Its time to get this merger done.

There are a myriad of factors that contributed to Alberta’s disastrous, accidental election of the Notley NDP. In looking at the numbers, it is clear that a split vote among right of center supporters was a huge part of the cause for the NDP victory. Wildrose supporters felt that the PC party had drifted to far to the left and were displaying a sense of entitlement that they simply could no longer vote for. PC supporters saw the Wildrose Party as an upstart that could be too far to the right and were not ready to take a chance on them. The whole repugnant business of Danielle Smith’s opportunistic and treacherous mass floor crossing to Prentice revolted voters within both parties.

Now having enjoyed a couple years under the Notley Regime, most Albertans are realizing just how much the cure was worse than the disease. Business confidence in Alberta is in utter shambles while deficits are hitting record numbers which will create a debt that will take generations to pay off. There is no doubt that the only way to ensure that the NDP do not gain a second term in office in Alberta is to create a single, unified conservative option in Alberta.

There are some stalwarts within the Wildrose Party who are opposing a merger for a number of reasons. None of them are good and I will list them.

Emotional

People invest a lot of time, money and energy into parties, particularly when they are in the building stage. I was involved with the party from when it was a one seat entity with Paul Hinman sitting in a lonely corner of the legislature. I traveled the province to often sparsely attended town hall meetings to try and build constituency associations. I sat up late at night with Jane in the office space we donated as we folded flyers for weekend drops to try and build our urban membership. I sifted through literally hundreds and hundreds of policy submissions that ranged from brilliant to insane while I sat as VP of Policy for the party and took the flak that came with filtering those into a palatable package to present to the membership at AGMs.

All of those events and efforts developed a sense of attachment or even a sense of ownership (wrongly) to the party. Wrong or not, these feelings are real and can lead to a bias against any form of significant change.

We need to set that attachment aside and look at the bigger picture. A party is nothing more than a construct, an entity. If the name changes and the layout changes it is not the end, it is an evolution. The experiences and memories remain and there will be a new entity to continue to work within which can be just as satisfying as the prior one was.

Nostalgia simply isn’t a good enough reason to hold off on this essential merger

SOCIAL

A large but often unseen benefit of political involvement is the social aspect. As we endure partisan challenges together whether through small functions or general elections, we develop friendships and relationships with each other. The part I looked forward to at AGMs was not so much the drudgery of policy development and campaign seminars as it was in getting to meet up with fellow members in a social environment. The hospitality suites are notorious but always fun.

Let’s face it, when the parties merge some people won’t migrate to the new entity and the connections will be lost. That is unfortunate but again, is not enough of a reason to oppose a merger.

Many of our current friends will join and become involved in the new party. Lets look at things with optimism. There will be a whole new pool of people to meet and honestly, they aren’t all that bad at all. In attending the PC leadership convention, I quite enjoyed myself despite hardly knowing a fraction of the number of people that I would at a Wildrose event. We really aren’t all that far apart.

THE PCs ARE STILL TOO CORRUPT/LEFT WING/ENTITLED etc.

There was a reason that the Wildrose developed and became as strong as it did. The PC party under Stelmach was bumbling and high spending. Under Redford the party was entitled and borderline corrupted. Under Prentice the arrogance was tough to bear. Throughout all of that the party was peppered with opportunistic liberals who never would be elected if they ran under the party banner where they belonged.

We worked hard to build an alternative to that Progressive Conservative mess. Why the hell should we fold back into that mire of political ugliness?

Well, to be blunt the best thing that could have happened to the PC party was the electoral devastation that they earned in 2015 (though at a terribly high price). The party had been in power for an obscene and politically unhealthy number of years. They desperately needed a humbling and a flushing and they got it.

The opportunists were the first to drop off. Sandra Jansen fled to a government seat as soon as she could. She would have joined the Social Credit Party if they had won. Others such as Hancock and Lukaszuk are fading into the background as they no longer have seats.

The liberal elements of the party from the executive are now fleeing to the Alberta Party in hopes of keeping influence while still dodging the liberal name that describes them.

The principled and conservative elements of the PC party still remain. The party always had many good people involved in it and now with the flushing of the bad elements, the party looks better than ever.

For those who think things will go too far left, may I suggest joining Randy Thorsteinson’s Reform Party. There you can unabashedly oppose things such as gay marriage and abortion while languishing in the 2% support numbers.

I know those issues are important to some people but they are electoral death and it is utterly pointless to pursue them in any party that realistically aspires to forming government.

BEING A BIG FISH IN A SMALL POND

Some folks actually prefer the party being small. They like being able to be elected into positions such as constituency president without having to deal with much if any competition for the role. They like small meetings where they can dominate and take the agenda where they like. If a merger happens, a new influx of people will be involved and some folks wont retain those constituency roles that they feel entitled too.

This is small thinking but it is all too common. Again, both parties will be better off if those people fall by the wayside. They hold up real growth and hinder the involvement of new and younger supporters.

We have to look beyond our own little bubbles and either get on board or get the hell out of the way.

GATE KEEPING FOR NOMINATIONS

Some people with both parties have put in a long time and a lot of effort to build a framework to ensure that they win the nomination in the constituency. This often is tied into that small fish in a big pond bunch as well.

I know it must feel frustrating to have put in that time and work only to find out that your aspiration for a nomination may be overwhelmed by an influx of new, ambitious folks after a party merger.

Well, suck it up. It is critical that nomination processes remain competitive. While not a guarantee, it does help ensure that the better campaigner wins the spot to represent the party in the general election. I had my ass handed to me in a nomination race a few years back. It sucked and I was bummed but the better campaigner won. If I couldn’t beat my competitor in a small local nomination race, how could I claim to be a better option to take on experienced campaigners in a general election?

One doesn’t need to give up electoral aspirations if the parties merge. It just means you may have to work a little harder. To oppose the merger in hopes of securing a personal nomination is simply small and selfish thinking.

We need to get a single entity going. We can then move on to a leadership and then develop some solid policies. No entity will be perfect and one will die of old age waiting for one to come along. The best way to maintain the integrity of a new merged party is to stay involved. Get on the executive. Take part in policy development. Get on a leadership team.

There simply are no solid reasons to oppose this merger.

To take the chance of having two conservative parties going into the election is simply not worth it. Get out and vote on the 22nd and be sure to vote for unity.

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Let’s try to play nice folks.

