My open letter to Jim Prentice about the state of the PC Party

Dear Jim,

Can I call you Jim? I feel like you’re the kind of guy that would want me to call you Jim.

I don’t know if you remember me. I volunteered for you back when you were a federal MP – actually one afternoon during a membership drive in Frank Hickey’s office I met the love of my life. That’s a long story though, but I do hope to tell you in person one day. If you don’t remember me, that’s ok, just know that I still support you, and I support our Party. I’m a concerned Party supporter, and I have been for some time.

I know you’re really busy right now. There is a lot to do and people are expecting big things in the next two weeks. I’m excited; I get the sense you’re committed to the change in government people want to see.

Albertans are waiting – and Albertans are important to convince of the change. But I’m writing today to ask you to please not forget about the change our Party members are also waiting to see.

You see Jim, our last leader forgot about that. When our last leader had the political clout to come in and really shake things up at the party level she didn’t. Right now, you have the clout to ruffle feathers and get our ship in order. A ship we need in order to fight by-elections, and regular elections.

Our Party has served for over 40 years because of its strong grassroots. I remember being a teenager on Calgary-Shaw and being so excited to truly know that my voice mattered. I had incredible political mentors on that board, including the MLA, Cindy Ady, that encouraged me to always stand up for what I believe in, challenge the things that I didn’t, and to always push our Party to be the best it could be. As a board I believe we did that.

We have a grassroots problem Jim. Our grassroots don’t feel that excitement anymore because that’s missing.

I believe the culture of an organization changes as soon as a new leader shows up. It changes by their example.

After your example (which at this point I don’t think is an issue) it is important for you to show that you understand that there is a problem in our Party right now. I think you understand that and more importantly I think you will be committed to that. But please don’t wait too long to show your commitment.

Great leadership attracts other great leaders, that’s great. But I also believe that great leaders need to start by proactively recruiting other great leaders. We need a great team. And a great team doesn’t mean people that have surrounded this Party for years, and are loyal soldiers, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they have specific government experience. A great team for our Party means a group of people with complimentary skill-sets, passion, and experience. And I’m not talking about our caucus team (I believe you’re already dealing with that), I’m talking about our PCAA team including the positions in our Party office and on our Party Board of Directors. These positions shouldn’t be rewards or favors, they should be based on who can best do the job that we need them to do.

And I think we both know that the job we need them to do over the next 2 years is a big job. Volunteer or full time staff – both of these will be stretched to their maximum potential and that has to be what they expect. And they have to be excited about that … and willing to get their hands dirty. We don’t need more people telling us what to do, we need more people just doing it. And if they are excited that will trickle down and re-excite the grassroots.

Personally I don’t want the loyal soldier type at the top of our grassroots organization. I want people who are willing to ask questions, challenge, and push us in a new direction.

Jim, I’m going to be honest, that’s not happening right now. I’ve chatted with many, and have my own examples, but when the grassroots speaks up … speaks up with the purpose of bettering our Party … we’re told we’re hurting our Party, we don’t understand our Party, and we’re against our Party. Jim, if we were against our Party we’d be gone already to either the left or the right.

Something has kept us here – waiting – wanting change. Maybe it’s because we know that the culture of fear and punishment isn’t really what our Party is based on and that we were just waiting for a new leader to set a new example.

There are some important dates coming up that I’m sure your talented transition team has in mind, but I thought I’d remind you. I believe you can use these dates to start setting an example …. and a direction for our Party.

September 20 is our next PCAA Board of Directors meeting. This will be exciting – I wish I could be a fly on the wall. I hope that you will discuss the following and ensure that the Board communicates it in a public way back to the grassroots:

  •  A clear review of electronic voting: we aren’t asking for a review of the outcome, we need a review of the process. We need to learn from the blunders now so that we can do better next time. We need to show that we care that there were blunders in order to start healing the relationship with the thousands of people who wanted to participate and couldn’t. It’s not enough to say next time we’ll do better. Let’s do it now so we aren’t in a rush to do it when we need to. I hear there is a petition circulating asking for this to but has not been received by our Board well.
  • A clear review of the Leadership Election Committee: it’s not about reviewing who was on it but more the skillsets that were. What key roles did we miss and how can we ensure we have those next time? Let’s create a process surrounding this committee and set it in stone at the AGM. Let’s give the grassroots a reason to have confidence in our Party.
  • Staffing: time to have an honest discussion about who does what at the Party office. We have some true champions there, but we are missing skillsets. We need to have an honest conversation about who fills what roles. We need a leader in the office with a background in non-profits or associations with a board structure. We don’t need someone with a government background, or inexperienced folks with Party loyalties. We need qualified individuals. We need an open competition for some roles, and we need your leadership and connections to help make recommendations to the Board for others.
  • The Board: I hope you’ll have an honest conversation with the Board about their own roles. I know you’re having those conversations with caucus – who goes, who stays, who represents the future, who has the skills we need to be successful, who needs to move aside for the next generation (not necessarily younger, but fresher)? I love that you’re having those conversations, that shows you are the leader we need. Please ask those same questions of those that stood, or want to stand, for election of our PC Board. The directors in place are as important as our caucus team if we want to continue to be successful.

