Reboot Alberta

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Take Time to Vote for The Grizzly Manifesto

I am championing Jeff Gailus' book The Grizzly Manifesto in the Alberta Readers' Choice Awards.  You can vote for this book - and you should - if only because I asked you to.  But you should also read the book and the other four books in the competition.  There is a rich array of genres awaiting your reading pleasure.

Here is a link to vote for Jeff's book. You have until the end of business on May 31 to vote on this book - so don't waste any time!  Vote once a day.  It is allowed!

If you want to get a sense of why I am championing this book - read this newspaper article based on an interview I did on The Grizzly Manifesto.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Alberta Party Leadership Candidate Debate

Here is the long form video of the recent Alberta Party Leadership Debate held in Calgary.  It is 2 hours long so put on a pot of coffee first.

The Alberta Party Leadership Convention is in Edmonton May 27-28 and will be Live streamed.  More to follow on those details.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vote for The Grizzly Manifesto in the Readers' Choice Awards.

The Readers' Choice Awards is a great prize and serious upside recognition for an Alberta author. The competition this year is between five terrific titles but my preferences is for The Grizzly Manifesto.  I really think Albertans are hungry for this kind of information and narrative.  We can't presume our species is in control and be oblivious to our place in the biosphere - even the carbon cycle.

Jeff Gailus teachers us, implores us and after reading this book, I know it will motivate us to take a more meaningful  look as how humanity is integrated into nature.  We have to do a much better job of being human within nature, not just consumers who are indifferent to our place in the planet.

I strongly recommend you read all the books but you vote for The Grizzly Manifesto.  It is not like an election.  Here you can vote early and often - until the end of May.

Here is the link to vote for the book I am championing.   

As for the rest, you can check them out here - but only after you vote for The Grizzly Manifesto.

Vote a bunch of times between now and May 31 and tell your friends and family to vote for The Grizzly Manifesto - but be sure to buy it and read it too.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Premier's Council for Economic Strategy Report is Some Kind of Wonderful

Premier Stelmach gathered together and challenge twelve of the most thoughtful minds you can imagine to actually imagine the reality we face as Albertans to ensure our prosperity from now until 2040.  Then they were challenged to get focused on major aspects of the challenges ahead.  That resulted in the five themes in the report.

The themes are:

  1. "Realizing the full potential of our energy resources;
  2. Broadening the economic base;
  3. Preparing to prosper in a global economy
  4. Providing a strong platform to sustain economic growth;
  5. Investing in shaping the future.

Premier Stelmach framed the focus on the future challenges for Alberta in three ways. I have described them below and added the emphasis!

"What must Albertans begin to do now to sustain prosperity through the next three decades and beyond."

Next he asked the Council to consider "How can we ensure our children and grandchildren enjoy even greater opportunity than we have - that we hand future generations a legacy of 'a better Alberta'"?

He closed with the question of "What will it take to make the Alberta of 2040 the place for creative and committed citizens to live, work, raise families, contribute to an enjoy society."

This language aligns so nicely with my sense that we have to move beyond the Alberta Advantage and into defining and designing the Alberta Aspiration.  The report of the Premier's Council for Economic Strategy is magnificently aligned with that way of thinking as it responds to the challenges posed by Premier Stelmach and points to potential and mindset adaptations we must make to move beyond the Alberta Advantage.

I am anxious to deal with the content of the report.  It is a truly terrific document and designed to spark conversations and considerations of what we must to to adapt and achieve our potential in the coming but still uncertain future. I will get into the meaning and merits of the report in other posts.  For now you need some context and a reason to read the report yourself.

I have chosen a could of quote from the introduction of the report and believe these words are more than enough to intrigue committed and concerned Albertans.

"This report of the Premier's Council for Economic Strategy is intended to inspire dialogue and action to ensure that in 2040 and beyond, the citizens of Alberta will be thriving, enjoying a desirable quality of life."

"We call on all Albertans to make intentional choices now to shape their future, the future of their grandchildren and the future of Alberta."

"In these pages,we identify opportunities Alberta has within its grasp, given its history, endowment and potential.  We also shine a spotlight on threats to Alberta's future prosperity and suggest strategies for managing these risks as well.  Our focus is on building an Alberta that is resilient and outward-looking, with all its citizens contributing to their full potential and ready to seize opportunities, a respected and strategic player in Canada and on the world stage."

If that language does not make you want to read the report, then you are clearly too cynical or to presumptive that tomorrow will be just like today, only better, with out change or applied effort.and intelligence.

Here is the link to the full report.  It is a call to action for all Albertans.  Be part of the design of the next Alberta.  This report is a provocation towards a new and more appropriate purposefulness for the next Alberta.

Ready, reflect and respond.  It is within our grasp to create the future we want and avoid the dangers of continuing the current mindset.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Meet Glenn Taylor Alberta Party Leadership Candidate

The Alberta Party has done some short videos of the leadership candidates so the people of Alberta can get to know them better.

Here is the Glenn Taylor video.  He is my choice to be the next leader of the Alberta Party and the kind of fresh thinking and collaborative politician I believe we need so Alberta can realize its full potential.

Glenn Taylor, Alberta Party Leadership Candidate from Alberta Party on Vimeo.

To learn more go to

Coming to Grips with the Election Implications

So here we are, in a "stable majority government" in times of enormous uncertainty in the world.  Democracy has spoken and the collective wisdom of an ever diminishing number of democratically engaged citizens sets Canada on a new course.  It looks like voter turnout was even lower this time than the dismal showing in the 2008 election with early indications showing we are flirting with 50% turnout.

We have the results and they are impressive.  Mr. Harper is the clear winner and deserves congratulations for such an impressive tactical accomplishment.  With Mr. Harper's absolute majority he now has absolute personal power and is now personally entrusted with the future of the country.

The check and balance on Mr. Harper's absolute power is the NDP who have been blessed and burdened with official opposition status.  Again congratulations are in order but to Jack Layton personally, not the NDP. This is Jack's victory as much as the majority government is Mr. Harper's victory.

Those who voted for Mr. Harper seem to have been attracted by the need for the stability of a majority government.  However, the stability promise of the "Harper Government" is unlikely given the economic, social, political and environmental instability of the world and in the country we now live in. The majority given to Mr;. Harper will more likely result in quicker more decisive political decisions but that is no guarantee of a future that is steady-state stable and certain.

The promise to balance the budget quickly but still undertake enormous spending projects without raising taxes in an economy that most likely a flat line growth profile means money will have to come from serious cuts many other government programs. That is the clear, unequivocal and well articulated game plan of the Harper government. There is no hidden agenda here.

The NDP has been entrusted to be the caring and compassionate conscious of Canadians and to keep the Harper Government honest and accountable.  I have no doubt of the integrity of the Layton lead NDP and its capacity to play that role.  However, much of the reality of the NDP political fortunes are embedded in the nationhood aspirations of Quebec.  It is unclear to me if the death of the Bloc and the resurrection of the Dippers in Quebec means a rejection of separation for federalism.  Or is the shift to the NDP just a smarter political tactic by Quebeckers to have fresh faces to push an entitlement agenda in Ottawa?

How beholden is the NDP going to be to the Quebec agenda given that all politics are local at the end of the day?  Will we see a return to the focus on Ontario and Quebec as the political power bases that determines the direction for the country like we had in Trudeau's time?  Will the west feel like it is "in" or "out" as the country stumbles into a new narrative or returns and retreats into an old one?

As for the Liberals, the writing is not only on the wall it is all over their political structure.  Humility was the tone I heard in Mr. Iggnatieff's concession and confession speech last night. It is only one of the key lessons the Liberals have to take to heart as they rebuild from the grass roots up. They have to pick up on Mr;. Iggnatieff's comment that "democracy teaches hard lessons" and the Liberal political challenge now is one of showing character and courage.  Are they able to rethink everything and rebuild with a new sense of purpose with an open heart and mind that resonates with  Canadians?  Time will tell.

