This week politico’s acted shocked that MLA Sandra Jansen left the PC Party of Alberta after documented harassment and bullying at the hands of the social conservative sect within the leadership race. Now why would it come as a shock? The party leadership did not contact, or step up right away to correct or expel the aggressors, but like many institutions just left the victim to twist in the wind.
The fact she crossed the floor should not come as a shock. It is allowed in our parliamentary system, the ethics of it can be argued until all sides are blue in the face. Yes technically the voter voted for Jansen under one party colour, but this is the gift of the parliamentary system, there are three choices to be taken into account when you cast the ballot: the local candidate; the party platform and then the party leader. Yet the system is designed that it comes down to the choice of the local candidate. In our province’s history this was never more truly highlighted than with the United Farmers Governments, that did not have party leaders. Each local candidate was elected, then those elected chose who would be premier (actually much how the constitution lays out this functionality not how the practice has emerged).
So is it shocking one who has no defense, no support, being abused has chosen to leave? No. Is it surprising that in my province, there are those who are victim blaming? Sadly no, I wish that answer could be different. We are working to create a new culture.
The shock could be that she left a big tent party, to go to an on paper socialist party, yet she was a Red Tory. So by crossing the floor, she has brought her constituents voice into the government caucus which is a win.
Yet it leaves us pondering the other two big ten party’s on Alberta’s political map, that may have tried and failed to woo, or never wooed. But the Alberta Party and Alberta Liberals were unable to secure her.
Of those two, this weekend’s Alberta Party Conference #CentreTogether is showing the best practice for uniting Albertans of all political stripes under a best practice banner driven by bringing all voices to the table. Hopefully it works, because what the PC Leadership race, the Wildrose responses on twitter by MLA’s such as Fildebrandt, and even the myopic ideology within the current government (New taxes not necessarily bad, carbon tax where 90% of Albertans will need to receive a subsidy to pay or exemption is simply bad policy) …something new needs to emerge.
This floor crossing opens up the conversation from zero based budgeting, pragmatic management at the political level, to truly what we need from our leaders: Vision casting.
What is the Alberta that will emerge through all this? What vision will these parties cast heading into an election in 3 years? Will we still be bickering over this tax or that tax? Will we be bickering about where to cut?
OR will a citizens voice come forward that speaks of equality, justice, support, and a provincial home that allows all to thrive through their given aspirations and talents? A home that is affordable for all?
Can this be the voice that emerges from #CentreTogether?
Are we going to continue to allow ideologies to separate us from our Albertan and Canadian narrative of different pieces of the puzzle together to create the full picture of our just society?
Can this be the lesson learned from one MLA willing to take a stand against old boy backroom B.S. and show where the bridges exist instead of the walls?
Only time will tell…but as an Albertan, I have hope.