Change from within

I truly believe that history will be kinder to Ed Stelmach than most people think – He is a compassionate, caring and humble individual who wanted nothing more than the best for every citizen in Alberta.  Despite some shortfalls of his leadership; I would be hard pressed to name a single person who knows him that wouldn’t agree that he the type of individual that every one of us strives to be like.

Ed’s chances of political survival were challenged from the day he took office.  At the end of the day, he wasn’t everybody’s first choice for leader and he won by coming up the middle.  He did his best to rally the troops and get the team singing from the same song sheet, but some pretty bitter divisions made that an extremely difficult task.

I want to thank Premier Stelmach for his leadership and his commitment to Alberta, and I want to thank both him and Marie for making me personally feel like I am part of their family.  I’m extremely saddened by the announcement yesterday and I wish the Stelmach’s all the best going forward!

However, with change comes opportunity – and I will be looking forward to being an active participant in the upcoming leadership race in one way, shape or form.  Of course, it’s far too early to speculate who will participate in the race to shape the future of our great province.

Whether people believe that the PC party can redefine itself or whether they have decided that they will be a part of a new party – for the time being; the race to pick the new leader of the PC Party will be the race to pick the 14th Premier for the Province of Alberta.

As such, the decision is one that people from all political stripes and parties will take part in.

I have no doubt that forces from both the far left and the far right will do what they can to make this leadership race a bitter and nasty contest complete with character assassinations and personality battles.

But Progressive Conservatives need to unite in the middle and coalesce around a movement of positive change.  From the perspective of the PC Party of Alberta, the necessary result of this next leadership race is a reuniting of party supporters behind a leader and a team that most of us can agree on.

PC loyalists need to demand something better than the “anybody but” race that we saw last time.  We need to listen to the dreams and desires of Albertans and pick a team that can deliver.  We don’t need a leader that will tell us what he or she will do – we need a leader who will listen and build a plan accordingly.

Most importantly, we need to make a positive choice rather than a negative one.

I can’t help but get excited by this opportunity.  I truly believe that we have it in us to redefine the way politics can be done in the province of Alberta and I’m confident the Alberta PC Party will do just that.

I look forward to watching what happens next – and I encourage the amazing potential leaders we have amongst our ranks and beyond to step up and usher in the change so many Albertans want to see.

PP

Alison Redford – A real Progressive Conservative

Alison Redford is a mother, the MLA for Calgary Elbow and Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General.  Alison is kind and she is firm.  Open to listening and not afraid of debating.  Bright, articulate and process and policy focused, she brings legal depth and international experience to the PC caucus team.  To me, Alison Redford personifies the values of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta very accurately.  Her approach to policy is unmistakably progressive while her politics are firmly conservative.  It is obvious why Premier Stelmach put her in such a prestigious, high energy and high accountability job right out of the gate in her rookie year as MLA.

@crontynen and I recently sat down with her at the McDougall Centre in Calgary to talk about the Safe Communities Initiative, as well as to get to know the ‘real’ Alison Redford a little better.

I’ve been to McDougall several times. As a kid my mom use to hold her own meetings there for a not for profit organization she headed. It was hardly a new experience to be waiting in the hallway waiting to speak with someone. But when @ppilarski and I were waiting I was excited. As a long time Calgarian, and as a young PCAA woman, Alison is somewhat of a star in my eyes.

She finishes up her meeting before and escorts a woman outside. “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. We will get something moving on this front.” And you just know she will. She is the type of person that gets it done – and is passionate about it.

Alison brings us in and apologizes for moving our meeting (we were suppose to meet in the morning and it is now that afternoon). “My daughter was presenting at school this morning – all about the silverback gorilla. It was so interesting. I’m so glad I could go.” Like any working mother Alison strives to find a balance. And although @ppilarski can be quite a monkey in the morning he is no match for a presentation on gorillas by Alison’s daughter. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting this 8 year old – she is as much of a firecracker as her mother and has definitely inherited Alison’s “don’t take no for an answer” attitude. I’m sure the presentation was memorable.

We got right down to business. We wanted to chat about the Safe Communities Initiative. Before Alison took office a number of recommendations were made by the Safe Communities Task Force. It became Minister Redford’s job to implement these recommendations and make our communities in Alberta safer when she became Alberta’s Minister of Justice in 2008. The Safe Communities Task Force includes 9 provincial ministries.  It’s a shining example of the progress that can be made through collaborative approaches and community partnerships. It represents progressive government leadership and innovative solutions towards crime reductions and prevention.  It’s a program that every single Albertans should be proud.

I remember when gang violence was at its peak in Calgary. It was only a few years ago when we heard about daily shootings in the news, when it was getting more and more dangerous to be out alone (daytime or nighttime), and when the tragic gang fighting was catching innocent bystanders in the crossfire. Any Calgarian can testify that this violence has dramatically decreased since Alison became our Minister of Justice and took it upon herself and her ministry to clean up Alberta’s streets.

