Unite the right? Not so fast!

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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.

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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.

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A victory for accountability and transparency in Calgary!

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Personally I think partisan politics are a good thing in general for a number of reasons.

Many people think that partisan politics is a bad thing. I think that most can agree though that what is even worse than a political party in a partisan system is a hidden political party in a system that is expected to be non partisan. That is what the initial incarnation of the now defunct CivicCamp group was.

It was recently reported that CivicCamp has disbanded. That isn’t exactly true as the legally registered CivicCamp still exists and it was formed over a year ago.

What has happened is that the group that used to run Naheed Nenshi’s personal political party that wasn’t a political party have given up on the name that they purposely refused to register in order to dodge accountability.

Nenshi and some supporters formed CivicCamp prior to the 2010 civic election in Calgary. There are many advantages to having an organization of people focused on common policy goals trying to get a person elected. Without a formal party system in municipal politics however, the ever canny Nenshi formed CivicCamp which claimed to be non-partisan when it was clearly anything but.

The organization was purposely formed without being legally registered anywhere. This meant that the key people involved and the means of funding never had to be disclosed publically. That avoided the clearly sticky questions that would have come about if folks realized that this apparently non-partisan group was almost exclusively populated by Naheed Nenshi’s supporters. Official campaign financing has some pretty strict rules as well. With a group that isn’t a group however, finance questions could be dodged.

Let’s be clear. CivicCamp was a political party. “A political party is an organization of people which seeks to achieve goals common to its members through the acquisition and exercise of political power.”

After the 2010 election CivicCamp became a useful tool in promoting Nenshi’s policy initiatives and ideals to a divided council. Again, no disclosure was given on who ran this group or who funded it despite their making formal presentations to council and providing input on committee. Rather nifty politics.

In the 2013 CivicCamp went back into campaign mode. This is where the line really was crossed as this group that wasn’t a group somehow secured financing from the Calgary Foundation and then proceeded to go into full campaign mode for Nenshi and his chosen council members (an informal council political party).

While refusing to disclose their own financing until late into the election, the CivicCamp group hypocritically, selectively and relentlessly harangued candidates who were not a part of Nenshi’s slate by demanding that these candidates disclose their finances earlier than the legally required disclosure date. In one circumstance one of the CivicCamp gang even camped outside of the campaign office of one of the candidates. They were conspicuously silent on the disclosures of the Nenshi slate however even though some of them were pretty slow in releasing their backers too.

In a political move worthy of Frank Underwood, the CivicCamp group assumed control of all of the forums for mayoral and council candidates. Organizing forums is a tough and thankless task so when a group of folks raised their hands and offered to take on the task, alas few took issue with it.

In election forums, people can usually ask questions from the floor. This allows ground level concerns and issues to be presented directly to candidates and we can watch the unvarnished responses and answers from the contenders for the electoral spots. CivicCamp would have none of this however. What they did was “crowd source” among their supporters and created a set of ranked questions that would be presented to the candidates. Unsurprisingly the questions came out looking as if Naheed Nenshi’s mother (or likely his sister) wrote them. While tax increases polled high on the list of concerns of most Calgarians, somehow it didn’t even make the list of CivicCamp softballs for Nenshi. It was simply brutal and took away the whole point of open forums.

In one of the forums, Brian Pincott (hard left councillor and part of the Nenshi slate) didn’t like the moderator and complained. The CivicCamp group quickly obliged and replaced the moderator with one to Pincott’s liking of course.

Having watched this display I simply couldn’t stomach it any longer. I did a NUANS search and then formally formed and registered CivicCamp as a non-profit society. The initial group’s careful efforts to conceal themselves left them wide open for me to do so. Had they simply spent $80 and filled out a form they could have prevented that but of course that would have meant practicing the accountability and transparency that they tried to demand of some candidates in the election.

While the disbanded group is claiming that they are simply moving along because they have accomplished so much (sounds like Danielle Smith) The reality is that they simply cant do anything any longer now that I own the name. I even offered to give them the name and registration if they wanted to make things open and formal. They refused the offer which is rather telling.

To be clear here, many if not most of the people involved in that CivicCamp group were well meaning. These were not people trying to harm the city and they were volunteers. It is not like they were pocketing funds. Despite those intentions, they still were participating in an astroturfing effort that masked what was essentially a political party. I could not abide by that any longer.

There is nothing and there was nothing stopping this group from forming and operating as a registered non profit society. They just have to embrace accountability and transparency. As long as they refuse to do so though, I can hardly feel badly that their club just cant hold itself together.

