Posts Tagged ‘Reform Party of Canada’


I am starting to think I sound like a broken record around the constitutional guarantee in Canada of “Peace, Order and Good Governance”. Many in electoral reform circles like to focus on the method of electing officials instead of the first step being unity of the citizens. As ideological entrenchments begin to outstrip collective good, Americanized fear based media mongering creeping into the Canadian narrative, we are now seeing an entrenched Urban versus Rural mindset.

I have family that lives both sides of this developing divide. Those who are in Rural Alberta, and Urban, I am an urbanite that enjoys the pace and community of the smaller centre life. Some would say the provincial collapse of the PC Dynasty is to blame, but I would point out in that dynasty neither group got effective representation as they could have had. Currently some would point to the NDP-UCP fiasco and that perpetuating the divide, I would say there is plausibility to that theory.

What is hard is that in the current discourse of society we enjoy to out shout someone, to keep our argument to 240 characters (I don’t know whether to thank Twitter for the increase or not), never give ground acknowledging someone else’s point is valid, always seek the one solution for multiplicity could not be possible and that surely there is not shared concerns. I could easily pull a conservative rural troll argument on an Urban issue to prove a point, but I will invert- Jason Kenney, his politicking on the issue aside, tweeted an Okotoks RCMP crime watch picture of thieves…was the response some decent kudos and retweets—no it was the vitriol. We all share these from our area when the police issue them, we even share them from other jurisdictions, but we have become entrenched in the belief that our concerns can’t possibly be the others.

Instead of Rural Albertans and Urban Albertans—howzabout a simple statement, We are citizens of Canada, that live in Alberta (or Albertans). In fact, I would challenge the Alberta Government to look at creating exploratory committees on issues differently (and yes this is the party of the majority, the loyal opposition, and all other elected MLA’s).

Crime is something that is a province wide concern. Rurally you have a mixture of long-term settlers; reserves and colonies (colonies being of Hutterite, Mennonite and Dukhobor), plus persons with disabilities, an aging population. What are you seeing? Oh, an urban population just spread out over more land? Amazing when we talk about who are neighbours are in context what it means. It means though more spread out where someone coming home, as my wife did 3 years ago, will notice shattered glass and a robbery to call police right away, or someone in the yard is only feet away from the house and call the police right away…it means on a large farm it may be a call to the RCMP detachment that services a county of many farms/villages/colonies/etc. with a few constables. It may be reporting what has been stolen, but not right away as you were not in that building every day and just noticed it. It could be hunters poaching animals on your land during hunting season as one of our MLA’s has been found guilty of doing. We know drug use is rampant in both settings, but we know pipelines come through smaller centres (20 years ago it used to follow the old still lines via Water Valley) and then distributes through new city subdivisions down to the core. Same issues, different complexities.

Health Care. We know the idea of population based health care. Leveraging home care so individuals can stay in their homes longer. The need for mental health supports. All these things we do by population numbers (and trust me in urban settings like Calgary we do not have capacity). Yet rurally they have the same instances per capita, yet more spread out, and continually seeing closure of facilities. No, it is not just like travelling via transit or circle road to the next quadrant to access that care or relative who has moved. In some cases it becomes hours via highway to the next level of care or housing. Urban dwellers voice concerns when families are separated due to coding systems and stressors. When quantity of life, and the number a person is, is placed over quality of life. Rurally, it can be whole counties that separate spouses due to their “code” of care. It can even be moving from one town to another, coded to one home, then one physically needs higher physical care, and even in a lower use jurisdiction when there is a two bedroom available and all the experts sign off, the powers that grant housing say NO because the codes are different. No context taken in, not quality of life looked at.

Yet whether you live in a city or rurally, you watch your elders, your children, who are in need suffer. You watch as the need for access to mental or holistic care is denied because you either live in a city where wait lists are huge, or in a rural place where the population does not allow and must travel. Travel is not always a plausibility.

Education… many factors in, we complain about cold days this winter in Calgary, but what of the same weather that literally shuts down bus routes in some areas, how many days are lost? For that time is there some technological solution to ensure all Alberta students regardless of residence receive the best education possible?

Poverty reduction—better term: Improving the affordability of life.

Caring for our seniors so their golden years can be adventuresome not fighting for survival.

See…the political system wants you to view where someone builds a life as another way to create an us-them divide. BUT WE ARE ALL IN THIS.

