You have to earn your way to the big kids table.

Every election we see the same thing, the fringe parties and their exiguous but dedicated and vocal supporters begin making noise and demanding that their party be represented in the televised debates. It is understandable why these fringe groups want to participate. Many people remain undecided until the debate and use that broadcast as almost their sole means of making up their mind as they have an opportunity to see the leaders of the main parties demonstrate their ability (or lack of) to lead our province. It is because of this importance of the debates that a bar must be set though and we can’t have an important event like this cluttered with the leader of every tiny party in the province participating.

 In 2004 it was the Alberta Alliance (now Wildrose) that was protesting and making noise demanding that Randy Thorsteinson be included in the debate. They even had some people waving signs outside of a TV station but to no avail. The broadcasters had set the bar by saying that a party needed an elected member in the legislature in order to participate in the debate. The Alberta Alliance had Edmonton MLA Gary Masyk who had recently crossed the floor to join the Alberta Alliance. The powers that be decided this was not good enough as Masyk had not been elected under the banner of the Alberta Alliance.

The Alberta Alliance was running candidates in all 83 constituencies in that election as well. That still was not enough to sway the broadcasters and the debate was held with only the PC, NDP and Liberal leaders in that election. Fair enough.

 Now we come to the latest vocal complainants; the Alberta Party. While their presence on twitter is notable due to them having a handful of prolific posters in their ranks, their impact or even recognition among the Alberta electorate is simply insignificant. The fringe Alberta Party barely registers 1% in Alberta polls, has no member elected under their banner in the legislature, will be lucky to nominate even 30 candidates in the election and as far as can be seen is totally broke. Why on earth should their leader be allowed to take up 20% of the time at the very important debate?

 The Alberta Party scored a tiny coup when embittered former Liberal MLA Dave Taylor broke his promise to sit as an independent and crossed the floor to join them. Taylor never got over the Liberal Party’s rejection of him when he ran for the leadership and joining the Alberta Party was his final way of giving the finger to the party that got him elected in the first place. It must be noted, Taylor does not have the gumption or courage to actually run under the Alberta Party banner. He will be taking off with his severance package as soon as the writ drops presumably to try and find another job in broadcasting. At least Masyk was willing to run for the Alberta Alliance after he crossed the floor.

 It is pretty clearly established which parties are worth broadcasting to the province in a debate in the coming election. The PCs, Liberals, NDP and Wildrose parties all have members sitting in the legislature that were elected under their own party banner. They are all polling well above the statistical margin of error (no other parties are) and all are clearly in positions to be winning some seats at the least. Aside from the Liberals, all of them will be running significant numbers of candidates in the election. It will be important and interesting to see the leaders of these parties debate. That will not happen if every crackpot leader from the rest of the fringe parties takes part however.

A party can work it’s way from fringe status. What the Alberta Party supporters appear to overlook is that to do so takes years of very hard work. Paul Hinman was tireless as the leader of the Alberta Alliance party as well as many key supporters within the party. With countless meetings across the province, many policy revisions, news events and releases, recruitment of new and strong people and a receptive attitude to mergers and compromise, the party broke free from it’s fringe status and is the contender that we call the Wildrose today.

 Essentially what I am saying to the parties at the fringe is if we could do it (get mainstream sized support), you can do it. Until then though, you simply don’t rank a seat at the debates.

 Social media does provide for alternatives though. A community hall could be booked and a cage match debate could be held with the leaders of the Social Credit, Communist, Alberta, Evergreen and Separation parties that all want seats in the main debate. This circus could be live streamed and archived on YouTube. It could provide some welcome comic relief in what will doubtless be generally a serious election.

 The word that springs to mind when I see fanatical fringe party supporters demanding things is “entitlement”. Face it guys, private broadcasters owe you nothing nor should they. Quit complaining and put your nose to the grindstone. Complaining will never break you free from fringe status but hard work might.


3 thoughts on “You have to earn your way to the big kids table.

  1. In Alberta we have a two tiered election system controlled by the elite wealthy corporate titans who help create and maintain an “undemocracy” in this province. The system we have is an American influenced system where those with the big bucks control the flow of speech within the corporate media. As the vast majority of population still gets their controlled political information from the corporate media, the media greatly influences the outcomes of elections and the politics in this province in predominantly a negative way that benefits just a small segment of the population. The corporate media produces the information their big profitable advertisers want us to hear and think about, whether those advertisers are urban sprawl developers, oil companies, banks or corporate backed political parties. To do so otherwise would be the kiss of death to profitable big corporate advertising dollars that keep the corporate media afloat. This is why the media is bad for our democracy, election system and our society. This why there is only a few leaders allowed in the corporate media election debates- so information delivery is greatly controlled by the elite for the benefit of the elite.

    How is it that we live in a two tiered election system? Well when poor people can not afford to donate to political parties because they have kids to feed or school and the rich elite can donate $15,000/ year plus $1000/ year to a constituency association plus donate $30,000 to a party during an election campaign plus another $2000 to their candidate plus make unlimited $50 donations at fund raisers (all figures above are higher if contributing to multi parties- see section 17 of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act), then you can hopefully intelligently understand how money is creating a two-tired election system. The wealthy out donate the poor in this provinces about 10000 to 1. Money is freedom of speech in an corporate media society system and if you don’t have money you don’t have freedom of speech. The poor have little or no money therefore they can not advertise in various ways to build a political party that can compete with the big corporate elite political boys club. Therefore their views are not represented in a democratic manner. This is not what real democracy looks like. This is just one reason why all political donations should be banned.

    Democracy demands intelligence. The people of this province who rely on the corporate media for that democratic political intelligence are not getting the intelligent service they require from the corporate media. Enabling all leaders of political parties to get their voices out to the public in leadership debates would create an environment for more political intelligence in this province while providing a great democratic service to the people. Democracy is about choice not political limitations. The corporate media is not about democracy.

    Alberta only has 9 political parties currently with a fairly wide diverse of views with the exception being the views of the Wildrose, Alberta, Liberal, Tory (same basic story) parties. For the corporate media to block out views of other parties in a leadership debate only blocks out the ability to create a learning environment to better our democracy for the benefit of the people while also blocking some great intelligent entertainment.

    Cory suggests you need to earn your way to the big boys corporate media table instead of being an option for educating people with the ideas of democracy. He does not understand what real democracy looks like: Rule by the people, not plugged in corporate titans. Let us hope he and others can learn what real democracy looks like and how it can benefit this province.

    Stay in tune with the up coming Alberta election and educate yourself more.

    James Kohut
    Champion for Real Participatory Democracy

  2. I can tell you my brother knew that this election result would happen 12 months ago. Now Wildrose may not win, but you can not doubt the change it has made in Alberta Politics. This change is a long time coming. my brother and others started this 15 years ago. And spend hundreds if not thousands of long days and nights working on this very outcome. Because, unlike you, they believe change comes from anew, not from within.

    it was inevitable. Funny how you would trash a political party based on how many seats they had. It shows how out of touch you are on what Albertans want! It is the free enterprise spirit of this great province. People make the difference. The winds of change are upon us. And your comment, “A party can’t work it’s way from fringe status”??? Seriously?

    That is and always will be Alberta’s way. To let voices be heard, and to make changes when one ideology runs it course. Funny how out of touch you are. You ignorance is typical of those paid for by government dollars. Real talented news reporters would have seen the change coming from miles away. I for one am proud of the party Randy Thorsteinson help found, and to the job the team in charge now is doing. And in time, others will start grass roots parties with the same dream. it is the true spirit of democracy. And too many forget, we are a democracy. enjoy the results, whatever they may be!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.