Practicing accountability and transparency is more difficult than demanding others do so. It sure ads credibility when one practices these things as well as preaches them.

I do hope that the folks behind the initial CivicCamp group have learned from this.

 

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Transparency and Accountability

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Transparency and accountability are words that we hear constantly from politicians and advocacy groups. Despite the prolific nature of the words in politics, the principles they represent are often not practiced by those who claim to want to see more of this. The term for that is hypocrisy and brazen hypocrisy detracts terribly from the credibility of any group.

When it comes to advocacy groups, full and clear transparency will naturally lead to accountability. With this in mind, when we launched the site for the new non-profit society (CivicCamp) we ensured that all of our expenditures, income and the principle people within the group were all openly listed on the “about” page. We also registered the society with the Alberta registrar after having had a NUANS search to ensure that the name of the society was not in use. Being registered as a society provides a degree of oversight that protects the members of the society and the public in that a degree of transparency and governance is required under the Societies Act. We wanted to be clear that we are hiding nothing about ourselves.

Our launch as a society has sent a loose collection of advocates into hysterics as they feel that they were somehow entitled to the name of our society though there is no legal record indicating that they ever went through the simple process required to secure a name as a society within Alberta. The reason this collection of folks did not register as a society of course is that they did not want to undergo the mandatory transparency and accountability that would come with such registration. These individuals were quite content to keep raising money, expending money and directly lobbying our municipal government with utterly no accountability of their own (despite demanding such from electoral candidates).

Some folks are annoyed that the founding of our society has perhaps undercut this collection of folks and are saying that we have attacked a volunteer group of some sort. Well again, no such group has ever been registered. Being “volunteer” based does not absolve a group of any accountability or ensure that all of the volunteer efforts are based on altruism. How do we know this group was all volunteer? They apparently have somehow gotten a grant and some union funding. With no mechanism of controls, visible people in charge or real transparency we have only their word to rely on that that these solicited funds did not go into the pockets of any members of this group.

This group has been claiming to be unbiased and acting only in the interest of civic engagement too. That is simply and utterly untrue and is very easy to disprove. This group of people has a very distinct political agenda and it is reflected quite clearly in the document below that was presented to and which was accepted by Calgary’s city council during budget deliberations. Budget presentation letter

As can be seen in this letter, this group of folks brazenly asked for no less than a 75% property tax increase as well as wanting to dip deeply into the ideological world of socialism in having city council somehow implement a “progressive” form of utility billing. They referenced the ever kooky ImagineCalgary document in their letter as well.

Let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with a group of people presenting their views to people on all levels of government. It is called advocacy and it is an integral part of our democracy. The problem comes when a group of people has such a strong ideological and partisan slant and then tries to present itself innocently as a as an unbiased volunteer organization facilitating election forums at election time. When this sort of disingenuous activity comes from a group of people, folks like me are forced to call bullshit.

Refusing to register as any formal sort of group allows a group to mask the accountability that comes with having the principle members listed and open to public scrutiny. When one looks at the names that pop up in association with this apparent volunteer group that I aggrieved I can understand why they would not advertise it. People like Grant Neufeld who compares people who travel by air to murderers and slave owners or Chelsea Pratchett who was deeply involved with the Occupy Calgary squatting in a city park  come up in association with this group and yes hardly add credibility to them or any sense of a lack of bias to them. I can understand why some would want to mask the involvement of these kind of people in their informal group but alas, it costs accountability and credibility when a group refuses such transparency. The names associated with this collection of people read like a who’s who of Calgary’s extreme left activists. There is nothing wrong with that but this should not be hidden.

As the saying goes: you can’t both suck and blow. Is this loose collection of people an unbiased volunteer group that just wants to facilitate electoral participation or is it a highly ideological advocacy group that wants to press for specific policies in city hall? This bunch of people has tried to be both and have tried to hide their intent through a total lack of transparency.

CivicCamp is now registered as a non-profit society with full transparency and is not pretending to be unbiased.

I have not taken away the right of a motley collection of activists to either advocate for their policies or to volunteer for election activities. They may do either. I only have taken away the mask that they had been using to try to play both sides. If these folks want to keep advocating or volunteering I say good on them! If they try to mask themselves again though I will expose them yet again.

What’s so hard about transparency? It took five of us a couple hours, a meeting, a form to fill out and $100 to register a non-profit society. I suggest that other groups aspiring to have advocacy organizations do the same. It lends credibility, adds transparency and perhaps most important of all, protects the name of your organization.

