So yesterday was a big day for the New Kid on the Block Alberta Party. It has its first MLA as Dave Taylor moves from disgruntled Liberal to disaffected Independent to the discovery of the Alberta Party.
There was lots of noise over this move in the social media and the traditional media. I was even taken to task as an Alberta Party member for a blog post I did on January 8, 2010 when two PC MLAs went directly from one party to the Alliance without any cooling off period as Independents to take the temperature of their constituents over such a move. Give it a read and tell me what you think is the right way for politicians to change their minds. What about when a political party kicks out an MLA like the PCs did with Raj Sherman and Guy Boutilier? Should the PCs first consulted with their constituencies to get permission?
There is no simple answer and saying it is just "politics" as usual is not very satisfactory either. The bottom line in al of this be careful and intentional about who you vote for. Politicians are given consent to govern us at the ballot box. We defer to their judgment to make value trade-offs and choices on our behalf all the time. We also empower them to make laws that will limit and dictate our behaviours. That is a lot of power.
The unanswered question is what guides and drives our ballot box choices and is there just one answer to that question? Is that answer simple or complex and does it change over time between elections? Of course all these variable are in play so to over simplify the relationship of the elected and the electors is a mugs game. Add the other complexity of is a politician beholden to the direction of the constituents or to their own conscience?
How is a politician to know the hearts and minds of constituents and are they fulling informed on the facts, implications as well as the feeling and emotions around any proposed policy decision? On the other hand how are constituents to know what is in the heart, mind and morality of the politician as they seek wisdom in order to make a values trade-off between competing interests. All political decision have a moral underpinning to them and that adds to the complexity of communications and comprehension.
Those of us not in Calgary Currie can rant and rave all we want but we are spectators in this contest. The players are Dave Taylor and the citizens of Calgary Currie. What they think about his decision to move out of the Liberal Party to Independent is as critical as their reaction to his move from Independent to Alberta Party. That is Dave Taylor making hard political choices and that always means a trade-off of values.
The right to make that choice is Dave Taylor's. The right to assess and pass judgment on that choice is the right of the citizens of Calgary Currie. If they want a by-election now to assess Taylor's choice, they can tell him so loudly, vociferously and in great numbers. If they want to wait until the general election coming sooner than later they will stay quiet and pass judgment on him then. In the mean time the rest of us can armchair quarterback all we want but it is just crowd noise. Unless Calgary Currie wants to take Dave Taylor to task for his decisions, who are we to judge?
As for the Alberta Party, the Dave Taylor move to join them is a big boost of public credibility and internal confidence. However, one swallow does not a summer make. There is a great deal more to do before the Alberta Party is election ready and credibly so. As for some great commentary on all this to-ing and fro-ing read Graham Thomson of the Edmonton Journal, Josh Wingrove of of the Globe and Mail, Kevin Libin of the National Post and one of my favourite bloggers - The Enlightened Savage.
The next step for the Alberta Party is finding a leader. A major move in that direction happened yesterday too. Glenn Taylor, the current and three time Mayor of Hinton took the first overt step towards running for the Alberta Party leadership. He put up the non-refundable deposit as a candidate as a show of good faith and his personal confidence in the Alberta Party. Now he awaits a final decision to run or not depending on the final rules for the leadership campaign from the Alberta Party Provincial Board, expected February 5th.
Full disclosure, I am working on Glenn's bid for Alberta Party leadership. So stay tuned for more on Glenn Taylor and feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you want to join the Alberta Party and the campaign team.