Are you worried about political polarisation that is dividing us and leaving a trail of debris in our economy, our environment, ourselves and many of our fellow citizens?
Do you have a nagging, or even gut-wrenching, feeling that there are people and groups who are committed to separating Alberta from Canada and intent on replacing our democracy with an autocracy? As a citizen of Alberta, are you unsatisfied with the direction of our province?
If so, we must ask ourselves, IF NOT THIS, THEN WHAT? This is the core political question for Albertans in these volatile, uncertain, complex times. This question is especially significant given the fundamental and consequential choices we will be making as voters in this election.
ELECTIONS ARE GOOD TIMES TO PRESS FOR CHANGE
An election is a serious time for Albertans to take up our roles and responsibilities by becoming engaged and participating citizens. It is time for those of us with the capacity, skills, and talents to apply ourselves, to show up, speak up, stand up and even act up with a renewed sense of civic purpose. It is time to use our energy, capabilities, skills and many talents to exert the power of our citizenship and press for the changes we want to see.
While this core question provides a framework to uncover and consider the problems, it does little to provide us with any doable solutions. That takes a personal commitment to the work of participatory citizenship.
The work is the go-forward mission for those of us ready, willing and able to move into the next stage of Reboot Alberta. We, those of us who are able, will assist the majority of like-minded individuals to become more engaged in purposeful and political activities.
The stakes are high. Our democracy is in danger. We must become effectively engaged politically if we are to protect, promote, preserve and improve our democracy. We must use the power of citizenship to defeat ideological extremists, at both ends of the political spectrum. We must expose and depose the authoritarian tyrants in our midst who are trying to take control of our province and weaken our democratic institutions.
It is time for some of us in the Reboot Alberta Group, to take our political participation to a different level. It’s time to transition from passive Likes and Retweet levels of involvement. We must move into an engaged, active, and purposeful community approach that is committed to conceiving and co-creating a better Alberta.
That better Alberta is more economically viable, socially just, environmentally responsible, and politically representative.
The Reboot Alberta Facebook Group has been a place for politically moderate and conscientious citizens. We are citizens who want to help raise awareness, share ideas and information on public policy issues, government programs, policy and even politics. As a result, we have been able to get more clarity about where we are these days as a province where volatility, uncertainty and ambiguity is “normal.”
There is broad consensus amongst us, given our answer to what is wrong with the direction Alberta is heading. We are well aware of the current deficiencies in so much of being in Alberta. When we ask ourselves, If not THIS, then WHAT?We can all make a list of the “THIS” things in present day Alberta that we need to change.
CITIZENS MAKING CHANGE IS NOT NEW
This focus on what needs to be changed is not new. Albertans have, as pluralist people, been focused for a number of years on the “IF NOT” aspect of the question. Ever since the Klein days many of us, as citizens not partisans, have been actively seeking better political leadership. We did this by rejecting various ideologically insufficient alternatives we were offered by the long reigning, now defunct, Progressive Conservative Party.
For example, over the years, many non-partisan citizens bought Progressive Conservative party memberships to participate in the selection of the party leaders. That’s an example of the activated and engaged individual citizenship action we are speaking about as Rebooters.
What emerged was an act of engaged citizenship because individuals realised that the change of leadership of a party in power, was also selecting the next Premier of Alberta. More recently, many independent citizens realised that the UCP leadership outcome was too serious a matter to leave to the party members alone. So they purchased UCP memberships, if only to have a say in who would become the next Premier of Alberta.
NOW WHAT? IT’S TIME TO GET SERIOUS
The “What” is the uncertainty in our core question. This part of the question is especially important at this election time given our divided and polarised political reality. The What part of the question is personal to We the Citizens as voters. It is where your choices, based on your concerns, will have consequences for all of us. What issues, policy, perceptions will drive and determine the choices of Albertans as we collectively decide how to mark our ballot? Such choices must be made soon because we have a deadline. Election day is May 29th. This is now IMPORTANT AND URGENT.
