not but here are a few of the main ones. 

THE WILDROSE WILD CARD!
The Wildrose has peaked in the polls and while a threat they are stalled.  People have stopped looking to send the PC government a message by shifting “allegiance” to the upstarts.  People are beginning to wonder what the WAP is all about.  Serious questions about what they stand for beyond defeating the Stelmach government and who is in control from behind the scenes are now emerging.

Don’t misunderstand me.  The WAP is a potent political force but it is not a government in waiting...not yet.  It is right wing socially conservative core with a libertarian leader who is schooled in Fraser Institute philosophy that the marketplace privatization of public service is the best public policy option.  They also have no serious credibility in becoming the big tent progressive political party of Peter Lougheed’s day like they say they aspire to be. 

Unless the WAP takes off beyond the support levels they enjoy now, there will be no need to go to an early election.

THE ECONOMY
We are not sure where the economy is headed but it is slowing and the US looks like it is in for a double dip recession.  The federal and provincial government stimulus money has worked to keep things from totally imploding but that effort is over.  Now the open question is will the private sector picked up the slack and investing again?  Will commodity prices and confidence hold enough to induce continuing investment?  What is happening in the US economy is scary and the mouse and elephant metaphor still resonates.  Alberta will be impacted significantly with what happens economically south of the border.   Timing here is against an early election.

DO WE HAVE A SPENDING OR A REVENUE PROBLEM?
There is an emerging debate about if we have a revenue problem or a spending problem and then there is uncertainty about a possible sales tax sometime in Alberta’s future but not on Stelmach’s watch.  My opinion is we have both revenue and spending problems and they are highly integrated issues.    The Premier backed off from reasonable royalty rates seven times since the new royalty regime was announced.   Ties to commodity prices make revenues volatile and that is a planning as well as a revenue problem

We Albertans as owners of our natural resources, have the second lowest total resource revenues in the on plant next to the UK North Sea oil.  We Albertans also have the largest total amount hydrocarbon resources on the planet.  We are second only in terms of exploitable resources behind Saudi Arabia and they have not publicly updated their reserve estimates since the mid 70’s.  They have pulled a lot of oil out of the ground and few new discoveries since then so I would not be surprised if Alberta is the largest total and exploitable oil reserves in the world...thanks to the oil sands

As new technologies come on we will be able to reach even more oil sands over time.   We are next door to the USA, the largest hydrocarbon market on the planet...for now.  And we have all the necessary international agreements and physical infrastructure in place to serve the market.  This along with a stable democracy, a reliable currency, the rule of law with an independent justice system, no threat of state nationalization of assets, and a safe secure society where your employees do not get kidnapped for ransom. So why are we giving the resources away with ridiculously low royalties?  We should be charging a 35% premium for our royalties compared to every other energy provider to the US market, perhaps even including their own domestic supplies.

The problem with revenue volatility has been identified by the Premier’s Council of Economic Strategy in their recent discussion paper when they said:
“Economic volatility also means fluctuating government revenues, which hinders good fiscal planning and destabilizes program delivery. If revenues from “windfall” energy exports get built into program
budgets or subsidies, inevitably something must be cut when the windfall is no longer available. We
must also remember that these revenues come from non‐renewable resources: Spending them on
today’s operating needs can draw down the legacy owed to future generations.”

SALES TAX POLICY IS IDEOLOGICAL NOT LOGICAL NOR FAIR
If we are to sustain a low and flat tax and still not penalize lower income people we need a related consumption tax.  Yes a sales tax.  Or else we can decide to return to a fairer progressive taxation model and perhaps forgo a sales tax.  However a sales tax makes sense because it can help reduce waste and excessive consumption too and make sure the current generation pays for the public services what we use.  

That is the more fundamental principle in play here.  There is a need ensure Albertans pay our way for the public programs we want and need on a current revenue basis.  Instead of providing tax levels sufficient to pay our way we use non-renewable natural resource revenues (as stifled as they are) to subsidize current operational program spending.  Instead of paying our way we steal the natural resources birthright from future generations.  We also decide to run current deficits which are merely tax increases by another name but payable in the future...during someone else’s watch.

We need to tax ourselves at a level that pays for the services we want...and we are not doing that. Instead we are suffocating services from the most vulnerable in our society: children, the disabled and seniors.   WE generate more tax revenue from gambling and lotteries than we do from our energy sector.  There is something seriously wrong with this picture.  We need a fair tax and rent on natural resources but we also need to look at strategic taxes like on carbon to change wasteful behaviours and enable innovation. 

With loose talk of a sales tax expect a push back and nothing to happen until after the next election. Also do not expect an early election if a sales tax emerges as an issue in the public mind.  The mythology around sales tax in Alberta is as misunderstood but as significant as the mythology around the NEP.

IS THE NEXT BALLOT QUESTION DO WE HAVE A SPENDING OR A REVENUE PROBLEM?
The spending issue is a political problem because we get politically sucked into the boom and bust psychology and spend too much in good times and cut too much in tough times.

The 1993 election was all about Alberta’s spending problem.  It was focused on getting rid of our debt and deficit in Alberta.  The election issue between Klein and Decore was between massive cuts or brutal cuts.  Everything else was detail.

What happened is the new Klein government did both massive and brutal cuts - and very rapidly.  Coupled with dramatic commodity price recoveries we took a prudent 25 year debt relief program and fast-tracked every spare and new nickel into debt and deficit and we “solved” it in about 4 years.  That is less than the seven years touted by the Klein government needed to pay off the debt and deficit.  
That Alberta Advantage single minded focus left us with a Billion dollars of unattended and unintended school repairs due to lack of maintenance.  We turned a blind eye to the other infrastructure needs and failed to respond to the population growth we were all touting as part of the Alberta Advantage.  We ended up with serious shortage lack of skilled people like in nurses and other crucial public service areas.

As the economy took off we allowed unrestricted accelerated growth of the oil sands.  Rapid growth became official government policy and the energy sector pulled people away from other economy sectors with much higher wages.  When the political leadership changed and the infrastructure problems were attended to, we taxpayers ended up paying about a 40% premium to deal with the public facilities infrastructure deficit that were ignored.   All the same while we induced human and natural capital deficits by ignoring cumulative environmental impacts and growing social needs.

With a persistent and record level $4.6B projected deficit this fiscal year the question is not if we have a spending or a revenue problem – we have both. That is not something to fight in the next election over either.  So do not expect an early election unless the economy turns around and fixes that fiscal problem before hand.

THE MOOD IS NOT GOOD AND IT IS MORE THAN THE ECONOMY
The political climate in Alberta is beyond grumpy.  Albertans are downright grouchy approaching cantankerous...if they not already there.  Our research shows only 12% of Albertans are seriously on-side about being satisfied with the Stelmach government.  Over half (51%) of us do not think our government listens to us or even cares what we think.  Only 70% of us are committed to improving the future of Alberta while only 48% feel that their personal actions have an impact on making Alberta a better place.   These are not the kind of numbers that indicate a confident, committed engaged citizenry that is part of the tribal myth of Alberta.

