3 #ableg predictions for 2016

The start to a new year wouldn’t be complete without a few provincial political predictions. Here are mine – based on 2015 observations.

In 2016 Albertans will watch …

… the MLA for Calgary-Bow, Deborah Drever, welcomed back to the NDP caucus.

For many this does not seem to be ground breaking but more and more we see this independent member being treated as if she never left the caucus. Her passed private member’s bill that was supported unanimously by the NDP caucus was the icing on the cake in 2015. The bill surfaced after a summer long road trip touring non-profits supporting vulnerable women, no doubt orchestrated by the NPD caucus after our Premier gave her a special assignment. The by-election saw Deborah become a NDP campaigner. And her swearing in was attended by and cheered on by a NDP caucus leader.

But, the less obvious, is a recent community newsletter article that social media politicos are obsessing over. The story the online army of conservatives is professing is the fact that Deborah “copied” a neighbouring MLA’s monthly article. I don’t see it that way. I worked in a constituency office and we would regularly get community related copy intended for newsletters. They were written centrally and many MLA office managers, including me, used the copy to supplement articles or even simply be the entire article. So no, I’m afraid Deborah didn’t copy her neighbouring MLA, she simply used the NDP caucus communications suggested newsletter content – and that’s the story. As an independent she shouldn’t have access to those communications but clearly she does. For the record I live in her constituency and my newsletter was different than the one referenced, which does further confirm the message was indeed a centrally crafted based on specific community needs. The last sign that she is already unofficially back in the fold, and the official announcement is imminent.

… the PC Party’s most progressive voice make a bold political move.

It’s been interesting to watch the PC Party grapple with two core components of the party – conservative and progressive. In order to win back the grassroots support it has lost they have to choose which grassroots support to focus on – those that have looked to the progressive side of the spectrum and are flirting with the Alberta Party or those that looked to right and are flirting with the Wildrose and a conservative merger. In a caucus of over 60 the voices that were considered the extremes of the party were often muted because of the wide range of voice representing the center. Now, with a fraction of those voices on the bench, the progressive voices have gotten louder and so have the conservative ones – which makes the vast differences of opinions in the party more obvious.

One voice has been particularly loud in recent months – unsupportive of a merger, loud on progressive issues, and a defender of the previous government’s social policy. I believe Sandra Jansen will make a bold political move to show her true progressive allegiance. The move will either be a floor crossing to the Alberta Party, which some have already predicted, or a decision to run for PC Party leader with a platform that will attempt to sway progressives back into the fold of the party. She would be the voice of anti-conservative reunification sympathizers.

… a by-election in Calgary-Mountain View.

Tragically Albertans will have to watch a by-election in Calgary-Greenway in 2016. But I believe we will see 2 elections when this writ drops. Calgarians will also go to the polls in Calgary-Mountain View. David Swann has been a true champion for the Liberal movement in Alberta for years and has publicly acknowledged he has considered retirement in the past. As the sole member of the Liberal Party caucus one can assume that he is working long hours but with the Liberals barely on Albertan’s radars those hours may not be paying off.

Plus how could we go one year without a provincial election in our province? Seems to be one of Alberta’s new political staples. J

It will be an interesting race to watch. My prediction for a winner? The Alberta Party. I believe the Alberta Party could attract a high profile candidate, like Matt Grant, who is fresh off a high profile federal campaign, and is maintaining his election ready social media presence.

There is no doubt that this will be another interesting year … policy changes, economic diversification (or attempts at), political protests, progressive movements, and conservative realignment.

It will be a ride – so put on your seatbelts and look forward to an eventful political year.

CP

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Run Griff Run ….

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.

Run Griff run!!!

PP

Will the real Doug Griffiths please stand up?

Another PCinYYC collaboration– I’ll be the one writing in italics (CR).

I just read a letter from Wildrose Alliance Party Executive Director, Vitor Marciano, which warns me that “the Stelmach PCs could force through a new Provincial Sales Tax at virtually anytime”.  The next sentence tells me they “need my donation today to mount an effective campaign against this new tax.”

Holy smokes folks, I better hand over my wallet and run for the hills – the two headed tax monster is after me and he goes by the names of Ed Stelmach and Doug Griffiths!

Wait a minute, Premier Stelmach has said several times that there will be no provincial sales tax under his leadership and Doug’s comments have been taken completely out of context.  He has advocated for a “long term fiscal framework about spending and saving … and must include a review of taxation levels and systems of taxation.”  Yes, he mused about a provincial sales tax – and the people have spoken loudly and clearly against that.  From most people’s point of view this discussion has passed and we should all move on – I share this sentiment.

