I finally joined the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta

Progressive_Conservative_Association_of_Alberta_Logo

Yes, for the first time in my life I have purchased a membership with the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. While this is hardly earthshaking news to the world, it is indeed a big deal to me. I have been a member of one political party or another since getting my first membership with the Reform Party in 1991 and I never take my membership in a party lightly.

While many keep dismissing Wildrose members as being nothing more than disenchanted former PC members, I was never a member of that party until this morning. I viewed the PC party that had held power in Alberta since the year of my birth as being an entrenched group dedicated to cronyism and maintaining power by any and all means possible. While there were some shining individuals within and actions taken by the party over the years, my general assessment of the party was rarely proven wrong.

 Due to being the most likely route to government benches, the Progressive Conservative Party attracted unprincipled opportunists in droves. Why battle to win a seat under your own left-wing principles when you can simply swallow your principles, talk the talk and win a seat with the PC Party?

 Sandra Jansen is a prime and recent example of this sort of thing. While Jansen’s personal views align her more with the NDP than the PC Party, she knew upon entering politics that she would never (or so it would appear at that time) win a seat under the NDP banner. Jansen played the part of a PC supporter and got a seat due to her prior media profile and the efforts of party volunteers. Jansen even tabled and promoted the odious anti-gay Bill 10 under orders from Jim Prentice. While such a bill was in total contradiction to Jansen’s principles, she viewed her political career as being more important than the gay rights she purports now to support. This is exactly the callow and weak willed crap from opportunists that has soured me and many like me from the PC party for decades.  

jansen

Another recent example of Progressive Conservative style opportunism was of course Danielle Smith and her band of fools trying to take a shortcut to government benches after being sold a bill of goods by Prentice. Prentice was of the old stock PC mindset where support is best bought rather than earned at the constituency level. Smith had discovered that trying to manage a grassroots party is thankless, exhausting and simply damn tough. Under her poor management, the party was ripping itself up with internal turmoil despite doing well in the polls. Smith did what so many PC MLAs did before her and took what she thought was an easy route to a cabinet seat. As we all know, Smith’s self serving idiocy only led her and her followers into a well earned political oblivion.  

smith

There is an upside to the treacherous union of Danielle Smith and Jim Prentice that repelled the Alberta electorate so much that they accidentally lashed out by electing the NDP. The actions of Smith and Prentice stripped the PC party down to a shell of it’s former self. Most of the opportunists have fled as they saw little personal benefit in taking part in an indebted, disgraced and moribund party (aside from opportunists like Jansen who managed to keep her seat). Those remaining in the party are idealists whether right of center or left. These are people who know that there is a lot of tough and thankless slogging ahead of them yet they are going ahead anyway. These are the kind of people who build movements of principle.  

It is not only the sloughing off of the political parasites by the Progressive Conservative Party that has drawn me to it of course. I, like most people to the right of Che Guevara am very concerned about the catastrophe that we have in government right now. I am resigned to the fact that the Notley NDP will remain in power for a few more years and will continue to reap havoc on the Alberta economy in that time. I am terrified at the concept that somehow through constant right of center battles, that Notley will manage to gain a second term and put Alberta’s industries deeply into the economic graveyard for generations.  

I suspect that Notley will continue to crater in the polls as Albertans en-masse realize (as with every other NDP province) that having socialists in power is intolerable and will cost the grandchildren of our children as they try to dig themselves out of the massive debt built by a province that hamstrung it’s own industries. I think that even if there were four parties on the right that Notley would be wiped out by a coalition of these parties as she struggles to maintain double digit support.

Despite what I think, I DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE THINGS TO CHANCE! 

The only thing that may indeed give Notley’s ghastly administration another term will be constant splintering on the right leading to more mistrust and rejection by the electorate. Mass, dejected apathy on the part of the electorate on election day could put Notley in yet again.  

Jason Kenney has provided a plan. It is a tough plan with many possible pitfalls and variables, but it is a plan that could work. I am ready to work as hard as I can to help bring that plan into fruition.

KenneyJason_CPC

I am a socially liberal libertarian sort. Why can I get behind somebody as socially conservative as Jason Kenney? I can for a couple reasons.  

While Jason Kenney is personally and unapologetically socially conservative, he is not proposing implementing any socially conservative policies and I see no reason why he would. Do you really think he would try to make gay marriage illegal again? Do you really think he could overstep provincial jurisdiction and wade into the abortion debate again? I sincerely don’t see it. One fellow I see as a political mentor is Paul Hinman. Paul is personally socially conservative but he is also deeply dedicated to individual rights. It is in that balance that libertarians and social conservatives can work together.  

Another factor is that Jason Kenney will have to run in two leadership campaigns. If the first campaign is successful, Kenney will have to run again to lead the new party vehicle. If one doesn’t like Kenney, they can and should support another leader in the next race.