The Bloc is done but what is the Quebec agenda for the NDP?  Is it separation or federation? We still don't know but we will be enlightened on what the shift to the NDP from the Bloc means for Canada sooner than later.  How Mr. Harper responds to Quebec is also uncertain?  Will he punish them of appeal to them?  He has done both in the past.  Again the future is uncertain.

As for Elizabeth May and Linda Duncan, we have the best indication that at the end of the day all politics are local.  The coalesced citizens and engaged them in ways that encourages people like me who are worried about the viability of our democracy if citizenship means disengaged cynicism instead of informed activism.

Congratulations to Mr. Harper and Mr. Layton.  Condolences to Mr. Iggnatieff and Mr Duceppe.  Thumbs up to Ms May and Ms. Duncan for bucking the trends and showing citizens that they can make a difference.

So no federal election for four more years.  I wonder how much economic and social stability we will actually have?  I wonder how much Canadian politics will change by then too?  As for me I see more uncertainty than stability, challenges that are more about complexity than simplicity.  I see a fiscal and environmental fog in the future and no clear path forward.  So one with the day as we stumble into the future where stability actually means no near term elections but uncertainty in all other aspects of being and becoming the next Canada.    

Friday, April 29, 2011

Is Layton the New Nenshi?

Watching the last minute rise of Jack Layton in the polls for the election on Monday reminds me of the Calgary civic election last October.  What we saw then was Naheed Nenshi, an "also-ran" candidate with little hope of success, turn the election for Mayor into a rout and rejection of the establishment candidates.

Are we seeing the same thing on a national scale with the rise in popularity of Jack Layton?  It seems to be true in Quebec where Bloc fatigue is translating into NDP support.  Quebec is moving far away from the Conservatives who try to buy the hearts with entreats and untrusted promises.  As for the Liberal Quebec support, it is pretty much concentrated in Montreal and will likely stay there...but with some nail-biting uncertainty for sure.

There seems to be NDP movement in BC too and some shifting ground in spots in Ontario too.  It seem as though more ordinary Canadians are seeing Jack (not the NDP)  as a credible person to put some trust in as an alternative to temper the social conservative underbelly of the Harper Conservatives and to continue to humble the Liberal Party as the same time.   Are Canadians collecting their wisdom and sending a message that politics as usual is not working and we want change...real change?  Is the surge to Jack a protest vote more than a real shift in political philosophy of Canadians?  I think so.

As we move into the final campaign weekend the parties will push the emotional buttons of their support base  to get out and vote.  I expect the messages will have all the subtleness of a late night Sham Wow (sic) infomercial and the gentility of a Don Rickles or a Joan Rivers monologue.  The winds of change are in the political air but it is a not a violent thunder storm.  It is more like a strong unrelenting headwind of thoughtful citizens pushing back against some of the distasteful campaign tactics of what has become conventional politics in Canada.

There is potential for a new political narrative to be written for Canada come Monday.  It will almost assuredly be a minority government and perhaps with the NDP as the official opposition with a strong base in Quebec.  What will that mean in terms of policy, governance and politics for the country?  Will we see some significant political flux in the leadership of the Conservatives and the Liberals if this happens?  Will the knives be out and after the leaders inside the CPC and the LPC?  It depends, but don't be surprised if there are pressures on those leaders to pass the torch.

As for Jack, he might decided to quit while at the top of his game and move into a less demanding role as well.  Duceppe wants out of politics and has signalled that desire for years.  I expect that he will be moving on soon after this election regardless of the outcome.

It could be that the next federal election will see campaigns with new leaders in all the parties, including the Greens if Elizabeth May does not win her seat this time out.

What will the political and policy map of Canada look like after Monday?  I am not sure but I am sure of one thing it will be different than it is today.  Stay tuned.  But in the meantime get out and vote.  In a democracy we always get the government we deserve...especially if you don't vote.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Youth Are Not Politically Disengaged - If They Have a Reason to Believe

A great thing about political campaigns is you meet new people, often outside your usual spheres and circles.  It adds dynamics and depth to ones understanding of how others see the world.  I especially enjoy spending time with younger people and finding out more about their points of view and not just about politics - about everything they see as important.

The presumptions and stereotypes we are so quick to attribute and hesitant to change about one group or another is a dangerous thing.  Pattern making is one of the great gifts of the human species and also one of our greatest downfalls because it hinders our ability to reflect on a deeper understanding appreciation or even plain tolerance for differences.

I am very aware of the application of this patterning perpetuating beliefs and superficial assumptions.  One that drives me crazy is the superficial assumption that youth are not involved and engaged in politics.  They are not involved in the outdated and sclerotic political institutions but that is a far cry from saying they are not involved.  They are - just not in the traditionalist top down command and control concepts of political culture.  

I want you to meet Erin Craig.  She is a young musician who has become politically engaged through the Glenn Taylor campaign to be the leader for the Alberta Party.  Here is her email to her friend expressing her thoughts and asking her friends to also become active, informed and engaged citizens.  It is also a strong testimonial for Glenn Taylor and food for thought as to why he is the right kind of person to lead with others in the Alberta Party.

The Alberta Party is an effort to change the old way of doing politics in a top down hierarchy with concentrated and centralized leadership.  It is a learning organization with people very skilled at the use of social media as an outreach tool and a means for message amplification.  But the Alberta Party is dedicated to speaking with people directly, face to face, in what we call The Big Listen.  This is an effective and sincere effort to form real relationships amongst people.  It is a growing citizen's movement learning to become a new kind of political party to foster progressive changes to the Alberta political culture.    

Young people like Erin Craig catching on to what the Alberta Party is all about.  I expect many of them, like Erin,  will find that Glenn Taylor is a different kind of leader, one they can believe in.  Everyday I am seeing a progressive sea change coming to Alberta in the next election as the Erin Craig story get repeated all over the province and through all different kinds of people.

I encourage you to dust off your citizenship and park your boring.  There is a revival of democracy in the Alberta air these days and the Alberta Party is part of that spring freshness you a sensing.  Join us and be the change you want.  Support Glenn Taylor as the leader for the Alberta Party and help make the change you want in Alberta a reality.  You can join Team Taylor by purchasing an Alberta Party membership online and volunteering for Glenn by sending me an email at

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dave Meslin Makes Sense of Citizen Engagement

Readers of this blog know that I am keen on progressive politics but also citizen engagement.  Dave takes on the presumption of apathy.  The presumption of apathy is challenged and seen as a function of institutionalized barriers and obstacles.

He explores my other passion of leadership.  Leadership is an heroic effort and a collective effort.  Leadership is imperfect and voluntary.  Leadership is "...about following your own dreams uninvited and work with others to make those drams come true."

His comments about political parties are very telling.  He rightly says that political parties ought to be the most obvious entry point for citizen to become engaged. Instead they be come unimaginative and uninspiring organizations that are so dominate by polling and focus groups they all crowd in the muddle (sic) and don't risk bold and creative ideas.

It is just over 7 minutes but if you are concerned about how to prevent, avoid, detect and correct what is hindering citizen engagement this TED Talk is worth your time and reflection.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Alberta Party Leadership Nominations Close Today

The next growth stage for the Alberta Party starts today.  The nominations for the leadership close today so we will know who is really in the running to lead this new political party and who is not.

Glenn Taylor was confirmed as qualified to run for the Alberta Party leadership last Thursday.  He was the first candidate to declare his intentions to seek the Alberta Party leadership on February 8th and he is the first to meet the requirements of the Alberta Party to qualify to run for leadership.

