Posts Tagged ‘Political Parties’

I will admit, my heart is raised a little in the ongoing free fall of the United Conservative Party with just shy of 2 years in office, the billions they have added to deficit/debt, the lack of response to aid citizens in a world wide pandemic, one scandal after another, one crisis after another, and the missteps, the constant barrage of negative change patterns to benefit the corporation not the citizen. The actual anti-thesis from lived experience in the New Alberta, and reporting, for the constitutional promise of Peace, Order and Good Governance. For some light reading on what got us to this point, and where we are at for those who do not toe the line of the party in power I suggest you read: The End of Alberta Conservatism, A Word to my Haters, and Laying it Out (for a quick primer). We are living, what the Wildrose Party (a source party for merger with the UCP), branded anger is (as one mentor of mine in ministry phrased it, he just could not see that much anger sustaining much good for the citizens). We are there. An election cycle in 2019, that saw the loudest voice in the room shape the life and economic recovery diversification discussion for a province, not one of vision and leadership, but rather of anger, fear, hate and a drive to reclaim what has once been.

The pitch worked. We are now living it.

I am not shocked where we are. My property was vandalized in many election cycles for not backing the anger. I have debated federal CPC candidates, who would not answer questions but simply read from their policy manual and repeat their then leader, Stephen Harper’s speeches. This is what came to Alberta for political discourse. In the local candidates forum, when the UCP candidate would not answer questions honestly–such as the opener as to why he personally wanted to represent our riding, he verbatim gave one of Jason Kenney’s speeches. A woman in the audience called him out, his party members started making threats, I raised my voice to call him and them out…the response from the moderator was silence for he could not understand why people wanted an answer. The response from the newly minted UCP faithful was to threaten my children, to state “we’ll fight you in the parking lot”. Some media spoke to me, I spoke honestly and from the heart as I always do about what engaged citizenship, and being an Albertan means to me and how this party and their behaviours were an anti-thesis to a healthy democracy, not much if any was published as the take was I was an “NDP Plant”, though my local incumbent could tell you I had not given any support to him.

See, there was change in 2015 with the NDP as the new governing party. Yet, the same challenge for me locally happened then, as with this new UCP MLA, neither of the MLA’s would respond to any communications. Mine in the NDP government was an anomaly, what I am hearing more from Albertans is with the UCP it is the normal practice. One should not have to only communicate with Cabinet Ministers, opposition MLA’s, or as one former colleague suggested, reach out to UCP MLA’s I used to work with to talk as they’d respond (the idea is based on a pre-existing relationship) which isn’t how our system is to function. An MLA is to respond to the citizens.

Then the litany of things to harm citizens, and why one asks? Is it blind ideology? Profiteering? All of the above? One thing is certain, with the constant barrage what it is designed to do, is strip away, or simply break one simple thing we need to thrive (instead of survive), that word: H-O-P-E. It is lost with a government whose actions are literally a threat to life, home and livelihood. Many are calling for our Premier Kenney to resign, that does not give me hope. He has a large caucus that has run roughshod without accountability, no, I do not want a leadership race to give this jalopy a fresh coat of paint before a snap election to continue the cycle. I want a one and done, with each of these incumbents to face the electorate on their record.

So is it hopeless in Alberta?

See, in the world of life recovery, which is where Alberta is in with this great shift away from oil and gas. It reminds me of the hard working person, that didn’t have to worry about budget or other things because they could always put in the overtime to make the gaps or cover the shortfalls, until that one day when either the over time or their physical ability was no longer there to do that. That is what our mismanaged citizen’s resource is at now.

Now it is a time, as the last gasp of the old oil oligarchs, as another colleague in Reboot Alberta, phrases it. Our quiet revolution in Alberta is not just about the last gasps of Christendom, but corporation control as well. See I find hope not just in the falling polling numbers of the UCP, I find hope in what this means for our political discourse heading to the election in 2023 (if Premier Kenney holds to the election law, sadly he can also do what PM Harper did in his tenure, and hold to the Constitution instead, which means 2024). Yes, with the way the televised debates are shaped it is looking like Mr. Kenney and Ms. Notley as we are currently a two-party province for elected representatives. But it is the other parties that can leverage the local. Strong locally involved community members and leaders, not parachutes, not just vote tick boxes for the leader’s office own personal electoral college. Let’s bring back the independence of the representative within the Westminster system.

Let the parties know you expect engaged and active candidates, encourage independent candidates as well. We have a chasm that needs to be healed in our province, we need to re-open dialogue with citizens and move beyond labels. This is the part smaller parties can play in engaging the citizens. Shaping the importnat discussions on policy for all Albertans and showing the spectrum of ideas out there to cultivate a move forward plan, a vision cast.

