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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Thoughts on an Alberta By-election

 

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THOUGHTS ON A BY-ELECTION



There will be lots of chattering-class speculative and extrapolative commentary on the consequences for the UCP and Jason Kenney over the Brian Jean victory in the Fort McMurray Lac La Biche By-election. Media and partisans will have a lots of click-bait baises to feed.


WHERE ARE WE NOW?

I see today as a new Baseline for Alberta to measure our progress in our economy and our society, and how we will now see ourselves al Albertans.
I see the byelection of Brian Jean as a trailhead and the starting place of another path for yet another Citizenship Journey. With the Jean victory and the April 9 UCP Leadership Review Vote, I now have a sense of urgency about the political path we are now heading down.
This Citizenship Journey is upto and including the May 2023 General Election. I am reminded of the African Proverb: "If you want to go fast walk alone. If you what to go far, go with a group."

Regardless of your intent, fast or far, This Citizenship Journey will not be a walk in the park on a sunny day for us as persons nor us as the people we call Albertans. The political processes and election outcome may well define and determine what it means to be an Albertan for the foreseeable future.

INTO THE HEART OF DARKNESS?

I strongly believe the next year or so will be a march into the darkness of tribal political battles with the blessing of a robust, and at least for now, Democracy. The battle fields will polarized hyper-partisan inter-party UCP vs NDP ideological assaults and leaders personal punch-ups .

Then there are the Far-Right interpersonal Kenney vs Jean clashes, regardless of the results of the April 9 UCP Leadership Review Vote.. That will aid and abet a UCP vs Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta - WIPA hostilities. that promises to be vicious and vile.

There will be lots and lots of skirmishes and conflicts. They will seen as crusades by the combatants over many different issues and concerns in many places and spaces. But in reality they will all be about the same thing, achieving and allocating political power to impose a doctrine, a dogma and a Ruler, if you are battling from and for the Conservative Right.
The Political Ends of those Battles will be the Taking of Power. Those Ends will justify using whatever Means "necessary" for those who are fixated on the fight and singularly focused on winning at all costs.
Values like honesty, trust and integrity will become distorted battle cries. They will be touted as goals of being or becoming better for the benefit of everyone. There will be cliches paraded but they will be nothing more that reassuring charades to divert attention from the truth of what's really going on, the pursuit of power.
The real goal of these political battles will be an Ideological Victory for the winner and the Vanquishment of the enemy loser.

IF NOT THIS, THEN WHAT?
Where does that leave the nonpartisan, or should I say non-combatant, citizen?There are so many known unknowns, both immediate and emerging. There are the inevitable unknown unknowns as well. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity will be the New Normal for many.
We are not sure where this march into battle will lead us nor leave us. We are not sure about what will be obstructing our way as we each try to understand and adapt to new realities, many of which are beyond our control.
We are not even very clear about what will be achieved at the end of this journey. What is the collective consensus about our preferred future? How can that be established on a battlefield?
Could we, in the heat of battles, strive to define, design, direct and decide that preferred destination given our polarized political culture? Can Influence be Powerful in the hearts, heads, and hands of Citizens devoted to Democracy?

FEARFUL UNCERTAIN AND DOUBTFUL?

The time from now up to the next election are Days of Living Dangerously as an Albertan. As a citizen you have choices to make. Either step up, as a Citizens and,get engaged. Or choose to be be passive, complacent, and compliant. Take a seat at the political table. If you don't then expect to be on the political menu.
You can have an impact or be impacted. But don't be duped and mislead into Indifference. There is too much is at stake to unconcerned or disengaged.

Sunday, February 06, 2022

What's Going on in Alberta?

What's Going on in Alberta?


First a Disclaimer:

Angus Reid Institute does good work when it runs surveys.  They are far from perfect because there is no assured randomization in the sampling as they use online panels for responses. 


That said, their poll results are “true” for those who answered the survey.  But be careful in extrapolating any poll result in Canada as representative of the hearts and minds of your fellow citizens. 


That Said:

Angus Reid recently published a Three-Part morbidly fascinating poll of Canadian's attitudes about our politics and the state of citizen disengagement. 


I’m going to focus on Part 2 “More Believe Electoral System is Weakening than Becoming Stronger.” The survey asked, “...whether as series of  significant pillar of a strong democracy…were strengthening or weakening in this country.”  Spoiler Alert! Albertans are far and away in the belief that the pillars of Canadian democracy are growing weaker.


When asked “Thinking about each (pillar) would you say they are growing stronger or getting weaker in Canada, the Weaker responses were reported, and here are the comparative numbers:


THE RULE OF LAW APPLIED EQUALLY TO EVERYONE.

The UCP has passed a plethora of anti-democratic laws and erosion of the fuel of law. Think the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act and the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act for two primary examples.

53% of Canadians believe this is weakening and 67% of Albertans see this is weakening.


POWER IS INVESTED IN THE PEOPLE.

Reboot decries the excessive influence of dark money donors, the potential for extremists' takeover of political parties, and Political Action Committees' self-serving capacity to take over and control candidates.

51% of Canadians believe this is weakening and 69% of Albertans see this is weakening.


PROTECTION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF EVERYONE.

The UCP is becoming increasingly Authoritarian and Fascistic in how it is governing. Look at the abusive Allan Public Inquiry into UnAblertan activities and the secret heavily funded, secretive, and unaccountable Kenney War Room designed for political propaganda purposes. Also, consider the abuse of LGBTQ students in public education and the destruction of GSA groups.

