It is time for the Wildrose Alliance Party to come out and say it.

The pattern is tiringly consistent and has been going on for over a decade in Alberta now. Craig Chandler and his little band of followers will latch onto a campaign/party with one or more of their own as a candidate. The race will then quickly devolve into a circus as rules are stretched (if not outright broken). The campaign then becomes exceedingly negative and personal as individuals are besmirched and then the inevitable threats of lawsuits come from Chandler during the campaign (most strongly after the campaign when his team has lost). Chandler and his cronies then move on to another party/cause and repeat the pattern.

Somebody of political note told me a little over a year ago (paraphrasing) “When Craig Chandler becomes involved in a campaign, the campaign is no longer about who wins. It becomes a campaign about making somebody lose.” That statement pretty much hits it right on the head. Chandler campaigns never amount to anything good, but they certainly can do some damage.

What I am getting at is that the Wildrose (and probably other parties) should come right out and publically state that they do not want Craig Chandler as a member of their organization and Chandler’s involvement in campaigns within the organization should lead to the immediate disqualification of the candidate utililizing Chandler’s services. Yes, I am speaking of a total shunning of Craig Chandler and his associates within a party.

I think now is an ideal time to come out and say this. Chandler has very recently come out publically and called all involved with the Wildrose Party “Nazis” and has been quite busy working on a Facebook group with a handful of malcontents, sock-puppets and members who don’t even know they are members that simply appears to exist in complaining about the Wildrose Party.

What is to be lost in telling Craig not to let the door hit him in the ass on his way out? What is to be gained in allowing him to continue to meddle with party affairs?

The Wildrose Party is still in a critical stage in it’s growth in leading up to what will be a pivotal election for both the province and the party. While Chandler’s influence is limited in general, he causes a distraction and his presence alone takes away from the credibility of the entire party. Constituency associations are critical and fragile in nature. Even one individual on a CA board can cause a terrible mess if their interests are not those of the party or the constituents. Flushing Chandler’s bunch will go a long way to creating stability in constituencies. I understand that it is difficult with individuals, but perhaps once Chandler is fully and publically removed from the party his followers will go with him.

For those fortunate enough not to be too terribly familiar with Craig Chandler and his activities I will give a little background. To begin with, somebody built a site listing some of Chandler’s known associates and activities. The site is a bit out of date and shallow but does give some good info here.

Chandler’s first somewhat loud political splash was when he ran for the federal leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party in 2003. While providing for some comic relief, Chandler was generally an annoyance within the race. Chandler then dropped out at the last second so that it could not be officially documented that he actually had no support to speak of in the race. That tactic was attempted by the Chandler/Dyrholm campaign for the leadership of the Wildrose Alliance Party as well but failed when the voting results were released showing Dyrholm heavily trounced by Danielle Smith. Chandler has recently been claiming that the party rigged votes in that race by the way.

Chandler got behind David Crutcher during the leadership race for the Alberta Alliance. The race as was typical went negative with Craig’s involvement as Chandler threatened to sue everybody from his former volunteers to the former leader of the party. When Chandler’s candidate finished a distant third to MLA Paul Hinman, Chandler stormed from the party calling it “Liberal Light” and was opposed to the party for some time to follow. The race was well documented here and Craig participated heavily in this forum during the race. The behaviour and attitude of Chandler is quite evident in these discussion threads.

There was a municipal election some years ago when some sort of bizzare incident happened involving Craig Chander and Dave Bronconnier’s mother with threatening phone calls. There was another bizzare episode where Sun columnist Paul Jackson got fired due to some messup with Chandler.

More recently Chandler backed a candidate for the provincial Liberal party. Despite the fact that Harvey was completely unsuited or inclined to be a candidate within that party, Chandler has been going on about voter irregularitys. Chandler’s candidate was not even a contender by a long shot but his presence did erode the credibility of a party already reeling.

