Unite the right? Not so fast!

dip

Let’s be clear. The Notley NDP were not elected due to Alberta having a divided right. As can be seen with the historical NDP support numbers in general elections, there is room to split things over five ways before risking the election an NDP government.

What happened in the 2015 election was the result of a collective revulsion on the part of the electorate over Danielle Smith’s treachery and Jim Prentice’s repugnant and flagrantly power hungry behaviour.

smithprent

The electorate was appalled when Jim Prentice lured Smith and her followers into a mass floor crossing that spat in the faces of thousands of their former supporters. Voter disgust only increased as Prentice manipulated nominations in his own party while breaking his own party’s law for fixed election dates is what was a clear power grab.

When given the opportunity, party members showed their ire as they tossed out floor crossers at nomination meetings despite the best efforts of Prentice and Navigator to protect them. The panicked protection of Bruce McAllister’s nomination after other nomination losses only served to infuriate members and voters further as we moved towards an election with no justification.

Former Wildrose opposition leader Danielle Smith delivers a speech after losing the PC nomination to Carrie Fischer for the Highwood riding in High River, Alta on Saturday, March 28, 2015. Smith crossed the floor with 8 other Wildrose MLAs, defecting to the PC party and leaving the Wildrose with 5 seats. There were a total of 942 ballots cast for the nomination, but the exact results were not disclosed.

Former Wildrose opposition leader Danielle Smith delivers a speech after losing the PC nomination to Carrie Fischer for the Highwood riding in High River, Alta on Saturday, March 28, 2015.

People were outright disgusted with the Progressive Conservative Party and it’s leadership as the 2015 election campaign began. The Wildrose Party was still reeling from the mass defection and adjusting to a brand new leader. The taint of Smith’s self-serving actions still hung on the Wildrose Party as well whether fair or not. The Liberal Party was in shambles and the Alberta Party was still essentially unheard of by the majority of the electorate.

Desperate voters migrated to what they saw as the only familiar and principled voice in the electoral lineup. Nobody was thinking of right or left as they migrated to Notley. What people wanted to see for a change was some honesty and principles no matter what side of the electoral spectrum those principles came from. The PC principle of power for the sake of power was roundly rejected. Notley won a majority by default and we are all paying for that situation today.

The reason I am going over this is that some people are trying to simplistically claim that it is nothing more than a split on the right that got the NDP into power in Alberta and that simply is not true. If efforts to build an alternative to the Notley government do not take these facts into account, we may indeed really be working towards putting the Notley NDP back into power for another term.

We hear columnists calling for uniting the right.

We have a MPs calling for uniting the right.

We have Brian Jean calling to unite the right.

We have an American style PAC gathering notable names and raising money to unite the right.

We have basement meetings chaired by former MLAs calling for uniting the right.

Despite all of these calls to unite the right, nobody has defined what this united right is supposed to look like or how it will be formed. Are talking about a merger of the Wildrose and the PC parties? Are we talking about forming yet another whole new party? Are we talking about rebranding the Wildrose?

All of the above are considerations but it is going to take some time and a lot of deliberation to determine what course is best. Rushing into things with so many questions hanging could lead to further splintering and alienating the electorate even more.

I don’t have solid answers but I can certainly see some things that are sure to fail.

For some sort of alternative to succeed it has to be created totally in the open!

Among the many things that repelled the electorate last year, the backroom negotiations and nature of the moves by Prentice and Smith were paramount. Nobody likes secret, self-serving deals and if the public gets even a whiff of such activities in any new efforts they will head for the door in droves. It is this issue that makes me hope that the new PAC starts becoming much more transparent in its funding sources and its goals or it may be quite counterproductive,. On the surface right now it looks like many of the same old players trying to recreate the PC party simply for the sake of getting back into power again. This may indeed not be the case at all but perception in politics is indeed reality and the perception had best be improving soon.

I attended an informal gathering of conservative minded folks hosted by Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt and PC MLA Mike Ellis last December. While nothing solid came from the meeting, I think it was very productive in that it got many stubborn partisans into the same room with the goal of examining where they have common ground. The complete transparency and informal nature of the gathering was of great appeal. It let us put our hackles down with no hard agenda and let many of us realize that we are closer together on things than we may think. While these sorts of gatherings don’t produce immediate, solid results, they help build the foundation we need. I hope that we see more of them. Again, patience is required here.

We need principles that run deeper than simply gaining power and raising money!