There are 45% of us who do not trust any of the current leaders or parties to manage our province’s growth responsibly.  There is a sense that political leadership is lacking and none of the political alternative being offered will be any better.

The MPs in Ottawa are not immune either as we see the Harper government ratchet up for what looks like a federal election.  For example while most Albertans see a need for a federal role in oil sands development, even an increasing role, only 17% Completely Agree or Agree that the Alberta MPs are doing a satisfactory job of representing Alberta’s interest in Ottawa.   Prime Minister Harper is obviously engineering the defeat of his minority government and wants to go to the polls sometime soon.  That means Alberta will want to wait and see what happens federally first and that means an early election in Alberta is less likely.

CONCLUSION:
I do not see a quick provincial election unless the Wildrose Alliance starts to make more political progress beyond its current plateau of support.  The economic times are volatile and the voter is nervous about where the economy is going, here and elsewhere. There are high levels of personal debt and nagging concerns about job security.  The threat of a double dip recession in the States and a very long road to recovery means Alberta has some serious uncertainty ahead.

There is a political leadership void that needs fixing in all the parties, with the exception of the Wildrose and the newly minted leadership of Danielle Smith.  That leadership question will not likely be addressed by any political party until after the next election.  But again, in politics anything can happen and often does.  A caucus revolt over leadership in the PC that would defer any early election call.  I would be very surprised if that happened. Ed Stelmach deserves better than that and should take the party through the next election. 

There is a great sadness amongst many thoughtful Albertans that I speak with on a regular basis over a lack of clear direction and growing political uncertainty in the province.  The sadness is over the obvious squandering of potential and opportunity and emerging possibilities for the Next Alberta.  With all our strengths, opportunities, natural resources and human capital, Alberta can move beyond the boosterism of the best place in the world to becoming the best place for the world. 


If you want a progressive political culture in the Next Alberta register now for RebootAlberta 3.0 at www.rebootalberta.org

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Are Progressives to Blame for the Far Right Shift in Politics?

I answer this question from a personal perspective on my other blog Reboot Alberta.  Let me know by comments on that blog what you think.

If you want a progressive political culture in the Next Alberta register now for RebootAlberta 3.0 at www.rebootalberta.org

Glenn Beck is NOT Martin Luther King Jr

It has been refreshing to see the push back in some of the mainstream media in the US mostly CNN and MSNBC against the misleading narrow-minded and politically motivated screed of Fox News especially.

The kind of misleading commentary you see promoted in the ultra-right wings in the States these days is so emblematic of the tensions of the 60 and 70s I lived through in terms of race, violence, the Viet Nam war, Watergate, civil rights movements- and the list goes on.

Well here is another piece of clarifying push back on the Internet.  Glenn Beck is planning to take his hate encouraging screed to speak on the same steps on the same day that Martin Luther King Jr delivered his "I Have a Dream" message of hope and courage.

Glenn Beck is NOT Martin Luther King Jr. NOT by any stretch of the imagination.

http://glennbeckisnotmartinlutherkingjr.com/?utm_source=alternet

We Canadians should not be smug about this stuff.  It is socially, politically and economically rooted from the past Bush-Cheney administration.  That Bush-Cheney political culture and philosophy is alive and well in the brain trusts and back rooms of the Harper Conservatives.  Why else would they waste $2B on G20 "security," arrest hundreds of innocent people in the process, other than intimidation.  And now we see them and stifling an independent gun registry review for 6 months while they proceed to mislead us on the costs and consequences of the gun registry.

These and others and other examples of how badly we are being governed in Canada are not the big lie that Weapons of Mass Destruction Bush-Cheney used to perpetrate the Iraqi War.  It is, however, the same dishonest, disrespectful and corrupted character flaws of politicians who place personal political power above their sworn duty to provide good government.

We need to return to responsible, informed, active citizenship if we are to ensure this kind of creeping and creepy totalitarianism does not become normative political behaviour.  We need to take action and that demands time, attention and courage.  We need to make a commitment to reaffirm our rights and restore our democracy by seeking out servant leaders with goals of the greater good through good governance - not just the gamesmanship and spin of getting and keeping political power we see dominate politics today.

Alberta, like Canada, needs a progressive political alternative to counteract the swing to the right we see happening in the political culture of Alberta and Canada.  If you, as an informed and engaged Albertan, want to see a more progressive political culture in the Next Alberta register now for RebootAlberta 3.0 at www.rebootalberta.org.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Is This Why Democracy is in Trouble?

This is a British video but the principles apply broadly - including we Albertans.  It is worth the 10 minute watch to help us understand why there is some serious shortcoming in our democracy.  The problem is us.  As humans  are actually trying to change ourselves to become better evolved citizens?



Solutions:  Devolve more power to people.  Use citizen juries to deal with major problems at least twice a year.  Publish all the advice politicians get to help them make decisions.

That would enhance integrity, honestly, accountability, transparency and responsibility all the way around.  These are key values that motivate progressives in Alberta society.

We have to use our brains in ways better than we used them before we invented the wheel.

If you want a progressive political culture in the Next Alberta register now for RebootAlberta 3.0 at www.rebootalberta.org

What Do We Want to Achieve in RebootAlberta 3.0?

SOME CONTEXT ON WHY REBOOT 3.0
My sense is people are at different stages in the Reboot Alberta community.  There is an overall impatience for taking action and a feeling that time is wasting if progressives are going to make an impact on the next election.  That frustration is going to be focused by those participating in RebootAlberta 3.0 and then framed in a way that people can take action.

In Reboot 1.0 we discovered that there were other progressive thinking people who were also concerned about the future direction of the province.  We met listened and explored our shared values, ideas and yearnings about being a progressive Albertan.  In Reboot 2.0 we had some research findings about what made a Progressive, what were our priority values and our personal potential as Influentials to use the Reboot Alberta movement to relate to others and help create positive change.

There were four distinct streams formed by the past Reboot events.  Some progress has been made in the political partisan streams for sure.  There is a new progressive political party on the scene as the Renew Alberta people aligned with the Alberta Party and getting organized and moving on it Big Listen project. 

The partisan faithful from the Progressive Conservatives, NDP and Liberal parties have been going through transitions and changes too since we last met.  Even some Wildrose Alliance folks showed up at RebootAlberta 2.0 concerned about farmland conservation and local food.  They found some kindred spirits and worthwhile conversations.

The civil society groups and independent citizen streams progress has not been as easy to monitor. However we can say many in the Reboot movement have stepped up as candidates for municipal and school board elections or have volunteered to support local government candidates.  The not-for-profit groups have been just doing their vital jobs with fewer resources and more demands. It is difficult to see how the folks in those organizations have been able to press for progressive policy changes when they are so strapped for time and spread so thin. 

But then we have RebootAlberta 3.0 where these people can come together to share and consider solutions to their concerns.  They can share the load start working together to create the progressive political culture we want to achieve in the Next Alberta.