The list just goes on and on and on. During the Wildrose Alliance leadership race I was on the committee overseeing the race. Without any doubt that was the most exhausting committee I have ever served upon as we had to repeatedly had to deal with complaints of the Chandler/Dyrholm team breaking the rules of the race. Towards the end of that race the tone became increasingly negative as Chandler complained of media bias and even attacked Danielle’s husband and the spouses of media members for their membership within the party (an abuse of membership lists).

Now the latest episode that has Chandler all up in arms involves the nomination disqualification of Dennis Young. To be honest, I don’t know why Young was rejected by the local CA nominating committee. I have no idea if the disqualification was fair or not. I am not on the inside any longer and purposely have distanced myself from nomination activities within the party over this last year. What is clearly not acceptable however is Chandler’s reaction to the disqualification of his preferred candidate and his insistence on attacking the entire party.

I have browsed the collection of complaints on Chandler’s facebook group and see that my name has surfaced a couple times so I feel I have to address this. Yes, I have a background that is considered controversial by many and yes I was accepted as a nomination candidated despite that. I guess I need to go into a little detail as to why I was accepted.

What Craig Chandler and his followers will never understand is the value of consistent and longtime committment to something. I have been involved with this party from back when it was the Alberta Alliance with only one seat in the legislature and a couple thousand in the bank. I have served on the provincial executive in multiple capacities for years. I have overseen the founding and maintanence of dozens of constituency associations throughout the party. I hosted the party headquarters in my own office for years until the party outgrew the space. I have donated thousands of dollars and countless hours to the party. I have openly and actively fought to keep people from bringing separatist policies into the party as I more than anybody can recognize the folly of that. I have set up and put away chairs for empty meetings around the province and I have flipped burgers for conventions.

There were indeed people who felt that I should not even have been allowed to be a nomination candidate for the party. It was difficult to stop that however in light of such a long, rational and dedicated history within the party. To compare the acceptance of myself as a nomination candidate to others who were invisible during all of those formative years and then suddenly bullied in with Team Chandler is folly to say the least. Hard work and time are what builds a foundation and credibility within a party (or pretty much anything) but it appears that Chandler will never understand that and will express shock when finding himself or one of his candidates rejected by yet another group they recently joined.

The media have long ago generally learned to ignore Chandler so his public outbursts are limited in scope. I used to feel that if we generally ignored Chandler he would simply fade away. That was clearly a mistaken feeling. While Chandler rarely wins campaigns, he often does damage to the parties or individuals around his campaigns. I have no idea why that small group of people follows Chandler but they are dedicated in a cult-like way to him and they do allow him to spread his damage to constituencies. Harold Camping with his Christian radio predicted the world would end again just today yet people still follow him so I guess I should not be too surprised at what followers will put up with.

The party is growing and evolving. Individual nuts will always be a reality to deal with and the choice to remove people from a party should never be taken lightly. It is time for the Wildrose Party to pull this bandaid off though and get rid of Chandler and his followers. There are many more important things that the party needs to deal with in the next few months leading to the election and we don’t need these malcontents trying to destabilize our constituency associations. Many of these races are going to be tight and that distraction could make all the difference.

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Yes I am alive!!

I am indeed alive and well though it has been the better part of a year since my last posting.  It has indeed been quite a year politically. I won’t recap but the explosive growth and evolution of the Wildrose Alliance Party has been exciting and has kept me quite busy as a provincial board member.

 I have recently resigned from the provincial board of the party as I am now pursuing the nomination for Calgary North Hill (to be renamed Klein). Yes, the PCs have actually renamed a Calgary constituency after Ralph Klein in hopes of rekindling feelings of better days within the electorate. I suspect that this strategy like so many others made by Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives will fail dismally. I guess I should be happy that I am not living in Calgary Stelmach or Calgary Getty at least.