Over the years I have taken on many thankless and stressful tasks due to my political inclinations. I served multiple terms on the Wildrose provincial executive, often as VP policy. I volunteered on and managed long shot campaigns. I ran as cannon fodder for the Wildrose party against David Swann in Mountainview in 2012.

No political role I ever took on was more miserable, stressful and thankless than being on the committee to manage a party leadership race.

reddeer

Leadership races are among the roughest and most personal of contests in all of politics. It is an internal family battle that has potential to completely revitalize a party or to cause near permanent rifts and damage. Some of the dirtiest tricks are often used and I suspect that it is because parties are often not inclined to go public with warnings or disciplinary actions taken against candidates and teams for fear of causing damage to the institution as a whole.

In the Wildrose leadership race that led to Danielle Smith’s election as party leader, the complaints of party bias and complaints between campaign teams began even before the race was officially called. My phone virtually never stopped ringing with one team or another bitching about some petty offence (perceived or real) committed by the other side throughout the entire, interminable race.

I was selected to moderate all of the leadership debates in that race as one of the teams was convinced that the rest of the leadership committee was biased against their candidate. Ironically, that same team accused my wife and I of somehow rigging the race after they lost.

Speaking of Jane (my wife), she was the chair of the 2015 Wildrose Party leadership race that elected Brian Jean. Jane’s experience was similar to the joys endured in the 2009 race and she was again accused by some of rigging the race though nobody could ever explain exactly how she managed to do it.

No set of rules will be able to address every possible event in a race. During one of the leadership debates in Calgary, one of the teams put large campaign signs out on the roads approaching the hotel where the debate was being held. Another team set up a table selling memberships and handing out literature outside of the door to the convention room. Both teams came howling to me upon discovering the actions of the others and I was forced to tell both to fuck off, get over it and get ready for the debate (though I was a little more diplomatic about it. Not much, but a little). We didn’t have rules set up to govern placement of tables or signs outside of debates thus these terrible and egregious actions went unchecked.

That is the experience of one event on one night in a leadership race. Countless other infractions came and went throughout the course of the campaign.

Some campaigners view rules as something that have to be tested. They spend so damn much time pushing just to see how far those boundaries go and then howl when their hands inevitably get slapped. Usually the rules that were pushed have little to no impact on the outcome of the race and the time would have been immeasurably better spent on selling memberships and organizing GOTV efforts yet teams just seem obsessed at times in pursuing the most minor and petty of possible advantages.

Committees do not want to crack down on campaign teams. The accusations of bias come automatically and can turn into horror story if the committee eventually has to intervene on a campaign. In 2009 while both teams kept pushing the rules to the point where I wanted to have them all brought on a stage and spanked to keep them in order, one team in particular insisted on violating the rules despite multiple warnings. That team finally committed violations that probably should have landed them an outright disqualification but we settled for every possible sanction short of that in order to finish out the race. We had to look at the perceptions and disqualifying a candidate would simply have led to too much speculation of the race being unfair or fixed.

I have no role in the PC party in the current race but I suspect that their committee is trying to be fair and that they are enjoying the same pressures and stresses that I did in past races.

It is hardly a secret that I am supporting Jason Kenney in his bid to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. I want to see his team continue to clean up at those delegate selection meetings and I expect that they will if they keep themselves from being sidetracked by pushing the rules.

In the latest PC controversy, the Kenney team was brought to task for Kenney having been too close to a delegate selection meeting. Personally I think the punishment was too harsh for an infraction that likely didn’t impact the outcome of the meeting in any way but I also feel that the infraction was easily avoidable.

Yes, the word “near” in itself is ambiguous and yes the committee should have clarified exactly what that meant after having been asked to do so multiple times by the Kenney campaign. I suspect that the spirit of the rule essentially means being at least out of sight as members come in to vote in order to avoid any impression of voter intimidation by any candidates. There was little reason to put the exact distance to the test.

kenn

 

 

Jason Kenney has been running a fantastic campaign so far. He has been organizing around the entire province continues to work like a man possessed to reach out to as many Albertans as possible to build support for his unity platform. He can and I expect will win the race overwhelmingly by staying on the simple strategy of working hard and staying on message. There is no sense getting mired in the small issues that can come up.

There is little doubt that the PC party executive is hostile to Kenney. Members of the committee likely are less than endeared with him either. Kenney has been leading the race despite the hindrances put into place by the party executive before it started. There is little reason to antagonize them further and potentially give them any excuses to handicap his campaign any further.

If and when Jason Kenney wins the leadership of the PC party, we can be sure that there will be plenty of sour grapes and tantrums as the old guard pouts off into the sunset. We can also rest assured that some will try to claim that the only reason Kenney won was due to infractions of the rules. There is little sense to add any credence to what will be petulant claims after the race.

We have a long few months remaining in this campaign. I look forward to watching Jason Kenney and his time winning each and every delegate selection meeting through hard work, good organization and inspiring the membership just as he has in the last few DSMs that have been held at the time of this writing.

Let’s not get distracted with the small stuff and testing the extent of the rules. It doesn’t need to be done and will only make the assumption of the leadership that much tougher when the time comes.

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Diplomacy counts.

I rarely use any form of tact, discretion or general diplomacy with political issues as many can attest. I speak my mind to the point of being outright offensive at times. That is due to the fact that I don’t really give a shit who I may or may not offend.

As can be seen below, I think that Katleen Wynne is a dead ringer for Orville Redenbacher and I think that pointing that out in pictures is damned hilarious.

orville

All that being said, I am not an elected official representing a constituency on any level of government. I am simply a blogger with strong opinions who speaks only for himself.

I have little need to be diplomatic in my words or actions. If for some bizarre reason I had Kathleen Wynne over for supper at my place one day though, I likely would not have the picture above put on display and would endeavor to forgo on expounding on my views about how she is a terrible politician who is indeed harming her province and setting a bad example across the nation. It is not that I selectively believe in these things, my views are pretty consistent. I understand however that there is a time and place to share them and even on a household level, a base degree of diplomacy can be called for.

Diplomacy is showing class and respect towards somebody when the situation calls for it even when that person and their actions are odious to you. Hell, it is easy to be diplomatic when it is towards a person you admire. That is why true diplomacy is an art that few can really master.

Diplomacy between governments and their representatives is essential whether on an international level or even down to meetings between municipalities. If you are acting as a host, you had better damn well act with class and respect. Your trade and negotiations in the future rely on it.