WHAT DOES "TAKING ACTION" MEAN ?
The key question is what will accomplish coming out of RebootAlberta 3.0.   The theme is Taking Action and that means first determining what that needs doing as part of the goal.  We have very little time so the focus must be fast and energy will have to be high.  Reboot 3.0 is going to be a process about defining issues, describing successes and determining what needs to be done to win.  We then have to pick out spots and commit to personal action.  We need that to get all the effort mustered on dealing with our issues.  That focus, energy, commitment and action will have a positive impact on the progressive direction of political culture in the Next Alberta.

RebootAlberta 3.0 will provide the place for progressive thinking folks in the Alberta political party, civil society groups, ENGOs, and individuals to define their concerns and work them through to taking action.  This all starts with the insights and efforts of individuals.  That moves to informal collaborative learning circles with others who eventually join in will expand the capacity to reach out to others.  This will reinvigorate the sense of citizenship and rejuvenate progressive Albertans to take back democratic control of the political culture of the province.


The end result is more effective, active and meaningful engagement of individuals as citizens, leaders, members of groups and organizations and even within our families and friends, all working to realize a self-selected worthy goals towards a better Alberta.    

EXPECTED REBOOT 3.0 OUTCOMES:
In Taking Action we will be striving for more than a few goals at Reboot 3.0. It all starts with the individual, then grows to a smaller group who work together and who engage others though their networks and spheres of influence.  Finally they all work towards creating a plan to push and pull on the levers of political power in to realize the changes they desire.  It is all done in the spirit of creating informed, engaged responsible citizenship that wants to achieve progressive democratic principles and good government.

REBOOT GOALS FOR INDIVIDUALS:
We hope coming out of Reboot 3.0 we will see individuals identify concerns.  What need to happen next is for participants to make a personal commitment to take effective action to resolve their issues and add to the progressive voice to the political culture of the Next Alberta.  That personal commitment would include learning about the issue and gathering background information.  Then defining a personal preferred outcome and sharing that with others.

Next is to reach out and gather more support and understanding about the reason for the concern.  We then anticipate some people will take a leadership position in pursuing those outcomes by finding and engaging more to become involved in helping resolve the issue. Finally we expect that people will take personal and collective action to bring attention to the issue to advance the preferred outcome.  This can be done in many ways including through political participation and influencing policy makers.

REBOOT GOALS FOR GROUPS:
In addition to pursuing personal concerns there are some broader concerns that may become theme areas for the wider group of Reboot progressives to pursue.  They will advance on the same citizenship engagement model of defining the concerns, getting informed on the background, designing and agreeing on the preferred outcome.  Then a plan will be designed to reach out to engage and inform other Albertans as they push and pull the political and public policy levers to realize their objective.

GOALS FOR REBOOT ALBERTA GOING FORWARD:
Finally I hope to get some input and ideas on what those in the Reboot community want next from Reboot Alberta itself.  Should it continue as a loose convener of events and a communications conduit?  Should it become more substantial and sustainable as an on-going organization to pursue and promote the idea of creating a progressive political culture in Alberta?  Or is the Reboot Alberta job done if the goals of Reboot 3.0 are realized and civil society, political parties and progressive citizens take up the various causes in their own ways and means?

Does Reboot Alberta grow and reach out to other Progressive and encourage them to engage and become empowered as citizens again?  Do we need a place for Progressive to congregate and share time and ideas or are we comfortable to continue living individually and in our heads?  Where do the resources and leadership come from for this work and what does success look like if there is agreement to continue Reboot?  These are key questions about the direction and destination of any effort to sustain a progressive citizen's movement in Alberta.

CONCLUSIONS
It is premature to draw any hard conclusions about Reboot 3.0 but one thing for sure; we should not come to Reboot 3.0 just to talk.  We need to identify issues that are worth the effort and justify our commitment to determine and seek solutions.  We have very little time to make a difference or impact the public policy agenda and even the possible outcomes for the next election and for the Next Alberta. 

We need to find ways to seek out, empower and re-engage other progressive citizens who have opted for non-engagement in democracy.  We need to give them a reason to believe again – even in the face of controls, coercion, fear and resentments we see all too often the current political culture of the province.  

If you want a progressive political culture in the Next Alberta register now for RebootAlberta 3.0 at www.rebootalberta.org.  Dates are Nov 5-6 in Edmonton at the Delta South hotel.  Space is limited and the early bird reduced rate of $110 goes to the first 75 who register.  See you soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Good for the Federal Liberals for this Truth to Power Outreach.

I got this in my Inbox this morning and feel compelled to share it.  It is partisan from the Liberal Party of Canada - of which I am a member.  It is not however the negative style ads like the Puffin pooping approach of the Harper Cons.  This is fact based reality showing how totalitarian and anti-democratic Prime Minister Harper is behaving.  

The people on Stephen Harper’s enemies list aren’t so different from you and me.
Richard Colvin. Munir Sheikh. Linda Keen. Or the rest of the dozen watchdogs and public servants the Conservatives have fired, forced out, harassed or publicly maligned since they took office.
They’re just regular Canadians, dedicated to doing their jobs the best they can. Telling the truth because it’s the right thing to do.
These distinguished Canadians had the courage to speak truth to power and were punished for it. That’s why I’m asking you to speak up. Please take a moment to visit the Harper enemies list slideshow and add your name in support.
Speak truth to power
Harper’s adding new enemies to his list every week.
Last Tuesday veterans ombudsman Pat Stogran was sacked for standing up for veterans. Wednesday it was RCMP firearms Chief Supt. Marty Cheliak, pushed aside for fighting to keep the life-saving gun registry.
Now reports are surfacing that Conservatives are trying to oust CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein and vice-chair Michel Arpin in a bid to remake the Canadian media landscape in the Conservatives' own image.
Take a stand for these dedicated Canadians who refused to put Conservative ideology before public interest. Watch the Harper enemies list slideshow and add your name in support. The Liberal Party, the only progressive, compassionate and responsible alternative that can replace the Harper Government today, is standing behind you.


If you want a progressive political culture in the Next Alberta register now for RebootAlberta 3.0 at www.rebootalberta.org

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mayor Melissa Blake of Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Makes a Difference

Here is link to a news release about how individuals can make a difference about how Alberta and Albertans are perceived. Melissa Blake is the Mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, a friend and former client (Full Disclosure).

This International Visitor Leadership Program around international environmental leadership is the kind of thing Alberta ought to be doing to create a better understanding of the efforts around oil sands environmental mitigation, reclamation and restoration.  It is about making personal connection and providing authentic evidence-based impressions that are an awful lot better than any expensive slick  advertising campaign - not that advertising should be abandoned.

I think Mayor Blake says it best in the release when she noted here visits were in the thick of the Rethink Alberta ad campaign by Corporate Ethics:

"It was the variety of people I met with that was most interesting," said Mayor Blake. "And the unexpected warm welcome I received."
"I was fully prepared to arrive at this conference as the most despised Mayor in Canada. Fortunately that wasn't the case at all," Blake said.