 Well, I am in campaign mode and should be back to blogging semi-regularly from here on in. A formal campaign website is in the works and the campaign organization in general is coming together. Today I went knocking to the membership to gain nomination signatures and it really was great seeing how engaged and enthusiastic our members are. The next election is going to be an exciting one indeed. It really does not matter which leader the tired old Progressive Conservatives choose this time; their days in government are clearly numbered.

 I look forward to documenting the campaign here and continuing to inspire/annoy/enlighten/inflame people with my rants which I expect will continue in their usual pattern of ranging from tongue in cheek to philosophical to deep to inane.

Campaign Like Pose

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They just don’t get it.

 Being stranded in New York for the last while, my blogging lagged somewhat.

 I can’t think of a better story to get back in the swing of things.

Wildrose #1 in Alberta, poll finds.

 Now the Wildrose Alliance Party reaching the status of government in waiting is certainly worthy of discussion on it’s own. What I am finding more interesting at the moment though is the hysterical commentary from Liberal/Progressive Conservative stalwarts in light of these numbers. Blogs and the comment sections in newspapers are great places for insight into the mindset of the fast-dwindling supporters of the traditional Alberta parties.

 Liberal supporters are acting predictably. The number of commenters calling the electorate stupid and labelling Albertans as a collection of slack-jawed yokels who are too stupid to embrace what they consider as a good progressive alternative is appalling. I understand that the general concepts of democracy are often lost on those who embrace the left but come on guys, think about this. Whether you like it or not, those slack jawed locals have the power of the vote and they exercise it. Try to peek outside of your ivory tower for a moment and understand why your party has not been able to gain an inch in decades. Here is a political tip that I will offer for free, try listening to the electorate instead of constantly berating them as being a collection of fools. You may finally see a one point jump in the polls.

 I can understand the Liberal rage in Alberta. This is a party that has been in Alberta since the province was founded. Currently we have what appears to be the most inept provincial government since Harry Strom and an electorate that is salivating for change. Despite this situation, the Liberals simply can’t gain an inch in Alberta. This was reflected rather well in the Calgary Glenmore by-election. The Liberals pulled in every possible volunteer from across the province and poured every nickle that they had into the campaign. The NDP sat out the campaign and the Green Party no longer exists. The outcome was that a brand new party passed the Liberals and took the seat while the Liberals were mired at the exact same support levels that they enjoyed years ago.

 The writing is on the wall. Alberta is simply not a Liberal supporting province and never will be. Get over it and move on guys.

 Now the reaction from the few remaining PC diehards is telling as well. Currently we are still seeing denial. Shallow and short comments regarding their current status show that these folks still do not realize just how threatened their position of power is. Dismissing the Wildrose Alliance Party as irrelevant is sort of pointless now isn’t it? Well that seems to be the best the PCs can come up with. Firing out terms such as “bigots, rednecks, extreme” has not been too effective either particularly in light of all the socially conservative actions of the Stelmach regime in the last couple years. Here is a tip for you guys, pretending that the Wildrose Alliance Party will simply fade away is not a good strategy on your part.

 What I see from the party stalwarts in both the PCs and the Liberals is a stubborn insistence on staying the course. Despite the astronomical plummeting of support for the PCs and the flaccid state of support for the Liberals, neither party is even considering making large and real change. The electorate is simply leaving the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives behind.

 Historically Albertans have always been ready to embrace change. From giving women the right to vote to creating entirely new political movements Alberta has led the nation consistently.

 The people of Alberta are ready for another wholesale change and the traditional parties will not let themselves realize this. It is clear that the Wildrose Alliance Party has become that vehicle for change and I don’t see this trend stopping. The membership is still seeing explosive growth, an increasingly skilled set of people are involved in the management of the party and our ground organization is coming along excellently. I suspect that even Stelmach is not foolish enough to call an early election at this point and with two more years of organization the Wildrose Alliance Party will be quite a force in the next general election.

 Let the remaining supporters of the Liberals and Conservatives continue to fiddle. Alberta has discovered an option and Albertans are embracing it. The future looks bright for the Wildrose Alliance Party and Alberta itself.  