I am a strong supporter of the Wildrose Party. I do want to see the Wildrose form the next government of Alberta. One flaw with the party has been it’s rough edges at times which opponents point to in trying to demonstrate that the Wildrose is not the government in waiting.

That flaw was demonstrated in spades yesterday as Wynne was subjected to abuse as a guest of the legislature. Wynne was not just a guest of Notley. Wynne was a guest of the whole damn legislature and that means even opposition members are expected to provide a degree of respect. There were 364 other days when the Wildrose could have attacked Wynne’s policies.

In order to become the party that Albertan’s want to select as their next government, the Wildrose Party will have to mature into that role.

The Wildrose has been a very effective opposition. Unless the party wants to remain in opposition in perpetuity though, they had better start showing a little more decorum as they work to develop into a party that can govern.

This week’s antics have set the Wildrose back in the eyes of Albertans and it will take time and a demonstration of class going forward in order to recover from that.

Worst of all, the actions of the Wildrose party gave that loudmouth asshole Nenshi a new platform to try and bark from as he campaigns for higher office and tries to distract from the legal bill he dumped on Calgarians due to his big damned mouth. That is nearly unforgivable.

Naheed Nenshi and peacock

Act as a government in waiting guys and leave the uncouth partisan attacks to bloggers like me. We will all be better for it in the long run.

 

 

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Wildrose 2015 AGM policy & constitutional proposals

It is no secret that I am a hard core political wonk nor is it a secret that I am a strong supporter of the Wildrose Party and have served within the party in multiple capacities. While a guy like me sees every AGM as being critical and important, some are more important than others. Due to the recent general election and the incredible disruption and internal change within the party, the 2015 AGM will be one of the most critical and formative ones that we have held in a long time. It is too bad in a bout of paranoia that the party powers that be have banned the media from the AGM!

The Wildrose Party has always prided itself in it’s transparent and open policy formulations. We used to eviscerate the Progressive Conservative Party for their hiding behind closed doors at their AGM. In doing the same thing we have unfortunately become hypocrites which is never a thing to be proud of. Rather than try to hide from or fight with the media, the party should work harder to avoid giving them fodder to chew on. Last August I wrote at length on the conservative tendency towards paranoia when it comes to the media. The media and political parties both need each other. Accept it and work with things with that understanding.

I will be attending the AGM of course. I haven’t missed one in a decade and I wont now. I will be live tweeting from there and I will be writing a full review of what I saw as I have every year for the last few years. I intend to be constructive but rest assured, I will never hesitate to be critical when it is warranted.

A party’s policy set is both important and unimportant in a way. Policies are really just a large set of the guiding principles that have been built by the membership over the course of AGMs. They often get way too specific and are very often prone to bloat as it is often easier to keep adding policies rather than clean up the old ones. The tone and direction of the party are reflected in the policy set which makes them very important. The leader and caucus are however not bound to rigidly follow the policy set nor should they be which reduces the importance of the set when it comes to actual legislation. Local representation and free votes will be lost if all MLAs are suddenly bound to unthinkingly follow a policy set that may not represent changing circumstances or local needs.

Our party constitution has a number of proposals going into this AGM as well and these while often dry, are essential to the efficient and democratic management of the party.

The policy and constitutional proposals were ranked by participating constituency associations and will be presented to the membership at the AGM based on those rankings. It is impossible for the membership to review every possible proposal (some are simply not worth examining) so while imperfect, the ranking system is a good one to help us prioritize and reflect the will of the members.

I will now dig into the dry but important proposals one by one in the order they will be going to the floor. I will be adding my highly biased opinion on them and will be encouraging votes to that effect from the floor of the AGM tomorrow. I only took the top 20 or so as not all of them will be making it to the floor. This post is rambling and long enough as it is.



Ranked policy proposals Wildrose AGM 2015

21. … encourage competition and choice in the delivery of health care, keeping the focus on achieving greater efficiency and better health outcomes for patients.

This proposal ranked right at the top of the policies which is fantastic to see. Unions and other lobby groups have managed to turn our health care system into an utter sacred cow making politicians fear any form of change aside from pouring in more money.

Despite massive increases in health care spending in past decades, our waiting times and outcome are simply not improving. We have to look outside of the box in order to get the best possible health care for our buck. Every universal health system in the world that is surpassing us in outcomes for lest cost per patient (and there are dozens of them) allows a degree of private provision of services. We need to stop people from simplistically shutting down health debate when they imply that only the Canadian and American systems exist and that there is no room to change. Europe is loaded with better systems and we would be fools to keep ourselves from studying and emulating them.

The left will predictably go haywire at such proposals. Let them. We need to start the rationed discussion and as more people die on waiting lists, the public will become more receptive to changes. This policy is a great place to begin and we have 3-4 years to work on how to present that to the electorate.

38. … Conduct a thorough review of the regulations regarding electricity generation, transmission and delivery with a view towards introducing reforms to make these segments more transparent, more competitive and more efficiently regulated and administered than they currently are.

The never ending discussions on electricity deregulation. It has been fodder for rage, conspiracy theories and political ire for nearly two decades now. It is clear that consumers are not winning and it is clear that the deregulation scheme was poorly applied. While returning to full government control of electrical services is likely a poor idea, we do need to study how we can fix the mess that we made in getting government out  (somewhat). This is a good policy.

9. … prohibit spending announcements by the provincial Government during a by election period.

Notley began her legislative term with a hypocritical about face on this issue now that these announcements serve her own needs. This is a good policy. Hypocrisy always costs credibility as I spoke to in the preamble to this post.

22. … take concrete steps to eliminate the fundamental imbalance between Government revenues and expenditures through spending reductions and efficiencies.

This is fluff and bloat. It sounds nice but adds little.  Our policies in general reflect an inclination to reducing government expenditures and eliminating deficits. We can start demonstrating efficiencies in leading through example and not adding this to our policy set.

Change from:

11. … protect parent’s right to choose what school their child attends whether it be public, separate, public charter, private or homeschooling.

To:

11. … Recognize that parents are the primary decision-makers for their children and their children’s education, and protect parent’s right to choose the education their child receives whether it be through public, separate, public charter, private school or homeschooling.*

I am not sure where the proponent of this one is going but have some suspicions. I think our current policy suffices.