This approach is just so much more effective because it is about having real conversations with real people meeting face-to-face to form real relationship that focus on finding the real problems and figuring out the real solutions.  This with some supportive advertising that is authentic and evidenced-based not counter-spin coupled with more online follow-up with Influentials and communities of interest is a more effective way to get the next Alberta oil sands narrative out.  We need that oil sands narrative to be understood, accepted, acknowledge and respected...presuming of course the efforts we are making are in fact worthy of respect....and that is another kettle of bitumen.

If you want a progressive political culture in the Next Alberta register now for RebootAlberta 3.0 at www.rebootalberta.org

Are We on the Verge of Ecological Disaster?

This link is from a Harvard publication and was brought to my attention through Ruben Nelson of Foresight Canada. Ruben is one of the Reboot Alberta "Weavers" - the integrated whole-systems thinkers who help me try and make sense of the energy and angst behind the Reboot Alberta citizens movement.

Ruben's note was a reference to a piece in yesterdays New York Times by Thomas Homer-Dixon entitled "Disaster at the Top of the World."  I hesitate to add the New York Times link due to copyright concerns.

There is a great danger that Alberta will be very vilified by geopolitical propaganda forces like the Corporate Ethics "Rethink Alberta"  advertising campaign against tourism to our province due to oil sands development.  They, amongst others, have decided to target the oil sands as "dirty oil" and push perceptions that Albertans are not doing enough to respond to the environmental charges being laid against us.  Well quite frankly we are not doing enough.  But that is a far cry from doing nothing about the environmental and habitat consequences of oil sands development either.  The problem is our actions speak softer than  our words and too much of what we say is done in expensive glossy and untrusted paid-advertising counter-attack campaigns.

We need to do more, better, smarter, faster and with more authenticity integrity, honesty, accountability, transparency and demonstrate the on-going and extended efforts towards environmental stewardship of Albertans.  Only that way will be counter the criticism and return to being proud as owners of how this vital and necessary resource is being developed.

Albertans already know this from some values research we have recently completed.  For example the research that shows over 75% of Albertans think an integrated approach to protecting wildlife habitat, doing science based reclamation. ecological monitoring  and more concern for water and greenhouse gases is what we need to use as values to guide and drive oil sands development.  Acting with wisdom on these concerns starts to put Alberta in the preferred future spot of being the best for the world and not merely getting irresponsibly rich as we are been seen by many outside Alberta these days.

There is work being done but it is not what is being talked about in response to the criticism.  Jobs and investments are important but they are the givens in the oil sands game.  We already have more of them than we can handle responsibly. Yes they might dry up if commodity prices drop but we have no control over market prices and besides there is enough work and investment in the hopper now that will lasts us long into the future.  Time for the narrative to more on to the real issues of concern to Albertans about oil sands developments about environment and habitat protection and reclamation planning and performance.

Ruben has some hard-edged observations in his e-mail to me as to why there is a need for public pressure to do the right thing and that this cannot be left to governments and industry alone.  He said that "...business will not act as a sector - it is too tied up in short-term self interest, and democratic governments will not act until there is an obvious mega-disaster among their own citizens."

As citizens and owners of the oil sands Albertans have to start taking responsibility for how they are developed.  If you want a progressive political culture in the Next Alberta register now for RebootAlberta 3.0 at www.rebootalberta.org

Cultural Creatives Are Showing Up in the Next Alberta

I love creative people with courage to imagine and explore.  Beth Sanders is just such a person.  She is an Urban Planner who I met a few years ago when she was working in Fort McMurray in the planning department of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

She runs her own business called Populus Community Planning Inc. and is a member of the progressive citizen's movement of Reboot Alberta.

She attended a symposium called Learning Our Way to the Next Alberta we at Cambridge Strategies co-sponsored with the ATA, Literacy Alberta and others.  As a "creative note taker, she wrote poems to capture the conversation.

Speaking of creative people, you may want to see if you are a Cultural Creative and therefore likely to be a Progressive too.  Check out the survey link "Are You a Cultural Creative?"   If you are you might want to meet like-minded Albertans at the Reboot Alberta site where you can register to the Taking Action gathering of Rebooters Nov 5-6 in Edmonton

As for Beth, the cultural creative, here is a sample of one of her symposium offerings that I offer to help make your day this crisp and cool Monday morning in our Alberta:


inspiring education

an important day
for inspiring education
listening for resonance
and build the next Alberta
with shock and awe
genuine wealth
and happiness
knowing neighbours
walking to school

in the absence of truth
myth pervades
stories
we need to talk about
conscious  of renaissance
of home
economy, ecology
in genuine well
being
resilient
spirit
care
holders

diversity heals
inner spirit
virtues, values
individual to collective
practically
measuring
happiness

when I hear the word
spirituality
I reach for my revolver
to revolt
oh, you do care
about friends, family, children
we’re not bad people
we can look here
to be happy
learning to live
together

then

literacy for efficiency, equity,
efficiency
happiness
not without
mismatched skills and jobs
but diverse interventions
for significant work
wrestling shortages
demanding literacy
to entice investment

so how to support, lead
catalyze change
continually improving complex systems
observe the time
for opening
taking, making
holding space

until then
an unusual choice for
a whole province
to aim quite high
transforming, designing, researching
choosing

commitment to
excellence, equity, value
add – ing
what is, to
what could/should be
resilience designed with talking, listening
conversation
for action


If Beth's poem resonates with you and if you want a progressive political culture in the Next Alberta register now for RebootAlberta 3.0 at www.rebootalberta.org

Sunday, August 22, 2010

How Proud are You as an Albertan and Owner of the Oil Sands?

Here is a very interesting article by Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute on the reality of government and industry actions on addressing the obvious challenges in responsible development of our oil sands.   As owners of the oil sands we Albertans have to start demanding more attention to the key issues of oil sands development beyond getting rich quick.

We need to ensure we realize the wealth from this resource for the development of Alberta and to respect the birthright of future generations of Albertans.  This has to be done through a realistic royalty regime.  We had a modest increase in royalties recommended by an independent review but the current government retreated from the recommendations 7 times so far.  We now get lower revenues from royalties with $75 oil that we did at $40 oil.  Go figure.

We need to ensure and be assured that the development is done with the best evidence and science based eco-conscious extraction techniques.  We need to ensure that there is more benefit to Albertans coming out of the oil sands than investment and jobs, important as those are.  We need to ensure the pace of growth, the commitment to reclamation is real and that land, water and air as well as wildlife habitat are monitored, and damaged mitigated, fixed and aggressively protected.

If these questions are of interest to you go to www.cambridgestrategies.com and do the Are You a Cultural Creative survey.  If you are, you should consider coming to RebootAlberta 3.0 and become part of the design, development and delivery of a more progressive political culture in our Alberta.

If you want a progressive political culture in the Next Alberta register now for RebootAlberta 3.0

Friday, August 20, 2010

RebootAlberta 3.0 is Coming and all About "Taking Action"

Reboot Alberta is hosting its third gathering of progressive thinking Albertans (RebootAlberta 3.0) in Edmonton November 5 and 6, 2010 at the Delta South hotel and focused on what needs to be done to get a progressive political alternative for Alberta.