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Compromise (it’s not a dirty word)

com·pro·mise  (kmpr-mz)

n. 1. a. A settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions.

b. The result of such a settlement.2. Something that combines qualities or elements of different things: The incongruous design is a compromise between high tech and early American.3. A concession to something detrimental or pejorative

 One thing that nobody can deny is that we are within one of the most interesting periods of Alberta politics in over a decade. Many people are surprised at the explosive growth of the Wildrose Alliance Party which is suddenly showing itself to be a very serious contender to be considered by the Alberta electorate.

 One of the key elements that has allowed the WAP to break out of what has been considered “fringe” status has been the ability of the people involved within the party to accept a degree of compromise.

 There are countless parties languishing within the political wilderness and the thing that will keep them on the outside looking in is their inability to accept compromise. Some parties are easy to identify as they name themselves based on a single issue that they will never compromise on (Green Party, Marijuana Party, Separation Party etc). While other fringe parties may not carry their burden right in their names, a glancing evaluation of their policies will invariably display why they will remain on the outskirts of mainstream politics whether federally or provincially.

 A giant step in the evolution of right of center alternative parties in Alberta occurred when the Alberta Alliance Party and the Wildrose Party merged. It became clear to people seeking an alternative to the PC party of Alberta that such an alternative will never come about if right of center movements keep splintering and fighting among themselves. Many people demanded that this practice end and the boards of both the Wildrose Party and the Alberta Alliance Party began the realize the futility of their walking along separate paths. The merger of the two parties took months of negotiation that was often heated and progress waxed and waned.

 Some people within the boards on both sides refused to accept compromise and it hindered negotiations greatly. Minor issues were nitpicked and hairs were split in hopes of derailing the process. Both boards realized that the merger would never come if a couple of key individuals continued in the negotiation process. The compromise that was reached was that each party would remove one of those individuals from the negotiation process. In one meeting without the participation with those two, the agreement was drafted which would lead to the memberships of both parties accepting a merger of the two parties.

 Now what is more important than the merger itself is the the people who remained and carried on with the newly formed party. People who stubbornly refused to accept any form of compromise were shed and a party executive that understood the benefits of examining more than one point of view was born. A broader vision was adopted by the party executive and critical discussions could happen without people petulantly storming from the room. Progress in party growth and evolution happened at a rate never seen before as the board worked with a cooperative attitude. Prominent and skilled people were drawn to the management of the party as it became evident that clear focus was finally coming from the helm.

 The next large turning point for the party was the annual general meeting that was held in Calgary last June. A massive cleaning of party policies was proposed and was accepted by the membership at the meeting. In a party with a fringe mentality, such a wholesale change would never have been adopted as the uncompromising would have dominated the room. The single issue folks with chips on their shoulders tried to fight back by utilizing the means of member driven policy by trying to insert the types of policies that hinder fringe parties into the new and improved policy set adopted by the membership.

 A motion calling for the party to accept a separatist stance was proposed. That motion was never even considered by the membership as nobody within the room would even second it. I was almost disappointed when that happened as I had prepared a long diatribe to speak against this idiocy and pursuit of political suicide and I never had a chance to speak it to the room. I comforted myself by ranting against an almost equally inane proposal that called for the provincial government to assume management of private trade associations. That motion was quashed by nearly 100% of the room by the way.

 Not only did we shed such fringe policy proposals in that meeting, we shed many of the proponents of these proposals which is equally if not a more important outcome of that meeting. The proponent of the separatist motion abandoned the room when it was clear her proposal was going nowhere. I say good riddance. While I would like to see as many passionate and involved people as possible working towards policy development within the party, we are better off without those who will only participate based on a single issue.

 I have been on the losing end of motions in executive meetings with the current party and with prior partisan incarnations that I have been involved with. I have felt frustration and have felt that the board took the wrong stance. Despite those feelings, never for a second did I consider storming off in a pout and no longer participating in the party. I had to accept that either; a) I did not make a strong enough case or; b) I was simply wrong (it has been known to happen). Our party has become dominated with people who can accept such things and this has shown in the unity we now enjoy as well as the wise decisions that have come from collective and open discussion.