I see Kenney’s current campaign as being focussed on right of center unity. It is not a campaign to make Kenney Alberta’s Premier (this time anyway). This is a campaign that is using the leadership process as a means of referendum for right of center people to vote on a unified party. 

People are already trying to distract the campaign by miring it down with questions on policy specifics. I spent three terms on the executive of the Wildrose Party as Vice President of Policy. I understand the importance of policy as well as anybody. I also understand how easily and quickly it can become a divisive minefield.

Kenney’s current run so far has not delved into specific policies nor should it. Right now we need to focus on broad principles. There will be time to battle on policies at AGMs and during nominations for years to come. We cant let ourselves get dragged into that during a leadership run based on unity.  

While always being a supporter of one member one vote systems, I see some great advantages in this race being delegate based. This race will not be won by somebody who has sold their political soul to unions as Redford did (and Jansen would love to). This race will be won by the person who can manage to win broad support constituency by constituency across the entire province. It will take ground level organization and engagement. A person with deep federal connections and the endorsement of the former Prime Minister certainly has an edge in that regard.  

A great side effect of this kind of race is that it forces the organization of the constituency associations. I suspect that many if not most of the PC CAs are essentially in total hibernation. Instead of simply selling memberships in any location, candidates now need to court support in every constituency and ensure that those constituencies are well enough organized to send a full slate of delegates to the leadership convention.  

Assuming Kenney wins the leadership (I know that is still a big assumption), he will essentially have the framework for a new party already built for him. Constituency associations will be rejuvenated and active across the entire province as the race has motivated candidates to build them and activate them. That of course is also the organizational machinery which will obliterate the NDP in a general election.  

After a Kenney win and the formation of a new party, the remaining rump will fade away. Joe Clark and other federal PC holdouts never took part in the federal merger and it didn’t matter. They and their former party simply died of atrophy. Jansen and gang will do the same with the remnants of the PC organization too.  

After a Kenney win, the pressure on Jean will be tremendous. Jean has clearly already seen some caucus division and general party unrest. It will be tough to keep members whether on the ground or in caucus from getting in with the new party if Jean remains intransigent on the issue.

If Kenney somehow loses the race, I assume that somebody like Sandra Jansen has managed to pull off a win somehow. That will unify the right as well as people flock to the one remaining right of center party in the province.

I still think highly of the Wildrose Party. I was a founding member and put in countless hours and resources over the years in hopes of bringing that party into government. There are some fantastic people in the party on all levels from simple members up to MLAs. Jean is a good and dedicated person as well. The bottom line though is that the Wildrose Party is spinning it’s wheels. While general support numbers are good and fundraising is strong, the growth is mostly flat lined. The party is remaining strong only because Notley is terrible rather than people being engaged and excited with the Wildrose. As many have said before, people want something to vote for rather than against. The Wildrose just cant seem to bring itself into that generally inspiring position.  

Kenney’s move is a gamble. Many things may happen that will derail the effort. Still, Kenney is offering the best long term plan that I have seen yet and I will do what I can to aid in it’s success. Notley is dependent on the right remaining in shambles and we just cant afford to keep letting her win this way.  

I need to get a Progressive Conservative t-shirt now.

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

Conservatives don’t need a merger, they just need good leadership.

brian

If there is one thing that conservatives in Alberta have been lacking in the last 10 years it is good leadership. From bungling Stelmach, to corrupted Redford to the unholy alliance of Prentice/Smith that managed to put Notley on the Premier’s chair, conservatives have languished under a chain of piss poor partisan leaders.

With the events seen in the last week, it looks pretty clear that conservative Albertans are going to have to wait longer to see a good leader come out of the woodwork.

The “right” in Alberta is not so much split as it is floundering in trying to find a stable banner to gather underneath. If one of the right of center parties could manage to get an inspiring leader, merger dreams would end and the majority of right of center Albertans would migrate to that party. One would think that under the gross mismanagement of Notley that a strong opposition party would manage to get it together. Alas, so far there has been no luck.

Yes, Brian Jean stepped up to the plate and took the reigns of the Wildrose Party while it was still reeling under the effects of Danielle Smith’s self serving treachery. Yes, Brian has been stellar in handling the disastrous fire in Fort McMurray. Aside from that though, Jean really hasn’t gotten far in turning the Wildrose Party into a government in waiting.

As I ranted last week, the choice to insult a visiting Premier in the legislature was a terrible one that repelled many Albertans in its lack of tact and class. Those were the actions of a party that wants to oppose rather than build and that falls squarely on the leader’s lap. It should be noted that Brian Jean was one of the MLAs who petulantly refused to stand to respectfully greet the visiting Premier. He cant blame the fallout from those tasteless actions on rogue MLAs. They were acting under his leadership and direction.

Jean’s next foolish and reactive move was his bizarre late night suspension of Derek Fildebrandt over a social media faux-pas.