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Wildrose Party 2012 Annual General Meeting Summary

To begin with I have to say that the 2012 Wildrose Party AGM in Edmonton this year was nothing less than a smashing success. Those familiar with myself and or my blog know that I will not hesitate to be critical of my party when I feel they have strayed from a good course. I am happy to give a fully positive review of things today.

Turnout

To be frank I had been concerned about how turnout may be for this event. There were a few factors that I felt could have negatively impacted turnout this year; roads were a little wet and icy at times though not as bad as they could be at this time of year, Edmonton is not traditionally our most supportive part of Alberta (though that is changing), it is the Grey Cup weekend and Calgary is in the final game and the AGM had initially sort of been slapped together in a rush almost grudgingly as documented here.

Despite all of the above challenges, I am thrilled to report that nearly 700 members attended this year’s event. I found the Mayfield Inn quite full of folks for the informal social and hospitality suites on the Friday evening. On Saturday morning hundreds were already seated at breakfast and the room simply kept filling and filling through the course of the day as people arrived from all over the province. By the end of the day seats were at a premium as the very large room literally got to a  standing room only state.

There were a few reasons for this great turnout. To begin with, there is simply a great attitude of enthusiasm and optimism among the party membership. While some felt disappointment in our not forming government in last spring’s election, it was still a tremendous success as the Wildrose Party went from four seats in the legislature to what has turned out to be an incredibly effective 17 member opposition. With the talent being demonstrated by our caucus and with the clear lack of direction of the Redford government, members can indeed sense that we are on the way to forming Alberta’s next government. With that feeling of confidence in the future members can sense the importance of our party events opportunities to build and prepare for the future.

As opposed to the 2011 AGM, positions for the provincial executive were very well contested this year (candidates and outcomes can be found here). Having such hotly contested positions by so many people ensured that many teams were on the ground encouraging members to attend the AGM and vote. Being able to participate in something so important as executive elections engages members and adds a great element of satisfaction for members as they know and can feel how important their participation is in guiding the direction of the party. Flaccid lists of acclamations with endorsements from a party committee in 2011 did not add that element in that years underwhelming and poorly promoted elections.

The pricing for attendance at this year’s AGM made a great difference as well. For a two day event, an early-bird rate of $100 which capped out at a top cost of $150 was a great deal. At the 2011 AGM the rate to attend was $250 (there was a modest early-bird rate but it eludes me). We have many very dedicated members and had around 700 people attending in 2011 despite that high cost. Many members did stay home in 2011 though and word is that the party posted close to $100k in losses from that event as it had been hoped that well over 1000 people would be attend and space and supplies had been prepared for as much. Many members have bluntly expressed that the high cost of attendance is what kept them from coming out and that they did not feel such a high price to attend reflected grassroots well.

The venue this year was not as fancy as the Telus Convention Center had been last year. No giant audio/visual lightshow was prepared and presented and there were no long (clearly expensive to produce) video introductions. There was a giant Alberta flag as a backdrop along with screens on either side of the stage providing a magnification of the people speaking for those sitting near the back. The only complaint I could have is that we needed speakers near the back as it was hard to hear on occasion for people like myself who are somewhat hearing impaired. The food and refreshments were modest but adequate and were provided efficiently. I truly heard not a single soul bemoaning the lack of excess or luxury this year as there had been in the 2011 AGM. I hope that all of this has been noted by the powers that be this year (I will be sure to remind them of course).

The massive division, leadership questions and internal turmoil!

I think one ironic factor leading to such a good turnout this year was a mixture of curiosity/concern by some members over apparent division and a plot to overthrow the party leader. In a tiny way, I feel that my wife and I bear a little responsibility for this as we had both exposed some operational and attitude problems within the party in something of a public way. I think those planted the seeds for the more nefarious to take elements of what we had pointed out and craft it into a rather shabby conspiracy theory of a possible internal takeover by some members of the caucus. A video was displayed on the site of a rather non-credible blogger in Edmonton that tried to show a chain of events and personal links leading to a conspiracy. The video was quickly discredited and it being promoted by a person who has an obsessive opposition to the Wildrose in hopes of desperately gaining personal attention really didn’t add to it’s credibility.

An email from a fake caucus members account then went out to some members and began to be forwarded around that was implying essentially the same conspiracy theory as the one on the short lived aforementioned video. The email was no more credible than the video but it did bring some life to the conspiracy in a media that was hoping to find something more interesting to report on than a simple annual general meeting of a party.

Back to that irony, I think that many fence-sitters made up their minds to attend the AGM in hearing about the video and email. Some members were concerned that this smoke may have indicated a possible fire and decided to come and see for themselves.

