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Monday, March 24, 2014

Is the Alberta Party Getting Cred?

The Globe and Mail Gary Mason recently wrote an insightful piece on the possibility of enhanced political fortunes of the Alberta Party.  With the shifting attitudes of Albertans of ennui, uncertainty and distrust of the establishment political parties with a well founded fear of the socially conservative Wildrose.  People are looking for an alternative preferred future.

The Alberta Party is becoming just that preferred alternative for socially progressives and fiscally prudent citizens who are looking for some fresh ideas and renewed energy to change the political culture of the province.

Young, informed engaged citizens who want a different future for themselves and future generations are leading this values based political shift. Progress in Alberta for these folks must be more responsible and sustainable than the current offerings of the established left-versus-right hyper-partisanship inherent in the current politics of the province.

With the PCs in a leadership campaign, it is a good time to think about what kind of Alberta you want and what you intend to do to achieve it. There will be lots of change talk in the next 4 to 6 months.  There always is in political campaign, including leadership races.

Can real change happen in ways we want and need to at least restore a civil polity that is focused on public interest not just winning or preserving political power.  Can we trust the current governing party and the wannabe opposition parties to create a truly caring, capable and statesmanship approach to governing?

Must we settle for the Wildrose, the so-called "only viable alternative" in an extremely socially conservative, government killing, narrow-minded Alberta version of the American Republicans?

It's time for change and change is in the air. It will not happen by accident.  It must be created by citizens who get engaged, get informed and get clarity about what they want from government and governance.  I think it's time to create a viable refreshing and authentically progressive political alternative to all the current batch of status quo parties.

For me that means its time to give the Alberta Party a chance to change things for a positive and progressive Alberta for all of us.

If you are interested in a discussion on the issues and values around what Alberta could and should look for in political leadership check out my other blog at www.oilsandsken.com

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dave Hancock: A Good Man Who Comes to the Aid of the Party

Dave Hancock was recently selected by the PC Caucus to be the interim leader of the party pending the outcome of the forthcoming leadership contest.  This may be the smartest thing they have done in the past week or so.

Dave is Mr. Social Progressive & Fiscal Conservative amongst Alberta's elected politicians. He has been involved in the party from his youth at the University of Alberta.  I met him first when we both worked on the Joe Clark leadership of the federal PC in 1976.  He served as President as established the Statement of Principles for the party that defined the progressive aspects of the PC party.

Elected initially in 1997 he has been a perpetually successful election performer often winning with the largest margins in the province. He has served in a wide array of portfolios and been Deputy Premier more than once. He has been the deep thinker and strategy guy in the PC caucus and Cabinet for years.  A cerebral quality not often appreciated or respected by the Reform/Alliance leaning "common sense" MLAs.

He pursued the leadership in 2006 when Dinning and Morton were beat by Stelmach. I was very involved in his campaign helping to develop the campaign platform with him and others. Knowing he would not make the first ballot cut he chose to visibly support Stelmach before the first votes were counted.  Many think that move was politically courageous.  It was but it was also a strong signal to his supporters and others in the progressive branch of the party they ought to rally behind Stelmach.  Dave correctly saw Stelmach as the best way to update the progressive policies of the party beyond the Klein years.  It worked...for awhile.

Dave's diligence and dedication will ensure the business of government keeps going aligned with the PC party agenda set out in the recent Throne Speech and Budget.  The administration will be given the respect and room to do their jobs, at least until the next leader comes in.  I expect under Dave's interim watch there will be some significant but quiet execution of the policy and programs that have been passed but also passed over pending for implementation.  I say this given his strong affirmation that Bill 45 and 46 are the "law" and they will be implemented. It is a double-edged sword for progressives.

So don't expect flash and dash from Dave.  Do expect a steady hand on the tiller and a mature respect for the caucus and Cabinet members who are still around to govern given the leadership campaign activities that will distract them.

He can't stop the internal caucus dissent, that is not his job.  He will also have to deftly handle the natural divisiveness inherent in the thrust and parry of the leadership race.  He will run the province professionally while the party participants are away campaigning and hoping to find a suitable leader to appeal to the rest of Alberta.

This must be a moment of pride and humility for Dave as he get the trust and respect of the Caucus and the PC Party as interim leader.  It also has to be bittersweet as he serves as the bridesmaid and not not as the bride.  Such is life.  Such is politics.  Such is democracy.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Parsing a "Poll" in Alberta' s Leadership Politics

So Angus Reid did a poll on Alberta political leadership issues that they released on March 17/14.  It was a on-line poll done March 3-9 using 698 of the Angus Reid Forum panelists. Those are people who like to answer polls and signed up to be on the Angus Reid roster for such polls.

I am always suspicious that these self-selecting Forum volunteers  are more politically active and engaged and not so random.  The methodology likely make extrapolations of under represented groups based on the results of small numbers of participants in various segments.

Say 30% of the Alberta population is male over 55. I don't know if that is true but humour me.  If the on line pool only had 10% of respondents in that group I wonder if the pollster takes the answers of the 10% and triples their weight to reach the real demographic mix.  If so it it almost guaranteed to be wrong. A chronic reality for political polling for a few years now...increasingly wrong.

That said, I don't trust theses polls for that and other reasons.  For example Angus Reid said 46% of decided voters in Alberta would choose Wildrose if an election was called the next day.  Well the election is two years away so why is that relevant never mind reliable as a serious question.

