The Freedom to Express my Thoughts

I’ve remained quiet online regarding the recent events of #ableg. Like many PC Party members I haven’t really been sure what to say. I’m embarrassed but also on the edge of my seat waiting to see what’s next.

Today it became apparent that I can no longer keep quiet.

Today Jim McCormick, PC Party President, held a press conference and said this:

“I don’t think people should be disciplined for their thoughts or expressing them.”

This is offensive to me. Why? Because I have been disciplined by this Party for expressing my thoughts.

It started with a blog I wrote about being invited and then uninvited to the 2013 budget  – you’ll notice that blog is gone from the site – but I know many of you remember reading it. I wrote that this wasn’t good practice in terms of volunteer retention and how frustrating it was to be removed from the invitee list just days before an event without any legitimate reason as to why. In the end I was offered a ticket to attend by the Leader of the Opposition. I accepted and attended.

That blog was posted the afternoon of March 6, 2013. I received a call that evening to let me know that “I had made my point” and it was time to remove it. I removed it. I did it out of respect for the individual that called. The next morning I actually received a phone call from the Premier’s Chief of Staff over my ticket. He apologized to me for the mix-up. True example of the squeaky wheel … and I truly appreciated it. For me that particular issue was resolved.

But then a few minutes later, this is what I received from the Party.

A letter of censure explaining to me that my “blog crossed a serious line” and I needed to give “second thought prior to any communications that may reflect negatively on either the Party or our Leader.”

Sending letters like these to your members is the exact opposite of encouraging people to express their thoughts.

I have been a long time advocate of #changefromwithin for the PC Party. But as Donna Kennedy-Glans pointed out yesterday … I’m just not sure that’s possible.

CP

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18 thoughts on “The Freedom to Express my Thoughts

  1. I think it only appropriate that, since you posted my letter in your blog, that you re-post the March 6, 2013 blog that you voluntarily took down so that your readers may have the opportunity to judge for themselves what this letter was intended to point out.

    1. Your letter made it quite clear that had the blog post not been taken down, you would have requested it. How on earth are your party members supposed to know what is appropriate behaviour when you say one thing, then another, and then yet another?

      Shame on you and your party for having such double standards.

    2. My pleasure Jim – here is the text to the March 6, 2013 blog. Maybe if we would have paid attention to the sentiments I described below a year ago we would not be in the place we are today. I’m also happy to email the blog to anyone who is interested – there is no hyperlink because as requested I deleted it from this blog site.

      The Story of my Pass to the Budget

      by pcinyyc
      Key stakeholders locked out of lock-up Another unnecessary PC Government news story. Another controversy. Another group of Albertans losing confidence.

      And another opportunity for the opposition to ooze transparency, collaboration, and remaining one step ahead of their counterparts.

      I’m stuck in the middle. My eyebrows are raised and I do wonder how I would have answered a poll question regarding my confidence in this government.

      Don’t get me wrong – I still hold a PC membership (one of those new, fancy 3 year memberships to be exact); I’m still an active PC Constituency President in Calgary-NW (which I am truly passionate about and love doing); and I still am proud of the fact that I worked hard on our Premier’s leadership campaign as co-GOTV chair, and on her election campaign as Deputy Campaign Manager for the Party. I’m still a PC.

      But what does it mean to be a PC these days? Over drinks this Christmas a friend told @ppilarski and me his perspective – “ I’m a PC member sure. I haven’t left the Party, but the Party has left me.”

      Seems as if the Party may be leaving a lot of people. Maybe not intentionally but there certainly is that feeling.

      And then we come to the budget. An exciting time in provincial government – setting an agenda, giving a mandate, lots of fanfare. For a ruling government party it is almost a celebration – a chance to gather, show strength, create confidence and demonstrate your support. For opposition, stakeholders, sceptics it is a chance to gather, show your own strength, and get noticed. Even ahead of the budget both sides are “getting noticed” – opposition taking full advantage of the brush the media is painting the PCs with. A brush that could have been easily avoided by being inclusive, maintaining transparency, and not being afraid of a little criticism.

      I was promised a pass to the budget speech. Actually a quite exciting invitation. With no throne speech this spring the budget ticket was the only chance to gather as supporters of the government. I made the necessary arrangements for the trip. Then on Friday, March 1 I received an email letting me know I was no longer on “the list” – no longer invited – no pass would be waiting for me. Weird. Way to make someone feel welcome.

      I was upset. Of course. If this was going to be the end result why promise the pass to me in the first place? It’s not the initial expectation of receiving one – it’s this end result of having it stripped away.

      I received several excuses. Including “no government relations people are invited to the event”. This surprised me since my work does not, and has never, included government relations. And I also know a handful of government relations people who are attending and invited.

      Who am I? Loyal party supporter, 2010 volunteer of the year, deputy campaign manager for the 2012 election, constituency president, online advocate, and IMO a key demographic you want there to show support after delivering a hard budget.

      And why would they be flicking names off a list at this point – knowing hard announcements were coming – and they were going to get slammed by either an NDP opposition, a conservative opposition, or both – wouldn’t they want as many of their loyal supporters there? Am I no longer considered a loyal supporter?

      Wait – don’t feel bad for me. I don’t write this for sympathy. I write this to put this bizarre circumstance on the record. As I’m sure there will be questions.