With so many members coming, looking for possible division and finding none what happened is that we found ourselves more unified than ever before. The conspiracy led to many good jokes both from people speaking to people on the floor. I almost hope that such petty efforts continue.

This does drive home though another element of the importance of general and well attended meetings of the membership of the Wildrose Party (or any party for that matter). When meetings get too far apart as they had this time, complacency on the board can and did happen and small issues indeed began to fester into larger ones. Better communications can ease this problem and good meetings such as last weekend obliterate the problem. It must be borne in mind for the future that the “A” in AGM stands for Annual!

Policy and direction

Due to constitutional constraints and some disorganization on the part of the past Executive Committee, we could not do any formal changes to our party policy at this year’s AGM. Getting back into the realm of irony, this lack of formal policy work led to planning for a great deal of informal policy discussion which gave us much more clarity in our party stances and allowed our representatives to get much more direct member feedback on direction.

It has to be remembered, that the two issues that are most constantly attributed to the sudden drop in polls in the last election actually had utterly no basis in official party policy. The “lake of fire” garbage was based on the mental meanderings of a lone candidate on his personal blog. The weird caucasian blatherings by Leech were just the poorly phrased statements of one person. There is nothing referencing gay people or minorities in any of our policies so it must remembered that policy reforms alone will not do anything to counter these sorts of issues.

We do have some policy that is redundant, vague and out of date. We do need as a party to go through our policy set at our next gathering and fix this up.

What my poor photography demonstrates above is what our time was filled with due to the lack of formal policy work.

We had three sections of policy represented by groups of caucus and then two different breakout periods where people could have direct exchanges with MLAs on policy concerns. The discussion was incredibly frank and open and dialog went in both directions from members to caucus. This provided more clarity to policy direction than any policy book revisions ever could have. Caucus members got to hear directly from members and this will help them form their stances in the legislature. We can never have a policy for every issue so the best way that caucus members can represent party members is to engage them directly like this. One small but important critique here though, Joe Anglin needs the hook when speaking at such things as his long-windedness precluded many other questions. We do have many other caucus members and other questions Joe.

The other picture shows the open Q&A where Danielle Smith and Kerry Towle took completely open and unfiltered questions from members on the floor. Nothing was sugarcoated and while there were some softballs, the tough questions were asked too. Danielle was asked directly about the Hunsperger/Leech things and answered at length. Danielle Smith’s respect for free speech was evident but it was clear that she recognized the importance of taking care of these issues through better and more vigorous candidate selection processes and policy clarity. Both free speech and integrity of candidates can be maintained.

Some have already yelped that Danielle Smith did not condemn Hunsperger enough. Seriously folks, had Hunsperger been brought to the AGM, hung up, flogged by the entire membership and then personally fed his own recently severed testicles by Danielle Smith, there would still be some people saying she did not go far enough. It was one person, it did not and does not reflect the whole party, it is past and get over it already. Those who will never get over it are those who would never vote for a responsible option like the Wildrose Party in a million years anyway so it is past time to simply ignore them and move on.

True and real transparency

Some media and members alike expressed something akin to shock at how open everything was. Birds really should fall from the sky or something when Premier Redford dares to utter the word transparency considering how hard her government works to hide their actions from citizens and in light of the recent Progressive Conservative Party AGM where media was outright banned from the majority of activities, the open nature Wildrose Party AGM was indeed shocking in it’s contrast.

Even noted dipper Lou Arab took some time to pop in and put our open meeting to the test. He was only moderately abused 😉 .

Danielle Smith and the entire caucus was available throughout the entire two days. Even during the inebriated later hours of the hospitality suites Danielle could be found in the hallways being cornered with question after question directly from members. It must have been exhausting but it is incredibly appreciated and sends an incredible message.

Had a person wanted to speak one on one with every member of the entire caucus and provincial executive during the AGM it was easily possible with some effort over those two days. I expect it will be tougher in 2016 but only because there will be well over 65 caucus members as opposed to any lack of transparency.

While so many pay lip service to the whole concept of transparency, the Wildrose Party clearly practices it. It is through these practices and through member vigilance that we will maintain these high principles and that the Wildrose Party will usher in a whole new style of responsible government soon.

Hindsight and self-evaluation

Members and media alike were surprised by Tom Flanagan’s (party campaign co-chair) very frank and open summary of the past election. This sort of candid discussion of strategy and and personal humbling is never demonstrated by other parties. Flanagan spoke to our naivety in some elements of the campaign and he spoke to how some issues caught us off guard. Charts demonstrated how some of our policy initiatives during the campaign gained support while others (such as the energy rebates) actually cost us a fair degree of support. Flanagan spoke on how some of our policies are simply out of date and others just won’t sell.