 

59. … Investigate the feasibility and manner in which the current Workers Compensation Board (WCB) system can be opened-up to become a transparent and competitive system with the cost and service benefits such a system could deliver in the provision of this vitally important protection of Alberta’s workers.

One thing I have consistently seen over the years in provincial politics is a near universal discontent in how our WCB is administered. I have been fortunate in never needing it and cant speak directly from experience. I don’t know if privatization is the solution here or not but it certainly is worth examination as the status-quo is not cutting it.

11. … Amend the Post-Secondary Learning Act to allow every student to choose whether or not he/she wishes to become a dues-paying member of a student association, in each year of enrollment at a post-secondary education institute.

Could almost call this “right to learn” legislation. Student’s unions are becoming increasingly expensive. The unions are often spending the funds on political initiatives rather than protecting the rights of their students (a good parallel to labor unions). Nothing provides accountability better than giving the membership choice. A great policy.

59. … gradually move public sector employee pension away from defined-benefit plans and towards defined-contribution plans.

This is a great policy and we need to work in this direction. That said, it will have to be done carefully as beneficiaries of the defined benefit plans will fight tooth and nail to keep it despite it being unsustainable. Our unfunded pension obligations on all levels of government are terrifying and we need to change this trend. The word “gradually” in the policy is a good addition.

Change from:

  1. …grant public, separate, and public charter schools more flexibility to offer specialized programs in the trades, arts, music, physical education and business while ensuring all students learn the core aspects of the standard curriculum.

To:

1. …grant public, separate, public charter schools, private schools and homeschooling more flexibility to offer or access specialized programs in the trades, arts, music, physical education and business while ensuring all students learn the core fundamental aspects of the core subjects.

No. Just making a mess here. Take it to the school boards.

26. … Investigate the creation of a Seniors and Disabled Care Allowance program that would give seniors and the disabled Albertans who require assistance for their day to day living the funding and thus the freedom to choose how they wish access that assistance.

People are healthier and happiest when at home. Initiatives that may aid in keeping people at home rather than in hospitals are important. This is worth looking into.

11. … Amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to add postsecondary student associations with mandatory membership to Section 1(j) of the Act.

I think having voluntary membership will be good enough. Transparent unions will draw members.

38. … Conduct a thorough review of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and its regulation with a view towards introducing reforms to make it more efficient and responsive to the needs of both the industry and Albertans as well as linking its funding the activity level of the industry itself.

A review may be a good idea. It is a messy area. We have to be careful to ensure not causing further instability in the industry. I will determine my vote after hearing discussion from the floor.

The Policy and Constitution Committee strike a Member Approved Policy Restructuring Committee with the goal of subdividing the Member Approved Policy Document into two categories: a) No more than 25 overarching policies fundamental to the Party’s philosophy and priorities for future campaigning and enactment, if elected, as the next Government of Alberta

b) The remainder of the existing policies to be streamlined, and consolidated where possible into a more manageable number.

This Member Approved Policy Restructuring Committee will be tasked with consulting members and returning to the 2016 AGM with a Member Approved Policy document restructured as above for approval by the membership. This restructured document will be submitted on the deadline date for policy submissions according to the following timelines:

1) Approval of this resolution at the 2015 AGM

2) If passed, formulation of the Member Approved Policy Restructuring Committee.

3) Review at 2016 Policy Forums for CA members and other highly motivated members

4) Distribution of Restructuring Committee recommendations to CAs and solicitation of CA feedback/comments by August 2016

5) Restructuring Committee iterates the recommended document as it deems appropriate for submission to the membership at the AGM.

6) Voting by membership on the restructured document at 2016 AGM.

This is potentially great or a potential nightmare. I love the concept but question the viability. I say let’s give it a crack! If the committee doesn’t produce an acceptable product in 2016 the members can and will reject it.

16. … take control of the administration, application and interpretation of the Firearms Act with the goal of reducing paperwork and legal hurdles for gun owners in Alberta. The government should also appoint our own Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) and limit what the CFO can do on an arbitrary basis.

Todd Brown has done a great deal of work on this. This option is within provincial jurisdiction and gets some federal meddling out of our hair. I say yes.

 

26. … direct provincial health care dollars towards high quality palliative care.

No. Not saying we don’t need high quality palliative care but we don’t need a fluff policy like this pointing out that we do.

 

4. … Create an Equalization Reform Task Force to investigate the issues surrounding the

Federal Equalization Program with the objective of developing a new equalization

formula that correctly accounts for both provincial revenues and spending and thus is

fair for all Canadians and in doing so strengthens the confederation.

No. Take these issues to your MP.

17. … Allow private enterprise to compete against government essential services and receive the same grants as those provided by government monopolies.

No. I agree with the principle but this is just too vague.

9. … Pass legislation preventing MLAs from crossing directly from one caucus to another; MLAs must sit at least six months as an independent in order to consult with constituents before being eligible to join another caucus.

Absolutely not. Floor crossing is a part of the system we are in. Good leadership prevents floor crossing.

Danielle Smith and her band of fools all found themselves politically unemployed due to floor crossing. That is one of the best ways to prevent it.

The ability to cross the floor keeps party leaders in check.

9. … Pass legislation preventing MLAs from crossing from one caucus to another; MLAs must sit as independents or resign and run in a by-election even if that means their constituency is unrepresented for up to 7 months.

No. See above comments on floor crossing.

Constitutional proposals

Due to years of terrible internal leadership, a culture of mistrust has been fostered within the party between members, the leader’s office and the provincial executive. Central party meddling in nominations was brutal. In some years the provincial executive was neutered and communications were dismal.

This has led many proposals trying to limit caucus power and to strengthen the EC. The party is supposed to be run by the members and this battle is ongoing. The constitution is where all that happens.

8.3 The Leader shall be elected by the members of the Party using a preferential ballot, and must receive a majority. To be entitled to vote in a Leadership Vote a member must have been a member in good standing of the Party for the fourteen (14) days (change to) thirty (30) days immediately prior to the date of the vote.*

This one is sort of tough. Leadership races are good party builders as candidates cross the province and sell memberships. That being said, last minute members can make a mess of a race and I is tough to process them all. Just look at how Redford rented herself to unions in order to win. All in all, I like this proposal and say yes.

Change from:

“Do you want a Leadership Vote to be called?”

To:

“Do you approve of the current Leader?” with the voting options being “Yes” and “No.”

Yes. The earlier way made people vote in the negative while meaning a positive. Lets keep it simple.

