Reboot Alberta

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.