I propose, and it is out there now as open source policy for any party that wants to think outside the ideological box:

Committees of research and reconciliation be struck to explore these topics in real time. They need to be all party committees. But I challenge some points to really get into the flow (for the action research projects you can use a TRC model or World Café, as they allow the story up to now to be told, but then the impetus becomes on the solution moving forward as one):

  • The chair needs to live in a riding not in the setting (Rural chair needs to be from one of the 7 cities; Urban chair needs to be from rural ridings)-if a government MLA chairs one, the official opposition MLA needs to chair the other.
  • Membership needs to be made up of leading community leaders of the area; but also of some experts on the topic, and MLA’s from the various parties with no majority given to any party.
  • The reports need to grow policy recommendations for a new system that serves all Albertans (if taken federally, all Canadians, because let us be honest it is time to look at the Constitutional Division of powers and what reality of 35-40 million people need to be supported in a globalized world).
  • The role of the legislature with the tabled reports is to work with this as the premise to grow from, not to create partisan hot potatoes.

Other points to improve our democracy:

  • If the premier comes from a rural riding, deputy premier needs to be named from an urban riding, if the opposite does not exist in the governing party they must name from another sitting MLA.
  • Learn from the Yukon, if Premier is non-indigenous, Lieutenant Governor should be named from Treaty or Metis Nations or one of the Colonies as noted above in the article that make up our mosaic.
  • Amend laws for all electoral districts that one must live in the riding they are seeking to be an elected official in. Paper/parachute/write-in candidates cost our system money through vetting and printing of ballots. If a party cannot locate someone to run under their banner in said area they do not run a candidate, running a full slate is not a given.
  • Eliminate PAC donations (I would propose eliminating all donations and just provide free radio air time for the direct candidates’ campaign not the party, and have a certain number of debates set up that the person must attend unless they can document why not (i.e. Sickness).
  • Create a mechanism to encourage more independents to run by allowing Elections Alberta to issue tax receipts for their reported donations lists (if donations continue).
  • All donors’ lists must be ratified by a trained accountant and publicly posted no more than 1 week before vote time (so no fundraising last week of election-that is if donations can persist).
  • Sidebar, the federal idea of bailing out local newspapers has merit in renewing democracy if as part of the money they must carry 50% local content by local writers/photographers, and at least 1/5th of content must be to be looking at politics providing editorial space to a range of voices. Y’know what newspapers were like before conglomeration.

These are my ideas. I am what one would call “post-partisan”. I have always looked at the local candidate to conclude on my vote. Yes, I ran in 2006 for the Federal NDP, but I have also worked with the Federal PC Party and Federal Liberals, so meanderings with Greens and Communists and many other smaller parties and independent candidates. Remember parties are a functionality of our system, not how our system is designed to work so these things and others, are possible to create reform that bring us back together, united in our diversity.

A true Canadian Mosaic.

First we must see them as us, and us as them, or better yet, as neighbour, as citizen building a better future together.

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I know most people “review” books, but Tom McMillan‘s (2016, Nimbus) Not My Party: The Rise and Fall of Canadian Tories from Robert Standfield to Stephen Harper is not one for review as much as deep reflection on the course Canadian Politics has gone down. It could easily become a “partisan attack” work, by some in other parties, but they would miss the point of collective and personal self-reflection within their own context this can be used for.

The book itself at around 553 pages before foot notes is an investment, but a worthwhile investment that traces the author’s political career from the Standfield-Symons era up to the merger. He touches on service as an MP, Cabinet minister, consul to Boston, thinker…and whether or no he would accept it I believe an elder political statesman in Canada (much like Mulroney, Chretien, Martin, Broadbent, Clark and Manning amongst others are as well).

The intriguing piece for reflection though is the transformation from collective nation building, bridge building of inclusion, and the dance of holding together a spectrum of beliefs under one tent, to the drive that has happened since 2003-04 to push out those “not like us” or the us and them show down within parties that has bread into our country.

Look back historically, when policy was actually not only well crafted and well thought out, but also could be used to build conversations and dialogues. Upon my own reflections of the past, our parties have always shared the same centre of policy for the collective good in our Just Society and social contract, with flare differences dependent on the source.  Yet that evaporated post merger, and some say it is only a conservative story of the loss of this enlightened-inclusive-collective good drive.

Yet look to your own ideology, what matters more? The ideology (party loyalty) or a good policy/law/practice?