Change from:

Nominations shall close seventy (70) days in advance of the Annual General Meeting.”

To:

Nominations shall close thirty-five (35) days in advance of the Annual General Meeting.

Yes. We need more Executive Committee candidates and I know damn well some central party managers want to limit that.

Change period from 90 days to,

6.9.4. a Nominating Committee (if necessary), which must be created not less than one hundred twenty (120) days prior to the Annual General Meeting of the Party

As well as adding on eligibility to serve on committee:

nor are Staff or Caucus members.

8.9 In preparation for a Leadership Vote, the Executive Committee shall appoint a Leadership Rules Committee, the members of which must be members in good standing of the Party and voting members of which may not be members of the Executive Committee.

8.9.1 The Leadership Rules Committee shall establish the rules, procedures and mechanisms according to which the Leadership Vote shall be conducted (“Leadership Selection Rules and Procedures”). These must not be inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, but may provide for appropriate telephonic and computer technology for voting.

8.9.2. The Leadership Rules Committee will be the final authority on disputes related to the Leadership Vote and its process, but for certain offences set out in the Leadership Selection Rules and Procedures which shall be subject to an appeal to the Provincial Candidate Selection Committee.

A big YES!. We need more time to draw in good EC members and we need to get the staff and caucus members the hell out of  the process. This is the turf of the membership.

Lists of Constituency Association Officers’ names, titles, email addresses, phone numbers, and the Constituency Association they represent shall, at least once per calendar quarter, be sent in electronic form by the Party to all Officers of recognized Constituency Associations who have executed the ‘CA Board Member Code of Conduct & Confidentiality Undertaking’ appended to the Wildrose Constituency Association Bylaws.

Yes and no. The central party tries to limit communications between constituency associations. This would stop that. That being said, sharing phone numbers is too much. There are some folks out there who I don’t want to hear from. Email addresses should suffice. We are at a point where folks in senior positions on CA boards should all have email.

7.17 Approved minutes of the Executive Committee meetings shall be provided simultaneously to Executive Committee members and Presidents of recognized Constituency Associations upon written request.

The party loathes providing the minutes from EC meetings despite being constitutionally bound to do so. We need to streamline this. There is nothing to hide right?

2.1 The object of Wildrose is to provide open, honest and effective government for thepeople of Alberta.

7.2. Subject to this article, the officers shall be elected by secret ballot at the Annual General Meeting of the Party for a maximum two-year term. A term automatically ends at the AGM after the member has served six (6) years on the Executive Committee or if the member has been appointed by the Executive Committee. A member may not seek election for more than one position on Executive Committee at a time. Their term of office shall commence at the close of the Annual General Meeting at which they were elected and shall conclude at the close of the Annual General Meeting where their successors are elected.

7.2.1. The terms of the President, the Vice-President-Fundraising, the Secretary, and one Provincial Director from each of the five (5) regional zones, shall be elected in conclude in odd numbered years.

7.2.2. The terms of the Vice-President-Membership, the Vice-President-Policy, the Vice- President-Communications, the Treasurer and one Provincial Director from each regional zone, shall be elected in conclude in even numbered years.

7.2.3. Provincial Directors shall be elected by members in good standing of the Party  from the regional zone in which the Director resides.

7.2.4. The Executive Committee may, with the approval of two-thirds of its members  present, and voting by secret ballot, appoint members to fill the term of office of any vacancy on the Executive Committee, provided that the person is a member in good standing and, in the case of a vacancy in a Provincial Directors position, that the person appointed shall reside in the regional zone that has the vacancy.

9.7. In accordance with the Principles and Policies of the Party, Caucus members are entitled to free votes in the Legislature, with the exception of the budget, votes of nonconfidence, and Wildrose policy and principles

11.4. The rules shall provide that any Wildrose candidate must enter into a standard contract with the Party which commits the candidate to paying the Party $100,000 in liquidated damages should the candidate be elected as a Wildrose Member of the Legislative Assembly and subsequently leave the Wildrose caucus to join another party’s caucus.

This edit gets a little messy but it is important.  The vast majority of EC members right now were appointed rather than elected. Despite two year terms,  the members should be able to vote at the first possible opportunity. The extended terms and attrition have unfortunately led to an undemocratic EC even if some of the appointees are excellently qualified.

That should cover it for now. Should be an interesting weekend.

 

 

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How many times has the Wildrose Party wrongly been declared dead?

Having been a loyal activist/candidate/executive member of the Wildrose Party (previously Alberta Alliance) since 2005, I can’t count the number of times that I have heard commentators declaring the movement dead. The party was declared dead when we lost our sole seat in the 2008 general election. The party was declared dead when it won 17 seats in the 2012 election despite that being an incredible showing for a new party. The party was declared dead when it won no seats in four by-elections in the fall of 2014 despite being a very strong second in one race and being respectable in the others. Countless folks declared the party dead when Danielle Smith tried to destroy it in a still unthinkable act of political treachery in her floor crossing.

hinman

Why isn’t this party dead???? With so many learned pundits and strategists so confidently declaring the Wildrose Party as a dead entity it is astounding that the party has not curled up and gone away isn’t it?

The answer is simple. The Wildrose Party is not dead because it is held up by true grassroots support. Not the pandering bullshit term of “grassroots” that damn near every party tosses out there when campaigning. The Wildrose Party is truly held up by thousands of dedicated members who are keeping the movement together despite the best efforts of opponents of the party both within and outside of it.

To top down parties such as the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP, the very concept of a real grassroots movement is foreign to them. Their lack of recognition of this could very well be their downfall as seen in last night’s by-election in Calgary Foothills.

I have always known that the declarations of the Wildrose Party’s death were misplaced as I have taken part in building that foundation upon which the party rests. I travelled the province to some of those town hall meetings where only 5 people showed up and some would say that was a sign of mortal illness. What happened at those meeting though is that we would interact with and train those 5 people. We set the seed and those folks went out and made it grow. Through little meetings, flyer drops, door knocking and countless phone calls the movement grew constituency by constituency. These are members who feel like they are a part of the party. They feel a sense of ownership as they participated in building the party and it’s policies. These are people that will not be shaken loose in their support no matter what some fools at the senior levels of the party may do.