35% of Canadians believe this is weakening and 44% of Albertans see this is weakening.


FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS.

This is a serious concern for citizens and citizenship. We see the Republicans undermining this principle of Democracy. We have the UCP previous leadership election under Criminal Fraud investigation by the RCMP. The General Election has numerous Elections Alberta fines against illegal UCP campaign financing breaches.


34% of Canadians believe this is weakening and 58% of Albertans see this is weakening.

46% of 18-34 year old men say elections have become less free and fair. That is a dangerous group if they stay seriously disgruntled, feel excluded, and are disregarded.


EVERYONE CAN ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN THE POLITICS AND CIVIC LIFE IF THEY WANT.

Reboot Alberta is, at its essence, about the Citizenship Journey to enhance, enable and empower civic participation in politics and fixing our political culture.


24% of Canadians believe this is weakening and 35% of Albertans see this is weakening.


In all these questions  Albertans were rated the lowest on these beliefs.


  • Only 62% of Albertans, again the lowest in the land, are “proud to live in Canada.” 14% are Unsure, the highest in the nation.

  • 31% of Albertans agree that we have a “good system of government in Canada. 

  • A mere 53% of Albertans feel that “Canada is a prosperous country.”

  • Some 57% of Albertans believe Canadians are a “caring society.”


We are on a downward spiral in Alberta by the looks of this.  And this is only part of the survey findings.








Sunday, July 07, 2019

Will Big Money Manipulate Alberta Politics?

The advent of American-style big, and sometimes secret donors, coming into Alberta's political culture through Political Action Committees (PAC) is not good.  The situation isn't as bad as the American model where their Supreme Court ruled that, under free speech rights, there would be no contribution restrictions and no disclosure requirements for election supports and spending.  However what we have for rules regarding PAC contributions is far from ideal for a health for democracy or to assure trust in our political parties and politicians and fairness in our electoral processes.

The very first law passed by the new Notley government was to impose restricted levels of donations by individuals, corporation and unions directly into Alberta political campaigns. but there are no contribution limits on corporations, unions or others for PACs. In December 2017 further legislation passed to set up an Election Commissioner with power conduct elections and to receive complaints, review and discipline on matters of involved legal breaches in elections.

PACs now have to disclose donors over $250 and they must all be from Alberta and imposed limits on spending in months before an election.  We are now in constant election mode what with the hyper-partisan belligerent rivalry between the two major parties.  We have the not-so-United Right United Conservative Party under Jason Kenney and Rachel Notley's rogue Alberta NDP that is far from aligned to the Federal NDP as required by party documents.  Notley is also at loggerheads with the BC NDP over pipeline access to the west coast.

As a result we are now seeing some significant PAC advertising spending in October and November to get ahead of the December 1 deadline and to help identify and frame the issues for a party and/or leader before the 2019 election.  The laws governing PAC are still too loose, had to enforce and the actions taken by some PACs have been dodgy at best.  Now the NDP has filed a complaint with the Elections Commissioner in one such dodgy instance.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Disruptive Technologies and the Skills Revolution


As part of my work with GO Productivity I have been all over Alberta conducting workshops on the impact and implications of disruptive and emerging technologies on small and mid-sized businesses. 

Key questions we canvassed participants on was around the changing skills needed to work in a digitized and automated economy.  While many existing routine and even analytical jobs in professions like law and medicine will be lost or changed, others will be created.  There is definitely a “skills revolution” happening.  It’s in early stages but it has traction and is gaining momentum.

The new world of work and the coming skills revolution will have disruptive impact on the next generation too.  The Royal Bank of Canada has just released a report dealing with this change called “Humans Wanted, How Canadian Youth Can Thrive in the Age of Disruption.”

Here is how they frame the issue: “The next generation is entering the workforce at a time of profound economic, social and technological change. We know it. Canada’s youth know it. And we’re not doing enough about it.”

The challenge they discovered is “…a quiet crisis — of recent graduates who are overqualified for the jobs they’re in, of unemployed youth who weren’t trained for the jobs that are out there, and young Canadians everywhere who feel they aren’t ready for the future of work.”  

In response, here is the ambitious commitment from the RBC to deal with the issues: “RBC wants to change the conversation, to help Canadian youth own the 2020s — and beyond. RBC Future Launch is our 10-year commitment to that cause, to help young people prepare for and navigate a new world of work that, we believe, will fundamentally reshape Canada. For the better. If we get a few big things right.”

The RBC also puts out a related challenge to business, government and educators.  “We all bear responsibility to change that. As employers, we need to rethink the way we hire, retrain and continuously reshape our workforces. As educators, we need to think beyond degrees and certificates. 

As governments, we need to take advantage of the world of instant information to harness the coming skills revolution. And young Canadians everywhere need to seize the moment, to demand more of Canada and more of themselves.”

We are all responsible and many of us are able to respond.  As it stands now business, government and educators are all weak links in dealing with this crisis and engaging in the solutions.  It will take a collaborative, concerted and consistent effort to change how we do things, independently, and more to the point, together, solve this….and it must be solved.

The place to start is to read the RBC report and reflect on the new skills and the new mix of skills for the digitized automated Industrial Revolution 4.0.  Then look at your operations and start getting specific about what you can do to be part of the solution to our common problem.

When everything is changing at the same time at ever accelerating rates, there is no option to watch and wait it out.  We all must take steps to be the disruptors - not the victims. Adopt, adapt and take economic advantage of the change ... or whither and die.  Stark? Yup.  True? Absolutely!