The Safe Communities Initiative began with a series of consultations across the province focused on one question:  What do people in Alberta’s communities need to feel safe?  Alison and her colleagues visited with Albertans and discovered that this meant very different things in different communities and people.  To some it was traffic, to others bullying, gangs, drugs, etc.  Alison explained that because no two communities were the same, there was no one size fits all solution.

Alison explained that themes were starting to emerge.  “Society has been changing and children are at a higher risk.  We are having a harder time reacting to an ever changing world.”  She went on to tell us that “families are getting busier and life is becoming more stressful.”

Alison often talks about children. She is passionate about the future of Alberta, but she is also a passionate mother. Her focus becomes stopping problems before they start; this means ensuring child education about safe communities. She looks at the deeper issues behind problems sometimes that a child in a high risk situation and sometimes that is a mental health issue. Another key focus under this initiative is learning to give those with mental health issues the help they need. “Throwing them in jail doesn’t solve the problem. The Safe Communities Initiative is about solving problems so they stop happening. We have several programs in place to make sure we meet issues head on and give all Albertans the opportunity to get appropriate help.”

So rookie Minister, Alison Redford got to work.  She knew that making Albertans feel safer would take community help.  She knew that it would require a tough on crime legislative agenda and a close examination of the root causes behind these societal ills. As she explained that “justice” falls on a spectrum between stopping crime and putting bad guys away, and the underlying problems that may contribute to certain behavior, I couldn’t help envisioning how the Government of Alberta so elegantly covers the political spectrum under the Alberta Progressive Conservative banner.

Being a Progressive Conservative means understanding traditional means of punishment are necessary – but moving forward in society is what is most important. It is taking the best of our conservative values through Albertan history and applying new ways of thinking and modern solutions. It’s finding a ‘way forward’.

“Safe Communities brings together provincial & municipal government + law enforcement agencies + community groups + the business sector +social agencies to ensure Alberta remains a place where we are all free to live, work and thrive,” Alison explains. She said she is most proud of the partnerships the government has been able to form – especially with the police.  “We didn’t have a system to identify kids that were starting to exhibit anti-social behavior while the police were telling us that they can see these patterns forming in kids as early as grade 2 or 3. Working together with the police, schools, communities and parents has allowed Safe Communities to achieve success.”

Through Safe Communities, Alison Redford has also brought in the most innovative tough on crime legislative agenda in Canada.  Since the province cannot change the criminal code, Alison decided to go after the criminals where she could and where it hurt – their wallets.  Safe Communities has also increased law enforcement’s ability to gather intelligence and enforce the law through special enforcement teams.  Recently, Alison also announced a new gang reduction strategy to reduce the impacts of gang related crime in Alberta communities.

These two examples are exactly what @ppilarski and I mean by being Progressive Conservative.

In three short years, Alison Redford and Safe Communities have accomplished a lot!  But Alison is committed to doing so much more.  “Safe Communities challenges people to think differently about how they do their job” she told us, “my colleagues and I want to use the Safe Communities approach to change the way government operates.”  She said this in reference to how the PC Caucus was able to get government departments to partner cross-ministry to get the job done.

But she understands that change takes time.  She knows that it’s very difficult to get people who have always done something the same way to start doing things differently.  Through the use of partnerships and incentives, she feels confident we will get there.

As we began packing up, we chatted informally for a couple more minutes.  We talked about the past and about the future.  She told us about her parents in 1975, “my dad would tell my mother it was time to go to the store, so she would immediately drop everything to go to the store,” she reminisced, “we will never be the Alberta of 1975 again.  We live in a new world and we have to do things a new way. The PC Party is changing and moving forward because Albertans have changed and are moving forward.”

Stay up to date on the Safe Communities Initiative and share your ideas for making Alberta a safer place – the $60 million Safe Communities Innovation Fund is the government’s response to reducing and preventing crime within your own community. There are many success stories you can read on their website.

Alison Redford is a true Progressive Conservative and an outstanding Member of the Legislative Assembly.  She will be one of the leaders ushering in the evolution of the PC Party and ensuring Alberta is always moving forward.

PP and CR

Don Quixote – Meet Standard Man

While @ctdenergy, AKA Chris Tesarski isn’t the audience PCinYYC aims to reach, I will indulge him with ONE MORE blog in response to his piece, A View from the Tower….The Ivory One:  A Battle for the Minds of Albertans.  After this blog, I hope you stay tuned to PCinYYC, as @crontynen and I are very excited to move forward with our ‘real’ series, which will start ramping up significantly very soon!

Let me start by apologizing to Chris for my rudeness – I called him some nasty things when my real focus was on what I perceive as the real problems holding us back as a society – our collective attitude.  So I’m sorry, @ctdenergy for calling you names and offending you personally.