Glenn is the candidate I believe most qualified and experienced to help the Alberta Party move to the next level of organization and preparation.  He aligns with the values and the shared governing philosophy of the Alberta Party.  There is also a pragmatic reality facing the Alberta Party around leadership. That is all the work that must be done to get this fledgling political movement ready to be a force to be reckoned with in the next Alberta election.

There is so much on the ground organizing work to be done.  That will take dedicated time and proven talent if the next leader to continue to help the Alberta Party and its dedicated and growing membership realize the goal of being a viable and valid political alternative in the next election. The next election may come sooner than we think.

Albertans are now seriously considering the Alberta Party but there is a long and arduous road ahead to move  people from seriously considering to actually supporting the Alberta Party. Part of that shift will depend on  the new leader.  Will she or he be credible within the Alberta Party membership to capture and help them generate more enthusiasm for  doing politics differently?  Will the new Alberta Party leader be credible with the general voting population of Alberta to move beyond being Alberta Party curious to being an Alberta Party supporter?

That support for the Alberta Party that must come from Albertans who are yearning for a viable alternative to status quo politics.  Casting a ballot for an Alberta Party candidate is necessary but insufficient to make the real difference the Alberta Party is pursuing.  That support has to translate into memberships, fund raising, constituency organization, candidacy selection and training, policy and platform development, communications.  Plus a deep and determined dedication to continuing and extending  the Big Listen process all over, up to and through the next election.  That support comes from hard work and devoting the time necessary to make it happen.

The next a leader has to do all this and model the behaviour necessary for others to engage deploying their time and talents to the cause too.  This is a shared responsibility that is lead from within the membership not  dictated by a top down leader.  The Alberta Party is looking for an authentic and catalytic leader not just a charismatic personality kind of leadership.  Finding that kind and quality of leader is one of the keys for the Alberta Party to actually demonstrate that we will do politics differently and not just say we are different.

The new leader has to be capable an competent in all these areas as well as bring the capacity for personal electability.  There is nothing good going to happen for the growth of the Alberta Party if the new leader is not electable in a constituency somewhere in Alberta.  That is the truly one of the most profound and pragmatic reasons why Glenn Taylor is the best choice for the Alberta Party leadership.  He has been elected four times in Hinton, three times as Mayor.

Glenn is the real deal when it comes to organizing and delivering on citizen engagement and political participation .  He has sold the most Alberta Party memberships of anyone in his campaign.  I will not be surprised that come the May 28 Alberta Party Leadership and Policy Convention that Glenn's constituency of West Yellowhead is going to be one of the largest, if not the largest Alberta Party constituency membership in all of Alberta.

Glenn has attracted and recruited former provincial and federal candidates from the NDP and Liberals in the West Yellowhead constituency to join the Alberta Party and support his leadership bid and his candidacy for the Alberta Party in the next election.  That kind of bridge building and relationship focus is going to be at the heart of the next stage of the Alberta Party growth and development.

So today is a big day in the history and the future of the Alberta Party and those candidates who qualify for the leadership race.  They offer themselves for public service in a partisan political leadership role and potentially as the Premier of the province.

So Alberta, it is not too late to have an influence on the Alberta Party, its leadership and the future of the province.  If you want to support Glenn Taylor you can.  You can buy a membership by contacting  You can donate online at  You can organize and invite folks to a meet and greet event in your home or your community to move people from Alberta Party curious to Alberta Party enthusiast.

Forty years of one party rule is enough.  We need a viable progressive political alternative.  The good news is the Alberta Party is emerging as that viable progressive political alternative but it need nurturing and support to make it happen.  The world is run by those who show up.  Here is a chance for you to be a citizen again  and to be part of running Alberta again.  

Friday, April 15, 2011

Are Canadian Youth Standing Up and Showing Up This Election?

Here is a video that is simple and pointed about youth at the University of Guelph showing up as citizens and encouraging voting to make a difference.  Lets hope this spirit spreads to other campuses and to other groups.

It is election time in Canada.  Time for citizens to take back control of our democracy.  Time for citizens to create alternatives to the status quo - and definitely time to get rid of oppression, intimidation and abuse through political power.

(h/t to Political Cafe for the link - a new blogger I recommend  you put on your must read list.)

We can't sit back and assume all is well with how we are governed or will be under a Harper majority when we see these scenes happening on a Canadian street to peaceful protesters.  Mass arrests of peaceful protester at the G20 that was more than twice the amount of arrests than happened during the FLQ crisis.

Do you think if we just concentrate just on the economy and not the integrity, accountability, transparency and honesty of those who want political power over us we will be well governed?  Of course it's about the economy but it is think it is just about the economy.  Think about this election.  Get informed and show up to vote and make a difference.

Canadian Women Are "Breaking Up" With Harper

In all the negative ad space this election and even before the election there are glimmers of satirical political hope on YouTube.  These clips of Women Breaking Up With Stephen Harper fit the bill.

I think the most politically disengaged citizens in Canada are youth and women.  When you put them together and cleverly highlight the personal relationship of political leadership to citizenship you get this kind of high quality satire.

These clips are 3 minute or so and worth every second of your time.

This is the stuff of pointed political commentary but it is not enough to make the political changes we actually need. If women and youth show up in large numbers at their local polling stations on May 2 and reject the "Harper Government" (sic) and choose a Canadian Government instead, they can be the change agents we need to clean up the political culture of Canada.

If not, we will get more of Bev Oda's kind of conniving that made the "Harper Government" (sic) guilty of the very first finding of Contempt of Parliament in the entire history of our Westminster system of governance.  How can you trust Harper to keep any promise if he has demonstrated no respect for integrity, accountability, honesty, transparency and holds the highest of our governing institutions in contempt?

If not, we get more personal abuses of political power calling in the RCMP to investigate outlandish claims, with no evidence whatsoever, but directed at personally destroying Helen Geurgis' reputation.  She was a friendly, a Harper Cabinet Minister. Consider how Harper might handle his political opponents if he gets the absolute power of a majority government.

The politically motivated firing of Canadian nuclear watchdog, Linda Keen for doing her regulatory job as another example of Harper using political chilling and marginalizing those in the administration of government.  There are a lot more examples.   These are just a few graphic examples of why the women of Canada have to re-engage and be part of the citizen's movement to take back control of our democracy from abusive power-hungry political forces.

We need more women in Canadian politics in every way, not the least of which is as active informed and voting citizens.  Cynicism is dangerous.  Apathy is boring.  Citizenship is a serious responsibility if democracy is to survive and reverse the scary shift towards political demagogy that we have enabled by our neglect and distaste for politics.

Politics is the power source of citizenship - especially at election time.  Don't throw away your power.  Make a difference in the vision and direction of Canada in this election. The world is run by those who show up.  Show up and vote on May 2 to send Harper a message - Canada is "breaking up" with him and women are making it happen.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vote for an Independent Conservative. Vote for Jim Ford May 2

OK - it will come as a surprise to many that I am endorsing a conservative candidate in the May 2 federal election.  Well I am.  It is my strong recommendation (for what it is worth) that the good citizens in the Edmonton Sherwood Park Fort Saskatchewan riding vote for Independent Conservative Jim Ford .

I have known Jim Ford for decades.  We were both active in the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta.  We were in different parts of that "big tent." He was Reform leaning and I was Red Tory as they come.  We could always  share ideas, address concerns and have real and respectful conversations about issues that mattered.  That is not the case in the current opposition hating hyper-partisan Harper hegemony and that is not good enough.

There is a difference between a thinking independent conservative like Jim Ford and the herd of Harper compliant conservative candidates we see hunkered down and running scared across the country.  We rarely hear from the individual Conservative candidates in this election. When we do it is all just speaking points. This election it is all Harper all the time and he is only talking about the most simplistic, shallow and short-sighted of his own speaking points.  They are used to keep his half-hearted fiscal conservative and disheartened social conservative base happy since he has does so much to betray all of their trust since coming to power.