 Other more recent events have been great factors in the exposure and growth that the party is seeing. The election of Paul Hinman in Calgary Glenmore was one event and the leadership race currently underway with two excellently qualified candidates is the other. Neither of these events would ever have come to play had we been dominated by a group of uncompromising individuals as fringe parties are prone to being.

 Part of what brings about my extended rambling here though is reading and hearing from uncompromising individuals regarding the leadership. So many that say they will storm into this direction or that direction if such and such wins. I don’t see our leadership race as having been that divisive and no matter what the outcome I am confident that we will end with a stronger and more unified party than ever before. While I would prefer that those who refuse to accept compromise grow up and learn to look at a bigger picture, I am almost as happy to simply watch them storm away after having not gotten their way. Such people simply foster division and hinder progress.

 I expect that no matter what the outcome of our leadership race that there will be some folks who will try to send a rallying cry with yet another new party. Personally I think that may not be such a bad thing. Let a new (or existing) party collect the single issue cranks. Let that bunch gather others such as Alberta’s perennial “leaders” who’s only wish is to be a big fish in a small pond. The absence of these people will only foster further growth and a better collective wisdom within the Wildrose Alliance Party. I expect the attempted rise of another right of center party will simply act as a crank-filter for us.

 I am a person driven by ideals. I began in politics by taking many unrealistic stands and pursuing many unrealistic goals. While doing so over the past 15 years or so I have been learning through my actions. What is more important to me? Dying on a hill of uncompromising idealism or actually making changes that will better the province no matter how small they may appear? My goal is to improve Alberta for all Albertans. Sure there are some dreamland events that I think would act as catalysts for quick and large change. I also understand that Albertans do not want to follow that path. I accept the collective wisdom of the province and now seek to find changes and improvements for the province that can actually be achieved. I find taking this rational path to be much more personally satisfying as I can see progress towards actual improvement in our province.

 While the Wildrose Alliance Party is learning how to compromise and to listen to a broader spectrum, the Alberta Progressive Conservatives under Ed Stelmach have been moving in the opposite direction. Catastrophic errors have been made by the government in the past few years. Despite that, the government stubbornly refuses to accept that it could have possibly erred. Ideas and compromise are not considerations. Health workers began to publicly speak out on problems. They were gagged. MLAs have spoken up for their constituents. They were gagged. The Chief Electoral Officer of Alberta recommended changes; he was fired. If the government put half of the effort into some introspection as they do towards shutting down dissenting voices, they may actually slow their plummeting in support within Alberta.

 Alas the StelmachPCs are incapable of compromise and it will indeed be their downfall.

 Excess compromise is a risk as well. A party can’t simply be governed by polls. A party at times has to lead as well as reflect the wishes of the electorate. That combination is impossible without a degree of compromise. Critical thought is impossible without compromise, progress is impossible without compromise and party growth is impossible without compromise. The degree of compromise is always and should always be up for debate. As long as it can be debated though the party is healthy.

 When people spit out compromise in a derogatory way, keep this posting in mind.

 Now appeasement is a different story altogether and compromise is often wrongly substituted for that word. The problems with appeasement are fodder for another rambling posting on another day. 🙂

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Keep gagging those MLAs Ed.

The Stelmach caucus It is not terribly surprising. Despite having lost what would have been considered one of the PCs safest seats a couple weeks ago, Special Ed clearly has not learned a lesson from it. Ed was sent a message but the message fell on deaf ears. One of the turning points of the Calgary Glenmore by-election campaign was when Diane Colley-Urquhart stated at a forum that she would not put the interests of her constituents ahead of the interests of the party. While Diane was admirably honest in saying that, it killed her chances of winning the seat. People want representation. Is it really that confusing?