Before I get into my thoughts about what I believe to be our collective attitude challenge in Canada, I want to talk a little bit about the names Chris gave @crontynen and me – Henry and Martha!  I’m thrilled he called us this, because in many ways I truly do believe @crontynen and I do represent your modern day H&M.  However, in light of the times, let’s just stick with calling Martha and Henry @crontynen and @ppilarski.

Who is @crontynen?  At 23, she is one month away from defending her Masters in Communications Studies at the University of Calgary – her focus is on how social media can influence public policy and her case studies were the infamous Bill 44 and Bill 50.  It’s fascinating and cutting edge research on a topic so many of us are trying to get a handle on.  @crontynen holds the distinction of being one of the first ever recipients of the University of Calgary President’s Award for Excellence in Student Leadership.  In addition to receiving top academic standing in her undergraduate class, she earned this award for her extracurricular involvement in student government.  Google her if you want details – Its impressive!

@crontynen has a zest for life and a natural flair for leadership.  She is feisty, witty, intelligent and quick.  She has a real talent for journalism and communications and an amazing ability to read people.  I’m definitely very biased, but if you spend some time looking Christina Rontynen up on Google, you will see that she is an absolute star!  Oh, and this year, she was the PC Party Youth Volunteer of the Year – I’m so proud of all that she has accomplished in her short life!

Your Henry or @ppilarski is much less impressive.  @crontynen likes to call me “standard man” and it’s a title I proudly do what I can to represent!

I am not an academically minded person.  I have my Bachelor of Commerce Degree, with Distinction, from the University of Alberta. Outside of my family business (which has ALWAYS been a part of my life), I have worked for Liquor Depot, Alberta Motor Association, The Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Government of Alberta, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, Retail Council of Canada and Merit Contractors Association.  I have spent a lot of time in my life surrounded with a LOT of different people.  I’m extremely practical and have a very active imagination – characteristic of my type 7 personality.

Like @crontynen, I started working at a very young age.  I am the product of an immigrant family business environment where at 12, sweeping the garage floor of my dad’s mechanical shop was my weekly punishment for whatever it is I did that week to deserve it.  By 14, I was changing oil, checking fluids, reinforcing the fence out back, visiting auctions with dad to buy new project cars, etc.  By 16 to 18, I knew my way around a car engine, was installing command start systems and car stereos, booking appointments, estimating jobs, and running the shop when mom and dad were on holidays.

At 31, I think I have a pretty strong suite of investments with several properties and a couple business interests – there are many people who have much, much more than I have, but I’m not greedy – all I want is a decent quality of life and stability for my future children’s future.  More importantly, I want to be truly happy and enjoy every day to the fullest.  Luckily, every day with @crontynen is like that for me – I don’t know what I did to deserve it, but I’ll take it!

My point is that I believe @crontynen and I in many ways do represent @premierstelmach’s more modern version of Ralph’s Martha and Henry.  The truth is that Premier Stelmach often talks about the need to transition to a knowledge-based economy.  He does believe in the kind of transformational change you reference in your visions of renaissance.   He understands the higher level goals of many Albertans and I truly believe that he is trying to take Alberta in that direction.

The constant media and opposition storm that surrounds him hasn’t significantly changed his course – he has made some adjustments where he made mistakes, but he has a vision for our province which I share, and I admire his dedication to getting there.  Ed Stelmach is a principled leader – if it’s not apparent now, I can guarantee history will prove me right.

But like me, @premierstelmach is an very practical man – in many ways, he too is standard man!  He knows that the transformation needs to happen through an evolution, not a revolution.  He, like I looks forward and sees stark realities on the horizon.  I can’t speak for @premierstelmach, but I don’t think we can move forward as a collective if we don’t seriously challenge some of the institutions, norms and attitudes that continue to hold us back.

Let me explain what I mean when I talk about “elitist academics in their ivory towers”.  When I write that I refer less to an occupation and more to an attitude.  Let me be clear – I know many, many academics who are amazing people.  I know some amazing bureaucrats too.  I have many friends who have their PHD in various subjects.  I have been lucky enough to spend many great hours debating political philosophy, learning about neural science, and engineering through discussions with incredibly bright people who are at the very top of their fields.

But I also grew up in the taxi industry and have spoken to countless highly trained and highly intelligent immigrants who drive a taxi because they can’t get work in their profession.  I knew many families with parents who were trained engineers and architects but factory and restaurant workers by Canadian standards.  In many cases, very bright people who do not have the opportunity to fully contribute their talents toward the betterment of our society and the attainment of a modern-day renaissance.  Individuals and families who don’t have the opportunity to participate in the revolution or transformation because they have to bust their asses just to put food on the table!