I was very impressed by Premier Stelmach’s strong stance against a provincial sales tax at the PC AGM in October. Several times he was unwavering in his decision that while he was the Premier it would not be an issue up for discussion. He pointed out that we are the only province in Canada without one and the only province not in debt – we must be doing something right.

But before I am ready to move on, I want to share what I know about the ‘Real’ Doug Griffiths – the man behind the politician – because it reveals something about politics in Alberta that we need to pay attention to.

For those of you who have met Doug, you will know that what you see is what you get.  Doug is principled, articulate and visionary.  He is a father, husband and great personal friend to many, many people.  He understands complex policy, but takes a common sense and practical approach to issues.

Doug likes to cut through the politics and put all solutions on the table.  He wants to get the job done and his motivations are clear and simple – future generations – his boys and your kids.  Doing what is right because it is the right thing to do.  This is a brave stance in a turbulent political environment, but it is the only stance Doug lives for.

To me this is why the PC Party is different. We have representatives that are willing to look at all options, listen to all opinions, and speak up when necessary. Our party is cultivating a culture of engagement and discussion. It is an exciting time. I challenge you to talk to your PC MLAs one on one if you have a problem, need direction, or have a brilliant idea for our province – they listen. They live for this stuff – especially Doug. His community knows he does and respects him for it – he won the last election with79% of the vote in Battle River – Wainwright in 2008.

I have to admit that I am biased when it comes to Doug Griffiths, since I have had the opportunity to work for – or with – him.  He makes an excellent boss.  His inclusive style is always open to suggestions, questions and comments.  He listens to every angle and compares his opinion to yours; he responds after giving your position careful examination and consideration.

I’m fortunate enough to call Doug a friend. I have approached him for advice more times than I can remember. As a passionate young woman in the party it could be easy to get lost and become apathetic towards the cause, but Doug doesn’t let people like me (and you) slip through those cracks. He knows how important it is to foster the next generation of PC leaders. He will be ushering us in – and is welcoming us.

I like that whenever I go to him with my latest idea or struggle he looks at it objectively. I never expect it to be sugar coated. I expect it to be honest, caring, and upfront. His encouragement is from a thoughtful place – he meets you where you are at and puts himself in your shoes (which is hard in this case – I’m a big fan of pointy-toed heels). I am so thankful that Doug takes time to listen to me and give me calculated advice. With everything else on his plate he still makes sure to pour in to Alberta’s people.

The way that Doug has responded to Vitor Marciano’s fear campaign against the supposedly proposed sales tax speaks volumes about Doug’s true character.  Wildrose Alliance MLA, Rob Anderson, wrote a commentary defending his friend and former colleague.  Alberta Party organizer, Ken Chapman, called Doug “the kind of progressive, forward thinking and consciousness raising kind of politician we need in Alberta.” Heck, even Graham Thompson from the Edmonton Journal came to Doug’s defence.

While both these commentaries are completely accurate and more or less sincere, they are also politically motivated.  If you read between the lines, you see two new political parties trying to become or represent something Doug Griffiths embodies with a high degree of grace and ease – a true progressive conservative.

This drives me crazy, but also makes me laugh. Doug is a sought after, highly intelligent politician and he stands firm with Team PC. Of course the two latest political parties on the scene would be vying for Doug’s attention – whether that is by firing him up or flirting with him. They want people like Doug to stand firm with them … and those people are hard to find. Graceful, go-getting, gutsy people are what the PC attracted and still attracts. I am excited about those stepping up to run in the next election and I am excited that these two new parties will allow our PC candidates to define themselves even further.  

Doug is also, by all measures, a Minister-in-waiting.  He holds the title of Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance.  He has excelled in his positions, and has written a book based on his popular speech, “13 Ways to Kill Your Community”.  He holds an Honors Degree in Philosophy, specializing in Environmental Ethics.  A rural guy with urban flare!

Like I (we) said before, Doug is a principled, articulate visionary.  The kind of representative you would want as your Minister of Environment, Employment and Immigration, or Advanced Education and Technology – my top vote the latter.  He makes a great spokesman for Alberta, crosses all political and geographical lines, and raises the bar in political discourse.

Will the real Doug Griffiths please stand up?  This Progressive Conservative would like to see you take the stage, challenge those who strive to twist what this party is about, and represent the ‘real’ values the PC Party believes in and advocates for.

A real party full of real people having real discussions … what’s not to love? So proud to be a PC member, and so privileged to know I can count on leaders, like Doug, to push me to be all I can be.

PP and CR