Second I wonder how they voted last time and if they are shifting their votes and why!  I expect a lot of former/current PC supporters, inside and outside the party, wanted to send Premier Redford a message by "choosing" Wildrose.  If that was the case it worked.  Redford resigned shortly afterwards.

Third is, presuming the poll has some veracity, there is a real social schism on age and gender lines in Alberta when it comes to politics.  The Wildrose support is predominantly male and older.  50% of males in the survey supported WRP and 41% of the females.  the older you were the more you supported the WRP. The PCs support was small, half that of WRP but evenly spread over genders and generations. Liberal and NDP support is greatest in youth and still behind the WRP.

Here is where gender and generational divides gets somewhat interesting.  Health Care is #1 (21%), Leadership & Economy tied for #2 as most important issues (17%) and Environment is next with 9% picking it as most important.   Old people art into health (go figure!) and leadership.  Only 6% of youth said Leadership is most important issue in Alberta today but they were the largest group to say the Economy is their issue followed by the Environment.  The Environment was top issue for only 6% of men 35-54 and only 4% of the 55+ makes gave it a concern.

More women were concerned about Health Care than men and more men were concerned about Leadership and the Economy than women.

Since Redford has left the stage, here is a bit of thought on useless polling information, namely who would make the best Premier,  WRP Smith was at 32% the Libs and Dipper leaders 8% each and Redford at a mere 11% support.  What is interesting i sthe Undecideds and None of the Above answers at 42%, mostly (28%) not sure.  That means 4 out of 10 Albertans are rejecting or reserving opinion who of the currnet crowd would be the best leader.  46% of females feel this way and half of the 18-34 demographic dont know or don't care about the qualities of current political leaders.

On the dealing with the Economy 47% of women and 41% of youth say none of the current leaders cut it. Concerning the Environment 51% of women and 46% of youth reject the current crop of political leadership. Heath Care as a concern sees 42% of women and 35% of youth lacking confidence in current regimes.

Who ever gets Alberta's women and youth on their side and manages to get them to actually vote will dominate the next election outcomes.  Mayors Nenchi and Iveson have done it in Calgary and Edmonton.  So it can be done.  The WRP is toast if this happens and the PCs are a wild card now with no leader to evaluate.

I think the next two elections are up for grabs by any party who wins the hearts and minds of women and youth - if the Angus Reid poll is right.  That is still an open question for me.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Neil Young Calgary Concert Fantastic

I went to Calgary on the weekend to see the Neil Young concert and to learn more about the ACFN campaign on Honouring the Treaty.

The Concernt was great.  Krall was enchanting and Young was enthralling.  There was little to noproselytizing from the stage but everyone in the full house knew what the event was in aid of.

The audience ws not your usual corporate crowd you often attribute to Calgary.  It looks like the four city tour will generate about $500k in proceeds and I hear some ENGO's may be matching this.  If so the war chest for fighting for treaty rights is will stocked.

The Teach In that afternoon was a disappointingly small crowd of mostly the converted and already knowledgeable.

As a front-end Baby Boomer I remember the Teach In movement well.  It is a great device to bring consciousness and raise awareness.  Lots of great comments on treaty issues from young and well informed panelists.  It was a bit of a refresher course for me on trety rights.

So now the stage is bare and the audience has gone home.  Will the conversations caused by Neil Young close with the curtain or will it continue?

I hope it continues but with more accuracy on facts, a more authenthic represnetation of the context of the oil sand and a better mutual respect of participants.

Yound closed the concert saying it was alright for good people tro disagree.  That does not mean differences of opinion cannot create and foster a mutual respect, and even friendships.

That is my personal experience, many times over, espeically in politics.  However, the facts and forums have to accurate and respectful too.   The oil sands industry reached out to Mr. Young in that spirit to meet with him in a public discussion while he was in Calgary.  I understand Mr. Young and company insisted that Dr. Suzuki moderate the event and the oil sands participants wanted a neutral moderator.  So the event never happened.

If that is the reason for failure to connect and communicate, it is disappointing and deters from the kind of informative dialogue  Mr. Young says he is trying to initiate.  Perhaps the idea can be revivied.  I will think about that idea and see if it is worth pursuing further.

Alberta Party Leader Reaches Out to Albertans Who Want Change.

Alberta Party President Greg Clark reaches out to by an open letter Albertans who are ready for change that is refreshing, caring, inclusive and fiscally prudent to look at politics and government differently.

Dear fellow Albertan,

Politics is changing in Alberta. Last election, the people of Alberta gave the PC Party their 13th majority government on the hope that new leadership would modernize the party and move it in line with the evolving values of Albertans.

Unfortunately, change from within hasn't worked.

This is an important time in Alberta history; the decisions we make now will determine whether or not Alberta remains economically prosperous and socially strong for generations to come.

Alberta needs a government capable of creating a long term plan, and sticking to it. We need a government committed to ensuring we have good jobs now and for our kids. A government committed to keeping our economy strong while still protecting our environment and a government that will return power to local MLAs to allow them to stand up for the people who elected them.

Most of all, we need a government with integrity and free from entitlement.  


This is about something bigger than the PC Party... way bigger. The world is changing and Alberta needs to not just change with it, we need to lead that change. This requires new thinking and new energy in government.

If you voted for the PC Party in the last election and you're considering what to do next, I think you'll like what you see in the Alberta Party.

You can learn more at www.albertaparty.ca and you can contact me directly on my personal email at greg.clark@albertaparty.ca or on twitter at @GregClark4AB.
Sincerely,

Greg Clark, Leader
Alberta Party