Derek Fildebrandt is no homophobe and anybody knowing him will say that confidently. Even the most left wing of opponents acknowledge that while Derek made a careless error in judgement, they know damn well that he would never support anti-gay views or rhetoric. Despite that fact and despite Derek’s near immediate apology for the mistake, Jean recklessly suspended Derek from caucus.

Brian Jean is still doggedly claiming that it was the social media error that was the cause of the suspension. That is clearly utter bullshit and Jean’s refusal to explain the real rational behind the suspension is yet another example of poor leadership.

Perhaps there is a good set of reasons for the suspension of Fildebrandt from caucus. Jean would be well placed to release and explain them then because right now his actions look petty and have infuriated the grassroots of the Wildrose Party. In light of the employment outcomes for all of the floor crossers from the Wildrose Party the other year, I think it goes without saying that antagonizing the grassroots of a conservative party is never a wise course of action.

Derek Fildebrandt is one of the rougher MLAs. He plays hardball and he can be prone to theatrics. That is actually a good thing when one considers that Brian Jean can be about as animated as a turnip (as anybody who watched the last election debate can attest to). A balanced caucus has people of a few different characters.

Was the reason for the suspension pure insecurity on the part of Jean? Does he feel that his position as leader is threatened? I don’t think Jean’s leadership was threatened before last week but it sure as hell is now as the grassroots party members become annoyed.

Was the reason for the suspension because Jean felt embarrassed at a gathering of his federal compatriots while statements such as the one below were written in the Globe and Mail?

Has Mr. Jean become so accustomed to being led around by the nose by Mr. Fildebrandt that he allowed this sorry spectacle to unfold? Why doesn’t Mr. Jean simply step aside now and allow Mr. Fildebrandt to ascend to the position he so clearly lusts after?

Pretty harsh words from an editorialist and I don’t think they were based on fact. I can see how it grated on Jean though and I can see how an insecure leader would lash out to try and prove himself in light of such critique.

I don’t know the full story here I suspect but I know what I see and that is a demonstration of terrible leadership when we need it so dearly on the conservative end of the spectrum in Alberta.

I hope Jean either learns to get it together soon or steps aside because we really cant afford another term under Notley.

A good first step would be admitting error and bringing Derek Fildebrandt back into caucus.

Under good leadership, such suspensions shouldn’t be needed.

 

 

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Totally tone deaf!

prosp

They just don’t get it. They really haven’t a bloody clue. It almost seems like they are some sort of parody group or something.

What I am speaking of is the new Alberta PAC calling itself the “Alberta Prosperity Fund”.

This is a group that apparently is working on uniting Alberta’s right. They have some interesting names popping up in association with them but their website is brutally shallow in detail. What is the extended goal? Where are these funds coming from? Who exactly is running that show?

This group is already arrogantly making demands of the established parties as we head towards a by-election in Greenway. This group is holding meetings here and there where they speak in circles of a united right yet we don’t see any of the organized players at them.

I was nothing short of flabbergasted though when I saw that they had held a meeting in Cochrane recently where they had none other than disgraced former MLA Bruce McAllister on the panel.

Are you guys really that damned stupid??!!

Does that collection of conservative minds really have such a disconnect with the public sentiment and the views of Wildrose and PC members that they would so idiotically trot out a face as inflammatory as that of Bruce McAllister when claiming to want to unite these groups?

Here is refresher for those who may have forgotten.the events of a little over a year ago.

Bruce McAllister was one of the Wildrose MLAs who stabbed the entire Wildrose Party membership in the back when they crossed the floor following Danielle Smith in hopes of taking a shortcut to the government benches. If you want to piss of essentially every member of the Wildrose Party in short order, bring one of the disgraced floor crossers to speak to them.

Prentice and his vapid gang of floor crossers didn’t just piss the Wildrose Party membership off. The Progressive Conservative Party caucus and members were rightly furious with the crossing too. Promises of protected nominations and cabinet seats for the floor crossers evaporated. When the PC membership took out their ire by wiping out the floorcrossers one by one in nominations, Prentice panicked. Prentice then kicked every Progressive Conservative party member in Chestermere in the balls when he intervened and appointed Bruce McAllister as their candidate before the membership could fire his sorry ass as they did with Smith, Fox and others.

The final rejection of Bruce McAllister came from the voters themselves in the general election. They rightly tossed McAllister to the unemployment line where he deserved to be.

Now I ask, since Bruce McAllister is despised by the Wildrose members, loathed by the Progressive Conservative members and was soundly rejected by the electorate of Alberta, what asshole in their right mind would put this kind of person front and center when supposedly trying to unite all three of these groups?

This is not a unifying effort. People like McAllister are a red flag in front of a grassroots bull. McAllister represents everything that principled party members abhor. It is difficult to find a person worse to represent unity.

If this is any indication of the sort of political instinct and judgement coming from the brain trust of the Prosperity Fund, I say no thanks. They look like all the unemployed assholes who the voters just tossed out and are trying to find a new backdoor way to get to the government benches again .

I would rather take my chances with a divided right than put the weasels back in power.