The What part of the question, in the emerging more engaged Reboot Community, will not be focused very much on helping you decide how to mark your ballot. We will be citizens who are preparing for a more effective engaged active personal citizenship in the post-election period. We will be organising for taking more direct action approaches to more effective personal and collectively engaged citizens pressing for change through political, but not just partisan, means.
We will consider the choices, changes, and alternatives for Alberta and Albertans, that we can influence that are actually within our control. We will focus on solutions that we can design and deploy through democratic processes. After the election will take a longer term future-forward view of issues and seek solutions that go beyond the ballot box focus of the current election cycle.
We will also consider the external pressures we will have imposed on us, by geopolitical and other forces. We will accept that we can’t control those external forces but we will press for changes where we can and must move to mitigate and learn to adapt to the external consequences and impacts.
The next phase of Reboot Alberta will not be for everyone. The Reboot Alberta Facebook Group will continue to raise awareness and share reliable and relatable information. But there will be another community based platform for those Reboot-minded citizens who want to expand their role and responsibility as a citizen into more direct political action.
We are not talking about marching and waving placards, or running around with our collective hair on fire as much as that is often fun. Nor are we about signing meaningless petitions or feeding rage machines by spreading misinformation.
This Citizenship Matter initiative will not be for everyone. We will be looking for people with a passion for Alberta, experienced in service to others, and the capacity to contribute time, talent and other resources. It will be for those citizens who want to be involved and who aspire to exert personal positive impact on those areas of concern and purpose towards co-creating a better next Alberta.
We are now searching out venues and will be convening gatherings around issues, policies, and programs. Specific working groups will design and deploy the work. Yes, there will be work. Democracy takes work. I promise it will be frustrating at times, but also satisfying when we see that we are making constructive and positive changes in how we are governed.
We will be looking at how to be effectively engaged and how to take direct action on those citizenship matters that drive the desires of the various community members. We are in fact calling this parallel community- inspired platform Citizenship Matters. Citizenship Matters because citizenship participation in political processes and decisions are the only way we have, as a society, to move away from the adversarial, divisive and polarised political culture we Albertans have fallen into.
Citizenship Matters are all those things about being Albertan that really matter to the majority of independent, critical-thinking citizens, who are not politically aligned but also not politically disengaged. They are curious and concerned about things that matter, considering what do we need and what do we want as Albertans for Albertans
The Citizenship Matters mindset will be to clearly understand a citizen’s chosen focus area and the problems they face, personally, in their community or provincially. We will be committed to solution finding through community leadership, acting as citizenship trustees of our democracy. We will not wait for the political establishment to act and then merely respond complacently or complicitly where and when it matters to our Citizenship.
We will use the power of our citizenship to look for solutions that work within the power levers of our democracy and our system of government. We will apply 21st century tools that include but go beyond the ballot box.
In the beginning we will be starting small, but that does not mean we will be going slowly nor without a defined purpose. We will look to some focus area we know something about, where we are in the issue, and where there is some clarity about what constitutes a preferred future.
JOIN US AND HELP DESIGN THE NEXT ALBERTA
Many of us have all but forgotten that public participation through political engagement is some of the most meaningful and impactful ways we can create much-needed change. Citizenship Matters will be a community approach to citizen engagement to help create change in what concerns you.
That change may be getting your disabled child the school support they need or finding safe and affordable long-term care for a frail parent. Do you have a community-based concern you want to see fixed like policing reform and public safety? Perhaps energy transition and climate change issues are some of your big issues. Of course there are always enormous challenges in our healthcare systems.
Too many of us are sitting on the political sidelines. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the range and complexity of the issues and challenges we are facing. Others feel powerless because they don’t understand how to leverage our democratic and civic systems. Many avoid political participation because they see it as vile, nasty and corrupt.
Citizenship Matters will help independent, critical-thinking, and passionate Albertans become more effective and active citizens. Are you ready, willing, and able to step up your efforts to seek solutions we need now and for future generations of Albertans? Join us. Whatever your passion, if you want to press for change using the power of your citizenship to design and define the next Alberta - Join Us.