 We see now that Kyle Fawcett has been spanked for daring to speak up for his constituents.  Kyle will no doubt be hidden in the back benches for at least an entire term for his attempted show of integrity.

 It is so laughable (in a sad way) when PC candidates try to claim that the only way to get a voice in the legislature is to support the governing party. It is rather clear that the exact opposite is the reality.

 A vote for the PCs is simply a vote for the dictatorial judgement of Ed Stelmach. No PC MLA is allowed to speak for themselves or their constituents. This is pretty much a proven fact now. A vote for the PCs is nothing less than a wasted vote. One almost has to wonder why we have 83 seats? Why don’t we eliminate them and simply make one nice big throne for Ed?

 The Wildrose Alliance Party will allow MLAs to represent their constituents. It is clear that Albertans are realizing this as the party growth has been explosive.

 I do fear for how much damage Ed Stelmach will do to the province before Albertans get the next chance to replace him. I am happy though that the replacement for Ed and his tired party is well in the works.

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The Calgary Glenmore campaign.

Well, this morning I decided I would post pictures from the campaign and how it progressed. What I have now realized is that I don’t have all that many shots of the campaign. The bottom line is that we were simply too damn busy to be thinking of taking shots.

Ahh well, I will post what I have.

The work began weeks before Ed decided to drop a summer writ in vain hope that a sleepy electorate would give his incompetence a pass. Paul was hitting doors for 12 hours per day while we had signs advertising for and building our local membership in the constituency.

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Construction and preparation of the signs was done well before the writ-drop. We intended to hit the ground running and we did so.

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Our first large volunteer event was on the Saturday after the election was called. The weather was beautiful and close to 60 volunteers participated throughout the day dropping literature throughout the constituency.

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Back in the campaign office we had some pretty late nights. While often enthusiastic, Stewie usually ran out of steam early. I can report that Stewie is thrilled with the electoral outcome and even more overjoyed that he no longer has to go to the office. Stewie’s bed at home is more comfortable to him than his station under the reception desk.

meatball

Election night and victory!!! Yes, a big leap through the campaign but as I said, I have few pictures of that period.  We watched the polls come in and the excitement in the room grew by the minute. The media that had ignored us suddenly flooded into the room after having abandoned the headquarters of the other campaign (just one of many groups that underestimated both us and the wisdom of the voters in Calgary Glenmore). Below is Jane announcing that the Liberals have conceded the win to Paul. As you can imagine, the room went rather wild.

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Paul was rather happy as well of course. I really don’t know where that man gets his energy from. Late at night I would be fighting to keep my eyes open in the office. Meanwhile Paul would come in after another 12 hours of doorknocking high-spirited and wishing that there were more hours in the day. Nobody can deny that Paul worked incredibly hard for his well-deserved win.

paul

Pictured below are some of the key people who worked tirelessly on the campaign. Many other awesome volunteers are not in the picture unfortunately. It is hard to round everybody up in the midst of a victory celebration.

 

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The day after the campaign we discovered that somebody had gone throughout the constituency and speared many many of our signs as pictured below.

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If embittered losers such as that are the kind of people in opposition to us, I think we are well along the right track.

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Video time.

Ahh it has been a frantic week (but in a great way). I am now posting video of the Wildrose Alliance Party’s leadership forum from Wednesday night at the Blackfoot Inn.

 I was sorely tempted to edit out my repeated brainfarts as the forum moderator when I referred to a candidate by the wrong name a couple times. Perhaps posting that portion will help inspire me not to do such again.

 Last night’s forum in Lethbridge had a packed house again and I got the names correct the entire evening.

 A great thank you to Jamie Buchan who thought he was simply attending a forum and found himself handed a video camera and was voluntold to tape the proceedings.

 The processing and uploading takes forever so I will be adding links throughout the day as they get up on the site.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13 (last one)

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Running Scared.

