Reboot Alberta

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Daveberta Disagrees With Me on Danielle and I Respond

HI Dave - good to have you comment. But I have to stand by my concerns over the Wildrose Alliance Party being a scary alternative and not open to open political debate and good governance.

Of course the WAP AGM as a well produced and well-managed event -but that is not the point. The reporting on the event was that is was more like "stage managed" to ensure only certain and deemed acceptable voices of the membership were heard.

Of course there are fringe elements in every party. I was part of one of them in the PCs for years but it never stopped me from speaking up. It occasionally got me chastised and denied me access and influence on the power structure of the PC government.  But that was not often and besides, that is the price one must be prepared to pay for being an independent voice in the face of old style politics.

Of course the fringe elements might hurt the WAP if they got the spotlight. And the media loves to distort the attention to the conflict not the content or substance of the debated issues.  Look at the recent G20 television coverage for evidence of that.

However, if those fringe voices truly do not represent the mainstream thinking of the WAP then let them be heard, be openly debated and then defeated on principle by a vote of the membership.  Lets not decline into political manipulation or pandering pragmatism just to stifle and hide the truth of those voices in the "big tent" merely because they may embarrass us. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Fringe elements who are not persuasive should be defeated in a vote of all party members, but only after being heard, respected and understood. In many cases if it were not for fringe elements nothing would change. Wasn't it GB Shaw who said to the effect if it were not for the unreasonable man there would be no progress at all? Is not the unreasonable man the essence of a fringe element? All change happens at the margins why shirk from the margins?

The culture of refusing to listen to the other side of an argument is the essence of old style politics and undemocratic and a slight to free speech.

I was talking about the undisclosed influence of certain powerful private sector funding sources for theSmith leadership campaign not the WAP election campaign.  When we don't get to know who is paying for the Smith leadership campaign we need to worry about where we are headed as a democracy. That same can be said for the Morton, Oberg and some of the Stelmach PC leadership donors too.

The reason Smith says she will not disclose is because her donors are afraid of the government.  That is interesting. I applaud Smith's AGM speech for spotlighting the intimidation innuendo and threatening culture in some parts of the PC government saying communities and organizations will be cut off government funding, even if the money serves some of our most vulnerable citizens.  They are being told there will be consequences if they don't be quiet, compliant and show support the PC party. as government.  I have been a victim of that kind of subtle bully of late since I quit the PC Party last December.

I don't see why any political party leadership campaign is not subject to the same campaign funding disclosure rules as elections. Then your comment Dave about us getting to see the leadership campaign funding sources would be true.  But now that disclosure is only about election campaigns where the laws are strict and clear. It is not a means however of us getting to know now who, if any,  is pulling the strings of party leaders

I think is it disingenuous at best,  for private citizens and private sector funders to be allowed to use fear as a reasonable excuse not to exercise your citizenship rights to support whatever political candidate they may wish. If this degree of fear is true, then our democracy is in deeper and more dire straits than even I think.  A political culture of fear leads to the decline and eventual demise of open representative democracy.  I do not want to say fascism is around the corner but it is definitely down the block if this is truly the case in Alberta and allowed to continue. 
If the Smith leadership campaign donors are truly fearful of retaliation from the PC government did they propose a policy resolution for full campaign disclosure of all political party leadership campaigns?  That kind of progressive accountable transparent and honest public policy would go a long way to raising my appreciation that the WAP is offering a different and better way of governing.

We cannot allow ourselves the luxury of hiding behind an excuse of fear of our government as a justification for anonymity - even if it is true, it is not justified.  If we are afraid of our government and intimidated from exercising our right or free speech and free association we not only lose them, we invite the dirty political tricks of the Nixon era to be normative again.

When someone aspires to be worthy of our consent to govern us, the fact that they get to do so through an internal process of a private club called a political party is not a sufficient reason not to have full disclosure of leadership campaign funding.

With 40 years of a one-party state, the Alberta population has been lulled into inertia, indifference and overwhelmingly cynical about the consequences of not being informed and engaged citizens. Changing that mindset is the essence of the progressive citizen's movement called Reboot Alberta.

Our conjoint survey research shows that the most important values we progressives want from our political leaders are INTEGRITY, HONESTY, ACCOUNTABILITY, and TRANSPARENCY AND ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP. The recent random sample of all Albertans had FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY instead of ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP but all the other values were in the top tier of progressives and average Albertans.  There is a values consensus and a longing for political change to align with those basic political values again.

I applaud when anyone offers themselves up as a candidate for the duties and responsibilities of political servant leadership. But I suggest all citizens had better be more vigilant in pursuing evidence from those who aspire to public office or political power to demonstrate these values.  They better be at the core of their characters and their campaigns and continue into how they govern.

I don't think the WAP massaging their policy messages just to divert attention away from their "true conservative" principles is any way to show evidence of alignment with those vital political values Albertans require of our political class. We need to be shown and have every right to expect those values be extant from all our actual and aspiring servant leaders...not just the WAP.

As always Dave - great to engage in conversation with you - sorry for the long response.