If things are going to unite in any sort if way, it will come from the bottom up. It will be members initiatives from both parties and it will take time. It will never come from a group so bloody obtuse as to highlight a person like Bruce McAllister. Will they dig Rob Anderson from the bowels of the disgraced political world next?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

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: , , , , , , , ,

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: , , , , , ,

Oh look, another tiny group wanting to ‘unite the right’.

suitor

They just don’t and won’t get it. It seems that every couple months we see an article written on a slow news day reporting on some person or another speaking on how they will “unite the right” in Alberta. Most often it is quotes from politically unemployed clowns such as Rob Anderson or Jonathan Denis who both have proven rather starkly to have terrible strategic instincts. I mean really, why should we seriously take political advice from people who so brilliantly destroyed their own political careers? These guys have always been self-interested and clearly they still can’t see outside of their little, myopic bubbles.

This week we had an article on some group that claims to be on the way to uniting the right and is claiming to be on the way to raising $2 million towards that end already. I will believe that when I see it.

What these stooges will have to understand is that if you want to unite the PC party and the Wildrose Party (if it is even possible) you will have to court the damned members rather than push from outside!!

The article linked above speaks to these apparent “unite the right” proponents in the first part but becomes even more telling in the second half of the article. Both the Wildrose and PC parties have utterly no interest in taking this path right now and no outside group is going to force them to do so.

It is exactly this sort of small group behind closed doors that blew both parties apart when they completely bypassed the memberships of both parties and orchestrated a mass floor crossing. The fallout from that led to Jim Prentice and Danielle Smith being politically disgraced and destabilized both parties to the point where we now find ourselves with an NDP government.

Let’s be clear, the public was utterly disgusted with the deal that Prentice and Smith cut between themselves and they demonstrated that at the polls as the NDP exploded in support. There was no right split. People were just so revolted with both options on the right that they clung to what seemed like the next best organized party. They didn’t vote for policy. They voted for principle and now we all pay the price.

Despite such a recent history of the pushback that comes from backroom style merger efforts, some of these guys still insist on beating on that wall.

Last weekend I attended the Wildrose AGM and I can assure you that merging with the moribund Progressive Conservative Party is not even a tiny consideration among the membership at large. The PC Party (or brass within it anyway) tried every trick in the book from organizing the mass floor crossing to breaking their own law and calling an early election in hopes of burying the Wildrose Party. The PCs are now deeply in debt with little electoral support and nearly no fiscal support. Why on earth would Wildrose members want to take that on in a merger?

To push for a merger one has to start with courting the members and perhaps begin with donors. Perhaps a mail out to Wildrose donors asking “would you like your donations to go towards paying the debt of the PC party as they spent millions trying to destroy the Wildrose Party in the general election?” I suspect that I know what donors would respond with but that is exactly what merger proponents are asking them to do.

Patience is something else that is required here. The NDP will be clinging to power until the bitter end. If polls are low enough (and I suspect that they will be), Notley will likely cling to power for the entire five years that the system allows her to. We have a few years before the next general election and need not rush into trying to mash two groups together.

The PC party will be holding a leadership race eventually. That will be the best opportunity for them to explore the consideration of a merger. That will be a poll of their membership and their concerns should be paramount. A pro-merger candidate could test some waters.

In the mean time we will carry on as we have been. I do like how Brian Jean has been approaching things and speaking about ensuring that we get the “right” people. I am not sure if that messaging is resonating perfectly with the public but what I interpret him saying is essentially that the Wildrose door is open for principled PC supporters to get on board. The word :”right” in this context is not so much speaking to a point on the political spectrum as it is speaking to avoiding taking on the self-serving and power seeking element that was within the PC party which ultimately led to their demise. We want the good people from that party (and there were many), but do not want to assume the party’s baggage or culture of “get elected by all means possible”.

We have an opportunity for a fresh start and if we do it right, there will only be one party to take what’s left of the province back from the NDP in 3.5-4.5 years. We can build a principled alternative that has plans and hope rather than baggage and blind ambition.

The effort to build that alternative will have to come from the ground as well. Just the other night I was poking a stick at the PCs on twitter for what was essentially petty entertainment (yes, I was admittedly trolling). I was taken to task for it by a couple PC supporters who I do respect even if we have been on opposite ends of the field at times. It was food for thought and I really do need to lay off on poking the stick. If we want those respectable sort of people to come on with us eventually we will have to approach and treat them with respect now. Constantly shooting at their pride won’t do anybody any favors and I really have to cut it out. We do have a lot in common and with some rational actions in the next few years may be able to pull things together.

The memberships of both parties need to be courted though, not dictated to. These current “unite the right” folks will never understand that as they keep trying to force things from either the outside in or the top down.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Wildrose 2015 AGM review.