The Wildrose Party is celebrating record fundraising numbers and they should. Strong fundraising indicates a good grassroots support base. That being said, we saw rather clearly in the last election that spending alone does not win seats. The electorate doesn’t give two shits about which party or candidate raised or spent more money. They want to vote for somebody who shares common principles with them.

If the move towards an alternative can only define itself as existing for the sake of gaining power, we can rest assured that the movement will be rejected as well. The PC party in it’s last few years in government truly demonstrated that retaining power at all costs was it’s only mandate and Albertans got more than tired with that. We need something more.

We have to define just what the heck the “right” even is.

What is right? Is it just fiscal conservatism? Is it social conservatism? How much mix? While the Wildrose was being labelled as being anti-gay due to the odious “lake of fire” ravings of one of it’s former candidates, the PC Party infuriated the province with the pushing of Bill 10. So which of the parties is socially conservative and how?

PC MLA Sandra Jansen is demonstrating a social leftism which puts her on par with the NDP despite her flogging of Bill 10 only a little more than a year ago. This sort of demonstration of floating personal principles demonstrates exactly the kind of self-serving opportunism that we are all sick and tired of. Jathensen will clearly support anything if she thinks it will keep her seat. Is she right wing? Is she left wing? Does it matter? If parties somehow merged, would she really be able to share a caucus with Rick Strankman for example?

I don’t think we should see MLAs and candidates lining up and declaring themselves to be right or left and not budging based on ideological standing. If we are going to keep harping on “unite the right” though we had better settle on just what the “right” is.

The last PC budget was decidedly left wing while their social policies in the end were right wing.

I am socially very left and fiscally very right. I wont claim that Alberta has a libertarian majority but it is a significant element among voters. How will a united “right” capture that element of the electorate?

I am looking forward to seeing an alternative formed and growing to the Notley government whether it is something new or an evolution of one of the existing parties. We need to act carefully though and resist the temptation to rush here. As can be seen in the initial stats in this posting, the NDP is far from being the natural governing party of Alberta. An alternative to Notley does not need to be perfect in order to replace her government. The bar is rather low when looking at traditional NDP support in Alberta as a matter of fact.

Let’s take our time and give the NDP more rope. They will take care of much for us. We cant sit on our hands for the next 3-4 years but we don’t need to hatch a “united right” in the next few months either.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

How to remove the Notley NDP from power in Alberta!

parties

My last two postings have been dedicated to exposing Crazy George Clark’s “kudetah” movement for being the impossible dream that it is. No matter how much Clark and some of his supporters want to rail and rave about petitioning or going to the Queen with some misguided, perceived loophole in the elections act, they simply will not be unseating the legitimately and democratically elected NDP government led by Notley.

People are fearful and frustrated with the highly ideological government that Alberta accidentally elected thanks to a collective revulsion to the two right of center parties that Danielle Smith and Jim Prentice created with their gross opportunism. That has led them to seek unconventional ways to change the government and kooks like George Clark are more than happy to lead them down the garden path.

When confronted with the reality that our government will not be unseated by a petition, some of Clark’s supporters often indignantly ask “Well what are we supposed to do? Just sit around and wait for 3.5 more years??”

The answer to that is yes and no. Yes, we will have to wait 3.5 to 4.5 more years to unseat Notley. No, you do not have to nor should you just sit around and wait. In fact, if you do nothing but sit around, Notley will likely win another term.

The way to remove the Notley government from power is pretty straightforward. Notley has to lose the next election. Nothing less.

Our political system is a partisan one. Elections are not always won with the best ideas (though I wish it were so). Elections are won by parties that present those ideas in the most palatable way to the largest segment of the voting electorate. Like it or not, this means that we have to work within the partisan system. That means joining and supporting a party whether financially or with personal effort or both.

The vast majority of Albertans do not belong to political parties. That means that a tiny minority controls these parties one of which will always form government. There is nothing unfair or wrong about this. It simply means that people need to quit abdicating their role in a participatory democracy and start actually participating, even between elections.

I don’t expect a majority of Albertans to ever join political parties or participate in them. I do hope that more people do though as it really is critical to all of our well being.

One huge hurdle that people encounter when considering participating in partisan politics is simply wondering where to begin and what is involved. There really are no simple guides to getting involved or what obligations and tasks would be expected.

I joined my first political party right at the beginning of the 90s as a young, long haired guy who bought a membership from a guy named Preston Manning who was standing in a small booth at the exhibition of the Calgary Stampede promoting the Reform Party. I was thrilled with this little card that arrived in the mail but hadn’t a clue what it meant or what I could do with it. Over years attending local meetings and volunteering in campaigns I learned a great deal and have never been without one party membership or another in my wallet. I like most others went into partisan membership blindly though.