Danielle Smith and her caucus never really understood who put them in office or if they did, they lost sight of that. When Smith and her band of opportunistic fools crossed the floor, they really thought that the party would crumble behind them. Danielle (and many commentators) thought that she was the party. Smith and the commentators clearly could not have been more wrong. Smith’s treachery didn’t kill the grassroots, it ignited it.

The foundation of the party moved on. We got back to work. we raised funds, we held meetings and we sought a new leader. Never for a second did we think we were dead. We were hurt, and many were dejected but giving up was never a consideration.

Grassroots means that the movement remains in the bad times. I remember on the night of the 4 by election losses being at a gathering of hundreds of supporters. While disappointed, we stayed together for the night and consoled each other. Compare that with Jim Prentice on election night who despite being Premier (up to that point), could not gather more than a dozen or so for his concession tantrum. The PC support was shallow and fickle and it showed.

Local Input~ CALGARY.;  MAY 05, 2015  -- Jim Prentice speaks to a subdued room in the PC headquarters at the Metropolitan Conference Centre in Calgary  Photo Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald  (For City story by Trevor Howell) ORG XMIT: POS2015050523084501

Getting to today, that true grassroots foundation proved it’s power yet again. The by election in Calgary Foothills was critical to the party and province on many levels. Why couldn’t Notley win that seat despite holding the reins of power, having a well known candidate and literally bussing in countless union monkeys to knock on doors for her? Why did 74% of the electorate in Foothills reject the NDP? The reason is that the voters in Foothills are among the most democratically abused in Alberta. They were abandoned by Len Webber when he left to chase the brass ring of a federal seat. They were next abandoned by Jim Prentice who in one of the most cynical temper tantrums in Alberta history quit is job before the votes were even counted. The voters in Foothills wanted to see principles and real grassroots representation. That feeling can’t be transmitted in a mountain of flyers or a bus load of Teamsters. The feeling of grassroots support can only be generated by a candidate surrounded by supporters hitting doors who are genuine grassroots supporters of that movement. The enthusiasm is palpable and the vibe at the door can’t be faked.

prasada

Today the Wildrose Party sits on a foundation that is stronger than ever.

Aside from wrongly declaring the Wildrose Party dead, pundits have also been pushing three other untruths that last night’s by-election out of the water.

Some said that the Wildrose was incapable of winning an urban seat (despite having some in the past). They are clearly dead wrong.

Some said that the Wildrose must merge with the remnants of the PC party in order to win seats. They are clearly dead wrong.

Some said that the Calgary electorate genuinely wanted an NDP government and that they didn’t select Notley in a desperate protest vote in order to send a message to the corrupted PC party. They are clearly dead wrong.

Now with the Wildrose stronger than ever and in a clear position of being the government in waiting, the next challenge will approach. The opportunists from the dying PC party will be slithering over and trying to entrench themselves with the Wildrose and they must be stopped. There are and were many great folks supporting the PC party but make no mistake, that party was crammed with self-serving weasels who only supported that party with hopes of gaining power and nothing else. Those weasels will be seeking a new home and the Wildrose is poised to be the next government in Alberta. The self-serving will be drawn to the party like flies to shit and if they are not contained, those ever important grassroots will indeed finally be eroded.

I would hope and assume that the tiny but vocal movement encouraging the Wildrose Party to consider merging with the indebted and disgraced Progressive Conservative rump will finally fade away. This bunch was really just based on a handful of suddenly unemployed PC MLAs who were desperately seeking a way to get seats again (see weasel references above).

denis

The Wildrose has utterly no need to embrace the debt and baggage of the PC Party. The worst thing that the Wildrose could gain from the PC party is their cynical power by any means attitude. It would truly bring us full circle into being the party that we were formed to replace.

As the Idiotic 11 discovered after having crossed the floor, the grassroots are not to be messed with. All 11 rightly lost their jobs and are politically finished.

The Wildrose still has a lot of work and some dangerous waters to navigate before getting another crack at a general election. If the grassroots foundation is respected though, it can be relatively smooth sailing. There can be no stronger base for a movement.

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The Calgary Foothills by-election is critical for all Albertans.

notley

People who don’t participate in partisan politics (and even some who do) often don’t know one very important aspect about the New Democratic Party:

Federal and provincial NDP parties are all the same entity!

If a person buys a membership with the Alberta NDP, they automatically become members of the federal NDP. There is no choice in this matter. Just as the NDP likes forced union membership, they like forced party membership. Individual thought and choice don’t fall within the NDP ideology.

This reality has been depressingly evident as Premier Notley has all but vanished from the political scene so that she may aid her boss, Thomas Mulcair in his regionally divisive federal campaign which is modelling Alberta as a bogeyman that must be attacked.

While federal NDP candidates continue to attack Alberta’s core industries, Notley remains in a silent cowardice. It is clear that Notley views the hierarchy of her party as being much more important than the interests of Alberta. We all should be terrified if Mulcair manages to become Prime Minister. Clearly Notley won’t stand up for us in such a situation.

The Foothills by-election will be a critical opportunity for Albertans to send a warning shot at Rachel Notley. In that by-election, we will see if the election of the NDP was a desperate move on the part of the electorate in order to get rid of the corrupted Progressive Conservative government or if Albertans really want to embrace NDP style socialism.

The Wildrose Party is fielding Prasad Panda as a candidate in the by-election versus the parachuted Bob Hawkesworth for the NDP. While Notley has appointed an incompetent Minister of Energy along with a literal anti-energy activist as her Chief of Staff, the Wildrose is providing a voice of experienced reason in Panda who has been a senior manager in the energy sector for decades.

If the voters in Calgary Foothills strongly reject the NDP in this by-election, it will tell Notley to either shape up and defend Alberta despite her federal masters or prepare for electoral defeat in the next general election. Notley is being pulled and pushed from multiple directions as a new Premier. The best direction she could be pushed from would be the electorate and that opportunity looms.

Will Notley learn to put her province before her federal party’ interests? It is hard to say. Chances are much better though that Notley will prioritize Alberta if the voters in Foothills strongly push her to do so. That makes this by-election important for all of Alberta despite it being overshadowed by a federal race.

 

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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.

 

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There is no right wing split in Alberta.

Though the voices are in a tiny minority, they are already becoming annoying.

Led by Danielle Smith and some other now homeless political types who found themselves politically homeless due to latching their careers to the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, this small chorus is trying to convince people that the Wildrose Party must merge with the dying PC party to stop this perceived split in the right. I guess that laying your own political downfall at the feet of an imaginary ideological split among the province is easier on a person than accepting that one’s own political instinct was crap. It is weak rationalizing and it simply doesn’t add up.