  1. Ken : the citizens in the Fort Sask /Vegreville Constituency are scared to speak out publicly for fear of reprisal. This in the heart of Stelmach Country , many farmer/ Ranchers I talked to over the Transmission lines being forced upon them is causing them to stand but the fear is still over powering them as it was stated by 5 people at the last community meeting.

  2. Ken,

    Thanks for the response. I don't think you addressed my original comments.

    You can disagree with the politics and policies of the Wildrose Alliance, but continuing to spread innuendo about Nixonian-style aims and hidden scary conservative agendas is not helpful. Your previous post was filled with these kind of suggestions.

    I realize that it has become popular among progressives to attack with Wildrose Alliance as a scary oil-sector conspiracy or an evil paleoconservative movement. These kind of politically-charged accusations defeat the purpose of what we have tried to achieve by participating in groups like Reboot Alberta. As you wrote, "The culture of refusing to listen to the other side of an argument is the essence of old style politics and undemocratic and a slight to free speech."

    I respect the work you have done with Reboot Alberta over the past year, but the values collected in your survey are not reflected in your comments about the Wildrose Alliance.

    Reboot Alberta is supposed be about a new kind of politics, not the old style accusations.

    Progressives do need to wake up and realize that the Wildrose Alliance is a threat to how we want our province to be in the future, but if progressives respond by using the same old style political tactics, then we are no healthier a democracy. Nothing will have changed.

    Let's not fall into the old style political trap of name-calling and character-assasination. Let's pick up our game and prove that we can define our politics not through cheap-shots, but that our politics can be based on values such as integrity, honesty, accountability, and transparency and environmental stewardship.


  3. Your points are wel taken Dave but I take non-disclosure of leadership campaign donations as a legitimate reason to be afraid about the independence of party leaders and to worry about who is influencing them behind the scenes.

    If there is no conspiracy - tell us who your leadership campaign donors are. If yoiu are afraid of the government retaliating - tell us specifically why and over what.

    Citizens should not fearful about speaking out so long as they do so within the law.

    The Nixon comments I made are to indicate the potential consequences to open and effective democracy if such secrecy is allowed to be the norm. It is not where the WAP is today. But we need to be careful as citizens to ensure we never decline into that kind of political culture here.

    I think it is not old style politics to demand more such disclosure or a better evidence based proof of why such donors must be kept secret. Why so and what are they afraid of?

    I don't think for a moment that we have begun to understand the truth about the WAP political agenda. The fact that they are sensitive to appearing extreme in the minds of the public is not mitigated by using obscure language that misdirects attention on their public policy issues.

    Thanks for the feedback Dave. My comments may seems excessive in some ways. My level of mistrust is easily changed by the provision of more evidence by all political parties of their real commitment and positive action towards the values that Albertans want returned to the political culture of the province.


  4. What is this the battle of the blogs ? I agree with you on this Ken, and posted my comments on Daveberta. Keep up the good work and thank you for the lessons in citizenship.

  5. Anonymous11:05 pm

    Its fun watching progressive passive aggresive ninnies fret and wave their arms about on blogs about the Wild Rose yet do nothing other than write and writhe.

    They have created their own little virtual hypertextual constructs like Daveberta and Ken Chapman and Reboot Alberta and sanctimoniously claim within and among themselves how righteous they are.

    Then, like chess pieces, they attack each other as blog fires upon blog and pathetic sycophants are brought in to intimidate and maneuver and attack as they see their masters do in their little world of pretend.

  6. Alvin Finkel7:36 pm

    Who funded Danielle Smith's campaign? According to Tom Flanagan, it was mostly En Cana and other big oil companies. So why would he want to tell me that? Well, he didn't. I just happened to be at the table...

    I was at a small conference on communications and politics in Banff late last October which Tom attended as well. He is fairly blunt for someone involved in politics. At lunch there was a discussion of how the federal Conservatives used ten percenters to identify their supporters. According to Tom,the Tories used the tenpercenters to identify those who were vociferous on right-wing issues such as gun control and hang-em-high justice. While only a small percentage of people responded to surveys launched by tenpercenters, the party was able to raise tons of money from that zealous crowd.

    A publisher of a number of business newspapers was at our table and asked:'Is that the way that Danielle is raising her money.' 'No, maybe later,' responded Tom. 'It's all oil company money now.' 'Small independents?' asked the publisher. 'A few,' answered Tom,'but mostly it's En Cana and the like.'

  7. Thx for the comment Alvin...And we are supposed to believe that Encana is intimidated by Ed Stelmach and does not want it known that they support Smith's leadership? I'm not buying it.

    Interesting comment Alvin but if oil company majors like Encana are behind Danielle Smith's leadership I am not sure Tom Flanagan would actually know it. If he did it is very strange he is talking about it. He has turned rogue on Harper stranger things have happened.

    Interesting Flanagan insight into the use of the 10% by HarperCons as a fundraising tool - not an information motive as they are intended. For those who don't know ther "tenpercenters" are federal political mailouts done by parties. They are intended to inform consituents of what their MP is up to and mostly HarperCons.

    They are abused by them too - apparently even in this fundraising way. People have to know that the Canadian taxpayer foots the bill for that use and abuse as well.


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