Speaking of the Board that’s the other important date, September 26 is the deadline to submit a nomination for the 2014/2015 PCAA Executive Board. This date seems to be flying under the radar. But Jim, we need good people to run for these roles. And not good as in nice, but good as in strong, charismatic, skilled, experienced, passionate, that bring both strategy and the ability to execute the strategy to the table. These people are volunteers, yes, but they need to be committed to YOUR vision for our Party, and they need to be people the grassroots can count on to question, challenge, encourage, and empower.

Empower … this is the big one.

Our Party engine hasn’t been empowering volunteers. But you can change that.

Empower the grassroots by asking those you feel are qualified to step up and run in the executive races. Some may say that those who want to run will just run, but it’s my experience with volunteer management that you really do have to ask. It means a lot when you ask someone, and have a conversation with them, about a position you’d like them to take on. They take it seriously, and it creates accountability. And if you are leading by that example they will act the same – they will in turn empower those around them by asking them to do small (or large) meaningful tasks to help our Party.

We need to get back to that. Many hands make for light work – and there is a lot of work.

Please empower us. Empower our Party and don’t forget to set the example and start shifting the way our Party has been doing business.

Please ask people – ask people to do things – if you do it will make us stronger, and it will help the grassroots to realize how important it actually is. Set the example so we can get back to being excited about asking questions and making our Party better.

Please don’t forget to not only shake up government, caucus, and cabinet, but shake up your Party.

I’ll be watching with anticipation.
CP

Advertisements

PCYA AGM 2013 – My Executive Endorsements

At this point I don’t even know how long ago it was when I first got involved with the PCYA – it seems like eons – and not because your time there drags on and on but because while you are there you seem to get so much accomplished in such a short time span.

Youth really are the backbone of any political party. Yes, they are the “future” but more importantly they are the ones that aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, get passionate, and keep the more experienced members on their toes. The passion of the youth that are politically involved in this province always amazes me; social media certainly amplifies the passion. I remember being the VP Youth in Calgary-Shaw almost a decade ago and thinking “where are all the other young people?” – today you just look online, or better yet, you look to the PCYA.

The PCYA was also the group I looked to during the 2012 election. They were the Party’s “SWAT Team”. I could always rely on them to roll up their sleeves and help out any constituency at any time. It was never about where they were going or who they were helping – they always did it with enthusiasm for the party and because they believed in the Party’s principles.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with these 3 gentlemen that I’m about to tell you about. If you’re under 26 and at the PC AGM in Red Deer this weekend I encourage you to seek them out tonight and meet them for yourself (find me and I’ll introduce you if you like!). I think you’ll agree that they are the best people to continue the PCYA legacy of fun, passion, and accomplishment.

See you this weekend!
CP xo

Chris Carlile for PCYA President

I am pleased to give my official endorsement of Chris Carlile for PCYA President. He has the right attitude, passion, experience, and humility for the job.

I had the pleasure of meeting Chris when he first started at the UofC when I was the UCCCA President. I had no one on my team as eager to help out as he was. I could always count on him for advice, strategic insight, and to get the task at hand (whether large are small) done right.

Chris has been a force within the PC youth movement ever since then. He is a strong advocate, a representative voice, and takes any role he takes on with great seriousness. He has played key roles within the PC organization for the past several years – both youth related and at the table with 40 years’ worth of volunteers.

Most recently I got to work with him during the 2012 provincial election. In his role of campaign manager for Calgary-Klein he excelled; he truly showed that he was not only a youth leader but a leader within the entire PC Party. I will never forget one call in particular with all Calgary campaign managers where Chris spoke up confidential amongst several seasoned PC campaigners. His insights, questions, and suggestions were thoughtful, direct, and left a strong impression while making an immense impact.

Chris will be a strong voice for the PCYA. He will not shy away from advocating for youth at the PC Executive table and his experience will be the catalyst the PCYA organization needs to move to the next level.

Thomas Ockley for PCYA VP Finance

There is no job Thomas isn’t willing to tackle. He is principled and always follows through on what he commits to. I am pleased to offer my official endorsement of Thomas Ockley for PCYA VP Finance.

