So here I am on holiday in the wonderful Okanagan Valley. It is late at night and the family is sleeping in the cottage. I’m wired from some late evening caffeine, so what better thing to do than type out a semi-coherent version of thoughts that have been rattling around my brain for a while now. thoughts about the Alberta Party.
Although I am involved with the party as a board member, and although this is a bit of an unabashed promo for the party, these long-winded thoughts are entirely my own. They are simply thoughts about the current state of politics in Alberta, the value of the Alberta Party, and the potential for the future.
The Top Ten Reasons Why the Alberta Party Will Continue to Grow and Help Make the Province More Democratic:
1) The bloom is off the Tory rose. As their reign nears 40 years (!), there is more than a whiff of decay around the foundation of the Progressive Conservative fortress. As we all know, people tend to move away from things that start to rot – and sometimes they move away very quickly.
In addition to appealing to disaffected and disillusioned Albertans from all backgrounds, the Alberta Party will appeal to many of the traditional PC supporters who feel that the Tories are neither conservative enough, in terms of true conservation, nor progressive enough, in terms of creating and embracing a hopeful, inclusive, and prosperous vision for the future.
2) The time has come for a new alternative to the existing political parties in Alberta. There is an abundance of pent-up frustration out there and many Albertans are looking for a party that can give voice to their concerns. Voters want a party that will speak up for them, yet also have the potential to eventually form the government. The Alberta Party has the potential to be the vessel that shows the rest of the country that we do not blindly follow what others do, that we are critical thinkers, and that we can elect a government that we can actually all be proud of.
3) Hamstrung Parties. Although there is great respect for many individuals within the existing, established opposition parties, (talented stars such as Rachel Notley of the NDs and the soon to be departing Kevin Taft of the Liberals, for example), many Albertans simply feel these parties are hamstrung by the flags they fly under (i.e. their brands), and are therefore unable to influence policy in meaningful ways, let alone form the government. In recent years, many of these voters have stayed home. In coming years many of these same voters will consider the Alberta Party as a viable option.
4) There is something “political” in the air. Call it the new political zeitgeist if you will, but, like much of the world, we are becoming more involved in the political process. Despite the apparent paradox of recent low voter-turnout, we seem to care a little more about our future, we are increasingly less willing to accept the status quo, and my sense is we are becoming more political (yes, even in Alberta). It may be naive, but it feels like our political apathy has finally peaked. One can sense (and desperately hope) that change is coming, and it may be coming more than once in the years ahead. This should pay dividends to the Alberta Party as the party represents a challenge to the old way of doing politics by actively engaging the citizens and genuinely valuing their input.
5) The Alberta Myth. Although the stereotype has played to the favour of past and present politicians, it is a myth that the vast majority of Albertans are “hard-core right wingers”, “narrow-minded red-necks”, or “rabid individualists” who believe in an unfettered market where the unfortunate, the sick, and the old should be left fend for themselves.
As evidenced by value surveys conducted year in and year out (Statistics Canada, Cambridge Strategies, or other), we are strikingly similar to most other jurisdictions and are therefore accepting of policy that respects individual differences as well as sustainable development. Albertans are willing to support a government that encourages economic growth while at the same time encourages investment in our future (i.e. children and education), and the protection of our environment, while also saving enough money to properly support us in an uncertain future. By nature of the Alberta Party’s broad appeal, and through the “Big Listen” policy-formation exercise which sought (and continues to seek) the opinions of every day Albertans, the policies that will be established by the Alberta party will be truly reflective of the views of Albertans. It should follow then that many Albertans will find the Alberta Party platform very appealing come voting time.
6) There is a well-recognized democratic deficit in Alberta. Thirty-nine years of one party rule will do that to a province. So too will apathy, dejection, and an anemic opposition. Through the Big Listen exercise, which has been going for about six months now, the Alberta Party is genuinely seeking to engage Albertans in the political process and restore some sence of democratic participation. It needs to be asked, what other party has made a concerted effort to consult with Albertans before forming its party policies – aside from the Alberta Party, the answer is none.
7) Unlike all other parties, the Alberta Party represents a true alliance. Because the Renew group (at the time co-led by Chima Nkemdirim and Josh Kejenner) joined the Alberta Party earlier this year, the resulting new Alberta Party is truly an alliance that spans old-school ideological differences – it is an alliance that shares common core values that are beneficial to all Albertans. In contrast, the Wildrose Alliance appears to have formed a narrow alliance on one side of the political spectrum, with little credibility garnered from the more moderate and progressive citizens.
8) Forwards versus Backwards. While the Alberta Party hopes to move with the wishes of the constituents toward a fresh new way of governing, (one that elevates the collective influence of the citizen), from my perspective, both the Tories and the Wildrose Alliance represent a retrogressive approach where special interest groups are provided disproportionate authority to influence policy.
9) The Alberta Party Team. Leader Edwin Erickson is a man of substance, integrity and genuine conviction. Sure he might not have the “big city polish” of some other politicians, but that is to his own credit, and also to those he represents. Edwin is backed by the savvy and talented Chima Nkemdirim as Party President and, together they lead a diverse and spirited board that includes a wide range of talent and experience; including new media and business leader Chris Labossiere, and Dave King (former minister from an earlier Tory government); as well as a host of other concerned Albertans, including those who have been fighting the good fight for democracy in Alberta for many years now.
10) A great start. By any account, the Alberta Party has been very successful in launching its renewed approach to party politics. It has quickly emerged as a viable alternative for future elections. The party is posed to make significant gains in the coming months, as more and more Albertans learn about its approach to building its policy platform. Watch for more good news in the coming days.