In conversations with Jim Ford over the years we knew we could thrive on our differences.  We never had to fear each other or deride each other for having another point of view. Jim was always about gathering the collective wisdom of people.  I expect he still is all about that.  That is only part of why I want to endorse his candidacy, again.

We Albertans need to send the Harper Conservatives a message, not the least of which is he should no longer take the support of Alberta for granted. Canada is a representative democracy not a "friendly dictatorship" as Mr. Harper sees it as he rules rough shod over HIS caucus and HIS cabinet in the HARPER government.  If Harper wins a majority  government he will reign and rule over the rest of us and we will all suffer from the natural consequences of such absolute power. 

Chuck Cadman knew that first hand about how Harper uses political power when he was ousted  from the CPC nomination in favour of a Harper loyalists.  After serving many years as a Reform and later Alliance MP Cadman was unceremoniously pushed out of the CPC nomination. Cadman was offended by the tactics used in the nomination process and decided to run anyway.  He won as an independent Conservative - and the Harper preferred candidate came in 4th.  Cadman heard about his 2004 election victory from his hospital bed.  He had terminal cancer at the time but was still the overwhelming choice of his constituents.  Canadians, and especially Albertan, need to take that same rebellious independent spirit that elected Cadman and do it again in ridings all over the country and all over Alberta.

Cadman made a huge difference and a positive personal contribution to good governance in Canada.  Some of you will recall the scandal that erupted when it was alleged that key advisers to Harper were accused of offering a bribe to Cadman to secure his vote against the Martin Budget in May 2005. Cadman apparently refused and in fact, while in chemotherapy,  he flew from his riding in BC to Ottawa specifically to vote for the Martin Budget.  The Budget vote was a tie and the Speaker broke the tie voting with Cadman and the Martin government on the obvious non-confidence motion.

There is so much more to the Cadman story on Wikipedia and other sources if you are interested.  You should be interested,  It is a fascinating story that has been forgotten in the perpetual partial attention world of modern politics.  Cadman was a man of courage, principle and public service.  He had values that he lived by.  He was caring, and conscientious and responsible.  His ethics were not situational and selective as we see in so much of the Harper approach that is often an abuse of his political power.

The Jim Ford I know is an independent thinker - much like Chuck Cadman - and I expect he shares many of the other admirable Cadman qualities.  Jim Ford is a guy worthy of our consent to govern. I strongly recommend the citizens of Edmonton Sherwood Park Fort Saskatchewan.send Jim to Ottawa for your own good, for the good of Alberta and yes, even for the good of the country.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Alberta in a Global Perspective Partly Because of Oil Sands

The oil sands have put Alberta on the world stage in many ways.  The size of the reserves is enough to turn heads.  The size of the capital investment for development in billions of dollars is another attention grabber.  Then we have the negatives of a branding of "dirty oil" and climate change implications that have become part of the international Alberta "brand" as a result of oil sands.

There is much more to the oil sands and their implications beyond these macro issues including the social impacts of rapid development in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, aboriginal relationships and the impact rest of the province and benefits for future generations.  Add the issues of water usage, habitat protection, conservation offsets and reclamation issues, especially around tailings ponds and you get a more complex but still incomplete picture.

Then consider Alberta's emerging as an international energy force and our opportunities beyond continental North America in places like China and India.  Then the narrative becomes even more interesting and complex.  The Institute for Public Policy at the University of Alberta Department of Economics is sponsoring an event in Edmonton May 9-10 to address the opportunities for Alberta in the light of the power shift to China and India.  My business partner Satya Das is chairing one of the panels as part of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada initiative known as the "National Conversation on Asia."

This conference will look at the trade opportunities for Alberta with China and India in raw materials, manufactured goods, technology, education and business services.  Can a middle power and multi-cultural country like Canada and a resource rich province like Alberta exploit the opportunities in these "burgeoning markets?

Topics include the Economies and the Financial systems, Innovative Partnerships, Energy and the Environment, Agriculture, Business Opportunities in Alberta .  Satya's Chairing the Energy and Environment session with participation from the Canadian Centre for Clean Coal/Carbon and Mineral Processing Technologies, the Centre for Economic Studies at Jawaharal Nehru University, the Research Centre for Sustainable Development, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Joe Doucet, the Enbridge Professor of Energy Policy at the U of A School of Business.

Monday, April 11, 2011

More Harper Contempt? This Time is it for the Law?

The picture is getting clearer every day about of just how bad the Harper government is (sic) and what a danger he has become to our democracy and in his indifference to his governance responsibility to Canadians.  

Now we have reports of a "damning audit of G8 spending by the federal Conservatives" from Auditor General Sheila Fraser.  However, Fraser, ever the consummate professional, will not release the report because under her enabling legislation she can only release reports when Parliament is sitting.  Where is the whistle blower who might leak this vital information for Canadians to have and help us judge the quality and capacity of the Harper Cons to govern?  BTW, where is the Harper promise of legislation to protect whistle blowers when he came to office five years ago?

Media reports quote Fraser as saying an early draft, not the final report, "...may have been released by someone outside our Office."  One can only hope.  We need a change in the law so the AG can release any report she wants to at any time she wants to whether it is preliminary or final. This arcane restriction that such material can only be released when Parliament is sitting is a relic of a bye-gone era of command and control of communications was possible and preferable.  Not the case today.

Apparently every party has agreed to the release of her damning audit of G8 expenses but only when it is done properly and according to the law.  Harper in his best dog-in-a-manger mood called on Fraser to release the final report anyway, knowing she could not do so legally.  What height of hubris would motivate a holder of the highest office in the country to make such a statement.  Actually inviting the Auditor General to break the law.  

Spare me the half-hearted homage to open accountable honest and transparent governing Mr. Prime Minister.  We are talking about allegations of misspending and illegality of some of  the $1.2billion of taxpayer money we had to borrow "to put a good face on Canada" at the G8 and to give "...the rest of the fund (as) a gift to the region.  This is money Harper borrowed on our behalf to upgrade parks and revitalize small town down towns in communities that allegedly had nothing to do with G8 activities but sure seemed aimed at helping out hapless Tony Clement, the Cons MP from the area.

Why should thoughtful Canadian citizen have the slightest respect for a Prime Minister who openly suggests the Auditor General break the law?  This is pure political posturing at best to mislead the media and the public about the truth.  At worst it is counselling an Officer of Parliament to break the law.  That is irresponsible governing but typical of Prime Minister Harper who has shown less and less respect for the non-political duties of his office.  Makes one see just how easily it was for this PM to have a five time convicted fraudster working in his office without any serious concern for the possible consequences.

John Baird, bless his partisan heart, said the "inflammatory language" in the first report is not in the final draft.  That does little to diffuse allegations of serious wrong-doing  or reassure Canadians that these guys are still worthy of our consent to govern.  Besides, what is Baird doing commenting on the content of the still secret Auditor General report and why is he doing it in public before the author can legally talk about the contents herself?  Who made him above the law? That behaviour is further evidence of contempt for Parliament and disrespect for the rule of law by the "Harper government."

This election Canadians have to realize that they are electing their own government, not Harper's government as he likes to have us refer to him.  We have to ensure in this election that the words "Harper" and "government" are never again in the same sentence except to describe a bad time in the history of our democracy.  When Brian Mulroney of all people, is prepared to " his unease with Harper's Tories" it is time to defeat them at the ballot box.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Imagine No Harper

This link came from an anonymous comment on another post on this blog.  It is a little bit of satire you can spare 3 mins or so to enjoy and reflect on.
I know its anonymous and everyone know how much I detest anonymous comments.  But OMG if they used their real names they would be thrown out of public political rallies by Harper henchmen as Harper ducks and weaves to avoid answering questions.