I met Thomas several years ago when he first got involved in the PC Party. My best first memory of working with each other? Sending Thomas on a wild goose chase through NW Calgary because we needed certain materials for an AGM for the UCCCA we were having later that evening. He committed and he delivered. I could count on him even in the last second before a major event. Not only did he get the job done, but he did get it done at the best price. Part of his wild goose chase included ensuring the best price and even tackling part of the project himself so we would save money as an organization on labour costs.

Ever since that moment Thomas has always been someone I rely on, someone I ask advice, and someone I look to when I need help. He is incredible at rallying support, volunteers, and morale. He has a depth of understanding of our PC organization like no other. He is experienced and he is effective.

Thomas is the best choice for this role. As a friend, a peer, and as someone who has worked with him on numerous events, boards, projects, and campaigns, I can say with confidence that he will deliver on his promises and will continue to be a valuable asset to the PCYA if elected.

Patrick Beatty for PCYA VP Policy

I am pleased to offer my official endorsement of Patrick Beatty for PCYA VP Policy.

If you collected political hockey cards Patrick’s would be the rookie card you’d want to get your hands on and mount in one of those plastic covers. His accomplishments politically and professionally outweigh any possible story I could tell about his work ethic. He knows policy, and not just because it’s been his role the past year, but because he is passionate about it. Patrick truly is passionate about the nuts and bolts that define a Party. He is not afraid to speak up for what he believes in, ask tough questions, and make sure the underdog has a voice.

Patrick is kind, considerate, approachable, and always puts his friends first; by default that means he puts the PCYA first. I’ve heard his girlfriend tell countless stories of the late nights he has pulled working on policy resolutions for the youth. Patrick understands the power of the youth voice within this Party and does not take it for granted – he takes it seriously and ensures that not a single opportunity is missed to allow the youth to speak up for what they believe in.

There is no doubt in my mind that Patrick will be an incredible policy leader for a second term for the PCYA.

It’s Coffee Time: Doug Griffiths arrives in Living Rooms across Alberta

Okay – I admit it. I had never been to a coffee party before May 5, 2011. It seems to me that the era of the coffee party was a bit before my time. I’ve heard the days of the coffee party praised by board members from both Calgary Shaw and Calgary Foothills. Many claiming that that was the way Premier Lougheed won – that was how they met him – and that is how they knew he was a great leader.

There is something about coming into someone’s home, being on their turf, and embracing their friends, their neighbours and their community. It’s the principle of breaking bread together but in this case it’s sipping coffee. I laughed when I saw some comments on a Facebook photo Chris Harper posted of a coffee party he hosted this past week – his friends were amazed that a PC leadership candidate would come over to his house just to talk to his friends. It really is the simple things that amaze people the most.

And a coffee party is a very simple thing.

There is nothing to know about a coffee party before you have one. Nothing to learn. No membership to buy. No prerequisites. No expectations.

A coffee party is whatever you want it to be. It’s a passionate Albertan coming to talk to, get to know and share their vision with other passionate Albertans. A coffee party is what comes to my mind when I think of the term grassroots engagement. It’s literally invite your friends – gather them in your living room – listen to a visionary – ask questions – mingle.

My favourite part? The questions! That’s when you see people truly engaging. The questions are when you find out what makes your neighbours tick and what has been on their mind. It’s when you find out that many of us are passionate about the same things and want the same things for Alberta’s future. The questions are what get a room excited. And the answers to those questions are what keeps the room excited and triggers a desire to purchase a PC membership and get involved in the process – at least that’s what is happening at coffee parties featuring Griff.

I may be biased but Doug Griffiths’ strength is certainly in the coffee party. It’s no secret that he is passionate about people and communities. Without strong communities we cannot build a better Alberta together. In a room full of new friends his excitement about Alberta’s future is clear. He is personable, thoughtful and enthusiastic. You can tell he feels right at home in the living rooms of his volunteers and supporters – why? Because that is the kind of man he is. When he has the day off work he is hanging out in the living rooms of his family and friends. That’s where he watches his boys grow up, that’s where he invites his friends to watch the game and that’s where he hammers out his vision for Alberta.

Doug wants to get to as many Albertan living rooms in the next several months as possible. He wants to come to you … not make you come to him. He wants to build a better province … and he knows he can’t do that alone. Every community is different, every group of people gathered will be different but we are all passionate about Alberta and passionate about making it the best it can be today and for future generations.

So why don’t you have a coffee party? The latest people to sign up for coffee parties in Calgary? My parents! Lisa Mackintosh’s friends. A new supporter who DM’ed us on Twitter. And an incredible 70-something women I met at Chris Harper’s coffee party for Griff. She is so excited. She told me that it isn’t time for change in this province … it’s time for the next generation to step up and take their place in Alberta … and that place is in leadership roles. She told me that the last time she was this excited is when she attend a similar gathering for Premier Lougheed decades ago.