I am going to write on some of the basics of party membership in Alberta. This will be dull to those who are already familiar with party politics (and maybe dull to those who aren’t), but I would like to get a basic guide and resource out there on the interwebs for folks who may be considering getting involved with a party. This will be the closest I come to being non-biased on here.

Choose a party

This is likely the toughest step of them all. Every party of note will have a detailed web site and contact information. No party of note will hesitate to answer all of your questions quickly as they all want to grow their active membership.

Every registered party in Alberta can be found at the Elections Alberta website.

The parties vary very widely in ideology. Careful research is required but as mentioned earlier, their web presence makes it easy to get a general idea of what they stand for.

Buy a membership

How much or how little a person wants to participate in a party is totally up to the individual of course. The first step in participation is being a member.

Every party has a membership system. The cost of a membership can vary from $5 per year to $40 that I saw with one small party once. I think $10 per year is pretty much the standard these days. Most parties provide online membership sales or at least an address where a cheque could be mailed and a membership purchased.

The entitlements that come with membership vary party by party. In some parties, the leader is chosen in a one member, one vote system. That means you could vote in the next leadership election. Other parties use delegation systems but your membership will allow you to influence the delegates sent to a leaders convention through participating in local meetings. Other party members will happily explain to new members how it works. Every party has a constitution or set of bylaws that governs their operation. In those documents one can find out their limits and powers as an individual member as well.

One of the most important things that comes with a membership is the ability to participate in the selection of your local nominee for the next election. In most parties, a nomination race is held and local members can vote to select who will represent them in the next election. This is a very direct and local way to influence your local representation. Nomination races have been abused by parties and sometimes candidates are appointed by parties for reasons of either political expediency or a lack of a local organization.

Get involved with your local constituency association

In our system, constituency associations are semi-independent, organizational units that are essentially the hub for local election preparation. The associations are guided by their own bylaws which are typically set by the central party. The size and organization of constituency associations can vary from literally nothing to managing thousands of members with dozens of local directors. Larger parties will have contact information for each constituency. Smaller parties may require contacting the central party to find out who your local organizers are if indeed there are any in a formal association.

Assuming a constituency association is active, they will be holding an annual general meeting at some time or another. This is a great time to get involved as the general membership is open to attend and one can see as well as participate in the governance of their association. The first thing one should ask upon joining is when the next meeting is. Many associations hold other events as often as monthly or quarterly that are open to members as well.

A constituency association is often essentially a micro version of the central party organization. There will be a President and a number of other Vice President or directors roles. This depends on the bylaws set out by the party. These roles are usually filled at general meetings and are directly elected by the members of the constituency association. Even the largest parties often have trouble filling these roles and it is often pretty easy to get into a formal role within the association. These are great opportunities to get into the nuts and bolts of the local operation and to get a line on party activities an communications.

The prime role of constituency associations is to prepare to win the local seat for the party. This involves fundraising, local promotion and the selection of a local candidate. The foundation for a campaign team in an election will usually come from the constituency association as well. If one wants to get involved in campaigning (one of the more fun roles in politics), the constituency association is the best place to start learning and perhaps seeking a role in the upcoming campaign.

Depending on the party structure, sometimes only delegates can attend the annual general meeting of the main party. These delegates are usually selected by the constituency board and they will be responsible for representing your constituency when policy is proposed at party general meetings and can vote when the party executive is selected at the general meeting. Some parties allow all members to attend the annual general meeting and allow all to vote on these things.

Constituency associations are usually tasked with finding candidates for the coming election and with managing the nomination race for that role. Nomination races can be some of the most divisive and haywire activities within a party. Emotions can run high and factions can break out that can harm the constituency locally or even the party as a whole. When I served terms on the provincial executive with my provincial party, nothing gave me more grey hairs than the efforts to put out fires lit by rough and tumble nomination meetings. I can think of a few provincial constituency associations that are still a mess today due to ugly nomination meetings over six years ago. As with most things though, the more the merrier. If constituency associations have a lot of dedicated, rational and working members, the nomination meetings can be kept civil. It takes a lot of work.

Central party involvement

The degree of involvement with the central party that an individual can have depends on the constitution and bylaws of the party. The party operations are governed by the provincial executive. Caucus is usually somewhat independent of party governance (or should be) but should be guided by the general principles and policies of the party. The leader’s office is often something of an entity in itself as well.