To me the “elitist academics in their ivory towers” represent an attitude, which I really feel that some in the new party to the left share.  It’s an attitude that permeates our society and exists in our academic institutions, professional associations, unions, bureaucracies and in some cases, even boardrooms and executive offices.  It’s an attitude that standard man doesn’t know what’s best for him – I know what’s best for him.  It’s an attitude that keeps trained professionals out of their professions – I constantly hear that Alberta has some of the highest training standards which are important to maintain.  But is this why we don’t have ANY flexibility when it comes to getting new Canadians into their chosen professions as quickly as possible?

We are, in many ways, an intolerant society of snobs that hides behind our professional standards and accreditations to keep our professions in high demand.  We are extremely reluctant to let newcomers in, and our bureaucracies stifle innovation and imagination.  We are our own worst enemies when it comes to achieving the type of society many of us want to live in.

In these ways, I see similarities between Canada and Europe.  European countries have been forced to change their fiscal policies in the face of economic collapse, but many haven’t changed their attitudes with respect to immigrants and visiting workers.  France is a case in point for what can happen when a society collectively believes it is OR SHOULD BE better than the immigrants it lets in.  This is the elitist, academic, ivory tower view I refer to, no matter what you do for a living.

Look at my friend, Chris Tesarski, who when explaining the story of Don Quixote to me in his blog provided such a beautiful example of what I mean when I describe someone with his attitude as coming across as an “elitist academic in his ivory tower”.  He wrote “…just like Don Quixote.  I’m sure back when great literature was part of the Curriculum in Alberta, Martha and Henry just might remember reading Don Quixote.”  I’m sorry Chris – I was busy taking English as a Second Language (ESL); while @crontynen was in IB classes studying “great literature” that didn’t include Don Quixote.

@cdtenergy is “sick and tired of being dumbed down … fed up with the “Palinization” of Alberta, where apparently people like [him] are branded as aloof, elitists while it’s the PCAA that speaks for Martha and Henry.”

Well Chris, @crontynen and I are @premierstelmach’s modern day Martha and Henry and we are tired of you looking down on us, thinking you somehow know what is better for us.

We look at the future realistically and know there is no renaissance and no good fortune unless we bring Ravinder and Anila, Kay She and Ben Chan, Boris and Natalia, Hugo and Max – and Piotr and Christina along.  We have nothing if we don’t change our attitude towards the reality we face as we compete with the world for talent.  We need to break down the institutions and attitudes that hold us back.

So while what happens in Alberta bores or disappoints you my friend, I suggest we need a balance between moving forward progressively and conservatively.  I don’t think we should “dismantle the whole thing and build it back up again…”

I am not interested in your condescending blogs or unrealistic lofty ideas, I am interested in the evolution of our society and not leaving anyone behind.  I’m a Progressive Conservative and a damn proud Albertan – standard man – so stop looking down on me and telling me what I want!

With love!

PP

My Progressive Conservative Alberta

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!

PP

Special Health Care Message, from PC Alberta Leader Ed Stelmach

I’m always delighted when I see an email from the PC Party in my inbox – especially over the last several months. Recently I have especially noticed the importance the Party Executive, and the Party Leader, Ed Stelmach, have put on being open and transparent with their party members and the public. They are making sure we are informed and a part of the process.

This email was sent this afternoon at about 3:30pm. We wanted to share.

“A Special Health Care Message” right from the PC Leader. No media spin, no opposition spin, and no spin from those of us chirping on twitter.

I’m especially impressed with his promise of 600 more continuing care beds by March 31, 2011. That is only 4 months away – and after chatting with a doctor friend of @ppilarski and mine over the weekend I believe this will help dramatically. She explained, through her firsthand experience, that more continuing care beds and a stronger home care system will alleviate some of the ER stress.

Looking forward to the continued communication from the PC Leader and for the additional information he committed to providing in the coming weeks.

CR

To: pcforum@albertapc.ab.ca
Subject: Health Care Message
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2010 15:27:13 -0700

Alot has been said on the state of our health care system in Alberta over the last few days, and given the many calls and e-mails coming in to the PC Alberta office recently, we thought that it was important to provide you with a report on what is actually taking place in health.

First, we want to make it clear that despite the claims that the system is in crisis, our emergency rooms are open and front line staff continue to deliver the services Albertans require.

Yes, ER waiting times have been recognized as being too long, which is why a number of initiatives were put in place in recent months, like new emergency department protocols and the opening of 81 additional acute care beds in Edmonton and Calgary over the next three months to create new surge capacity. In addition, new primary care networks have been set up across the province.

In total there are now 38 of these networks and more will be added to the system soon. About two million Albertans now have access to health care services through these innovative networks.

We have also established a five-year funding plan for health services that will provide the stability needed in the system to deliver better care. This funding is supporting 800 new continuing care beds and will provide at least 600 more beds by March 31, 2011. These dollars will also contribute to the expansion of the Alberta Health Services home care program that is supporting 900 more high-needs home care clients in Calgary and Edmonton.