There here is the link - enjoy:

More Curiosity About Alberta Party

Here is a link to an interesting article in FFWD out of Calgary that will give you a sense of the recent history and amazing growth of the Alberta Party.  The Alberta Party is doing everything at once.  They have set up constituency organizations (44 in five months). They are gathering membership, over 1300 in five months.  They are setting policy ideas in place on a citizen engagement model.  Add to that the leadership search to find the right blend of practical political experience but with a leadership style that is inclusive and community based that will keep the shared sense of the purpose of the Alberta Party progressing.

This fledging revived and renewed political party morphed out of the desire of a group of progressive thinking Albertan who gathered in a citizen's movement called Reboot Alberta.  People who wanted to start a new political party found each other at Reboot Alberta and the Alberta Party was born.

One of those progressive thinking Albertans at Reboot Alberta was Glenn Taylor, the three time Mayor of Hinton.  He has now stepped up to run for the leadership of the Alberta Party and I am delighted to be working with him on achieving that goal. I encourage you to learn more about Glenn Taylor and see what a breadth and depth of elected political experience he has.  He also has a realistic world view from a rich and diverse set of practical life experiences too.  I believe he has much to offer to Alberta through the Alberta Party goal of doing politics differently.

You can also keep in touch with Glenn on Twitter @glenntalyr and on Facebook by searching GlennTaylorAlberta.  Check out those opportunities to engage with and get to know Glenn too.

I hope you have also come to realize that we need a new political culture in Alberta.  We need a government that reflects our true selves and not the mistaken myths and condescending caricatures that are imposed on Alberta these days.

We can change all that through a young vibrant enthusiastic political movement that is caring, compassionate and ready to take responsibility for more open, transparent, honest and accountable governance.  This is all now emerging and getting ready to offer a serious viable progressive political alternative in the next election.  It is called the Alberta Party.  Join us and be the change you want to see in and for Alberta.  

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Do Elections Actually Equal Political Accountability?

Back in 1993 Kim Campbell was excoriated for stating the obvious that elections are not the time to deal with complex issues. The reaction was swift negative and part of her disastrous electoral outcome.  She was right however.

The sound bite journalism with the superficial horse race mind set of traditional media coverage back then persists today...even worse if you ask me.  Add to that the social media maelstrom of comment and conflict and the poor voter is hard pressed to know what or who to believe...never mind trust.

The Hill Times has a terrific article by W.T. Stansbury entitled "Why general elections are pretty poor mechanism for accountability to citizens."  It is a long and thoughtful article so don't rush through it.  Let it sink in.  Accountability along with Integrity and Honesty were the top three evaluation criteria Albertan's choose in some research we did last May through Reboot Alberta.  It is a serious and central concern of citizens in this province.

His accountability theme expands on the fact that elections are too infrequent to make and irreversible to really make politicians accountable.  He notes that we don't have any really effective and acceptable performance measures for politicians, especially given the complex and wide scope of government. He notes there is a sense that elections are mostly a referendum on the performance of the economy. If folks feel better off the economic management of the current government get applauded and likely re-elected.  Harper is making misleading comments about the comparative strength of the Canadian economy as Jim Stafford points out in this Globe and Mail Commentary 

This leads to Stansbury's next point; the Information Problem.  Information to assess government performance is hard to collect get at and it is expensive to access. We see Access to Information policy thwarted more than enabled and recently we see it is inappropriately interfered with by Harper government operatives for political purposes.

There is more but you get the drift.  Elections matter but we need to take them seriously as citizens as difficult as that is.  It is made worse with the superficial political spin machines and the misleading messaging they push at us and the herd mentality of understaffed and under funded mainstream media who too often get suckered into be stenographers and not journalists.

Just another reason why citizens need to take back control of our democracy and punish poor political performance in government and on the way to get there.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An Oz View of the Canadian Political Culture

This opinion piece out of Australia, written by a Canadian is a terrific compilation of the sad state of the Canadian political culture and the decline of our democracy.

The essence of Canadian disengagement and the consequential political atrophy and decline of our democracy  is captured in this paragraph:

Edmund Burke noted that all that was necessary for evil to triumph was for good men to do nothing. Canadians are certainly good and worthy folks, but they suffer an excess of civil obedience, politeness and lack of civic rage that could be harnessed to combat political atrophy. At a time when Arabs risk life and limb for political freedoms, Canadians seem largely apathetic about the erosion of their democracy.

We are in an election.  They matter.  The results determine how we will be governed and by whom.  The results determine the quality of character of the leadership and by default, the country, both internally and to the rest of the world.  The election results impact the daily lives or each and everyone of us.  It will set a tone that directs and even determines the nature and nurture of our personal and national dreams and aspirations.  

Elections matter.

Any conscientious and concerned Canadian must realize this and get informed and engaged in determining the outcome of this election.  Reflect on the admonition of Edmund Burke above.  Overcome your apathy.

Then take a few more minutes to read and reflect on David Akin's excellent column in the Sun newspapers today.  "Bad Governments are Elected by Good People Who Don't Vote."  Dust of your citizenship.  Demand a country you can be proud of again and make it happen by electing people of character who see political like as all about public service not the pursuit and practice of personal political power. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CBC Vote Compass Worth a Visit

Here is the link to the CBC Vote Compass survey. 

I really encourage you to take the survey.  What political party mostly aligns with your values and beliefs this election?  I was surprised - but not unpleasantly - when I turned out to be more Green than Liberal.  I was not surprised to find myself the farthest from the Harper Conservatives.It is a good conversation starter - especially with ones self.  Where does your political alignment fit this time around.  What political party is the closest to your sense of what is important, at least in terms of the questions asked.

By the time I post this I expect over half a million Canadians will have taken the Vote Compass survey.  That is an interesting expression of citizenship engagement in itself.  It indicates to me that at least CBC types are prepared to participate in a meaningful conversation about politics - even if only with themselves.  It also takes us away from the less meaningful left versus right sense of being political these days.  The issues and the value trade-offs we have to make between competing issues can't be conveniently packaged as left or right any more.  Most people don't know what it means to be left or right any more and those of us who do understand the dichotomy find the classification less useful or accurate in capturing the basket of values that any one individual actually has and holds these days.

I hope we will get some aggregate data released out of the CBC on the Vote Compass responses perhaps by province and cities - even by ridings if there is a large enough sample to be meaningful - since they asked for postal codes. How many Greens are there in Calgary for example.  How many Canadians feel the oil sands environmental concerns are exaggerated?  There are a lot more things we can focus on from this data to get a sense of where Canadians are at

Any insights and analysis will not be a statistically valid random sample but it will still have value to provide insights on those who took the time to participate. On-line communities form function and fade around issues and events...including an election.  This Vote Compass vehicle creates an opportunity for Meet Ups and Tweet Ups to happen between like minded or contrary minded people to discuss explore and even reconsider positions in conversations with other citizens.

This kind of exchange of opinions and ideas in face to face respectful conversations are so much more meaningful for citizens than partisan hype spin or "messaging" of traditional tedious and tendentious campaign events.

The CBC brings so much of Canada together through radio and television programming.  Now it might consider doing the same thing but in a much more participatory way.  By using the Vote Compass device as a way to spark some significant sense of citizenship in communities and even across the .country around issues of importance - not the superficial stuff like the coalition baiting we see being covered these days.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Who Really Cares About Harper's Fixation on Coalition

The perpetual, persistent and perverse pejorative about Stephen Harper in this election are his well documented pursuit of personal political power.  His proven Contempt for Parliament, the first time this have ever happened in Canada, reflects badly on his respect for Canadian democracy and his personal integrity.  He is all politics all the time in a single-minded pursuit of absolute political power.  We all know what the consequences of absolute political power has been through history.