This is the beauty of McMillan’s journey and sharing. The core question to emerge, are we in our wonderful mosaic and diversity truly unified under one banner as Canadian?

Historically this has always been the story, continual building on what has come before, and for the last 10 years that halted. It is time to get back on track, but to get back on track, it is embracing the conversation, embracing the research-qualitative, quantitative, anecdotal and pragmatic–

and more importantly surrendering of labels of this is conservative, liberal or socialist— the key question that needs to be asked by the citizens:

is it good for all Canadians?

Parties are currently seeking identity through renewal, new ways to get members, new policy and leader conventions at all levels. They are seeking candidates to run..if you are on nominating committees seek a candidate that may be a bit different than the homogenized norm, to get the progressive/thoughtful flare to percolate conversation in your ranks. If you are feeling called to run, perhaps it is time to start reading those you normally don’t agree with on ideology to begin to understand the other, is still someone you are called to represent and what that needs to look like?

In Canada, we have freedom of thought and expression, but it is curbed by a responsibility to hold the collective health in that we speak (do no harm)…it is a cornerstone in building towards peace, order and good governance.

This is the reflection that struck me as a former policy wonk/writer, candidate, volunteer and activist on the political hustings. Renewal is through understanding, accountability, and seeking best for ourselves and our neighbour…

For truly someone, including yourself, is someone’s neighbour.


It is actually quite funny that I would write a post on Preston Manning’s old Reform Party. But before the shenanigans that began with the merger, there was a lot of positive things within the party. It grew out of discontent in provinces, was member driven from the grass roots, knew that the Senate of Canada needed to be redone to be useful (Or abolished if you are a CCF’er)…

Then it began to veer of track, the first chink was when the MP’s backtracked on a party policy and opted into the platinum MP pension plan hand shake. Then the Stockwell Day days of the Canadian Alliance. The ascent of Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay’s platform of no merger/backroom coffee merger that did lead to the Conservative Party and a 10 years in power that did not help the masses within Canada, but did help corporate Canada and the wealthy…I mean just look as the MP for Calgary Forestlawn Deepak Obhrai pointed out recently that it is a party moving away from grassroots and chasing the wealthy.

In a time where the governing Liberals are talking abolishing membership fees, the Cons are increasing from $15 to $25, and you need a credit card to buy it to boot. They are out pricing themselves from the multi-cultural communities, and the new leadership race fee is locking out all but the Upper Class from running (at $100K)…yes Obhrai is right the party is becoming for rich white folks.

Trust me, it is a shocking day when I agree with a Conservative, but for once I am happy this guy is my MP for he is breaking party line and speaking up for his members.


One ponders how I cannot settle completely in one political party.  I have worked leadership races in the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada; wrote policy for them and the Alberta Liberals; protested the Alliance & PC Mergers; dabbled with the Green Party of Canada and the Alberta Greens; explored the Progressive Candian Party; worked to get Paul Martin elected Liberal Party of Canada leader.  Chatted with the Alberta Social Credit, new founders of the Reform Party of Canada.

Served on the NDP Calgary Metro Council, ran under their banner federally in Calgary Northeast; and was the editor of the Calgary Democrat for a season.

I have also debated the finer points of Marxism with the Communist Party of Canada (how religion and Marxism can exist together), and supported the Marxist Leninist Party and Alberta Communist Party respectively in the past few elections.

Currently I have put my two cents in on the Alberta Party Leadership Race (Vote Tammy Maloney); and that some political party needs to draft Paul Vargis to run in Calgary East.  I look back in awe and with reverance to politicians of the past, statesmen and women that grew up out of socialism and the social gospel movement focused on building a great nation, united in our grand diversity, individuals who cast dreams–true leaders.

And then I look at the current crop of managers striving to lead political monoliths that are more concerned with holding to power for personal perks, than for achieving the best for Canadians, and I wonder what would change in the political realm if people came first, if politics was about people, and caring for people, not power.

Where religion needs to move to collaboration for building a better world, so does politics, because political ideologies can be just as destructive and divisive as religious ones.

My pilgrimage has taken me through many ideologies and paths, I can firmly say I am a communist, with socialist tendencies, yet I can also say that I can work with authentic individuals attempting to serve the public good across the spectrum.

So let’s put aside the flash and bash sound bites, and get on with truly caring for Canada.

As one can note by my side bar I promote all the registered parties