Unfortunately, all these positive initiatives have been overshadowed by the personal distractions of the last few weeks. Decisions such as the suspension of a caucus colleague are always difficult and taken very seriously.

During this time, caucus offered great compassion and support to Dr. Sherman for the pressures he faced as a physician and as a member of Government Caucus. Ultimately, while we respect and welcome constructive debate and advocacy, we have to ensure that it is done for the best interest of Albertans.

This is true in caucus and it is also true on the Alberta Health Services leadership team. That’s why we support their decision to appoint interim chief executive officer, Dr. Chris Eagle, and we remain committed to our goal of creating the best performing health-care system in the country and reducing emergency room wait times.

Next week you will see more information about Alberta’s health care action plan. This plan outlines the initiatives that we will undertake and the performance measures that will highlight our progress to becoming the best-performing public funded health care system in Canada. 

Finally I want to recognize and thank all health care professionals who continue to deliver necessary health services to you and your families.

Sincerely,
Ed Stelmach

I Blame Everyone

As a highly engaged Albertan and active member of the Alberta PC Party, recent events related to Alberta’s health care system have made me take a step back and look at the state of affairs.  The past week or so has been packed with opinions, spin, honesty, sincerity, action, reaction and high drama.  Media and opposition have been perpetuating a campaign against the governing party, which has been pushing back, making decisions, acting and reacting.  It’s been quite the show, and it’s likely to continue until the next election.

I admit that I have stepped back from my usual #twitter chatter because the situation looked ugly.  People are mad and they have good reason to be.  I also didn’t know the details of what was happening on a day-to-day basis, so I didn’t want to speculate and comment on the speculation and commentary.  After a week of observation and careful consideration, I conclude that we should all share some blame.

I blame everyone for what has been happening with respect to the health care debate in Alberta – but I especially blame myself!

I would like to start by blaming Premier Stelmach.  I don’t blame the Premier for the state of the health care because the reality is that despite some reports, the overall health system in Alberta is functioning well.  There are definitely some very difficult pressure points – ER is a case-in-point – but based on my experience and the experience of many people I have spoken to over the years, people are generally satisfied with most of the system’s functionality.

However, for those who want to argue that Alberta’s Healthcare system is in terrible shape across the board, I argue that healthcare is in shambles across the country and arguably the greatest challenge of any government in the world.  Healthcare is a losing battle.  Aging populations dictate that this will continue for some time.

But I believe Premier Stelmach could have been more hands on with respect to communicating to Albertans the events that were unfolding.  Even a brief statement like “we are working though internal challenges and will be reporting back to Albertans on our next steps over the coming days.”  It’s my view that by not doing this, Premier Stelmach allowed the media and opposition to control the story.

I blame Duckett for a completely inappropriate performance with the media.  Duckett is a very bright and qualified man who was clearly under a lot of pressure and visibly annoyed with the media’s questioning.  Having said that, he should have acted like a professional and told the media that he had no comment and asked them to wait 30 more minutes for the scheduled news conference.

I blame the media, who, in many ways, acted very unprofessionally themselves – especially on #twitter.  The media worked overtime to make Duckett’s cookie story as big as they could.  Until recently, the media has been the opposition in Alberta.  It’s my view that the Alberta PC Party now has an effective opposition and the media needs to start reporting differently.  There is a huge difference between reporting on a story and creating and perpetuating the story.  I feel that the media crossed some lines this week.

I blame the new opposition parties.  The Party on the right has been highly dogmatic with respect to its criticism.  They have a health platform that we will write another blog about one day soon and they have been trying to focus all of their health criticism through the lens of those policies.  While this approach is smart during an election campaign and during regular times, they made ZERO productive recommendations with respect to the emergency room crisis  and actually did all they could to take the focus away from the solutions recommended by the government and emergency room docs who had an all day meeting last Friday.

The new party on the left caused much more damage because they don’t actually have a detailed healthcare platform and likely have no clue how to deal with the crisis in the ER.  Their tactics were lame: cookie jokes, mudslinging, demanding resignations and making a general mockery of the entire incident.  Their tactic is to make it look like the sky is falling and that life could not be worse.  Some of their organizers are former green party organizers, who are well known for their deceitful tactics and gross exaggerations of the truth.  Expect much more of this in Alberta’s future – just like they turned the world against the Alberta Oilsands, they will attempt to turn Albertans against their government.  We are smarter than that – we’ve shown it before and will show it again!