A plurarlity of seats for a plurality of parties and independents, released from party whips to see if they can actually work together. Build consensus, and work together to re-imagine and reboot Alberta for the next 100 years. Yes, I would love to see a few minority legislature terms as a palate cleanse from the 40 years of Tory Rule, and the toxicity of 2018-present (and yes, the passion and leadership to guide that minority I believe is Ms. Notley). One where public servants truly understand they serve at the pleasure of the constituents, but also where our Premiers, truly understand they serve not only at the pleasure of their party, but of their caucus and the gathered Members of the Legislative Assembly.

Essentially, break the echo chamber.

Create the courageous safe space to work together.

To dream and realize a new province.

These are the parties that have the ability to bridge the chasm, especially as many are in renewal of policy, rationales as to why they exist, in listening exercises on how to build connection and belonging, electing new leaders:

Alberta Liberal, Alberta Party , Green Party of Alberta , Communist Party of Alberta , Wildrose Independence Party

These are the active players on the board, outside the two. They have an opportunity to dream big, to empower local candidates, and to move our province forward by shaping the discussion at the local constituency association, local communities, local candidate forums a true grassroots up change factory.

The question is, is there enough energy for Albertans to engage with these parties, for the politically homeless to come to a home, and begin restoring, renovating and landscaping for the now, but also for seven generations from now?

Is there hope for and in Alberta politics? The power is within your community.

If Trudeau does not do what Harper did, we shall have an election on the fixed date in October 2019. We have just come out of an election in Alberta. It is a time to give pause, for there are a few fallacies that parties rely on:

  1. My vote does not count. It is an apathy that keeps people away from the booth. It is peddled and not fought against because it allows for two parties to court their base and get them out to vote to maintain the governance.
  2. There is only two choices. NO! Federally and provincially there is many choices, including independents. It is when we decide to vote against something, or to default to this logic that the best governance for the citizenship is lost. Government entitlements, human rights, Universal Health Care, were all policy planks of 3-whatever number parties. Due to their rise in popular vote (note not polls, but vote)…these policies carried chutzpah, and even though there may have been moderation, came to fruition.
  3. Strategic voting– is the ultimate B.S. that drives people out of voting. It is precipitated on voting against something, instead of for something. It allows for parties to wallow in the much, court the trash that is the extremist, have false arguments over food guides…it is about not standing on beliefs, and pointing to records. It is fed by the rabid base of both sides, and once more sidelines the importance of the candidate.
  4. Party over candidate. Especially this last round in Alberta with historic turnout (54% is historic, I weep for our democracy)–do you know how man folks are shocked about the investigations? Who did not know what the name of their local candidate was? That they were voting for “Leader” (unless you live in their riding, you are not voting for them. The leader of the party with the majority of seats forms the government, and becomes first minister. In the Westminster system said minister serves at the pleasure of the caucus, in Canada, we have lost this and made the leader all powerful–reclaim the power of the representative over leader/party). Know not only the party, and how their policies affect not only you, but the seniors, kids, neighbours…y’know think beyond the not my family, not my issue mental b.s. Authentically get to know the person and see if they have the character you think matters.

See candidates go through a vetting process. It is akin to a job interview when you put your name forward or someone asks you to run. There is usually an application, have to get some party support, win the nomination in a vote or by acclamation. Part of the process is biographical digging, resume, and interview. Lately it has also been the party wanting all access to a person’s e-mail and social media.

See it is no longer about a person who holds to the value of the party being able to speak from who they are in that context for their constituents or those they wish to represent. It is about, becoming a puppet of the leader, and the party line. See at its worst with Conservative Party of Canada candidates Federally, and United Conservative Party candidates, who literally re-read their leaders’ talking points or directly from policy manuals. They are not themselves among those they seek to represent. For it is leader and party banner over citizen.

Now, lefties, you are not off the hook either. For yes, there is some control on talking points, but what is even scarier (seen across the spectrum) is the sanitizing of social media. The idea that you have sold your very being to the party and they now can delete or close whatever they wish from your online footprint. It is a pristine person who only mimics the party line like a good parrot they want out there.

What is lost?

In this system we are growing, we have lost the importance of the local candidate. The idea that how their beliefs are shaped (religious and-or secular) matter. How they live in community. Communicate online and in person. The genuine person. It does matter, for what if the party wants to do something in power that harms the citizens, will this person have the guts to stand up and speak out? Or will they succumb to power/money?

Never admit past mistakes, default to no comment. If you can delete it.

BUT what if, we as a citizenship demanded different. We are okay with our candidates being human, like we are. Be authentic. I always joked growing up there was “happy black spaces” where I wasn’t too sure what the full story was, but I never did not comment when something was brought up, or challenged or questioned on a belief I had espoused. It creates conversation, discovery, and connection.

This is probably the biggest reason why the fallacy of Leader Branding perpetuates, then there is no actual connection with the diverse ridings folks seek to represent, the only connection is with the party War Room, and whatever Bizzaro type Rocky-Bullwinkle villain escapades they dream up to play gotcha games with instead of vision casting, and talking with us.