It is through this unvarnished discussion that we ensure growth and evolution as a party. In being open, we must learn from our errors and successes. Contrasting these things openly before the entire membership brings us all into this learning and helps foster a sense of pragmatism and understanding of how we will have to always keep electability in mind when crafting our plans and policies.

Summary

The 2012 AGM was a great success and the Wildrose Party is much stronger today than it was just a week ago.

A new and invigorated Executive Committee was elected in a well contested race. In having to fight for their spots, these members will not be as inclined to fall into the complacency that crept into the last EC. I expect they will do a great job in guiding and managing the communications and operations of the party.

A deeper sense of enthusiasm and unity was gained by all in attendance and the importance of these gatherings was demonstrated (even to those who seem to try and avoid these things).

Danielle Smith’s keynote speech was excellent. I left it alone as myriad media and bloggers have covered it and it was live streamed.

We still have a mountain of work to do on our way to forming government in 2016. Major progress was made in creating that path to government this weekend. We need to keep this attitude and maintain momentum.

::update::

Just wanted to add that the staff and volunteers did a great job. Things went smoothly from registration to scheduling.It all was very well organized. Couldn’t happen without them.

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Real transparency is what we need.

Buzz words come and go. I almost get nauseated when I hear the vapid overuse of the terms “vibrant” and “sustainable” these days particularly when they appear to be tossed into political speech with no context. The word transparency has been a popular word too and it has been terribly abused. Last spring while Alison Redford was claiming a balanced budget on her campaign of misinformation, she also used the word “transparency” constantly.

We know that Redford was lying about balancing the budget, and in light of Alberta’s transparency rating a couple months ago, it is clear that Redford was only paying lip service to that concept in the last provincial election too. Alberta is one of the least transparent provinces in the country.

True transparency is simple. With modern communications and databasing, there really is little excuse for exorbitant FOIP fees. It is not as if a government employee has to dig into a cavernous archive of micro-fiche any longer and provide a paper copy for an information request. Aside from some personnel employment specifics and some discussions that need to remain in-camera for competitive reasons, there really is no reason that Albertans should not be able to access damn near any government information at any time online.

We will have some election financing reforms coming in today. Hopefully some meaningful reforms come in this legislation. Our provincial government fired a Chief Electoral Officer the last time he dared to suggest changes to our electoral system so my faith in this corrupted government’s will to actually change things.

If we do see some good reforms in new legislation, it will only be because of the deep corruption that has been exposed in our current government with over 80 cases of apparent illegal contributions to the Progressive Conservatives having come to light. Transparency exposed these aspects of government corruption rather than any legislation and it took some very heavy digging by a determined CBC reporter to expose most of this. Most people simply do not have the time and resources to get all that information.

Redford showed that she is happy to gleefully spit in the face of the spirit of electoral finance legislation when her party happily pocketed what appears to have been a single cheque from Katz for $430,000 and then got to work on laundering it out to fit within the grossly loose contribution laws. This demonstrates again how legislation will have little effect on our current corrupted government.

Public exposure and shaming has far more deterrent effect on our government than any legislation will. As we have seen in the legislature yesterday and in the last election, the Redford government will lie blatantly and without hesitation in order to maintain their grip on power. With real transparency though, their lies can and will be exposed immediately.

When we see a government so deeply corrupt that the Premier’s own sister is laundering tax dollars back to the Progressive Conservative Party, I think we can say with confidence that we will not see true reform or transparency coming from this corrupted regime.

What I am saying is twofold;

Alberta needs a true and massive reform that will give real transparency of government spending and actions to the public.

Alberta will never get that transparency from a government as corrupted as our current one. We need to replace the governing party.

We don’t need legislation for immediate transparency though. We simply need open truthful dialog from our leaders. Below though, is the video of Alison Redford hiding from our provincial legislature and hiding from the press as the corruption involving her sister was exposed:

 

What a cowardly Premier we are saddled with. The biggest scandal of the year is surfacing and she hasn’t even the glimmer of courage or leadership to at least speak to this mess of her creating.

Transparency is to corrupted people such as the Redford Sisters as sunlight is to vampires.

Let’s keep working to dislodge the Progressive Conservative Party from the reigns of power in Alberta. We also must ensure that the incoming government has ironclad policies that will force real transparency upon the government and that putting those policies in place is a prime priority. Only then will we be able to keep corruption effectively out of our provincial administration.

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