Everything old is new again. Why? Because Alberta has realized the importance of the community, of personal connections and that the only way we can advance this province is if we advance it together.

If you want to have a coffee party email the campaign or even just reply to this blog post. We will get you in touch with the right people and do our best to get Doug into your living room.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to have a coffee party. Political engagement is personal – it’s flexible – it’s simple. Doug Griffiths’ coffee parties are political engagement.

Can’t wait to have a coffee with you in your living room and watch your neighbours get excited about our next PC Leader, Doug Griffiths.

CR xo

To upgrade or not to upgrade; that is the question!

An important debate has been taking place in Alberta’s coffee shops, boardrooms and online meeting places between those who believe we should export our raw bitumen and those who would like to upgrade this resource before sending it to other markets.  At the upcoming PC AGM, Alberta’s sharpest Progressive Conservative minds will come together to provide our political leaders with direction and support on this very topic.

In fact, the grassroots of the Alberta PC party has brought forward four (4) separate resolutions supporting more upgrading in Alberta and the Party has organized a bear pit session that will deal specifically with this issue.

The resolutions brought forward by various constituency associations include:

  • Edmonton Whitemud (A) Resolution – Upgrading of Bitumen in Alberta
  • Strathcona (A) Resolution – Increasing Canadian Content in Oil Sand Construction
  • Edmonton McClung (B) Resolution – Bitumen Extraction In Alberta
  • Calgary Shaw (B) Resolution – Encourage Further investment in Alberta’s Petroleum & Petrochemical Industries

Click here for the complete book of PCAGM Policy Resolutions.

Alberta needs to refine this resource if the province is to continue to be an energy superpower.  Sending downstream revenues to other markets through a pipeline in perpetuity is not a viable option.  Having said this, there is also a need to build a pipeline to the west coast that will export energy products to new Asian and Indian markets.  The two concepts are not mutually exclusive – in fact, moving forward with a two pronged approach is the best way for the Alberta Government to ensure Albertans retain the same quality of life they expect in the years and decades ahead.

There are those, however, who for reasons of political gain will argue that the government should not be in the energy business and should let the market decide whether upgraders are built locally.  I disagree with this opinion and agree wholeheartedly with Athabasca – Redwater MLA, Jeff Johnson’s conclusion that “our greatest risk is doing nothing”.  You can read his compelling arguments  in his discussion paper titled, Upgrading Alberta’s Future – Securing long-term economic opportunities through adding value to bitumen.  This conclusion is most succinctly supported by Wilf Golbert, Chair of Calgary Economic Development and Energy Analyst, who said “the export of Canadian bitumen rather than higher quality upgraded oil could become the greatest loss of economic value for any country in world history.”

Every day we do nothing, we lose billions of dollars that could be used to fund hospital beds, long term care facilities, new schools, new roads, etc….  Albertans own these resources and the value margin of refined bitumen belongs to them.  We need to make decisions today that ensure the prosperity of this province tomorrow.

A quick glance at history proves that the Alberta government has always been and should continue to be in the energy business – particularly in the value added aspects of the sector.  Since the 1970s, the Alberta Government has facilitated the growth of companies that are now the backbone of our economy.  Companies such as Syncrude, Encana, Cenovus, Transcanada, Suncor and others have all had their start in partnership with government and would not have had such successful starts without Alberta’s integral role in their development.

The government’s role in the energy sector has always been that of a “growth facilitator”, looking for ways to maximize value and realize potential.  Key factors that have made these partnerships between industry and government successful include the government’s early involvement in the project, as well as the government’s eventual and timely exit from the partnership.  Furthermore, the Alberta Government is currently a shareholder in many major oil companies through over $1 billion in shares through the Heritage Savings Trust Fund.  Ensuring the continued success of the entire energy sector is therefore a direct benefit to Albertans and therefore good public policy.

There are many more arguments that support adding value to Alberta’s resources here at home.   The Alberta Government’s decision to move forward on the Bitumen Royalty In Kind (BRIK) strategy is based on these reasons.  BRIK will facilitate the development of an upgrader in the province of Alberta by using our resource ownership position to stimulate the creation of independent businesses.  I recommend that you familiarize yourself with the reasons to support upgrading in Alberta by reading MLA Jeff Johnson’s report.

This issue is of critical importance to the future of Alberta’s energy security, as well as the quality of life we can secure for our children and grandchildren.  I encourage all PC AGM delegates to participate in the discussions and to ultimately support these resolutions.

PP