I blame Raj Sherman, who, despite doing the right thing and speaking out in protest against the ER crisis, got personal with his criticisms.  I am very confident that had Raj not started personally blaming his colleagues in his criticism and stuck to focusing on solutions, he would still be in the PC Caucus.  I have known Raj since before he got elected and I can tell you he has been an amazing and caring friend to me.  He helped me through my mom’s deadly bout with Cancer.  But he has also been going through a lot of stress due to illnesses in his family and negative stress makes us do things in haste. A caucus is a team.  When someone from that team starts criticizing other team members in public, a line has to be drawn.  I don’t blame Caucus for their decision!

My friend David McLean inspired me to blame Tommy Douglas on #Twitter today and I must say his comment inspired me to write this blog.  We hold Mr. Douglas to Canada’s highest standard because of the vision he brought forward for a universal public health care system in Canada.  For many, many years, we have been so proud to lead the world with that system.  But now some in society continue to hold onto that vision to the detriment of every Albertan (and Canadian) that pays for and uses our precious public system – we need to move on folks – there are better ways!

On that note, I blame the unions and special interest groups who have destroyed any opportunity to have an honest discussion about how to move forward to fix the problems with the system.  There is a dishonest conversation happening in Alberta and across the country regarding public versus private healthcare and it’s really preventing us from moving forward.  Every time the government tries to move in a direction, a special interest group mounts a fear campaign scaring seniors, medical professionals or the general public.  It’s absolutely shameful and has less to do with serving the interests of the public and more to do with keeping healthcare public to keep a stronghold over labor.

I blame our immigration system, the Alberta Medical Association, various unions and other such groups for not being more flexible.  I grew up in the taxi industry and have known many foreign trained and highly experienced doctors who have not been able to participate in the medical system due to inadequate standards or language limitations.  I am not suggesting these people should be full blown doctors, nurses or other health professionals, but I am suggesting we can be more flexible with respect to allowing them to have limited roles in their industries until they gain the appropriate credentials to practice their field.  I’m suggesting that we have become a society of snobs, who hold up our training standards to a point of detriment to overall society.  That needs to change!

I blame Albertans for wanting universal healthcare and not wanting to pay for their share.  I work for an organization that provides health and dental insurance and the plan we provide only covers up to 80%.  Many of our members have asked for 100 per cent coverage, but we have said no.  People need to be responsible for their health and they need to personally contribute to that cost.  There is a very strong philosophical agreement here and it’s very sound.  People need to dish out some cash to pay for a portion of their health care costs – Period!

I feel like I can keep going on forever!

But I would like to end by blaming myself.  I am a highly engaged citizen and spend a lot of time helping PC Candidates because I believe in what the party stands for and believe Alberta is a great province because of the past 39 years of relatively strong governance – we’ve had our ups and downs, but who doesn’t have ups and down over almost 40 years!

But I haven’t spent enough time understanding the healthcare system and haven’t spent enough time fighting back and/or supporting what is being done.  This burden will be my generations to carry and we had better start paying more attention – the future of our province and country depend on it.  If a dishonest fear campaign is mounted to scare the government from moving forward in a good direction, my generation needs to fight back.  If a campaign of dishonesty is launched, we need to launch a campaign of facts.  If the government is making a wrong decision, we need to speak up as well.

We are all to blame for the state of the healthcare debate in this province and I challenge all of us to be pragmatic in trying to fix it.  This is a great challenge we face and we are better off fighting it together!

From today on, let’s focus on the solutions, let’s be experimental and let’s make some small mistakes and learn along the way.  But most importantly, let’s move away from the poisoned debate that surrounds this crisis by each taking some blame for how we got here.

PP

Team PC: The Real Pat Godkin, Executive Director

Today marks the beginning of a new series of blogs that highlight the great people that make up Team PC. Over and over again I’ve emphasized the strength of the PC Party is in its people. These people are energetic, engaged and integral to the evolution that we are experiencing from within the Party.

I’ve started with Pat Godkin, the Executive Director of the PCAA. Why? Well, in my opinion, she is one of our cornerstones. She is the muscle behind the success of events, the mastermind behind new communications initiatives, the face of the PCAA office, and someone who doesn’t get enough credit for all she does.

I watched Pat at the PC AGM and Convention a few weeks back. In a word – WOW! She didn’t stop … and she didn’t stop smiling. She met every potential event hiccup head-on with wisdom and grace. It was incredible to me. Pat went out of her way to connect with as many people as possible. And even took time to encourage me and thank me for my own volunteer work, even though she is the one truly deserving of this Party’s thanks.

She always replies to emails and voicemails. She is engaged with every member who reaches out to her. She is passionate about the PCAA – it shows in the way she talks and in her actions. Her eyes are full of fire – ready for an evolution. She is one of the key individuals ushering in the new era of the PC Party. She encourages everyone to speak up and get engaged. She fits volunteers with roles they will excel at which in turn makes the Party excel.

Pat has a heart for people and a heart for the PCAA.

Bolded below are a series of questions I asked Pat. Her answers are below.

Why did you originally get involved in the Party?