 Ahh I have been due for a good laugh. Today while on the road I was listening to Charles Adler on the radio (national show). National Post journalist Kevin Libin was being interviewed and the subject was Libin’s trip to Alberta where he investigated and then wrote about the stunning growth of the Wildrose Alliance Party in Alberta. His article is here. The article was great and the interview was better. Libin sees the growing discontent with Stelmach in Alberta.

 What got my funny bone going however was the next guest on the show. Adler had leadership candidate Danielle Smith on the show and announced that leadership candidate Mark Dyrholm will be a guest on his show next week.

 One of the first callers was Mark Norris. You see Norris is a failed leadership candidate for Ed’s job. Mark left government as a sore loser and is now pouting on the sidelines. It is clear that Norris still has aspirations though and hopes to replace Stelmach in the future. The fear was clear as day in Mark’s voice as he attacked and spouted the usual diatribes of “redneck” and such and really made a pathetic defence of the Stelmach regime.

 We doubtless will be seeing more of this in the months and years to come. The self-entitled Alberta PCs are finding themselves losing funding and members on every front as their inept governance works towards ending their nearly 40 year dynasty in Alberta. These folks are in panic and it is showing.

 If the defense of the PCs made by Norris is the best they can do, the Wildrose Alliance may very well be in majority government in a few years.

 http://www.am770chqr.com/Station/AudioVault.aspx

 Again Norris, thanks for the chuckle.

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A very productive weekend.

 Last Friday and Saturday the Wildrose Alliance Party held it’s AGM and policy conference at the Bearspaw Lifestyle Center in Calgary. As (now former) VP of policy for the party, the task of organizing the affair landed on me. I can now add event-planning to my resume though I will try to avoid such tasks in the future. Our main challenge was that we filled the house to the rafters with enthusiastic attendees and keeping everybody comfortable and fed in such tight quarters can be quite a challenge. Thanks to a small army of excellent volunteers, we pulled it off. I can’t thank those who rolled up their sleeves and helped keep things moving along enough. The lineups for food were rather long, but people were patient and their attitudes were great. We all realized that having challenges with too many people coming out beats the heck out of having too few.

 Getting to the meat and potatoes of the gathering, the party has clearly passed some milestones and is approaching some more. It was reported to the room that our membership has tripled since last January and continues to grow. The party is at an all time high in membership numbers and doubtless those numbers will explode as our leadership hopefuls pound the pavement in their campaigns.

 In our financial reporting, it was re-confirmed that we are completely debt free (unlike the rest of the opposition parties) and funds continue to come to the party at an unprecedented rate from both corporate and individual donors. Concerned Albertans are putting their money where their mouths are and investing in Alberta’s future by supporting our future government. Money isn’t everything, but it certainly is essential when going against the withering but still entrenched PC party of Alberta.

 Paul Hinman while leaving his post as leader (though remaining as interim) clearly still is held in high regard and respected by the membership. It is great to see somebody like Paul stepping back for the sake of growth of the party yet still remaining involved and enthusiastic. Assuming Paul wins the upcoming nomination for the Calgary Glenmore by-election, Paul will continue to be an incredible asset to the party as he is a very skilled campaigner. While Paul lost his seat by 39 votes in the last election, his even taking that seat in an upset victory in 2004 demonstrated that underestimating Paul Hinman is a poor course of action. The fence-straddling Alderman running for the PCs down there had best not take that seat for granted.

 The policy discussions were excellent and very telling of the direction of the membership. One of the more difficult tasks in front of us was the presentation of a greatly streamlined and completely updated version of our policy set. Our past set was somewhat convoluted, outdated and clearly suffered from a case of the bloat. Part of grassroots policy development means that it can be much easier to get policies added than it can be to remove them. A periodic housecleaning of the policies is required and that can be sticky. We managed that and I expect that people will be impressed when our new version is added to the party website.