      I will still be attending the budget. Danielle Smith, Leader of the Official Opposition, has offered me a pass. Her staff have been incredible to deal with – pleasant and professional – and she was more than willing to accommodate me. I felt quite honoured that she personally responded to a note I sent explaining the circumstance. Yes, I sent a note. If you’ve ever read @ppilarski’s posts about personality types you should know mine. I’m an 8. And I accepted the challenge to be present at this budget after being stripped of my promised pass.

      With a hard budget you can be certain it will be important for the Premier and her caucus to rally support the day of the event. But with recent announcements of lockouts, side-lining of key volunteers and party members (no I’m not the only one but their stories aren’t my place to tell), and lack of focus on the change from within mantra, I’m not sure that will truly exist in the way it has in the past after major speeches and announcements.

      So where does that leave me? Where does that leave many others, like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (who did receive an invitation after all – but it had to be a media story first)? In a place to sit and wait. In a place to weigh options and opinions. And in a place to participate in a pretty exciting time in our province.

      – CR xo

      pcinyyc | March 6, 2013 at 11:36 AM | Tags: ableg, Alberta, Alberta Government, Alison Redford, Budget 2013, Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Danielle Smith, PC Party, PCAA, Progressive Conservative, Wildrose, Wildrose Party, WRP | Categories: ableg, PCAA | URL: http://wp.me/p16PHt-5I

    3. I’ve read your letter, Mr. McCormick and the blog it was in response to. And I am literally appalled, at your actions. Out of one side of your mouth (to the media) you speak about how people should not be disciplined for expressing their thoughts or feelings, yet out of the other side of your mouth, behind the scenes, you carry out the exact opposite of that. It raises serious questions about the integrity of all of the PC Party’s actions – do they put on a nice demeanor for the public, while letting loose the beast behind the curtains?

      I think we have clear evidence in this case that that is EXACTLY what happens.

  2. Christine, I have learned from experience that speaking what I think is the truth, is not aways comfortable. But I genuinely applaud what I think your intent has always been, and that is helping build a better province through a responsive government or some semblance of an opposition.

  3. Up until this weekend, there was a satire account on Twitter, which was truthful, funny and light-hearted – albeit a possible thorn in the side of the #pcaa compliments of @Air_Alison.. Strange how it got suspended, perhaps at the request of some cowardly #pcaa member who simply can’t bear the truth and/or laugh at themselves. Mind you, I guess if they started laughing… they may never stop. Lots to laugh at…
    Censorship. No transparency, only lies. No truth, just evasion. It can’t be hidden, nor should it be.

  4. Christine, what a great story. I don’t see anything in it that would deserve the letter you received from Jim McCormick. This is one of those examples, they would have been better to leave well enough alone, but no, they didn’t. Guess what, we are still talking about it!. They had better get it through their heads that loyal supporters such as yourself are eventually going to have enough, and you might move your support to another party. I am not a PC member nor a supporter. Thank you very much for reposting this and letting us in on very important and emotional time. Good job and keep up the good work.

  5. Good for you Christine for standing up for what is right, not just for you, but for everyone. No one should be disciplined for expressing or otherwise sharing their thoughts on these kinds of matters in a responsible manner. Which is exactly what you did. These types of suppressive tactics are unacceptable in any Canadian democracy and none of us should stand for them. Please keep up the good work.

  6. Well this is what the PC’s have come to…no good! I’m 71 been a PC member for a life time. Not any more, dumped the party more than year ago, not that they care? I think you should tell all and lets get it all out. I’m sure you know all parties are also bad just different folks saying similar garbage.

    For a guy who was raised to always vote no mater what, I now will not vote for any party.

  7. It was only a matter of time… You have always been with the wind. We can probably talk to both Alison Redford (x2) and Doug Griffiths about that. Loyalty is a big thing in politics and the fact that you have never really shown it shows a true lack of character. Who would trust you? For your next stop, I recommend reading The Case for Loyalty by James Carville. Good Luck wherever you end up, and wherever you end up after that.

    1. Thanks for reading – and for your comment. If my loyalty was a question I would have left the PC Party long ago.

      Unfortunate that you chose to remain anonymous when criticizing my decision to go public about my experience. I can only assume you are a part of the PC Party establishment that tried to silence me originally.

      -CP

      1. Unfortunately some people don’t see that it’s the secrecy and entitlement that’s causing the problem. More secrecy… sending in anonymity… ain’t gonna fix anything. Just causes more ill feeling. Open conversations are tough… but they’re honest.

  8. Good on you Christine. I’m troubled by Mr McCormick’s response to your post. Instead of trying to reconcile his Mar 2014 statement that people should not “be disciplined for their thoughts or expressing them” with his Mar 2013 letter of censure that did exactly that in your case, he seems to be implying that somehow you are to blame for his hypocritical behavior. Bizarre. No wonder DKG said her issue wasn’t with the premier as much as the party itself.
    Susan Wright

  9. Christine, I “met” you (over email, we haven’t officially had the pleasure to say hello in person yet) during Alison Redford’s leadership bid – I was so impressed with your dedication and passion for the PC party and for politics. I was so happy to help be part of the team that supported the new vision and change for the future. A strong leader, and a strong team. I’m so disillusioned now, and this story adds to that disillusionment. I fail to see where your blog crossed a serious line – it was respectful and honest. And the party’s reaction seemed heavy handed. As the days go by, and as I read more posts such as these, I understand fully what DKG meant in her remarks. I, too, am on the edge of my seat – trying to remain optimistic, but being cautious in that optimism. Thanks for posting your thoughts and observations – your opinion is something I have regard for, and I’ll join you in the wait and see game.
    Kathleen Ruelling

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