Most years when I do these AGM reviews, there are some interesting bombshells or critical items on the agenda to report on. This year’s AGM while important and productive was not terribly exciting to be honest. That is fine of course. Better to be a bit dull than scandalous. This also demonstrated why there was so little to fear in letting the media into the convention to cover it. Discussion was rational and reasoned and I really see little trouble that could have surfaced from direct reporting.

This year’s venue was at the Coast Plaza conference center  in Calgary and entry was a reasonable $140 per person for the weekend. The sound and video systems were modest and effective. The room was adequate and the lunch was pretty good. I know that these things may seem petty to report on but they are indicative of party attitude and direction. In the 2011 AGM we used the Telus Convention Center and provided giant screens, a lightshow and a sound system worthy of a rock concert. That AGM charged $250 per person and had a dismal turnout leading to a $90,000 loss for the party. It was a celebration of Danielle Smith’s vanity at the time and we really should have been paying attention to the trend at the time. Policy was barely discussed while we were treated to a video story of the leader’s political life. In looking back at that, I am more than happy to see an AGM focussed on the nuts and bolts of the party as it should be.

Brian Jean’s speech on the Friday was well received and many people thought it was one of the best that they had seen from him. Despite that though, his support level of 78% in the leadership review made it clear that he is not as solidly supported as a leader as many party leaders have been. As a party coming from an election with an expansion of our caucus and essentially being rescued from being considered dead by many, most would have expected a review somewhere in the 90% range. I think in some senses that this is a good thing. A weak but far from devastating review number could help keep Jean modest. Danielle Smith got 90% numbers and look where that led. She lost all touch with the sentiment of the party at the membership level which in part led to her idiotic and treacherous floor crossing. Brian Jean knows he has work to do in winning the membership at large and I assume he will do so. We have some years before the next election to work on this.

On Saturday morning there was a sit down Q&A on the stage with Brian Jean. To be honest, the whole thing felt contrived and Jean answered predominantly softball questions to an increasingly bored room. Such Q&A sessions are just the sort of thing that help a leader in connecting with the membership but they have to be genuine. Unless there is a microphone on the floor allowing members to pitch questions directly to the leader, it simply looks like a production. It’s dull and makes one wonder if the leader can handle tough questions without warning. At the end Jean joked that it felt like an appearance on Dr. Phil. A good joke in a sense but it sort of rang too true. It was not what many of us wanted to sit through as members at such a gathering. I know Jean isn’t a fire and brimstone sort of orator and that is OK. He has to be able to manage uncontrolled communication situations though and this puffball sit-in did not instill any confidence that he is able to do so.

Policy discussions went efficiently with some healthy but limited debate. Extended debate on policies has to happen before AGMs as there simply are not enough hours in the day to split hairs on amendments and such. While some members will always express annoyance that there was not enough time for debate at the microphones, they were more than welcome to participate in policy vetting with their CAs or to take part on the policy committee that put in huge hours putting the policy and constitutional packages together. Hats off to VP Policy Tim Dyck and the members of the committee for putting all that together.

One policy that I thought could be contentious was the very first one calling for more competition in the provision of health care. The policy actually passed quite overwhelmingly and it was good to see that the party retains the courage to take on some of the tougher but essential policy stances in health.

A proposal under Education to change wording to include homeschooling and use terms such as “fundamental” rather than core failed 126 to 114. The proponents were very vocal though and quite visibly pissed at the failure of the resolution. Homeschooling and separate education options are clearly hot button issues for some that we will have to watch closely.

A proposal to make membership in student unions optional passed easily. Entrenched left-wing student union members have predictably gone haywire on social media due to this but it really hasn’t worked many other folks up. Expansion of individual choice is always a good thing.

There had been an interesting proposal calling for the striking of a committee to try and reduce our bloated policy set to 25 key policies and present them to the members next year. I found it an intriguing concept as I had taken part in a similar exercise with the party some years ago when we greatly reduced policy bloat with a large, omnibus style policy proposal. Folks felt 25 was simply too few and the proposal failed. We should keep looking for ways to streamline the policy set though.

The two different resolutions to try and prevent floor crossing failed pretty resoundingly. There were a number of points made in discussion on it. A constitutional resolution to try and prevent crossings was quashed too. The bottom line is that the system is built to allow crossings and we need to work with it as it is. If the party is well led, crossings should be rare and not huge issues. I think the ability of the MLAs to cross helps keep the leader honest. This does not mean that the members are welcoming further floor crossing but that they apply rational thought to the policies.

The constitutional proposal that would try to bind MLAs to voting within the bounds of party policy was soundly and rightly defeated.

Most of the other constitutional proposals were housekeeping issues that passed or nitpicking issues that failed. There were a few that tried to contain executive powers and add term limits and such. There is a residual distrust among the members of the central party governance and that was reflected in those proposals. The members at the AGM did express that they didn’t want to see any radical changes at this time.

One resolution passed which calls for Executive Committee members to stand for election for their positions at the first possible opportunity should they have been appointed to the positions. This addresses the issue that some EC members had been appointed to multi-year terms while never having been elected directly by the members. The EC needs the ability to appoint for vacancies and members need the ability to select so this found a good balance.