I will lay it out in simple terms as math is hard for some!

Here are the vote gains/losses in this election compared to 2012:

Progressive Conservatives: loss of 154,357

Wildrose Party:   loss of 82,224

Liberal Party:  loss of 65,455

NDP:    gain of 476,387

In 2012 the two parties that some consider to be right wing made up 78% of the vote in Alberta when combined. In 2015 this fell to 52% of the vote.

Let those numbers sink in. There is no split of the perceived right here. This is a collapse in support of the two right of center parties.

The 2015 election was not about right and left. This election was about trust and principles and it was won by populism. The folks foolishly muttering about merging parties had better realize this or we will see an eight year term of the Notley led NDP in Alberta. People don’t want to see a merged party of one ideology or another. They simply want to see a party that they feel they can trust for a change.

I spent about 13 hours per day on one of the campaigns in Calgary for the entire election. Right from the beginning of the campaign, the feedback and feel we were getting was disconcerting to say the least. Folks would call and ask what we were seeing on the ground and the best answer I could give was “it’s really weird out there”.

The anger of the electorate at the doors was palpable. People were outraged with the Prentice PCs and disgusted with his self-serving actions whether from drawing in the Wildrose floor crossers, the wretched budget, the never ending internal scandals or I think most of all an early election call that was clearly only done to serve the party in power. People were making it more than clear that they wanted to punish the Progressive Conservatives and they wanted to do it badly.

This led us to think we should be the clear second choice for people but that wasn’t the case. While people at the doors made it clear that they didn’t want to vote for the PCs, they became quite reticent when we would ask them to support us instead. While they loathed the PC party under Prentice, they were not exactly endeared by the Wildrose Party either. Whether fair or not, we were still suffering under the hangover of the floor crossings and people simply didn’t know the new leader. At best most doors in the early part of the election appeared angry but undecided.

The debate was the turning point. People were waiting to get a clear look at who the alternatives for governing our province really were and they watched the debate closely. The contrast in the debate could not have been more clear between the leaders. Prentice came across as an arrogant weasel. Swann came off as the has been that he is. Jean came across as wooden and repetitive and Notley came across as dynamic, principled and energetic. In that 1.5 hours the minds of the electorate went NDP and it was folks from all sides of the spectrum. Not right or left.

When the election is about trust, it is a clear handicap having a brand new and unknown leader. While people do not dislike the new leader, they are not yet ready to embrace him either. Jean’s opportunity to get to know a large segment of Albertans was in that debate and to be blunt, he blew it catastrophically. Jean had been coached to stick to a simple script and to never deviate. He was coached to dodge specifics on questions by repeating a stock line and he was coached to avoid thinking on his feet. The Wildrose needs to fire that coach!

In watching that debate, even I as a hardcore, partisan Wildroser had to wonder if I could vote for a party led by this robot. One columnist best described Jean’s debate performance as “ghastly” and I think that hits it on the head. Nothing irks me faster than seeing a leader dodge questions. It makes them look untrustworthy and there was no worse time than during that debate to appear so. Even being wrong on a couple specific facts yet appearing sincere and energized would have been better for Jean in that debate.

Policy specifics meant nothing in that debate to voters. People were looking for energy and a sense of sincerity. Notley won it by all accounts.

A silver lining here is that Brian Jean’s debate performance was out of character for him. In following rallies and events Jean showed a fantastic and genuine energy and wit. When seeing Jean at other gatherings, it is tough to imagine that this is the same puppet like fellow that we observed just a few weeks ago at the debate.

Inexperience and a simply harrowing series of events in this last three months really do explain much of Jean’s appearance as a leader in the 2015 election. From a whirlwind leadership race, to the death of his son to the call of the general election Jean simply never got a moment to breath and adjust to these changes. With four years as leader of the opposition Jean now has the time and will have the resources to grow into the role that he has earned. I am confident he will do so and as Albertans get to know him, that trust will grow.

While time and genuine effort will help grow that trust that Jean and the Wildrose need, embracing the remnants of the corrupted and withering PC party through a merger would have the opposite effect. Alberta’s most despised party has now been packaged in a neat 9 seat rump and a growing and invigorated Wildrose Party would be insane to embrace the baggage and mistrust that comes with that party.

Navel gazing about a right wing split will do nothing to displace the NDP government. Notley won on trust and will only lose when a party that has gained trust shows up to challenge her.

Bear this in mind, almost every person who claims that the Wildrose and PC parties must merge now were of the same chorus of people who loudly and confidently declared the Wildrose Party as being dead last December.

Sort of says worlds about their political instincts doesn’t it?

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Party members get the final word (along with the electorate).

Voters in Alberta in general have been used and abused by our provincial government for quite some time now. Few have been democratically abused more though than the party members of the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party (pre-crossing) in the last 12 months.

The very essence of the party system is to facilitate organization and election of like minded people to office. At the core of this system is the nomination system where members will campaign and choose who will represent them in elections. This of course is the very area where the unprincipled in politics (alas there are many of them) choose to meddle the most.

The Wildrose Party under Danielle Smith’s leadership and with Rob Anderson’s constant interference was brutal in their efforts to manipulate nominations. Members in constituencies around the province were getting increasingly infuriated with the delay of nominations and arm twisting of potential candidates as they sought to get their chosen ones in. It is this sort of thing that led to member blowback against Danielle Smith and was a contributing factor to her callow departure from the leadership of the party.

andersonAnderson and Smith were truly delusional and lost in their own bubbles in thinking that the party membership would follow them when they organized their brutal act of treachery and joined the Prentice Progressive Conservatives.

The membership of the Wildrose Party was actually renewed and emboldened by the departure of Smith and her compatriots. While it hurt the party in the short term, the core is stronger and more dedicated than ever as the worst of it’s unprincipled members are now no longer with it.

Rob Anderson was the first to recognize that he was politically finished and he figured it out in rather short order. Having screwed the membership and supporters in Airdrie from both parties in two different floor crossings, Rob Anderson found himself utterly alone and despised by the membership in both the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party. Knowing he was politically finished, Anderson scurried off into the sunset to try and work on a new and less public career. Jason Hale and Bruce Rowe quietly fled the mess of their own making soon afterwards.