The agenda will be about Taking Action and will be a call to action for Progressives who are hungry for the Next Alberta.  If you agree that politics and democracy Alberta is broken and we need to take a different path forward then RebootAlberta 3.0 is where you want to be.   

You will get a chance to help decide what changes we need, what needs to be done to make those changes happen and what you as an informed and engaged citizen can do to make a difference.  The times in Alberta are about a power struggle between Libertarians who would isolate individuals from the needs of the larger society and our status quo politics that is more interested in sustaining political power than serving a greater and inclusive vision of Alberta. 

If you are bored with apathy and disengagement and see a chance to co-create the next Alberta as a progressive forward thinking, inclusive, prosperous, ecologically responsible and sustainable real democracy then come to RebootAlberta 3.0.  RebootAlberta 3.0 is not just a call for action – it will be action.  At RebootAlberta 3.0 you will get to share your sense of the preferred future for our province, find a way to get personally active and become effectively involved in achieving that future with other like-minded progressive Albertans.

RebootAlberta 1.0 enabled progressives to discover that they are not alone and many other Albertans thought like them and shared concerns about where Alberta was going as a society, economically and in our duty to the environment.  RebootAlberta 2.0 was focused on the values and priority issues progressives shared in common.  RebootAlberta 3.0 will be about determining what needs to be done to make Alberta reflect progressive values and then Taking Action to make it happen.

The next provincial election may be sooner than March 2012, in any event, the work of informed and engaged citizenship has to start now if we aspire to get a progressive political agenda ready to present to the people of Alberta as well as to the political parties and leaders who will seek our consent to govern.

Good government starts with citizens taking personal responsibility for ourselves, our families, our communities and others who need our help, especially children and vulnerable people in our society.  We also have to be aggressive in asserting our citizenship responsibility as the ownership of our natural resources and insisting on the highest quality of environmental stewardship now and for future generations.  It is about honest, open, accountable, transparent and fiscally responsible government that serves the greater good with integrity.  

Those are the primary values of progressive Albertans and we do not believe they are being provided by the current political power structure.  There is plenty of blame to go around for this including the lack of informed, engaged and active citizenry who have been too compliant and content with the democratic deficit and the lack-lustre political leadership of the status quo.

RebootAlberta 3.0 will be a place to change all that and take back control of our democracy, create more effective alternatives to the status quo governance and to rid ourselves of out-dated and ill-conceived political philosophies that do more harm than good to life in our province as well as on our planet.

Citizenship is more than “What’s in it for me?”  It is also about figuring what you are in Alberta for and then taking personal responsibility for the longer term greater good as well as you own self interest.  With all the potential and promise that is Alberta we ought to aspire beyond the boosterism of being “the best place in the world” and try and be “the best for the world!” 

If this makes sense to you come to RebootAlberta 3.0 and start to co-create a better Alberta.  You can register here and the first 75 get an early bird discount.  Click here to register

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Progressive Albertans Taking Political Action - the Essence of RebootAlberta 3.0

I have been busy in out of town activities and summer time and remiss in keeping current with blog posts.  That will change starting now.  That is because I have signed the contract for the hotel to hold RebootAlberta 3.0, the next gathering of Alberta progressives will focus on what needs to be changed in order to put Alberta on a different more integrated social, political, economic and environmental trajectory.

RebootAlberta 3.0 will be in Edmonton November 5-6 at the Delta South hotel and registration will be open tomorrow.  Mark you calendar and register early, this event, like all past RebootAlberta events, will sell out quickly. I will post the link for registration on this blog in the morning along with another blog post.

RebootAlberta 3.0 will be citizens getting together deciding what most needs doing to get Alberta on a more progressive path.  It will see people making a commitment to take personal action to renew democracy, review our governance and make a difference on any issue or concern they may have as individual Albertans.  They will find other link-minded Albertans who will get with them to make a difference.

The goal is not to be the bland boosterism you hear who have a goal of making Alberta the best place in the world.  There is a much greater potential for this province if we the people dare to push ourselves and capitalize on our skills, blessings and capacities.  We can be the best for the world and perhaps with our enormous hydrocarbon energy assets we have a duty to strive for such an audacious goal.  But we need to renew our democracy, revise our institutional governance models and revive our sense of citizenship before any of this can happen.

If you have 10 minutes (and I encourage you to make the time) take a look at this video and get some context about what I am talking about.  It is from the United Kingdom but it travels well into the current Alberta context. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ql3Jp3ydfE8&playnext=1&videos=hGdSiM4qY_A

If you wonder if you are a progressive go to the Cambridge Strategies website and do the "Are You a Cultural Creative" survey.  That will give you an indication and then come to RebootAlberta and find your tribe.


 

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Who Can Albertans Trust to Tell the Truth About Their Oil Sands?

Interesting columns and commentary around the ENGOs, industry and government efforts to influence public opinion around oil sands development.  Our recent values based research along with some ordinary opinion polling is feeding the conversation.

The manic messaging is becoming more important to the self interests of the various combatants rather than any fidelity to the facts in the public interest.  The public is at a loss of who to believe and what to believe about the reality of oil sands development with all the over heated hype coming from the various camps.

The credibility of all the players in this puffed up PR game is eroding rapidly.  The game being played around the oil sands is not focused on the facts and helping Albertans as the owners of the oil sands to be more informed, aware, interested and engaged on the issues and seeking solutions.  It is more about special interests being more concerned with protecting institutional reputations as opposed to doing the real work on the ground to fix the problems first.

Who Can We Trust?
Who is the everyday Albertan supposed to believe and trust anymore?  This is not a superficial question for government and industry and even activist environmental groups.  They of these self-interests all depend on the public trust and confidence to be able to do their work and to do their jobs, presuming that is to serve the public interest.  That is the key foundational question that is emerging in the minds of many Albertans. Who is representing the public interest and who are we to believe when all we see are stunts, glossy advertising and questionable content and selective information presented as facts.  Where is the adult conversation happening about the complexity, opportunity and responsibility around oil sands development?

The media, including pundits, commentators and bloggers, are also subject to suspicion.  We are as much part of the problem as anyone else. Where is the wider lens we need to better deal with the complexity of the oil sands from an integrated economic, environmental, social, and public policy approach.  Where is the wisdom we need to actually properly and responsibly develop the oil sands on a rational, integrated and long term trustworthy perspective?

What Do Albertans Value?
We have recently done another conjoint survey on values research on what values Albertans want politicians and policy makers to apply when making public policy and political decisions that impact our lives.  It is apparent that Albertans do not feel they are getting these values addressed these days.  The most important attributes for government to make decisions from everyday Albertans were Accountability, Integrity, Fiscal Responsibility, Honesty and Transparency.