I was always interested in politics, but I gained a new appreciation for our system when I was working in the United Arab Emirates (seven absolute Monarchies) and in Bolivia  (where they had almost 200 military coups in about 150 years of independence). I was home on a holiday and the PCAA Executive Director, Marilyn Haley asked me if I would like to help out on a short term basis and I said “Sure!”. That was 13 years ago.

What keeps you involved?

Definitely the people. It’s wonderful to work alongside Premier Stelmach, Caucus and an amazingly diverse group of staff and volunteers. I think we all share the same commitment to ensuring we have the most stable and democratic government in North America. That never gets boring!

Favourite part about your role?

I love events, especially the Premier’s Dinners and the AGM & Convention. After 13 years I still haven’t met everyone! It’s so much fun to finally put a face on someone you have been speaking with for several years on the phone or by email.

Your goal in your role? 

To elect 87 PC MLAs in 2012! Hey, it could happen! Also, I want to continue to embrace new ideas and technologies, without leaving anyone behind.

Favourite thing to do on the weekend?

Waking up without an alarm clock. After I roll out of bed I usually do some yoga, meditation and then start reading political blogs. It helps to start off zen 🙂

Favourite thing about politics?

I like feeling part of something bigger than myself. Love being part of the team.

Highlight of AGM?

I thought the President’s Luncheon with the Premier was awesome. People were really engaged and positive. It felt like a love fest for the Premier. It was a great way to kick off the event.

What did you do the day after AGM?

Drove home and packed for Cabo.  I highly recommend it. 🙂

Big thanks to Pat for taking time to answer these questions, so honestly and with such enthusiasm.

This is one of the many people that make me proud to be a PC and keep me so excited about the future of the PC Party.

CR xo

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

Guest Blog by Brian Dell: Unions Flex Muscles (again)

The following blog was posted on http://briandell.blogspot.com/ by a guy named Brian Dell, whom I have never met.  As you can see, Brian is a like-minded blogger.  I would like to thank Brian for agreeing to be a guest blogger on PCinYYC.

 

Much of what I blog about is based on well research facts – Brian presents some of these facts in his blog.  Now that I have your attention, I hope that you enjoy the continued education …. PP

 

Brian’s blog starts here ….

 

Section 29 of the Alberta Labour Relations Code explicitly allows unions to demand collective agreements whereby “all the employees… are required to be members of a trade union.” Only employees who convince the Labour Relations Board that their “religious belief” prohibits them from being a union member are exempt from this coercion, in which case an employee could potentially get his or her union dues directed to a charity instead of the union.

 

When Edmonton McClung introduced its motion to bar unions from forcing Albertans to pay dues that are then used for political purposes, the constituency association noted that Alberta is one of the few jurisdictions in the world that denies individual employees the right to opt out of having to pay mandatory union dues that are then used for political messaging.

 

In early 2008, in the lead up to the March 3 provincial election, an outfit calling itself “Albertans for Change” but in fact run by union bosses ran a series of TV and radio attack ads paid for by forced union dues. When the Merit Contractors Association and the National Citizens’ Coalition called attention to the fact that this astroturf group was using mandatory dues for activities unrelated to the core union activities of collective bargaining and grievance administration, the Alberta Federation of Labour responded saying Merit Contractors and the NCC were “simply trying to further their union busting agenda” and cited a 1991 Supreme Court of Canada case, Lavigne v. OPSEU. However, Mr Lavigne was not a member of and not required to join a union, unlike the case in Alberta where union membership is often forced. Indeed, when the Canadian Civil Liberties Association intervened in the case to support the union position, the CCLA concluded that “Lavigne’s protection is in his right to join or not to join” a union. Remove that protection and the Lavigne case is distinguishable.

 

Alberta Union of Public Employees spokesman David Climenhaga trotted out the “but the courts say” argument on his personal blog after the Wildrose Alliance AGM earlier this year to contend that passing a particular “right to work” law would be “a pointless gesture.” The McClung members who proposed the motion here anticipated this sort of retort, however, by attaching a legal opinion solicited by Merit Contractors from a Calgary law firm.

 

I might add that, in specific response to blogger Ken Chapman’s claims that the facts cited by the motion’s supporters were “unsubstantiated” and in need of “proof,” the union practices at issue here are prohibited in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and the 47 countries of the Council of Europe. While far left Canadian judges like Claire L’Heureux-Dubé have held that freedom of association implies no freedom to not associate, Article 20(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly affirms that negative right: “No one may be compelled to belong to an association.”