The party executive is made up of a President, a Treasurer, a Secretary and then a number of other director/Vice President roles depending on the party constitution. In some parties these roles are directly elected by the members at an annual general meeting while others select their executive committee through a delegate system. Some parties will allow any member in good standing to run for an executive position while others have a different process to get nominated for those positions. It will take consultation with your local representative and reading the party constitution in order to learn the process.

The party executive oversees the constituency associations and manages the general operations of the party. Fundraising, communications and management of the membership of the party falls under the role of the executive. Setting up for an annual general meeting and the management of the policy proposals comes through the party executive as well. If one aspires to get directly involved with party management, getting a role on the provincial executive is the way to go. It is thankless and often frustrating but those roles are critical and can be exciting at times.

The roles one can take on within a party are myriad and the dedication of time and resources that an individual can put in is nearly infinite. While having a larger active membership can make party management and movement cumbersome and complex at times, it remains a better way to help ensure good policy and governance from that party.

If a person wants to make an impact in the next provincial election beyond casting a vote, joining and participating in a party is the best route to doing that. I know there are independent candidates and other types of groups that work to influence the electorate and they certainly serve a role too. Reality dictates that only organized parties will take power in an election and becoming a member in one of those parties is the important first step in having an influence on them.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Saint George and the NDP Dragon

geoadragdip

As time passes George Clark (of kudatah fame) has been becoming less and less lucid. His postings increasingly demonstrate a whole plethora of conditions from simple paranoia to a martyr complex to a distressing messiah complex.

While these observations on an individual should usually only be of concern for friends, family and mental health professionals, in George’s case it is a little bit different as he has managed to gather a sizable following of folks nearly as delusional as he is.

In years gone by folks like George wouldn’t get much farther than standing on a street corner wearing a sandwich board while predicting the end of the world or some other sort of conspiracy. In today’s age the internet has given folks like Mr. Clark a much bigger street corner to rave from and it has allowed him to gather a flock of kindred souls.

While the Church of George only appeals to a tiny fraction of Albertans, that still is of concern as this adds up to a few thousand folks who are very angry, paranoid and delusional. As I wrote in a recent posting, George Clark has convinced himself and his following that he has found some odd legal loophole which will allow him to bring the Notley government down through petitioning.

Clark is planning a rally on the steps of the legislature when it opens where he claims he will bring down the government. While everybody rational knows that Clark will never bring down the government, we have to be concerned that he will manage to gather upwards of a couple thousand people on the legislature steps who are not rational. How will these people react when they learn that they have been chasing a myth? Certainly George Clark will claim that the government is corrupt and has robbed them of their hard earned kudetah. Will George and his followers simply throw up their hands and go home? In reading the writings of Clark and his followers I suspect that they wont go that easily and things could possibly go out of control no matter how much Clark keeps talking about his creepy “fight them with LOVE” lines.

Below is a series of screen caps of discussions when Clark and his following discovered that some internet URLs had been purchased by folks who don’t support the kudetah. Yes, these folks don’t even understand the internet and copyright laws at a grade 1 level yet they feel they can overthrow an elected government.

I want to keep documenting these sorts of things in hopes that people glancing at George Clark’s movement can research and see just how nuts this is. I also want it well recorded that this is a fringe group that has no connection to any formal opposition party or rational opposition group as NDP supporters are trying their very hardest to tie people to Clark’s cult.

I will start with a snap from George’s own tantrum when he discovered that the rules of the internets don’t always work in his favor. The domain wasn’t “stolen” as he never owned it. Notley doesn’t him anything, much less an apology. He doesn’t even understand how domains are purchased and retained, he sure as hell doesn’t have the capacity to find out who bought it (the WHOIS is anonymous). It gave George an opportunity to try and play victim some more though of course.

geo

Now, on to the reactions from George Clark’s followers.

In this post, loons speculate that it may be Rachel Notley’s husband and go on about how union members should be fired if they are found to be behind it. You cant sue them or bring charges against them but rage on. Delusional as always. I suspect that the government is less than scared of George Clark. Anybody with a few bucks on a credit card can purchase domains. No government conspiracy required.

e

Here, some of Clark’s followers think the destination of the URL is not due to a purchase of a domain but is due to malware or hacking.

c

In this posting, George’s crew goes on about how the world is controlled by Soros and the Rockefellers who are apparently behind this domain purchase. Another feels that this should be investigated by the FBI. I hate to break it to her, but we are still in Canada. No FBI here.  Soros probably owns the FBI anyway. There was a conspiracy theorist speaking on how reporting the legal purchase of a domain to the police was pointless as the government controls all the cops anyway.