If these are the most important public policy values of Albertans then anyone trying to influence opinions or resonate with our hearts and minds better be sure to demonstrate in actions - not just words - that they are authentically meeting these higher standards of behaviour that citizens expect.

What I see happening now is an attitude or political autism that is all spin and PR.  The combatants seem to be unable to read the social cues of their audiences.  As a result Albertans will dismiss for a number of reasons, including suspicion over motives that are seen as exploitative and naive self-interest, a lack of competence and judgment, a lack of respect for other points of view, ideology being more important than creating informed opinion and a default to hostility towards opponents instead of being helpful to the public interest.

We All Know Oil Sands Are Important
There are 89% of Albertans who see the oil sands as a very or extremely important element in our future prosperity.  Anyone in government or industry who fails to address this in a broader, integrated and more authentic context than we are seeing now is risking political power and their business investment.

There is a serious and growing credibility gap in what is being said to citizens, what citizens consider important and perceptions about what is actually happening in the areas of concern.  This is a recipe for disaster and extremes.  There are major gaps between existing legal and policy frameworks and actual delivery of results.  There even bigger gaps between aspirations and perceptions of reality and actual performance in many areas of concern to Albertans around oil sands development.  I call these differences "The Big Betrayal Factor" once citizens see the disconnect between what they believe to be happening and what is actually going on in their name around oil sands development. 

It is just as likely that Albertans will turn off and tune out of politics and public policy processes even more because they are so angry and resentful of the conventional way things are done.  The other possibility is there will be an electoral revolution where Albertans will say they have had enough and throw out all the conventional power hungry types for something entirely different.  One thing for sure we can't continue in the status quo and hope to realize our potential as a province and as a people.  Change, Change  Change it what I hope for.


Alberta Makes World News with 1600 Dead Ducks, New York to Cull 170,000 Birds Goes Unnoticed.

New York State is thinking of culling 170,000 Canada Geese from the estimated state goose population of 250,000.    News reports say this is "five times the amount that most people would find socially acceptable."

This is apparently a "one-of-a-kind plan" according to media reports and part of a large Canada Goose cull of about 500,000 birds in 17 Atlantic states.  It is alleged that some state plans "do not include all the scientific background."  The New York plan is to capture the geese, crate them, transport them to a "secure location" to be euthanized and buried.

Critics are saying it is not clear that there are really five times as many Canada gees as there should be and calling the plan "a little extreme."  DUH!

The motivation for this cull seems to be a result of the Hudson river crash landing in January 2009 when geese flew into the engines of the jet.  This is hardly a fool proof solution since another bird killing spree near New York La Guardia is reported to have reduced birds hitting airplanes by 80%.  Hardly a reassuring statistic that says air traffic is safe enough die to bird kills.  We don't know how big the La Guardia bird problem was, how big the cull was and what metrics were used to determine success.  Not very helpful really

I sure do not condone the proven negligence of Syncrude in the loss of 1600 ducks in their tailings ponds two years ago but it pales in comparison to what New York state is proposing to do intentionally, not negligently.
We know from our research going back to 2005 that one of the dominant and consistent values preferences for Albertans in resource development is wildlife habitat protection.

Resource development is not the same as urban airline safety but the respect for biodiversity and for our species becoming more integrated in the natural balance and flow of nature is a major human value that is becoming a  more important public policy issue.  As a result New York should be looking for a more humane, integrated and adaptive approach to bird control around airports rather that euthanizing 170,000 birds of inconvenience.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Albertans Want a More Comprehensive & Integrated Approach to Oil Sands Development

The narrative being promoted about the oil sands is not enough of the story to gain the public confidence.  Here is the news release from the Government of Alberta indicating the emphasis they will take to the other provincial Premier's in meetings in Winnipeg this week.   

This message is like water is to soup.  Essential but insufficient.  I say that as a result of a recent conjoint study on values associated with responsible and sustainable development by Albertans on their oil sands.

Albertans overwhelmingly (89%) recognize the importance of the oil sands in term of economic prosperity.  I expect people in other provinces, like Newfoundland especially, feel much the same way about the economic importance of the oil sands.  So talking up the oil sand contribution to Canada's GDP, the job creating and the secure source of North American continental energy supply is important it is not the entire message that Albertans (and others ?) want to hear.

According to our study Albertans also want to know what is happening around reclamation, wildlife habitat protection efforts and what is being done about ecological monitoring of oil sands development.  They are concerned about CO2 and greenhouse gases as well as water usage in oil sands development.  What is government and industry doing in these areas are just as vital to Albertans as the pure economic elements when they consider oil sands development.

The oil sands debate, such as it is, is polarized where government and industry seem to avoid talking about the stewardship duties of oil sands development and hard line environmentalists do the same by overlooking the economic and energy security aspects of this vital resource.  This is just not helpful in the long run for anyone, and the public confidence in particular.

I think the public is smarter than that and is longing for an adult conversation about the oil sands.  Question is how much more is the public losing confidence in government, industry and ENGOs to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on oil sands development?  Albertans clearly want their oil sands resources developed and to benefit from the wealth and opportunity they create.  Albertans are even more concerned these days that the development is being done with the highest levels of stewardship possible.  We want to benefit and be proud of how our oil sands are development.  Those are not mutually exclusive aspirations of the people of Alberta.

What Do Albertans Expect as Owners of the Oil Sands?

There is a PR and spin battle going on for the hearts and minds of the public over oil sands.  The battle is between the Government of Alberta the oil sands industry and some segments of the ENGOs (Environmental Non-government Organizations.)

The prime targets are Albertans, Canadians, businesses outside of Alberta who benefit from oil sand development and key American politicians who are fixated on a “dirty oil” message around the oil sands. The tactics being used to various degrees by all contestants are paid advertising and PR spin. 

We see the ENGO tactic of Corporate Ethics International paying for bill board advertising in a four select US cities calling for a “Rethink” of traveling to Alberta due to our so-called “dirty oil.”  There were some significant factual errors about the size of oil sands mining operation in the Corporate Ethics messages. It became a game of “he said - she said” generating more heat than light about the reality of the oil sands.

But there are other media motivated manoeuvres being employed by ENGOs.   Just yesterday Greenpeace performed another one of its publicity stunt and will get a bunch of media coverage as a result.  They hung a banner from the iconic Calgary Tower and message was “Separate Oil and State.”  Two protester wearing Premier Stelmach and Prime Minister Harper facemasks were chained to oil barrels with “Dirty Oil” written on them.  Eight of these Greenpeace protesters were arrested and that will give the story some legs in the media.

We see the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers running magazine and television ads using real people involved in oil sands technology, research and reclamation in an attempt to get an authentic human connection to the industry efforts to justify their social license to operate.

The Stelmach government is launching another quarter million dollar newspaper advertising push to “tell the world about the oil sands.”  Early indications are these ads are aimed at Albertans and Canadians and if that is the case that is hardly “telling the world.”  The recent rejection of a Letter to the Editor by Premier Stelmach to a Washington DC newspaper resulted in the purchase of a half page ad in that paper to run the letter as a way to get the message out to key US politicians.  Last time the Alberta government launched a paid advertising campaign on the oil sands it earmarked $25 million dollars glossy advertisements.  There was also some misleading in the content and context discovered in the campaign and it was quietly abandoned.