His two-faced approach to policy is breath taking, from demanding an elected Senate to personally appointing the most Senators of any Prime Minister in the history of the country.  He demands smaller accountable fiscally responsible government and yet he has created the biggest fiscal deficit in peace time. He talks of tax cuts and he raises taxes on the poorest of Canadians.  He insists on further unnecessary corporate tax cuts in the face of deficits and a recession gripping the nation.

Speaking of the 2008 recession, which we are still in, Harper denied that it was even happening.  He knew better but avoided responding appropriately to the urgency until forced by facts to tell the truth and act responsibly.  He reluctantly put the stimulus spending in place and then took too long to get it out the door as he politically steered funds into seats that his party holds.  Since then Harper has spent unprecedented millions of tax dollars, to advertise his "accomplishments" from the deficit inducing stimulus spending.

Harper is now haranguing and harping on the dire consequences of a coalition government in the early days of the campaign.  It is clear in Harperland any coalition of "second place losers" (like he was in the Martin minority government) is ok if it makes him Prime Minister.  Hypocritically Harper dallied with a coalition with the Bloc and the NDP in 2004 to defeat the Martin minority government in order to make him Prime Minister.  A coalition is not ok in Harper's mind if it results in a collaboration of other political leaders who are looking out for the good of the country and thwarting his lust for the absolute power of a majority government.

I read the Sun newspaper "Exclusive" coverage of their QMI commissioned Leger poll today on the reaction of Canadians to Harpers wall-to-wall coalition rant with great amusement.  It provides some serious insight why Harper is talking about coalitions as a threat.  It is all being done to incite his base to show up and support him even though he has bullied his MPs and repeatedly abused the Conservative party principles.

The Conservative Party wants political power too and this election is their last best hope.  Past and present polls show Harper is only able to eke out another minority election result.  Hence the Leger poll shows the 95% of Conservatives fear a coalition government.  It is their worst fear.  On the other hand about 2/3 of Liberals , NDP and Bloc supporters see coalitions as a normal and legitimate option to govern if the Canadian voters insist that no one leader or party is compelling enough to be given a majority government.

The concern over a coalition is a political wedge issue.  It is not a wedge between Harper and Ignatieff as Stephen would have you believe and the mainstream media promulgate.  It is a wedge issue between Harper and his Caucus and the Conservative Party membership.  This is because Harper has been anything but a true Conservative Prime Minister as this link illustrates.

He has alienated his Reform base by pandering to Quebec.  He betrays fiscal Conservative principles by spending the country into enormous debt and deficits while at the same time he grows government in size and in its role in "interfering" in our lives.  All this stuff fundamentally contrary to his espoused Conservative Principles of the party he leads.  His party base no longer trusts him but they fear another minority government even more, because they risk seeing political power going to a coalition of  "the others."  Harper is playing on those fears in his own party.  Canadians could care less as Christian Bourque of Leger Marketing points out saying "The coalition does not really shake the electorate when it comes to who they support."  It is not a top issue for Canadians and not going to move votes.

It is only Conservatives who are concerned about the consequences of a coalition government.  Harper's top down, command and control centralized imperialist approach to politics concentrates power in himself.  He uses fear of "the others" actually forming a coalition government as a zero sum political game for enforcing compliance and sustaining power for himself and his partisans. If Harper can't get a majority government from the Canadian voters this time, his leadership of the CPC party and role as Prime Minister of Canada is over.  He knows this and his base knows it.  The base is not going to stay behind Harper unless he wins a majority government this time out.  Three minority governments is three strikes and that means Harper is out.

Canadians who care enough about our democracy, our political system, our citizenship, our rights and freedoms to show up an vote will decide if Harper will still be Prime Minister of Canada after this election.  Our decision to accept him continuing a Prime Minister will be based on our collective assessment of his ethics, character, trustworthiness, integrity, accountability, transparency and honesty.  Harper's record shows he had failed us on all counts.

If Canadians decide, in our collective wisdom, to return yet another minority government, it will be the fourth in seven years.  That would be a strong message to the Governor General that "the others" should be given a chance to govern in a coalition.   Cooperation, collaboration and accommodation of different points of view are embedded in the Canadian DNA.  A coalition government is only a crisis for Conservatives not for Canadians.  It is time for the election focus to move on and politicians to start talking about the real issues facing Canada and Canadians.  A real issue is not Harper's artificial angst over "the others" gathering together to run the country collaboratively instead of letting him ruin it unilaterally.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Will Citizens of Alberta Show Up and Make a Difference?

I can understand why many citizens think voting is a waste of time.  Graham Thomson picks up on this theme in his column today and chastises citizen indifference to our democracy.  As my friend Stephen Murgatroyd likes to say, "It doesn't matter who you vote for, the government always get in." Regular readers know I like to say "The world is run by those who show up."

I feel very strongly that our democracy is not only in deficit, it is in danger.  Our political culture has become a manipulation of misleading messages driven by aggression and adversarial anger.  I am occasionally accused of feeding the culture of aggression with my comments and concerns about the decline of civility and greater purpose in out politics.  I  know that is true at times but the escalating verbal violence and contempt for values perpetrated by Stephen Harper is pure bullying and must be opposed.

Caring compassion and taking responsibility for something greater than self interest is seen by many activist political Libertarians as the weak actions of chumps.  We see collaboration and cooperation as lesser values than  the winners and losers culture of pure market place competition.  It is a very dangerous and simplistic view of how we must face a globalized interdependent networked reality of the world we now live in.  We have complex problems that simplistic approaches create more harm than workable solutions.

We see humility in political leadership as a weakness not a brave act of quality character.  Wisdom is mocked as aggressive action is elevated as a more appropriate response to our intractable problems.    We need to elect politicians and value leaders who can step out of rigid ideological positions.  We need a political culture of curiosity and possibility not dogma and doctrine.  We need decision maker who have respect for different perspectives and can actually see, value and adopt different inputs as appropriate.

Democracy in Alberta and especially in Canada is broken. Albertans are taken for granted by the Harper government.  It is our fault.  It will only be fixed if we citizens take back control of democracy in Alberta.  We can't afford to defer to a power hungry politician like Stephen Harper who show consistent contempt for Canadian/Albertan democratic values. Danny Williams of Newfoundland and Labrador knew this last election when, as a Progressive Conservative, he headed his ABC (Anybody But Conservative) campaign.  It is time for the rest of Canada to see that values and character count in politics.  We need a government that we can respect and that respects us. This is the election to heed Danny Williams and make that change happen in Alberta this election.  Don't settle for second class citizenship.  Send Harper a message that he con no longer take our support for granted.  

Friday, March 25, 2011

Inspiration to Engage Progressive Albertans.

I really like politics, especially when it is about people using their skills and capacity in pursuit of a greater good that goes beyond self interest.  I meet those kind of people all the time, especially when I personally engage in that kind of transcendent behaviour.

I had the chance to meet someone online in the Glenn Taylor leadership campaign for the Alberta Party today.  They shared a quote at the end of an email that captured that power of positive politics and its potential for a personal transcendent experience beyond the self. The quote captures so much of what I think constitutes the core of the Alberta Aspiration.  It moves us beyond and above the lowered expectations inherent in the Alberta Advantage:

"If you're going to be passionate about something, be passionate about learning. If you're going to fight something, fight for those in need. If you're going to question something, question authority. If you're going to lose something, lose your inhibitions. If you're going to gain something, gain respect and confidence. And if you're going to hate something, hate the false idea that you are not capable of your dreams."

Daniel Golston

Albertans are looking for enlighten progressive political leadership.  We have a federal election upon us, a provincial election looming and three of our political parties in the throes of leadership campaigns.  There is lots of opportunity for Albertans to take the spirit of this quote and apply as we decide who to vote for and why we are voting for them with all these opportunities.  We can also use this spirit of this quote to judge the quality, character and integrity of the various candidates who are seeking our consent to govern.

Words to live by and apply.  Have a good weekend gentle readers.   