 

The European Council of Human Rights, perhaps the most famous of the Council of Europe’s bodies, ruled in 1981 by an 11 to 3 vote that a 1975 agreement between British Rail and three trade unions requiring union membership as a condition of employment violated Section 11 (freedom of association) of the European Convention on Human Rights (to which all Council members are a party). The 2006 case Sørensen & Rasmussen v. Denmark made it clear that a “closed shop” is still in violation even if it were made clear to a prospective job applicant in advance that union membership would be a condition of employment. “[T]here is little support in the Contracting States for the maintenance of closed shop agreements,” the Court added. The 2007 decision Evaldsson et al v. Sweden prohibited the use of union dues from non-members for non-bargaining (ie political) purposes, with the Court disapprovingly noting that “they had to pay the fees against their will to an organization with a political agenda.”

 

Although it is currently the case that in the United States unions can spend a member’s dues on politics, members have the right to opt out, a right that is currently denied in Alberta. Unions are currently in a panic about Republican gains in elections tomorrow because of fears that the GOP will change the obscure opt out procedure to an opt in requirement for dues union leaders want to spend on politics.

 

At this weekend’s PC Alberta AGM, union supporters tried to shout down opponents. When the vote was taken, it appeared close enough that some called for a count, a contention supported by the Edmonton Journal which described the margin as “narrow”, but the moderator dismissed a count as unnecessary and the union supporters declared victory. According to CTV, “[d]ozens of people, apparently union members, bought party memberships specifically for that vote and defeated the motion much to the dismay of many long-time party members.” The number of “Ten Minute Tories” might well have been significantly higher. In 2006, the Journal reported that a coalition of unions “apparently plans to buy as many as 10,000 Tory memberships” to get their man into the premier’s chair. As it is, the current chair of the government caucus, Robin Campbell, is a former union boss. South of the border in New Jersey, the AFL-CIO spends a quarter million per year running a “candidate school” to get their (Manchurian) candidates elected, and with considerable success given that this union school “has groomed more than 160 current officeholders.”

 

I nonetheless take some comfort in the fact a few grassroots PC members came to the AGM prepared to get their battle on against this economic phenomenon known as a labour supply monopoly or, in popular parlance, a union.

 

 

At the Wildrose Alliance AGM during the summer, there was essentially no floor battle to speak of since the unions had, in effect, pulled off an inside job. After cordial meetings with Alberta unions during the months leading up to the AGM, floor-crossing MLAs Rob Anderson and Heather Forsyth spent essentially all of their microphone time on the convention floor lobbying for closed shops and the killing of party planks like the one that protected “the democratic right to a secret ballot,” thus precluding the need for more transparently union-affiliated speakers to make the case. Party leader Danielle Smith, who had previously had her own tête à tête with AUPE’s boss (photo above at right), told media outside the convention room that the union coddling constituted a display of “sophistication.”

 

I relate the disturbing ties between the Wildrose caucus and union lobbyists in order to note that apparently every elected politician is either running scared from the unions or in their pocket. In the US, the Associated Builders and Contractors (a merit shop coalition) noted a study last year that found that union slush funds had contributed more than $1 billion to contract bidding schemes that increased the cost of construction projects for taxpayers. The equivalent slush funds in Alberta, known as MERFs or “Stab funds, were finally targeted by the Alberta government in 2008 by Bill 26, which also aimed to put a stop to the union practice of “salting” (having their people respond to hiring ads and then, after having been hired just in time to vote to unionize, walking off the job to leave the employer both short manpower and unionized). The schemes Bill 26 corrected were so outrageous the union bosses knew they could not organize popular protests against the bill, but provincial lawmakers were still so afraid of union muscle they passed the bill as the very last measure of the spring 2008 sitting and at 3:15 AM in the morning. Legislature personnel were furthermore so intimidated that security guards at the Leg were placed on high alert.

 

There are four major political parties in the province (five if you include the Alberta Party) and the leadership and/or caucus of none of them seems prepared to make an issue out of the fact that Alberta tolerates closed shops where Europeans do not, and that provincial legislation adds insult to injury by allowing unions to pile mandatory dues to be used for political lobbying on top of mandatory membership. The PC members who voted against the McClung proposal giving workers a right to opt out of having mandatory dues used to fund leftist causes are ultimately traitors when you consider the fact that in 2008 such money was used to fund a media assault on the PC Party, but “traitor” implies an allegiance that can be betrayed.

 

Albertans are entitled to a political alternative. The NDP accordingly has a good excuse for, say, not supporting the 29 Old Dutch employees whom the UFCW union and the Alberta Labour Relations Board say should be fired for refusing to pay union dues. For 38 years the UFCW and Old Dutch collective bargaining agreement provided for a voluntary dues check off. In the wake of a lengthy labour dispute, however, UFCW demanded that the dues be made mandatory.

 

Even though mandatory dues are virtually cost free to employers, Old Dutch did not agree. The obvious solution in the union’s view then became getting the government to step in and amend the Alberta Labour Code. This summer, the Stelmach government indicated that it would side against the 29 workers. Perhaps the Wildrose Alliance could have said something about this instead of going on about legal disputes in other provinces.