That is all by way of background for what I really want to talk.  If you want to connect with the hearts and minds of the public you should try to find out want is on their minds and in their hearts first.  Then you should talk to the public about oil sands matters that concern them.  There is a need for a conversation between government and industry about the responsible and sustainable development of the oil sands.  After all it is Albertan’s who own the oil sands.  

But are paid advertising campaigns anything close to a “conversation” with the public.  The paid advertising approach is often seen as self-serving one-way messages to the public.   There is a place for paid advertising in communications.  But in complex matters like oil sands development advertising alone is no substitute for substantial, authentic, accurate, clear and resonant conversations with the public.

So what is it about oil sands development that the Alberta public is concerned about?  What information do they want?  What do they believe ought to be the values used by decision makers as their oil sands are being developed?  How confident are they in the decision makers in government and industry about oil sands development?  At Cambridge Strategies we have designed and deployed a random sample survey with 1032 Albertans to get at what is on their minds and in their hearts about oil sands development. 

I will be doing more blog posts on this in the future but for now I want to delve a bit deeper into a survey finding that was reported in the Edmonton Journal today under the headline “Many Albertans Onside with Gov’t Handling of the Oilsands.”  It is very difficult to take a statistic and isolate it from the larger context and write a meaningful headline that also grabs attention.  So I will temper my criticism because while the headline is accurate I am not sure it really captures all the implications and essence of the findings.  That requires a bit more reflection and interpretation. 

There were some survey questions that were attitudinal and not part of the value choice questions in the conjoint study.  So they are more like opinion polling questions and relate to a moment in time only.  The value choice conjoint questions on what Albertans believe should guide and drive policy decisions on oil sands development are a more reliable source of what people want and expect over time for oil sands development.
Here is a more comprehensive look at how “onside” Albertans are with the government handling of the oil sands.  

The question asked was:  “The Alberta government is responsibly managing the oilsands.”  The response was:
  •                 Completely Agree                                           6%         
  •                 Agree                                                            25%
  •                 Slightly Agree                                                 34%
  •                 Slightly Disagree                                             17%
  •                 Disagree                                                         13%
  •                 Completely Disagree                                         5%
While there are more Albertans who agree (31%) than disagree (18%) with how their government is managing the oil sands there is a more interesting and significant factor in this answer.  Look at the mushy middle opinion.  Over half of Albertans slightly agree or slightly disagree with this statement.  These people are fluid and more undecided in their opinions.  If they move in one direction or another, that will have enormous impact on our attitudes as owners of the oilsands.  It will have consequences for politics, elections and social licenses for industry to operate in the oil sands – which is a public property.

What is it that would make Albertans in the middle group move one direction or another?  If the hearts and minds of 51% of Albertans are up for grabs what would influence them to shift one way or another about how they feel their government is doing in terms of responsible management of the oil sands.  This is not a minor issue because the survey also found that 89% of Albertans believe the oil sands are either Extremely Important (47%) or Very Important (42%) to Alberta’s prosperity.

Another serious influence on this question is how much confidence Albertans currently have in the political leaders and parties who must make public policy about what constitutes responsible and sustainable oil sands development.  That result is also in the Edmonton Journal story but it needs to be more directly related to the first question.  Again this must be looked at in terms or a possible trend. 

The question was: “Who do you trust the most to responsibly manage Alberta’s growth.”  Premier Ed Stelmach of the Progressive Conservative Party was at 23%, Danielle Smith of the Wildrose Alliance was 19%.  David Swann of the Liberals was 9% and Brian Mason of the NDP came in at 4%.  The largest segment was None of the Above at 45%.   This indicates some potential for change in Alberta politics but there is not viable political alternative in the minds of most Albertans these days.

There is great deal more opinion related results in the survey and they are published at the Edmonton Journal Notebook Blog too.  It is important to review them all and consider the implications as whole and not just individual questions.

                 

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Change is Not Easy But Committing Makes It So!

On the other blog I write called RebootAlberta I did a post citizen empowerment as a consequences of individual commitment to a cause, issue or concern.  Once someone makes a commitment then things start to really happen.  I found a great quote by Goethe to make the point.

I expect we will see people going into and coming out of Reboot 3.0 with a clearer sense of what needs to be done in Alberta for us to become the best we can for the world and why that is worthy of our efforts.

Progressives found in Reboot 1.0 that they were not alone. There are many of us.  In fact we are looking at the Reboot Values random survey and seeing how many of those folks align significantly with the Reboot progressive value set.  It will be a rough approximation of the size of the progressive population in Alberta.

In Reboot 2.0 we discerned and researched who we are and what we considered as important values as progressives in Alberta. That research is discussed in this blog post http://ken-chapman.blogspot.com/2010/06/alberta-progressive-values-align-well.html and in the context of the priority of the values held by the Reboot community and everyday Albertans.

In Reboot 3.0 there is a sense of some need for focused action on what is of importance to progressives in Alberta.  We will be designing the event to let people select what they want to talk about, what they see as winnable issues and what it will take to embed progressive values in the Alberta political culture going forward.

Stages of a Political Relationship & Thoughts for Change

I was recently given a schematic showing a model of the evolution of relationships that was mostly intended to describe personal situations.  When I saw it I was fascinated on how well it worked for the political relationship between citizens and politicians/political parties.

Let me take you on the latter journey in the Alberta political context...knowing that it may also apply to Canada.  As a Reboot Alberta instigator, this diagram helped me get a better appreciation on where we are as Albertans and what options we have before us.  Not all of them are generative.  Some are even tending to the nihilistic.  But in a free will, free speech and democratic society, all options are open to us.

First we have the Romance stage.  Here we get entranced or at least excited about the possibilities of the  relationship.  I know in the early stages after Stelmach's PC leadership win there was lots of romance with Albertans.OK maybe not with the conventional oil patch but they needed a less patronizing way to relate to government anyway.  Too band that never happened as evidenced by the rapid retreat on reasonable royalty rates for the owners of the oil and gas in the ground .

The same romance thing happened with Danielle Smith and the WAP.  The Wildrose romance was especially strong amongst the mainstream media who saw the bright articulate and media-savvy Smith as a real challenge to the tired, tepid and too-long-in-the-tooth Tory government. There is a sleeper relationship issue for the WAP.  The Social Conservative wing of the Wildrose Alliance was badly beaten by Smith in the leadership contest. She humiliated them on a 75-25 leadership vote split.

That dramatic  rejection of a Social Conservative leader was even after another staunch social conservative candidate withdrew from the campaign to stop a vote split.  Will the social conservatives stay quietly within the WAP and let Smith run the show...or will they go away?  If they go away will it be quietly?  I would not take any bet on any odds that the social conservative forces in the WAP stay quiet for long, inside or outside the bosom of the Wildrose Alliance Party.