Danielle Smith maintained her delusion right up until the Progressive Conservative members got the chance to kick her out of office which they eagerly and overwhelmingly did. Smith’s treachery and abuse of the members who supported her led to the utter end of what had appeared to be one of the most promising political careers in Canada. Word is that Smith didn’t even attend the first Progressive Conservative constituency association meeting in person after having crossed the floor. Had she a clue how powerful the members are and how enraged they could be, perhaps she could have salvaged the nomination (though I doubt it). Smith will now fade into well earned obscurity as an odd footnote in Alberta political history.

mcallister

When livid party members tossed floor crossers Gary Bikman and Rod Fox out on their self-serving asses in nomination races along with Smith, Prentice panicked. It was clear that there was no way that Bruce McAllister was going to survive an open nomination race. The PC party jumped in and disqualified party loyalist Jamie Lall in hopes of maintaining at least one of their floor crossing trophies of prominence.

Lall_Jamie.jpg

A rightly enraged and motivated Lall entered the race for Chestermere-Rocky View as an independent candidate along with his considerable local support down there. The Progressive Conservative constituency association is now in utter disarray as the President and other board members resigned in disgust with the party actions under the guidance of Prentice.

With Lall pulling from the Progressive Conservative base and with most voters being repulsed by the actions of the floor-crossers, it is very likely that Bruce McAllister will be joining his unprincipled colleagues as a disgraced and unemployed political has-been on May the 5th.

Of the 9 MLAs who betrayed the membership of the party in December only perhaps a couple will still be employed a mere few months later. Perhaps none of them will make it through the election.

Will MLAs and party operatives learn from all of this? I doubt all of them will but I sure hope many of them will have learned a lesson here:

You can only fuck with the party membership for so long and so much before they lash back!

 

 

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Legitimacy of next Progressive Conservative leader already in question

ballot

The lackluster race to lead the governing Progressive Conservative Party is finally coming to an end tomorrow. Thanks to the Westminster System, the person selected by the membership of the party will essentially automatically become the Premier of the province of Alberta. Unfortunately due to a series of terrible decisions in setting up the system for the leadership election, we will never be confident of the legitimacy of whomever ends up elected in this mess.

I served on the three person committee that managed the election of Danielle Smith as leader of the Wildrose Party in 2009. I learned many lessons through the course of that race. The hardest lesson for an idealist like me was accepting that even in an internal race there are many people who are eager to stretch and break rules in order to win. While most people have personal principles that would prevent this, sadly many will do whatever they can to try and gain an edge for their team. For example, one of the teams in the Wildrose leadership race literally signed up multiple dead people as members. This was caught and internal discipline was enforced. One day I will go into more full detail about some of the stunts attempted in that race.

Because of the reality that some will try to abuse the system, some checks and balances were built into the system to try and reduce or eliminate abuses.

1. In the Wildrose Party, aside from immediate family members, all members must purchase their own membership.

This one can be tough to manage but with the checks below, one can see how bulk buying of memberships is difficult in a properly run leadership system.

The Prentice team initially denied and then admitted to buying memberships for others. While the practice of buying memberships for others is frowned upon by most, it is not technically wrong in the PC leadership election system. I will explain below why this is a huge problem.

2. In the Wildrose race, after a period of time, the membership lists of all teams were shared for the remainder of the campaign. In the PC race this is not happening.

Leadership races put a huge strain upon the resources of the party. Teams typically hold their membership sales tight until the last minute and then literally dump tens of thousands of them on the party at once to be processed. Just entering these memberships into the system alone is a Herculean task, scrutinizing the veracity of the members effectively is nearly impossible for the party itself. This is where sharing the lists with the teams is critical.

Who better to check the lists of members and how they were signed up than competing leadership teams? You can rest assured that volunteers in the different leadership teams in the Wildrose were dedicated to scrutinizing the new lists of members for discrepancies the moment that they got these lists. This is indeed how some of the small but still egregious abuses of the system came to light in the Wildrose leadership race. It was the knowledge that these lists would be shared that kept some of the unprincipled from abusing the system in any large way. They knew that if there were 50 memberships coming from the same household or if one person was signed up 6 times with slight differences in the spelling of their names that alarm bells would go off so they didn’t even try.

In refusing to share the membership lists among the teams, the PC party has invited abuse and we know it is happening. The only questions are the degree of the abuse and how it may or may not have affected the outcome of the race. We likely will never be able to find out.

3. The Wildrose invited scrutineers to be present for every aspect of the vote counting. Now to be fair, one unprincipled team actually took advantage of that for their own benefit and I will indeed write in detail about that down the road. Either way, for the most part having representatives from leadership teams present helps prevent counting abuses and such. As with the membership lists, nobody is better to police the rules in these regards than the teams themselves. The PCs are not allowing such scrutiny which is very distressing.

4. The PCs are using a telephone/internet voting system.

There are countless essays and articles about why these systems are terrible and ripe for abuse. I will let the reader google that should they want more information as my posting is getting lengthy enough.

Aside from cracking the system itself, the phone/internet system of voting also allows anonymity in voting which makes abuse terribly easy.

Let’s say for example I was an unprincipled supporter of one of the campaigns and I had deep pockets for some reason. Let’s say I have access to voters lists from elections Alberta. I could theoretically sign up hundreds or possibly thousands of people for memberships without their knowledge. All I would have to change would be the email address to send the PIN for voting to which is an option in the system. The party’s only check is that the name and address matches the electors list. With the members list reaching the party at the last minute, no physical mail would reach the unknowing new member until the race was over. Communications would come through the email address. With online voting and over the course of a couple days, one person alone could vote countless times and how would they be caught? Scrutineers wont catch it as the party is not allowing them.

The provincial Liberals, Alberta Party and federal NDP all did remote voting in their last races. The turnout for all of those races were dismal so what is the reason to go with this terrible system?

As I type this we are hearing all sorts of reports about how the system is getting overloaded and people cant get their votes in. Odd in mid-day on a weekday. One would think most prospective voters would be working.

The voting system is turning out to be a gong-show of a disaster and the voting has only been going on for a few hours now.

In light of the huge exploits I have demonstrated above, how could anybody really be sure that whoever wins the race has done so fairly? The PC party is already reeling from years of scandals and have lost the trust of many Albertans. What they needed was a leader elected to refresh the party and get off to a principled start. This is impossible now as we will never be able to be sure if that leader was legitimately elected.

Opportunity lost again.

 

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