I write this piece in response to @cdtenergy’s blog about what “progressive” means to him. You can read his blog HERE. There are some areas where Chris and I agree – I will get to them shortly. However, when I read his words, I’m reminded of Michael Ignatief – an elitist academic that looks down on the rest of us from his ivory tower, feeling somehow burdened that he must fulfill his divine mission in life – leading some modern day Renaissance.
If I sound like I’m writing from my angry place it’s because I am! This holier than thou attitude is really the furthest thing from progressive. While I don’t know Chris at all, I would venture to guess that according to The Wisdom of the Enneagram, his personality type is a one (1) – a Reformer. Look it up. Coincidentally, my personality type is a seven (7) – an Enthusiast. Interestingly, reformers and enthusiasts have a strong connection with each other – I encourage you to read the book, it’s fascinating.
@cdtenergy’s blog is about a modern day Renaissance. He has previously blogged about “Looking for a Savior”. He talks about DaVinci and Galileo, and uses words like Quixotic and “For Shame”. Chris paints me as a conservative boogeyman that is not that scary. He is right – I am not scary at all. I’m a simple guy who looks around at the world and realizes he has a very high standard of living and is very lucky to live in the remarkable province of Alberta.
Chris gives the dictionary definition of Progressive, which is:
- In favor of new ideas, modern methods and change;
- Happening or developing steadily.
When I read this definition, I can’t help think about how many times the words “evidence-based” appeared in the document leaked by the Alberta Liberal Party last week. The Alberta government’s approach to health care reform has, in my opinion, been very progressive. A few years back, we had long wait times for hip and knee replacement surgery. The government set up a pilot project, tested a new approach, proved its effectiveness and implemented it system-wide. Those wait times are no longer an issue in this province.
That is progressive governance and from what I see, the approach still being taken on healthcare reform in Alberta. Unfortunately, this progressive approach takes time – it’s an evolution not a revolution. Opposition and media don’t function on the basis of evolution though, so they will continue a campaign of fear and crisis creation to make it look like the government doesn’t care or is not competent. There is nothing progressive about this approach at all!
When I read the letter written by Mr. Duckett’s wife, Terri Jackson, I thought about what it means to live in a progressive society. Very sincere lines like “to opposition politicians: you should know that Stephen has been a lifelong campaigner for equity and social justice in Australia and a leader in the “defend and extend (Australian) Medicare campaign for many years. Alberta will not find a more passionate defender of publically funded healthcare.”
The Government searched the world for the best and brightest and found Stephen Duckett, who was vilified and labeled as Alberta Health’s boogeyman before he even left his country, his friends and his family to turn Alberta Health Services into a progressive, world leading healthcare system.
The comment on my blog from KT, a neurologist who works in the system, speaks volumes : “I am not convinced that we capitalized on Dr. Duckett’s expertise and that we gave him the environment needed to make healthcare decisions based on his knowledge.” The government was progressive in bringing Mr. Duckett to Alberta but opposition, media and unions made it impossible for him to succeed.
Opposition uses words like “progressive” because they sound nice. Their approach to politics, however, is based on sensational stories, sky-is-falling fear campaigns and American style politics that focus on character assassination and personal insult. I point to the Stelmach no Plan Ads from the last campaign and more recent Greenpeace ads. Folks, there is nothing progressive about this at all. Like I’ve said before, the burden of proof for opposition is nil and the opposition takes full advantage. Groups like Greenpeace and other alarmist environmental organizations aren’t accountable to anyone. Their irony is in just how regressive they are!
When opposition has evidence based arguments I think about them and consider them. I believe the Alberta Government does the same and often implements the ideas that are good. They may not admit it, but that’s politics. The Alberta Liberal Party can give you many examples of their good ideas that the PCs have implemented. Those are times when the opposition was very effective. Those are times when the opposition is progressive.
A few years ago, the Alberta Government passed the Land Assembly Act. This piece of legislation was necessary to enable the province to assemble land to build ring roads around Edmonton and Calgary. Certain people who now belong to the new party on the left travelled the province spreading blatant lies that the government was passing the Act to allow nuclear power generation. There is nothing progressive about these fear campaigns. Our ring roads are being built, which is great news for our two largest cities and I haven’t heard a peep about nuclear power since the government had investigated it as an option (around the same time it was passing the Land Assembly Act).
The important point here is that the government was being progressive – in favor of new ideas, modern methods and change. In fact, the Government of Alberta looks at ALL ideas and methods and implements what it believes is the best approach. Not everyone will agree, but everyone’s ideas are listened to and considered. That to me is a progressive government.
Our government has made some big mistakes – there is no question. But it has corrected these mistakes and focuses on moving forward. It’s my opinion that Premier Stelmach would be more popular if he was more frank about these errors. All governments have always and will continue to make mistakes – after all, governments are made up of people and we are not perfect creatures – thank goodness! But a progressive government acts to correct these mistakes and I believe this government has proven that it listens to citizens when mistakes are revealed and is willing to make the appropriate adjustments. We need to get better at admitting that we made the mistakes though – people are remarkably forgiving when we admit to mistakes – Ralph knew this well. Ed is a much stronger leader than Ralph was in many ways, but he can definitely do better on this front.
This blog is nothing like I imagined it. I was going to write about the incredibly important task Alberta faces to ensure that immigrants and new Albertans are supported, encouraged and integrated into our society as quickly and seamlessly as possible to explain what my progressive Alberta looks like. Immigration is so critical to our future. We expect high standards from our immigrants, high education levels, etc., yet when they get here we don’t even allow them work in their industry. This is because we have become an elitist society that hides behind our high education and training standards to exclude newcomers. There is nothing progressive about this attitude or this approach.
If someone is a African trained doctor with 15 years of experience that person should be working in the healthcare system in one capacity or another – this does not happen now and it has nothing to do with the government – its organizations like unions and professional associations that stop it from happening. This elitist attitude must stop if we are going to be a progressive society – one that is in favor of new ideas, modern methods and change.
I consider myself a very progressive person – Its funny that @cdtenergy mentioned Walmart – I don’t’ shop there – @crontynen and I try to shop at the Calgary Farmers’ Market as much as possible because we believe in buying locally. I truly consider myself a Progressive Conservative. And I believe that before we aspire towards a modern day Renaissance we should make sure we have the simple things right and we should ALL take some ownership of our progressive future.
When my family immigrated to Alberta, the government was there to help with ESL training and other great services. These services continue to be available to new Albertans – Calgary Catholic Immigration Services is a world class organization and great partner of the Alberta Government. But we were also taken in by another Polish family. We were supported by the Polish people. We were integrated into broader society through the Polish community. That is a progressive conservative society – one that doesn’t believe the government is responsible for solving ALL of our problems.
I hope I articulated what the word progressive means to me, but I will agree with people who believe we are losing some of our progressiveness in Alberta. I will also reiterate that if one looks at how the Government of Alberta conducts its business, it’s clear they take a progressive and conservative approach – in favor of new ideas, modern methods and change and happening or developing steadily.
With a leader like Steady Eddie aka Honest Ed, I don’t know how you can believe otherwise IF you take the time to look at the facts.
Never trust a party that offers you the past – @cdtenergy wants to take you back 5-600 years. Let’s look forward to the Alberta we want to create and let’s have an HONEST discussion about how to get there. Let’s make sure that moving forward, we don’t leave people behind. Let’s get out of our ivory towers and roll up our sleeves. My Progressive Alberta is one where everyone takes some personal responsibility for the future and everybody does their part. Many passionate Albertans and I have chosen the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta to get there – we hope you consider joining us!