That WAP sleeper issue segues nicely into the next relationship stage; the Power Struggle.  This stage is the essence of the current right-wing political culture war we see going on in Alberta between the PCs and the WAP.  We are being told we will need an election to sort it out...but the false presumption is that there are only two viable voter options...PCs or WAPs.  So far that seems to be the case as the centre-left alternative parties are not resonating.

If the sense of limited viable election options persists to the next vote and our only choice is between a reactionary right-wing and an extreme right-wing government I will expect an even lower turn out next election and a more vulnerable democracy as a result.

The relationship options coming out of the Power Struggle stage are interesting.  They are Apathy (tell me about it...on second thought - don't bother).  This is where most Albertans seem to be regarding their "engagement" with politics.  In essence the disengagement or who cares what happens politics is the norm.  Government is seen as not listening so why try.

Next is the Transcendence option which shows up as non-engagement.  That non-engagement is were we care what happens but in some sense for some people, they seem themselves above politics.  The passive progressives, indifferent Influentials and the majority of thought-leaders in Alberta are these days seem to fall into this non-engagement category.  They are safe and secure themselves and can afford to disengage and wallow in disillusionment without taking any responsibility to apply their skills and experience to change things.   The reason for non-engagement comes from a past of anti-intellectualism in the provincial government's political class. Arrogant abdication?  Absolutely...by both sides!

We also have Separation that shows up as alternative coming out of a Power Struggle. That leads to a sense of abandonment of hope for the future as social cohesion breaks down and a "we versus they" attitude emerges.  It is seen in the rhetoric of in real political separatist who are still around in Alberta who believe the federal government is expropriating Alberta's wealth and giving it away to others, most notably Quebec.  The Alberta Separatists are below the radar, on the fringes but they appear to be quietly infiltrating the WAP.

There are others who feel separated in their relationship with government and governors.  They have started to abandon hope as they get marginalized and misused.  They are those people who are over-extended, burned out and over-burdened trying to constantly do more with less in the voluntary not-for-profit groups.  These folks are now also being bullied and intimidated by government politically and administratively into alleging a feigned loyalty to the status quo of the current government.  They are particularly vulnerable because they do a lot of work for government and depend on good political relations for fiscal and operational survival.

There are many tragic stories from these people who are now afraid of their own governors but who merely want to serve the greater good and public interest to the best of their abilities.  They are qualified, caring and compassionate people but they are turning into cowering compliant operatives who are abandoning any hope of being effective in their work or in taking truth to power.  This is especially true in these times of a political Power Struggle in a pending election.  Power, it would seem, is not interested in truth.  It has it's own agenda...retain power at all costs.

The more hopeful and generative option coming out of the Power Struggle is Curiosity and that leads to Integration where the struggle is resolve issues or at least mitigate the consequences through Integration.  Integration in a political cultural sense is what progressive Albertans in Reboot Alberta want to see happening in a renewed and revived democracy.  Progressives see Integration as a political and public policy tool to redefine and determine a different destiny for Alberta where control is returned to citizens and citizenship matters again.

The progressive citizen's movement within Reboot Alberta seeks a new trajectory for the province in all aspects from the economy and environment as well as social policy and democratic and political reform.  Integration in these terms would be a renewed governing and political philosophy that would ensure that social, environment, economy and democratic elements are all taken into account in any public policy decisions that were being considered and the best outcomes for each governing element would be accommodated.

Integration simply means; all things considered, consider all things.  Integration and integrity are closely related and would be achieved even if all these elements were embraced in some honest, open, obvious and authentic public policy, political or governance approach.

What emerges out of Integration is a Commitment to a direction and a destination for Alberta that is based on the clear intention as well as the expressed and committed will of the governed (citizens) as well as the governing(politicians and policy operatives).  The consequences of Commitment is action but action that is about being together on achieving a clear intention and goal.  The action step is not to vote or not vote.  It is much more complicated than that, even though voting is key to creating change.

The lawyer in me knows the concept of being together and intentional about a direction and a goal is captured int the Latin phrase "ad idem"  When parties are ad idem, they are of the same mind and spirit.  It helps enormously to be ad idem in reaching agreements and in contracts for example.  When misunderstandings or differing interpretations appear, ad idem parties can return to intent and spirit of the agreement to resolve, reconcile or even revisit the agreement based on going forward towards even more mutual respect and trust.  This is all about being adaptive.  Being able to learn and to create a culture of practical applied wisdom instead of the win-lose adversarial model that merely breeds litigation as the default solution space to settle disagreements or misunderstandings.

What comes out of being ad idem in action and intent is a nice framing for the next relationship stage known as Co-Creativity.   This is were there is a possibility to synergistically change everything but still reaffirm what is important and vital to our society, our sense of self-respect and overall well-being.  I will share in later blogs my sense of the change of everything we need as we strive for as Albertans to integrate all things in a progressive approach.  I will explore how we can ensure we are clear on our political values as we express our individual and inter-dependent intents.  I will look at how we can, as citizens, use our democracy to insist and be assured that our governors act accordingly to our values and align policy decisions with our aspirations.

The outcome of this Co-creativity is described as Renewed Imagination. I can't think of a better working definition of Romance in political cultural terms than "Renewed Imagination."  When this happens we get progress, learning, wisdom and the culture of adaptive change that we want and will benefit from.  This is the path being proud again to be a citizen of  and a co-creator in designing and delivering the next Alberta.  And that stages leads to a new romantic period and starts the whole relationship building process anew.

So my fellow Albertans - it is time to rethink the trajectory we are on as a province and to set another course.  We have to come to grips with the harsh reality that way we are being governed is broken.  We have to fix it by rethinking the decision making criteria we use as citizens when we show up at the ballot box to grant politicians our consent govern us.  We need to become better informed and more engaged in our roles and responsibilities of citizenship.  And then we need to show up to vote in a way where we are least make a conscious positive decision about who we want to run our province instead of a forlorn choice between lesser evils.

We have to insist that we get offered a better choice than picking one set of SOBs instead of another group of SOBs to recklessly abuse their political power for their own ends. Abdication of citizenship is a luxury we Albertans can't afford anymore.  The world is run by those who show up.  Wouldn't it be nice if those who showed up knew what they wanted and had a positive progressive alternative.

That can happen but progressives are going to have to make it happen. Reboot 3.0 is all about starting to make that happen.  It is in early planning stages but it is happening November 5-7 in Edmonton.  You will get time to talk and plan with others who are longing and yearning for a positive progressive political alternative for Alberta. Block off this time to become a citizen again. It is time to revive your love of this province and restore your pride as an Albertan.

Here is a link to an earlier blog post that will give you a sense of what Albertans are thinking about politics and politicians these days. It will give you some context of how other progressives in Alberta are thinking and feeling.

 Join the Reboot progressive citizen's movement  and send a message to the powers that be that the status quo is not good enough - nor are the options that we are currently being offered.  Start making a difference and start making a different Alberta.  Reboot 3.0 is where it will all start.  Plan to be there.