In these less than 90 days until the vote, demand better.

Ah the heckling for change from the Federal Level (discussed previously here) has continued its journey within our nation. This time coming out of the governing party of Alberta, the New Democratic Party with Calgary-East MLA Robyn Luff’s recent announcements of a toxic culture within caucus due to leader control (here). Obviously the breaking of the thin caucus line led her caucus to “unanimously” boot her last night.

Image result for alberta NDP logoIt seems odd that an elected official would “strike” by not showing up for work as her statement said. Yet it has zeroed in attention that sitting as an independent or crossing to another party would. She has already declared she is not running again as her family wants her to spend more time with them. Yet in the parting shots she has opened up some intriguing things.

First- all political parties need to examine their toxic cultures. Yes one becomes members, and believes some (usually not all) of the party policies/ideologies. As the party is made up of smaller collectives different pockets can function differently due to the local make up. Yet, and this is a big yet, it is about power, and as such can bring out the worst in people. This was noted with why Sandra Jansen joined the NDP from the right, and now has Luff leaving the NDP. It is time for a gut check reflection of the party process, and a re-look at purpose. It is not power for powers sake, but rather serving citizens (that pesky first line of our Constitution Act, 1982: Peace, Order and Good Governance).

Second- Leaders are not be all and end alls. Within the Westminster System, as previous posts have exposed, Canada has done the reverse of other Commonwealth Nations. Wherein other countries Caucus health/direction/freedom is first; in Canada at Federal and Provincial it has become very top down. The advent in the 1970’s of the in-camera Question Period has led to more control and dramatics that do not actually support the first line of our Constitution.

This control extends further. With the UCP we saw it with the “bathroom runs” to avoid discussion on bills; and their leader tossing his grassroots guarantee. Now with the NDP in MLA Luff’s response to being removed from Caucus (Full statement here), she has two instances of control beyond the legislature:

For instance we were told that if we had any information on opposition members who had behaved inappropriately towards women that it was best not to go public with it because our party wasn’t completely without fault on the matter. This statement was never explained further, which is extremely problematic.

The thin caucus line of every political party that creates silence. Silence like we have seen within other power structures to protect (church, sport and entertainment to name but a few). Good Governance means opening up for full transparency. The challenge also illustrates why there possibly was not a full audit of financials of the government bureaucracy and MLA’s when the NDP took over after the 40+year PC dynasty (especially with the suspicious shredding by outgoing government). Could the same fear of loss be what drove the decision, not what was best for the people?

As well that this directive would come down:

When Jagmeet Singh was in town we got a text message saying not to be photographed with him.

Singh is the Federal NDP leader. Members are members of both parties, this is an outgrowth of the old social gospel-labour-human rights movements that founded the CCF which became the NDP. The provincial party has been trying to distance itself from the mess of the federal party recently, but to explicitly dictate that MLA’s could not be photographed with him, well…

I have always encouraged members of each party to call out the B.S. within their own party that harms. That takes away representation of citizens for leader control. It is hard enough to function for your constituents with the leader controls our system has moved to.

It is even harder when you are under constant duress and threat of loss of vocation. As with back benchers that have stepped up Federally to discuss and point out these concerns. It is now time to realize that these conversations cannot happen in isolation, and at a provincial level they need to happen. Members need to drive change within their parties. So do elected members, they need to speak up, and work if necessary against the cult of leader to produce the best service of citizen possible.

So thank you, Ms. Luff, for having the bravery to speak up and may your letter to the Speaker begin the process.

No this is not a mid-term thingee (though to my American neighbours, please do use your right to vote, I hear it’s in November via a rather clogged Twitter feed).

This is the 2019-2020 election started at midnight of e-day last time around, so remember to vote this time around informational.

Things to remember:

  1. The only vote that does not count, is the one not cast (yes we are first past the post, but there is still roughly 30-40% of eligible voters not turning up, so think what can happen).
  2. Vote splitting. It is one “X” next to a name on a piece of paper, we only get one “X”. No party owns that “X”, only you do. So if you choose to vote for said candidate because of or regardless of affiliation, guess what? That’s right, that’s your vote. See point one.

Our system is simple. Party with most one seats becomes governing party, second place become “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition” who serves to make proposed government legislation better. The Members of the House are there to serve their constituents, not party (though we have muddled that a bit recently). So the local candidate matters (note word local, don’t let a parachute in foil or is that fool you?); the party is the caucus they will be in (unless they are an independent, which yes is allowable). Also not all parties will run candidates in all ridings (otherwise known as EDA’s or Constituencies), but they are still a viable party if the resonate with you.

Provincially please note there is more than simply NDP-UCP. Federally please note there is more than simply Conservative or Liberal.

So here is the so-far official list of Provincial Parties in Alberta (here)

So here is the so-far official list of Federal Parties of Canada (here)

So endeth your Public Service Announcement of voting.