 Another reality of grassroots policy development is that some members will submit some let’s say less than rational proposals at times. Opponents try to paint the party as radical when they get wind of such things at times. What really counts is how well those oddball policy proposals are received when presented to the membership at an AGM. The policy calling for an immediate referendum on separation from Canada was dropped by it’s proponent after the membership resoundingly rejected her other proposal to have the party principle speaking to working within a unified Canada dropped. This should put to rest those trying to paint the Wildrose Alliance as being a separatist party. Somebody tried to move the party into that direction of political suicide and the attempt was rejected en-masse by the gathered members. Those who want to pursue a separatist mandate should join the Separation Party of Alberta and share in the 1% showing that they had in the one constituency that they contested in the last general election.

 There was another rather odd policy submission that called for the government to assume the management of professional associations and such. That one did go to a vote. Two people voted in favor while the other two-hundred and some in attendance rejected it. Collective wisdom won and we had a wise and moderate minded crowd.

 With the elections to party executive things went well. We retained many excellent board members and gained some new and very skilled people. It was commented that we really should have more board seats as all of the candidates were excellent and it was a shame that they did not get on the board simply due to lack of space. That being said, there certainly was no hard feelings on the part of those who did not get on and they will be still contributing their skills and efforts to the party. The unity and enthusiasm within the room was excellent. As a side note, while I did leave the posting of VP policy, the members did select me to serve as a Southern director so I will still be on the board. The details and bios of the new board should be on the party website soon so I will not go into more detail in what is already a long-winded summary of the AGM.

 One of the main items of interest to many was the formal introduction of two candidates for the leadership of the party. Danielle Smith and Mark Dyrholm both gave well received speeches and began making their rounds among the membership. This will be a strongly contended leadership race with two bright and rational candidates campaigning. The nomination cutoff is September 1st so we may see some more faces added to the mix. It is going to make for an interesting and busy summer for the party to say the least.

 Finishing the event we had Tom Flanagan speak to the group where he announced his purchasing of a membership with us and gave some wise advice. Having been so critical in the development of Reform/CA/CPC Flanagan has learned a thing or two. We were reminded that factionalism is one of the main factors that can lead to the demise of an up and coming party and it is to be avoided at all costs. With the clear unity and enthusiasm of those who attended we are not challenged with factionalism right now. That being said, with a leadership race and continued growth that is a very real risk and we will be well served to watch out for that.

 In looking at comments on articles posted about our AGM and the leadership race I am more heartened than ever. PC supporters and other lefties have quickly moved into attack mode and are trying their hardest to discredit the party and leadership contenders. The dwindling status-quo supporters are seeing the threat of the Wildrose Alliance Party to their parties of choice and are beginning to lash out. I expect it will only get worse as we continue to gain steam.

 I have been in provincial politics since the 90s working on libertarian style alternatives to the tired out PC party of Alberta. Never has the light shone more brightly on the future for such an alternative as now.

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The race is on.

Today Paul Hinman announced his intention to step down from the leadership of the Wildrose Alliance Party at the upcoming  party AGM to be held on June 6th.

paul hinman

 It is ironic that one of Paul’s greatest acts of leadership has been his stepping back from the role of leader to open the position of party leader to other contenders.

 That is not to say that Paul has not been a great leader so far. While Paul did lose his seat in the legislature by less than 50 votes in the last election, Paul has brought the party forward into a whole new level of viability on the electoral spectrum in the last few years. Paul’s evolution as a leader has been striking, his speaking skills have improved greatly and he is much more engaging than he had been when he initially won the leadership of the party. (again, not that Paul was all that bad to begin with) With Paul stepping aside now, it is clear that he still retains his deep respect for democracy and an interest in the stake of the party that comes above his own interests.

 I am looking forward to this coming leadership race. We will see some new faces presenting some fresh perspectives and this can only lead to further growth within the party. I really hope that Paul decides to run again as he clearly has a great deal to offer to the Wildrose Alliance Party. As far as I am concerned, Paul is the leader to beat. Should Paul run and win or run and lose, our party will be much stronger for this democratic exercise.

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