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Friday, February 19, 2010

Will the Renewed Alberta Party be a Game Changer?

There is a “Renewed” political party that has just arrived on the Alberta scene. It is born from the amalgamation of the Alberta Party and the Renew Alberta initiative that was intent on creating a new centrist political party.


There are some very interesting historical and contemporary aspects to this revitalized and revised Alberta Party. Historically the Alberta Party was a response to the mid-80s Preston Manning political movement that resulted in the Reform Party. In talking with Alberta Party board members the membership and motivation behind the Alberta Party has become much more centrist in it outlook and political philosophy. It is still a group of dedicated Albertan who are very interested in democratic change and political transformation in the province.

As a result of this changed political approach, the Alberta Party started talking to the younger blood of the Renew Alberta initiative about working together. With some genuine generosity of spirit from all those involved, a way was found to reform the old Reform mentality and to adapt the Alberta Party into a more progressive and moderate that resulted in the amalgamation with the Renew Alberta people.

This new consensus is most evident in the interim co-chair model of the Alberta Party that has Edwin Erikson from the original Alberta party serving with Chima Nkemdirim of the Renew Alberta initiative. There are some interesting co-creation opportunities the renewed Alberta Party may offer around a new way of thinking about politics. What if politics was about citizens assuming and ensuring that Alberta had a political culture that was about a public service responsibility again? What if the general well-being was the operating principle of political culture instead of gaining and retaining political power?

The creative energy that can emerge from the renewed Alberta Party based on diversity of experiences and backgrounds is also very interesting. Consider the obvious diversity between Edwin and Chima as they work together to make a renewed and revised Alberta Party a reality. There are age and generational differences, cultural differences, the different urban and rural aspects of both men all auger well for a more comprehensive and respectful way of understanding the wide array of Albertan’s concern and contributions we all make to ensure the success of our province and the legacy we leave our children. This is a fascinating political experiment that could be a game changer.

That game-changer possibility at this point is just that. If the Alberta Party merely becomes yet another conventional command and control, top-down power based machine then nothing much will really have changed. However if progressive minded citizens engage and insist that this new Alberta Party initiative be something more inclusive, accountable, transparent that acts with integrity, and not just talk about it, then there may be hope. If nothing else it will force the existing political parties and governing institutions to adapt to a more public service based political culture.

9 comments:

  1. Good Luck with this Ken.
    I think Renew had a better chance on it's own. Lost a real chance to connect with the 7000 Albertans you needed to get signatures from anyway. You also have taken on some baggage of an established party. Also wasn't Edwin Erikson in charge when the AB Green Party sunk? Thanks for the post!

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  2. Anonymous7:51 pm

    You're all preamble, Mr. Chapman. Instead of all this manisto-ing, you should be addressing actual issues--like the Stelmach government's recent disowning of post-secondary education. My guess is that when they turn off the lights at U of A, you'll still be clearing your throat

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  3. Anonymous12:14 am

    I think Edwin Erickson left the Green Party last February and was out trying to get signatures for another new start up party, if I read his blog right. The Green Party collapsed later in the summer. I'm not sure how much REAL talk you'd be getting about important issues if all you are doing is collecting signatures on a petition. This new approach sounds like a real plan to me. But then, I'm old enough to remember how Peter Lougheed did it. He took an empty party and renewed it. I remember a meeting he had in my small home town. I went to it to speak, and he listened. It was a highlight of my young life. If I have a chance to tell another political party what I think is important, and expect them to actually listen, I'm doing it. It will be a nice change after a long time of being "told." If this party can come up with a good set of policy statements, they get my vote.

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  4. Gerard M.6:54 am

    Enjoyed the read. Glad to see this movement begin. Many people under 40(or not) are looking for something they can finally identify with so I expect this to grow considerably over the coming years. Sure there will be challenges and sure there will be critics, but in the end this is healthy for democracy in Alberta - the most undemocratic province in Canada, by far.

    -Gerard

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  5. Not super familiar with the history of the Alberta Party, so this is helpful. I'll look forward to following and learning more.

    Lots of talk about parties that "listen" and how citizens can "be heard." But politicians and political parties always claim that they "are listening." So much so that it has become hackneyed. It's hard not to be cynical.

    What does "real" listening actually look like? Where does it happen and how? What makes people feel like they've been heard, and that their concerns matter?

    I don't know the answers to any of these questions, but I think they are important to consider...

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  6. It is too soon to abandon your cynicism but there is at least a new player that wants to take a fresh appraoch. The Alberta Party listening will have to be face-2-face amongst citizens since they have no candidates etc. This means real people sharing real concerns with each other and looking at ways to co-create solutions to issues.

    The process will likely show up some information gaps and factual errors amongst people. These can be solved with a bit of research and diligence.

    I hope we find a new metaphor for a progressive political culture that goes beyoind the stale and shallow sports, war and business metaphors we see dominate the mental maps of most in the political culture and chattering classes...me included.

    I have some ideas for a new metaphor and orienting narrative about what a mature grown up and wisdom based political philosophy might be. Waiting to see what comes out of Reboot2.0 first before I start exploring it on this Blog.

    Thx for the comment BTW. It is nice to see you here on my Blog and beyond just our Twitter talk.

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  7. It all starts with the injection of ideas, and the vision of potential. When you think about it, our region is built on both lofty vision, and cynical attitudes - many times from the same people, at the same time. It is a very prairie western trait. Someone; some group lays down a ‘manifesto’ and others then enter the fray to support, or oppose the concepts. In the end, a consensus is achieved, or the idea perishes. Manifestos are appreciated in this corner.

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  8. Good to hear from you again Kim. It has been a while. Welcome back to the conversation

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  9. "...stale and shallow sports, war and business metaphors..." You need fewer young male policy wonks then, and many more women. You also need more older men and women who have lived their lives outside of politics, doing real things like farming, waitressing, etc. People less into political theory and more into practical stuff.

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