b

Here George Clark demonstrates that he is as ignorant of communications and trademark laws as he is with electoral ones. I wonder how many lawyers are going to have to try and explain this to him and his followers?

d

There are all sorts of other ravings on George’s thread but the one below is the most telling. When frustrated by a dose of reality, Clark’s followers invariably start wandering down the path of speculation of what would happen if they simply chose to ignore laws. I fear that these answers would come pretty quickly to these folks if they decide they are above the laws created by a legally elected government. I just hope nobody gets harmed if and when they try it.

f

Sadly, the passage of time only seems to be making these folks even more paranoid and delusional. They are distracting from real efforts to improve our current government and to replace the current government in the next general election (the only way they can and will be replaced).

These people are few and these people are nuts. They need to be watched though and I strongly suggest that anybody rational who has crossed paths with them should disassociate themselves as soon as possible. If and when things hit the fan on the steps of the legislature on opening day with George’s gang, the crap is going to spread far and wide and nobody wants to get smeared in that.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

George Clark is discrediting rational opposition to government in Alberta

Notley’s Bill 6 was a disastrous fiasco that was dumped on Alberta’s agricultural producers with little to no consultation with stakeholders and even less respect shown to them. The carbon tax is a tax on essentially everything which will add even more pressure on Albertans who are already reeling from a recession.

Let’s face it. The Notley NDP were essentially accidentally elected by Albertans who were repulsed by the ongoing unprincipled actions of the Prentice PCs along with Danielle Smith. The Wildrose Party was under new leadership and simply did not appeal to a majority of voters at that time. We are all now experiencing some extreme buyer’s remorse in Alberta as we see just how extreme and damaging the Notley administration is.

All that being said:

THE NOTLEY GOVERNMENT WAS LEGITIMATELY ELECTED AND THEY HAVE A LEGITIMATE MANDATE TO GOVERN!!!

We have to be realistic here. Under our system, Notley very well may not call an election until 2020 should she choose to stretch it out and there is not a damn thing we can do about that!

Petitions and demonstrations showing our general ire and opposition to Notley or specific pieces of legislation are a good thing. While it may not feel like it, those demonstrations will have an effect on how the government acts in days to come.

George Clark and his petition movement are pushing something altogether different. Clark is taking advantage of frustrated Albertans and has essentially created an urban legend in which a government can be forced into binding plebiscites and possibly even unseated if the government refused to participate. Let’s be clear here. George Clark is simply peddling bullshit!

Normally I disregard the flakes such as Clark who try these sort of initiatives as they tend not to get anywhere or influence many people. Clark is different in that he has managed to collect a sizable following despite his case being completely unsound.

In the image below, Clark sounds outright nuts as he is essentially implying that he will be unseating the Notley government on February 9th through some special method he has discovered. He is apparently keeping the exact details to himself as the government may move to stop him if they figure it out. In reading his writings, he is starting to sound rather mad.

ggeorgeclark

When rational people such as our elected opposition members have refused to play into Clark’s fairy tales, he turns on them with a similar vehemence that he has displayed towards the Notley government as can be seen below where he bitches about the Wildrose MLAs not supporting his fallacy.

georgeclark

Notley will be just as much in power on February 10th as she is today. Who knows what Clark’s planned stunt will be on the steps of the legislature on February 9th. I imagine it will involve him ranting and raving about a perceived constitutional or legal loophole that simply doesn’t exist until he is removed.

These sorts of actions end up painting all who are in opposition to the Notley government as being extreme or delusional. Not only will Clark’s efforts not succeed in unseating the government, they make legitimate initiatives in opposition tot he government look like they may be coming from the same crackpot fringe as Clark’s bunch.

I don’t mean to insult all of those who are following Clark out of hope or desperation. Your average Albertan is too busy working to pay the bills (or seeking work) to be reading election and constitutional legislation in detail. The bill of goods Clark is selling sounds appealing on the surface and people are innocently jumping on board.

The next election is both around the corner and forever away. We as Albertans need to get it together and create the electoral alternative that will legitimately unseat the Notley NDP in the next general election. Whether that party will be the Wildrose, a rejuvenated PC party, a coalition of both or a whole new entity remains to be seen. Whatever the vehicle turns out to be, it will take a lot of work and a lot of realistic thought, planning and actions. Clark is providing none of those and is distracting from real and rationed efforts.

I look forward to seeing Clark’s myth busted on February 9th but am sad at the damage the initiative is causing.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,