Oil Sands Environmental Monitoring is a Priority for Albertans

We Albertans own the oil sands.  They are becoming increasingly concerned about how this vital resource is being developed in our name.  There is a very clear set of priorities to guide and drive the development of the oil sands from the values research Cambridge Strategies has done in conjunction with the U of A based Oil Sand Research and Information Network.  

Environmental monitoring of oil sands development is one of the top three most important value concerns of Albertans.  Reclamation and habitat protection are the others followed by greenhouse gas emissions and water usage.

It is encouraging to see the federal and Alberta government getting together to address this concern.  The disgraced provincial water monitoring approach of oil sands has been abandoned.  Now we see the federal government pushing ahead with the announcement of a $20million Lower Athabasca Water Quality Monitoring Program.

The Alberta government is now effectively engaged in this ecological monitoring responsibility now as well and in collaboration with the federal government and industry.   Environment Minister Rob Renner acknowledges that the environment is a shared constitutional responsibility with the federal government saying some monitoring will be fed lead and others will be a major Alberta responsibility.

This is very encouraging but we need this work to be evidence based done by independent expert scientists.  We must keep all politicians in all orders of government out of the processes and reporting.  We need open access to the data and peer reviewed reporting of findings as well as full disclosure of the implications of findings and recommendations that come out of the water monitoring.

We can't trust the politicians not to interfere with this work for political purposes.  We also can't trust industry to self monitor or to control the environmental monitoring agenda. This water monitoring has to be done collaboratively between governments and in conjunction with industry.  That seems to be the case now and I am most encouraged by how this is coming together between the two orders of government and the involvement of industry.

Travis Davies of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers speaking on behalf of the industry hits a few key points going forward saying: "We are happy to be judged by good science.  We think it's a very important piece of where we want to go, which is long-term, responsible development."  (emphasis added)  CAPP goes even  further to properly frame the water monitoring initiative saying "We're certainly willing to pay our share, provided that governments collaborate and that the final product is effective, efficient and avoids duplication." (emphasis added again).

I am not a big fan of those who think government should be run more like a business.  They are very different animals and government is more often more complex than most businesses.  That said, I add the emphasis in the CAPP quotes because they underscore some necessary lessons governments can learn from the oil sands business. I applaud the CAPP emphasis on science based, long-term approach to responsible development done with an collaborative, effective, efficient approach that avoids duplication by governments.  I also add a caution to avoid gaps in the monitoring approach too.  That was a major problem with the former discredited Alberta water monitoring work.

Albertans should be pleased with this new approach to ecological monitoring by governments and industry.  We overwhelming believe (89%) that the oil sands are important to our future prosperity.  We don't trust federal or provincial politicians to manage this resource responsibly.  We strongly believe (87%) that industry must be held responsible for any ecological damage it does from oil sands development.  About 2/3 of Albertans accept some degree of federal role in the oil sands.  So this collaborative inter-governmental ecological involvement in oil sands will not offend Albertans.  But some actions and attitudes by government approach to oil sands development will offend us.

The entire field of ecological monitoring of the oil sands has to be done independent of government and industry interference and with a long-term view not tied to any investment interests, political agendas or election cycles.  The duty to ensure responsible development of the oil sands is a shared function of the federal and provincial governments along with industry.  Albertans own this vital resource and we need to ensure it is exploited in a integrated responsible way. We need to see oil sands developed with an integrated economic, environmental, social, political and cultural perspective, not just jobs and investment.

We need to look at governments as our property managers and industry as our contractors to grow the wealth from this asset.  We need to make all of them accountable to the greater good of all Albertans, including future generations, not just shareholders, bankers and other economic stakeholders.  There is a lot of fixing that has to be done to return the confidence and pride of Albertans about oil sands development. The joint effort this water monitoring heralds is a strong and positive step in the right direction.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Is Alberta Ready to Change its Political Culture?

We are into a very fecund time politically in Alberta.  We have just finished province wide municipal elections. The results were surprising to many.  The most dramatic change was the come from nowhere (never mind being) Nenshi win of the Mayor's chair in Calgary.  This was a sea change election in Calgary where 53% of the population found a reason to believe in local democracy again and they showed up to vote.  That was a 20 point bump from last election.

In an informed and extensive Feature Article "A Wave of Change" in the just released April edition of AlbertaViews magazine Larry Johnsrude tracks and chronicles the facts and possible provincial political implications of the municipal elections.  He notes the comments and calculations made by Alberta Party leadership candidate Glenn Taylor at Reboot Alberta 3.0 on changes in municipal election in Alberta.  

Glenn was Vice President Towns at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.  He has taken a leave of absence from that position to run for the leadership of the Alberta Party.  Serving through the AUMA gave Glenn some insight into what happened in the last local elections.  In a political game where incumbents have a distinct advantage, Glenn noted 47% of Alberta's Town Council had new people elected.  It happens 52% of the time ion villages and 41% in municipal districts.  

No incumbent was "safe." Even some of the tried and true incumbent municipal mayors won in squeaker campaigns. Grande Prairie elected Bill Givens, an Alberta Party and Reboot Alberta guy, instead of the incumbent mayor.  In Rimbey and Crossfield and other towns citizens threw out the entire council and mayor.  Ouch!  

What does this mean for provincial politics? It is not a rhetorical question after 40 years of PC rule. We have three political parties holding leadership campaigns. I, with many others, intend to buy memberships in the Alberta Party, the Alberta Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta.  I will do this so I can vote for the most progressive candidate I can find in each contest. 

No one candidate for any provincial party leadership is safe and no foregone conclusions can be drawn about the prospects of any candidate in any party at the time of writing.  We add to the confusion a pending provincial election likely in Spring of 2012 but perhaps sooner or arguably, later.  That result also seems to be open for a sea change as citizens of Alberta find a reason to believe in democracy again.  I'm sensing a minority provincial government with a progressive group having the balance of power in the next Alberta legislature.

We seem destined to have a federal election this May too.  Will we see dramatic changes there?  The death of democracy in Alberta is at its worst federally.  Maybe we are ready to send a message to the Harper government that they can't presume a wave, never mid a sweep of Alberta seats.  We Albertans sure do get taken for granted by the Conservative Party of Canada.  

With Jim Prentice abruptly quitting the Harper Government (as he likes call it!), Albertans may be wondering if Harper is in any way authentically aligned with Albertan values.  The contempt his government has shown for Canada and the presumptive arrogance that he assumes he can ignore Alberta because we have no alternative might not result in the low election turnout he is counting on.  

The progressives in this province are the majority...63% according to our Reboot Alberta survey. If we show up and vote Liberal, NDP or Green we will split the vote and return Harper - perhaps to a majority.  Progressives are going to have to find the best candidate in a riding and vote for him or her regardless of party affiliation to beat Harper.  Dr. Phil Elder of the Democratic Reform Project makes some interesting observations along those lines.

Will it happen?  Linda Duncan won that way for the NDP last election!  Will there be others this time?  Perhaps, but only if we progressive show up and take back control of our democracy in Alberta.  Apathy is not an option for progressive Albertans.  Real change is possible.  The stars are lining up.  We just have to smarten up and show up.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Why Glenn Taylor Wants to Serve as the Alberta Party Leader

Most readers of this blog will know I am working with Glenn Taylor in his effort to win the privilege to be the leader of the Alberta Party.

Glenn is blogging and sharing his sense of why and why him as a preferred choice for leader of a new party and a rebirth of effective engaged and informed citizenship in Alberta.  More progressives in Alberta become aware they can't just sit back and rest assured that Alberta will be the kind of accepting, tolerant, prosperous and progressive place they presume it will be.  We are no longer assured that the political culture and direction of the power brokers will deliver on its vast potential socially, environmentally and economically other than in search of self interest..  That kind of politics-as-usual is no longer acceptable. But what are the alternatives?