There is a group of chronic, malcontents within the party (I am sure that every party has them). I swear that these people buy memberships simply to bitch about every move of the party. I am sure as hell vocally critique the party often though I hope and try to make it productive. I put in my share of time volunteering for the party and doing what I can to make it better. These malcontents whom I refer to rarely are seen when it comes to getting down to work. While some are still howling that the Executive Committee is rigged/corrupted/baseless etc. I didn’t see any of them put their names forward to run for positions. I have taken many shots at the EC but have always understood that it remains an open process that any member can run for. Many of this year’s EC positions were acclaimed because nobody else put their names forward. It really can’t be that bad if there is no lineups to replace current members. This was pointed out to me by one of our MLAs at the AGM. It is a very good point and worth repeating.

To sum it up, this won’t be an AGM that will be remembered for generations. It was not a game changer and it didn’t make many headlines (banned press contributed to that). It was a good gathering that served it’s purpose and I did leave the AGM feeling optimistic about how the party is doing.

The members have it together for now. It’s time to see what our caucus can and will do in the year to come. I look forward to it.

Technorati Tags: ,

Calgary Foothills by-election will be an exciting one and critical for all parties

I should begin with explaining my two month hiatus from blogging and take advantage of the chance to plug my latest venture. Shortly after last spring’s exhausting general election, my wife Jane and I decided to treat our exhaustion with the purchase of a pub and coffee shop in Priddis. With six weeks of planning and renovations we managed to crack the doors of the pub two weeks ago and the coffee shop just last weekend. This of course has taken up nearly every minute of our time in this last couple months. We were never under any illusion that this would be some kind of easy money. So far things are going great.

Info on both can be found on the facebook page. Our main website is still under development. https://www.facebook.com/WatersEdgePub

janesNow, on to the by-election in Foothills.

The NDP will be putting everything they have into the race in order to prove that their election as government was not the accidental consequence of an electorate lashing back at the corrupted and entitled Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. The Wildrose Party will be throwing everything they have into the race in order to prove that they are more than a rural party and that they are indeed the government in waiting. The remnants of the Progressive Conservative Party will be throwing what little they have into the race in desperate hopes that they can regain relevance in the eyes of the voters. The Alberta Party will put all they have into the race in hopes of proving that they are more than a one seat show. That will be tough as the hipster density in Northwest Calgary is far lower than that of Calgary Elbow.

Staying true to principle, the Wildrose Party is holding an open nomination race for Foothills. Nomination races are always challenging as all the contenders are on the same team and the races can become internally divisive if a party is not careful. These races are critical in letting members directly choose who will represent them in the legislature too. The ongoing gross abuse of nomination races by the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta was a large contributing factor in the collapse of their member support.

The Wildrose has two excellently qualified contenders for the nomination in Foothills and a third fellow who I admittedly don’t know much about.  Those people are Kathy McDonald, Prasad Panda and Dr. John Huang.

I won’t say much on Dr. Huang as I can’t find much information about him.

Much like last spring’s general election, this by-election will be based on principles and trust more than ideology. Both Prasad Panda and Kathy McDonald proved their principles and loyalty in their remaining loyal to and putting their all into the Wildrose Party after the Idiotic Eleven crossed the floor which led to their well deserved and mass unemployment. That dogged and determined loyalty is essential in gaining the trust and faith of the members.

When looking at the two contenders though I have to solidly endorse Prasad Panda.

Residency is important for representation. While MLAs can effectively serve without living in their constituency, they do connect best with their constituents if they actually live in the constituency. Panda has been a resident of Foothills for a long time. In a tight race, the electoral viability of the candidate is important and that edge of being local will certainly help.

The most important reason to get Prasad Panda into the legislature though is that we need some strength in there for the energy sector. With Notley’s appointment of a totally unqualified Energy Minister who is aided by an anti-energy activist as her Chief of Staff, the energy industry in Alberta is reeling. Alberta has had to rely on Premier Brad Wall to stand up for our interests while Notley tries to give veto power over Alberta’s energy development to Quebec. Alberta is in a terrifying spot under the Notley regime and we need qualified and wise voices to speak to our industry needs in the legislature.

With over 25 years as an engineer in Alberta’s energy industry, Prasad Panda is excellently qualified to address issues in the industry and to add a much needed voice of reason to our legislature on these issues. If we continue to allow Notley to run unchecked over our energy industry in these next few years the consequences will be dire for the entire province.

I strongly encourage the Wildrose Party Calgary Foothills members to vote for Prasad Panda to represent them in the nomination. Having worked with Prasad in two election campaigns, I truly can’t think of a more principled and dedicated candidate. Many a night I had to chase him from the campaign headquarters at 1am as he would not give up. He will put everything he has into representing the constituents who elect him. Truly the only fault I can attribute to Prasad is that he can be prone to overworking himself.

prasadMore info on Prasad can be found here: http://www.prasadpanda.ca/  Drop him a note. Prasad is always happy to directly interact.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Those who rewrite history want to doom us to repeat it!

