I figured that blog heading best captures the content and tone of many communications that I have gotten through phone and email in this last week or so. I may as well get to the point here.
I have been involved with the Wildrose Party since it’s inception as well as rather strongly involved with the Alberta Alliance Party before it. I have acted in many roles from different positions on the provincial executive to candidate in the 2008 election to moderating the last leadership debates to hosting the party’s headquarters in my office space for a couple years. No by the way, I am not trying to claim that the party owes me something, it does not. I do want to make it clear that I am a dedicated longtime supporter and member of the Wildrose Party. I did not come out of nowhere to raise a stink and I certainly am not a plant from the PCs as one idiot has already implied.
I am not giving up on the Wildrose Party nor am I recommending that anybody else does so. The Wildrose Party is the potentially the best government in waiting in the wings in Alberta and I do hope it forms government down the road.
The above being said, the Wildrose Party has slipped rather badly in it’s grassroots based governance in the last few years as I have been demonstrating in some critical blog postings here, here and here. I likely will have a few more postings that may make some uncomfortable in the next little while.
I fully understand the need for people to work as a cohesive group for a common cause in politics if anything is going to be done. I understand how loyalty to one’s party obligates one to have to accept some practices, people and actions that may not be what one feels are ideal. Compromise is part of working in a team environment even when the team is made up of stubborn individualists.
Something I have learned though is being loyal to one’s party does not mean that one should stay silent when they see wrongdoing. On the contrary, when things are going in the wrong direction a person should feel obligated to speak up.
The drift has been incremental with the party. I am as responsible as many as I sat silently as we saw one more undercutting of the grassroots after another. Just one more nomination meddled with here and there or just one more principle set aside.
I stayed silent. When speaking up from within (as some are counselling me to do now), I hit the same old rationales from people. “Just let it go, now isn’t the time to deal with that.” or “This is how all the heavyweight parties do it.” or “It’s just the way it is with parties. Learn to look the other way.” or “Just hang on until the election.”
In answering all of those:
If not now, when?
I don’t care how the other parties do things, we are supposed to be different.
The election is past and I can’t think of a better time than now to dig into some of the issues with the party.
As I pointed out in a past posting, only one of the elected 2010 board ran for re-election in 2011 which is more than a little telling of problems. I don’t want to simply walk away. I have put too much into the party these last years to do so and the potential is still all there (I am not going back on the board though).
The vast majority of the members and supporters of the Wildrose Party share the same solid grassroots principles of members being the final authority in party governance. Our party constitution strongly supports this and an active principled provincial executive can address and solve pretty much any issue with the party. They are very empowered constitutionally and have a mandate of being elected by the membership.
As I have posted earlier, some odd business happened with the nominations and elections of the last board in 2011. Very few people applied for the jobs (surprising in such a growing party but unsurprising considering how hidden the process was) and we ended up with a dysfunctional board that only held five meetings in an election year as I posted. As I implied before, I do not feel that this marginalized board was a mistake and do feel that it was purposely set aside to allow others to govern the party unencumbered by executive questions. Even if it was just somehow a sheer fluke of luck that the board happened to be so invisible and unmotivated as opposed to being purposely constructed that way, it is clear that the board needs to be replaced.
As pointed out in earlier postings as well, it has been incredibly difficult finding out even when and where the Wildrose Party AGM was to be held and it took some pressure to get that out. There are many great potential party executive members out there but how will they apply and get elected if the party won’t aid with information as to when where and how to run for those positions? The cutoff for running is 65 days before the event and the cutoff for event notification is 60 days. Since the party won’t put out the call for grassroots executive nominees, I will. As I said, I will not sit back silently any longer.
Despite some blaming the last election loss on policy, the party’s policy will not be on the table at the coming AGM. I would think policy discussion would be something of a priority right now. Perhaps if we had an effective executive such oversights would not happen.
The foundation of the Wildrose Party is excellent. Our leader is exceptional and there are some great members of caucus who I don’t doubt will impress in opposition in these next four years. The Wildrose Party can (and I hope it does) turn itself into the party that Albertans are ready to embrace as their next government. This will only happen if the party stays true to it’s founding principles though and if members and supporters stay silent when things go the wrong way, that will never happen.
So in answering the question at the beginning: I am taking the tough but necessary steps required for the membership to regain control of the Wildrose Party in speaking up about what has been happening. I have pointed out some of the problems and have pointed out the solution. Nothing will be solved if we stay silent and we won’t fix anything in Alberta by turning ourselves into the party that we want to replace in government.