We have to build on the strengths of the past but we can't look only to the past as the road to the future. The world is now globalized and changed fundamentally. Power has shifted to the passions of persons and not cynically centralized in the isolated edicts of institutions. We are getting better and better, worse and worse, faster and faster.  Old ways of top down structured regimented thinking driven by power elites who are not committed nor capable of designing a greater good model are not just obsolete - they are dangerous.

The Alberta Party is not about being on the left or the right of the political spectrum no more than it is about the left or the right brain.  It is about a whole new mindset, politically, economically, socially, culturally and environmentally.  It is about integrating the best of both ends of the governing philosophies and adding some new consciousness not dogma.  Is is about a new focused awareness, not political spin.  It is about attending to the real problems we face not the superficial horse race analysis of politics angst that fills the media these days.  It is about allowing for imagination and creativity to be the new normal and making meaningful change with people - not for them or to them. 

Servant leaders who are dedicated to the design, development and deployment of government and governing that is about the greater good is what we need.  This is not theory - it is a necessity.  Those who are still dedicated to change from within the existing political parties deserve our respect and encouragement.  I just don't think it will happen with so much entrenched self interest embedded in the conventional party structures. We need a fresh approach and a different mindset for Albertans and community leaders that is about making Alberta the best place for the world not just the superficial consumptive and competitive goal of the best in the world.

Join this exciting citizen's movement that has become the Alberta Party.  Visit Glenn Taylor's website to learn more about him and his approach to changing the political culture of Alberta.
It has lots of room for all kinds of progressive people from all kinds of backgrounds and from all over the province. If you want to support  and encourage Glenn's leadership email me and I can get you a membership.

Are You Feeling the Uncertainty Too?

I just got this link from a new Follower on Twitter (H/T to @JamesETowe)

It shows the extent of homes in foreclosure in various cities in the USA from January this year.  This is our largest market.  In many ways our only market. Alberta is even more concentrated on America as an export market.

This is sobering stuff - for them and us.  Makes you wonder what the future holds.  Status quo is not an option, that much is for sure.  The Globe and Mail on Saturday ponders the possibility of a new recession.  

Then look at the "C-Suite Survey" in the Globe and Mail today.  This is the sentiment of the corporate executives in Canada - just before the Harper Budget coming out tomorrow.  Some 83% say they are concerned about the U.S. economy.  There are 73% who share fears about rising energy prices (oil is over $100 and holding) and personal debt levels (see the foreclosure numbers again).

The encouraging aspect of the outlook of the corporate executives is they get it.  What we need to do is invest in the future and education-training investments and research-development are the key to "...generate positive economic results."

The government borrowing money for stimulus spending is now a done deal. Those in Ontario want more government infrastructure spending while the western executives want deficits trimmed.  This difference in perspectives will impact the unity of the country overtime if we don't have a national sense of purpose to over-ride these differences.

Will the Budget tomorrow be a purposeful document about the needs of the nation or just be about perpetuating the power of the Harper Cons?  We are so short of visionary leadership, quality minds, and global perspectives with politicians with the strength of character to tell us the hard facts and the harsh truth of our situations these days. I don't expect much of that in the spin and propaganda around the Budget tomorrow.

We need an adult authentic conversation about Canada and our future realities.  We are luck to have abundant resources. Are we smart enough to steward them property?  So far not so good.  We need a change in the political culture of the country.  We need an election.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

David Akin's On the Hill :: Former Tory MP says his party is anti-democratic

David Akin's On the Hill :: Former Tory MP says his party is anti-democratic

This is the kind of thing any political party member has to stand up against. And every citizen has to reject in the polls.

We centralize way too much power in the leadership of political parties. It is so bad in the Harper Cons that Prime Minister Harper is a danger do democracy. He is contemptuous of democracy - and must be removed from power by citizens. Read Lawrence Martin's great book Harperland for detailed reasons why we need to defeat this kind of political abuse of power.

In Alberta we can change this centralized power system. With three parties (Alberta Party, Liberal Party and PC Party) are looking for new leaders we can make a difference and change the political culture of Alberta by simply putting up $20 to buy a membership in all three parties and push for the kind of leader you want to have as a choice for Premier next election. I call it the $20 Buck Revolution.

Take the time to join all three Alberta parties and find the leadership candidate that reflects your values and is interested in the greater good. Do not support any party or person more interested in political power than public service.

I will give you my preferred choices of leadership candidates, in all three parties, that reflect the core political values of Albertans - integrity, honesty, accountability, transparency, fiscal responsibility and environmental stewardship.

Join the $20 Alberta Political Revolution

I run some non-scientific surveys on this blog from time to time.  I don't call them polls.  They are not.  I call them burning questions.  Stuff that citizens need to pay attention to and ought have an opinion about.  The last burning question was anything but that.  It was a fizzle.

The not so burning question asked blog readers their intentions to participate in voting for the various party leadership races that are happening in Alberta right now.  The response was underwhelming at 49 participants.  It was the lowest level of participation in any burning question I ever asked on this blog.  I know most blog readers are lurkers not commenters and why would they be motivated to respond to a simplistic curiosity like the burning question.  I can discount the low participation and shrug it off.  But I think there is something vital at stake here.  That is our democracy and our freedoms.

OK my ego is not so out of control that I think my blog is vital to democracy. It is not.  But my right of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and all the rest of my citizenship rights are foundational to the fact that I can write this blog and express my opinions openly.  There are consequences for speaking out against authority and power even if you have those attributes...just ask Raj Sherman.

There is lots of intimidation, threats, bullying and coercion that powerful forces will try and apply to silence or discredit you.  I will be blogging on that in coming days.  I will be starting with the reasons I feel we need a public inquiry on health care to uncover and expose any abuses of power in that area.  I will expand the discussion into other areas of government and the power structure in Alberta that I have knowledge of or have been informed about.

Back to the core concern. I have serious fears about low citizenship participation rates in Alberta's democracy.  I think indifference, cynicism and skepticism is dangerous.  The consequences of not speaking out, not getting informed and not fully participating as a citizen are more dangerous than any "damage" any petty-minded power-preserving political bully might be able to do to any of us for being responsible citizens.

In the spirit of responsible citizenship I strongly suggest every adult Albertan take full advantage of a unique political game changing opportunity that is alive right now.  That is the change in leadership of three of our political parties in Alberta. If you want the political culture in Alberta to change making changes at the leadership levels seems to be a pretty good place to start. To change the kind of person we have to choose from to be the next Premier of Alberta seems to me to be an offer we ought not refuse.

(photo credit: Shane Becker, veganstraightedge in Flickr)

So here is the "revolutionary" idea.  For $20 bucks you can buy a membership in the Alberta Party, the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party.  Then you have a direct say in the selection of the leader of all three of those political parties.  You can decide which candidate you want to support and even have a serious influence and make a real difference in the future direction of Alberta.  By supporting progressive thinking politicians in all the contest you can also set an example for others in your networks to step up and become a $20 Buck Revolutionary.

It is simple to get started.  Here are the links to join on line:  Alberta Party - Liberal Party Progressive Conservative Party.  Get involved Alberta.  Be the change you want to see.  Be a responsible citizen.

BTW the burning question response was not only low, it was not very supportive of the $20 Buck Revolution.   But that can change if people really want change. Remember these results are merely conversation starters.  They are not conclusive of beliefs or behaviours - even of my blog readers.  Percentages of participants who said they will participate in the current political leadership campaigns were:

  • Alberta Party          30%
  • Liberal Party           18%
  • PC Party                 12%
  • All of Above             6%
  • None of Above       32%

Not promising starting place for the $20 Buck Revolution - but hey - you have to start somewhere.  Mayor Nenshi was at 1% support three months before election day.  It could/should happen again.  Join the $20 Buck Revolution and be the change you want to see.