 

rev

When Danielle Smith came out and announced that she was going to write a book, I have to admit I was pretty happy to hear it. While still stinging from the betrayal and damage caused by Smith and friends last December, I truly did want to hear some insight on what was running through her head at the time. Many of us have speculated on all sorts of scenarios but a candid and full accounting of the period and the actions could have filled in some of the gaps.

It looks like my faith in Danielle Smith is yet again misplaced.

Danielle has been popping up in a number of news outlets lately and to be frank she is spreading a load of utter bullshit on the events leading up to the mass floor crossing. Historic revisionists are usually writers for the winning side in a war and they usually don’t try to start to rewrite history until at least some years have passed since the events happened.

The currently unemployed Danielle Smith and her allies clearly lost the figurative war in Alberta and only a scant few months have passed since she crossed the floor and tried to destroy the Wildrose Party behind her. Memories are still rather fresh on what the political atmosphere was at the time and it is simply ridiculous for Smith to try and rewrite history when so many people can clearly see the revisionism for what it is.

Danielle Smith’s behaviour remains bizarre. While folks can’t make sense of her actions of last December, she continues to speak and act in a manner that could almost be considered as irrational. While being essentially disgraced and on the political outside, Smith still found a podium with numerous media outlets. Smith had an opportunity to speak with humility and transparency. She could have begun the steps towards restoring her shattered political credibility. Instead of taking this course of action, Danielle Smith chose to outright fabricate the events of the recent past.

Brock Harrison was on the inside at the time and was close to Danielle over the years. He served a number of roles within the Wildrose Party including director of communications for the party and as Smith’s press secretary.

Brock had been listening to Danielle Smith’s BS in the press and he clearly had seen enough of it. Brock wrote an excellent piece countering Smith’s revisionism that appeared in the National Post.

Harrison’s piece can be read here and I strongly recommend reading it.

I am going to do some reading between the lines and may be wrong in my speculation. The first revelations of Danielle Smith’s intention to write a book came out in a twitter exchange between her and Brock. I am paraphrasing but if I recall, she said something along the lines of having found inspiration in wanting to write the account after having sat down with Brock in Edmonton. I can only guess that Harrison (like myself) was happy to hear that the Wildrose years would be documented for readers to consume and perhaps gain understanding of some events. That would explain what I would guess to be profound disappointment on Brock Harrison’s part when he found that Danielle Smith won’t even accurately relate the events of last December to the press today. In light of this, it would be very difficult to believe anything that Danielle Smith may choose to put into print with a book.

It is clear that we can’t count on Danielle Smith to help remember what happened and that is sad. The lessons to be learned from the formative years of the Wildrose Party all the way up to Smith’s departure are critical ones for party members going forward. The leadership errors and internal strife need to be exposed, studied and remembered or we will indeed be doomed to repeat some of our errors.

Once again Danielle Smith found herself with a great opportunity and once again she chose to throw it aside. An accurate accounting of the past could have helped place her in a statesman sort of role or commentator down the road. Instead, Smith chose to reduce her credibility even further.

Rather than being a teacher for the politically ambitious, Smith will simply serve as an example.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

2015 leadership & general elections are now over. What’s next for Wildrose members?

Alberta’s tumultuous year continues to be tumultuous. With the NDP gaining a solid majority in the legislature and the Wildrose Party gaining a solid mandate as official opposition, we should be able to see a degree of political stability for a couple years. It is arguable as to whether these will be good years for Alberta politically and I don’t doubt that we will be arguing that at length as time and legislation passes. The two key roles are established and solid in the legislature right now with freshly elected leaders so there should be little reason to see major turnovers in government for some time to come (though after this past year, little will surprise me).

Rachel Notley is settling in to her role as Premier and working to build a government from a rather green bunch of MLAs.

Brian Jean is embracing his role as leader of the official opposition and is signaling that he has a strong and targeted plan going forward.

caucus

The remnants of the Progressive Conservative Party are in pure survival mode as a distant third party in the legislature and have rushed to appoint Ric McIver as interim leader in order to have a speaker at their leader’s dinner in a couple days.

So with all those balls in motion, what should the grassroots membership of the Wildrose Party do now?

The first thing the party members need to do is realize that both the leadership race for the party and the 2015 Alberta general election are over. Most members realize this but in looking at social media it can be seen that some folks still don’t seem to realize that those races are done. Jean will be our leader for years to come and there is little indication that the NDP will be dissolving the legislature any time soon. The time for complaining of the leadership race or picking apart the resumes of NDP candidates is finished. It won’t change anything and we have better things to do.

