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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Alberta is Changing - But for the Better?

There is a fascinating set of op-eds in today's Edmonton Journal that I recommend highly to every Albertan who wants a real change in the political culture and direction of this province.

BLACK DAYS FOR THE SWANN
Graham Thomson chronicles (and foreshadows?) the plight of David Swann and the Alberta Liberals.  They have turned into spectators not participants as the political ground shifts beneath them...and everyone else.  Given the ineptness of the Stelmach PCs and the unease of the real agenda of the Alliance, the Liberals should be soaring in the polls and the natural alternative for informed engaged and progressive thinking Albertans.  It has not happened.  Asking why this is the case is pointless now.  What to do about the rise of the right and the self-righteous is the key question now.

We have to do something about the ugly side of politics if good guys like Ed Stelmach and David Swann are politically  sand-bagged and personally crucified by dark forces of self interest and personal power aspirations.  Democracy needs am makeover in this province.

PRESTON MANNING IS WISE BUT TOO NARROW
Next up is a very well reasoned essay by former Reform leader Preston Manning saying the PCs best reinvigorate with a new leader of it is "game over."  Like so many on the enthocentric far right, they tend to drink too much of their own bathwater.  Manning does that in spades.  He only sees the Wildrose Alliance as a viable alternative.  Given his history and the pack he runs with, that narrow view is understandable, but he is a much wiser observer of the political scene to be so myopic.  

Take his commentary and replace Wildrose Alliance with Alberta Party each time.  Except for the name and a few other changes the story is the same one. (apologies to Neil Diamond - I stole that line from his song "I Am I Said").  The emergence and growth of the Alberta Party shows a citizen's movement morphing into a political party with spirit, energy and an attitude that the status quo nor a return to the 50s is not the preferred future for Alberta.  With our gifts, talents and skills Alberta should aspire beyond the "Alberta Advantage" attitude of being the best in the world.  We need a new "Alberta Aspiration" to be the best for the world.

Preston Manning has a clear understanding of the situation in Alberta but his solution lens is too narrow.  There are other political options emerging to the Wildrose Alliance...like the Alberta Party.  There are other forums emerging beyond his Centre for Democracy for the Citizen's Assembly to occur...like a refocused Reboot Alberta to become a think-tank to offset the Libertarian harshness of the Fraser Institute and the Fundamentalist framing of the Manning Centre.

I have a lot of time for Preston Manning but like the rest of us, he is captive of his own history and experiences.  Don't be fooled by the limited options he presents...there are others. But do reflect on his analysis and ideas...that is the value he provides to the future focus of the Next Alberta.