Something happened on Facebook and Twitter this weekend, which has me personally very excited – a campaign started to show Battle River – Wainwright MLA, Doug Griffiths, that he has support if he were to take a run at the Progressive Conservative leadership contest.
Griffiths, who at the young age of 38 already has nine years of experience as a PC MLA, is a potential candidate that would stand out as someone who is truly different from the rest. Doug is very bright, charismatic and engaging. He is a typical Albertan who resonates with corporate leaders just as much as rural landowners. He comfortably fits on a ranch, on a motorcycle, in rush hour, or on a weekend of self imposed survivor in the elements with his friends and family.
What is most exciting about Doug is that he transcends traditional political party lines. In fact, for the past 6 months, the Alberta Party has been courting him to cross the floor and give them the boost they are trying to find. For the six months before that it was the Wildrose Alliance Party trying to capture his attention. Being a man of principle, however, Doug stayed with the PC Party and was instead seriously contemplating not running in the next election. Almost a week later, his serious contemplations are of a very different and far more exciting type!
Several years ago I had the good fortune of working as Doug’s assistant when Premier Klein promoted him to the position of Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Energy and the Environment. At the time, he was also the Chair of Rural Development.
Doug is the best boss I have ever had (and I have worked for some very impressive people). He’s a hands-on mentor who works collaboratively with his staff. His constant reminder to me was that I didn’t work for him, I worked with him and while it wasn’t technically true, he certainly made me feel that way every single day. Doug’s approach is collaboration and empowerment, but he will always be the first to roll up his sleeves and get to work – an approach I’m confident Alberta would get behind.
Doug is a big picture thinker with a passion for philosophy; he is an ideas guy who likes to spend his time thinking way outside the box, yet has an impressive capacity for detail. His tremendous skills as an orator, creator and communicator make him an excellent choice for leader. He is inspirational.
When I worked for Doug we travelled throughout rural Alberta, where we went from town to town delivering his now famous 13 Ways to Kill Your Community speech and talking to Albertans about rural development and any other topic they wanted to discuss. The speech has morphed into a popular book and series of videos on the internet – I never got tired of watching him give that speech and loved watching people nod their heads in agreement as they went from “aha” moment to “aha” moment.
Because he was the Chair of Rural Development and because so many Albertans wanted to hear his 13 Ways speech, I’m confident Doug has visited and talked to more people in rural Alberta than any other elected official in the province. He is also Alberta’s political leader in using social media to engage constituents. I think you would be hard pressed to find a politician who has a better grasp on the desires of the electorate.
If he decides to run for Leader, he will have to get better acquainted Edmonton and Calgary, as well as what he calls Alberta’s five other “bright lights” – Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Peace River, Grand Prairie and Fort McMurray.
Not that he is an unknown in the cities – he has served as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security as well as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance – but he will be competing for attention with some better known urban MLAs vying for the job.
Winning will take a huge effort and will require a truly grassroots campaign. But if anyone in the PC Caucus can pull this off, it’s Doug Griffiths. As a political animal that has been paying close attention to politics in Alberta for my entire adult life, I can see that Albertans are looking for something truly transformational and different. The people within the PC Party I have talked to consistently tell me that its time for something fundamentally new.
It my view that the Alberta PC Party can give the electorate the new and different they are looking for in this leadership race or take our chances in the next election, and I am completely confident that Doug Griffiths is the right man for the job.