Priority number one for the Wildrose Party members will be to stabilize the membership base to the manage the party effectively and with principle. Nothing proved better how strong the base of the Wildrose membership is than how quickly the members rallied after the efforts of Danielle Smith and her self-serving gang of MLAs tried to destroy the party. The leader does not make the party nor does the caucus make the party. The members make the party and when Smith and gang found themselves alone while thousands of members got to work to seek a new leader I think some folks began to really realize what the Wildrose Party is about.

The Wildrose Party is a truly member driven movement and the membership is driven by that ideal. Any other party would have fallen to pieces after having it’s own leader and the majority of the caucus abandon it. The Wildrose Party galvanized after the treachery of the leader and went on to win even more seats than Smith was ever capable of gaining. The current leader and caucus would be well served to remember this lesson in years coming.

The Wildrose Party members base flourished despite the leadership of Danielle Smith rather than because of it. Smith always chafed under the grassroots based management of the Wildrose Party and the battles between her and grassroots members were quiet but constant. One glaring example was when the leader’s office actually tried to change the party constitution to empower Smith to choose the Executive Director of the party.

Using this blog as a springboard, the efforts of Smith to grab power from the members in the 2013 AGM were exposed and heartily quashed on the convention floor by the collected membership.

The encroachment of the leader’s office into the affairs of party operations were constant and frustrating whether with things as small as choosing the location of the party office or as large as increasingly dipping into the party funds for an ever growing entourage for an insecure leader. The interference in party nominations was merciless and constant as well and caused great ire among the constituency associations.

The grassroots kept standing up and slapping Danielle Smith down when she overstepped her authority in the party. This constant push and pull led to a growing mistrust and tension between the members and the leadership over time. That was a great contributing factor in Smith’s callow departure to the Prentice PC party.

The political doldrums between elections has begun and this is when members have to get to work. The reason that the Wildrose Party membership was so abused by Danielle Smith was that we let her! We as members simply can’t let that slow creeping encroachment upon the members authority happen again.

The part of the Wildrose Party constitution that Danielle Smith and her advisors loathed is quoted below:

5. GOVERNANCE5.1. The governance of the Party shall reflect the following principles:

5.1.1. authority within the Party resides in its members.

5.1.2. The Leader and the Executive Committee are accountable to members of the Party and the Caucus.

5.1.3. the Caucus is accountable to the Party and to their constituents.

It is that portion of our constitution that saved us as a party and every active member should memorize and strive to abide by it.

When Jim Prentice scurried off into the sunset with a temper tantrum after winning, only about 20 people were in attendance during his petulant election night speech.

prenticee

The lack of supporters during an election night loss showed the true and fickle nature of the Progressive Conservative base. When things were going well for the PCs, members would gather in the hundreds at these things. As soon as things went badly, the Progressive Conservative membership headed for the hills as the leader abandoned what was left of them. While the Wildrose gathered hundreds at a Calgary meeting scant weeks after the Smith treachery, the PCs couldn’t get 30 people together on the night that they lost the election.

This is where things get important! Those fickle PC members didn’t literally vanish. Those people will be resurfacing very soon and it will be within the ranks of the Wildrose Party. There is a large element that was within the PC Party that held no personal sense of principle. Those people simply wanted to latch on to what they felt was the winning team and as we saw they held utterly no loyalty when times got tough.

Those self-serving, fickle members and staffers from the PC party are already trying to whisper in Brian Jean’s ear. You can rest assured their resumes are showing up in Wildrose inboxes already. It is critical that the Wildrose Party members stay on guard and not let these people poison the ranks of the party and lead us to the sort of top down corruption that finally killed the PC party.

Care must be taken not to reject genuine former supporters of the PC party. They had many very good people within their ranks who can and will contribute greatly to the Wildrose Party in years to come. Becoming introverted as a party will not help us. Going on a witch hunt of former PC members won’t help us.

What the members of the Wildrose Party must do is elect a strong and vigilant Executive Committee this fall that will unbendingly govern itself by the party constitution. The presence of weasels within a party is inevitable. It is through the application of the party constitution that these weasels will remain powerless within the party. It will only be through an empowered and active Executive Committee that we will keep the rot from growing within us again.

The greatest threat to the upwardly mobile Wildrose Party will not come from the PC party or the NDP, it will come from within. We have the means to isolate that threat but only if we remain active and informed as members.

We need to take a breather as the government get’s itself in order for the first time in 44 years. Jean and Notley will have their hands full exposing and cleaning up the mess and corruption left by the PC regime for some time. As has been reported, the shredders are working overtime in government offices right now.

shredders
Brian Jean has an important job to do. The best way we can help him do it is to ensure that we do our job as members. Let’s keep the lines of authority within the party defined so our leader and caucus can focus on the legislature and not worry about the operations of the party.

We can form government in four years. That is a long time in political terms however. It was more than a cliché when folks said the 2015 election was about trust. A great part of the trust lost by the PC party was the public observing the infighting and dictatorial top down abuse of the PC party membership by it’s own leadership. Let’s ensure that we don’t go down that road by keeping our members active and empowered. The time to start on that is right now.

 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,