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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

a is for apathy

A is for many things, but in Alberta it seems like the biggest A these days is Apathy.

With quite possibly less than 40% of eligible Alberta voters showing up for the March 3 provincial election, there has been much speculation and armchair quarterbacking about why citizens of Alberta aren't participating in the democratic process. How do we solve this? Come and share your ideas on July 14...

Town Hall: Democratic Renewal

Hosted by MLAs David Swann and Laurie Blakeman.

Guest Panelists
- Les Brost - political commentator
- Joe Anglin - environmental activist and past Green Party candidate
- Ken Chapman - political consultant & blogger

July 14, 2008
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Glenora Community Hall
10426 - 136th Street


Anonymous said...

It would help if it wasn't being hosted by two Liberal MLAs (and by association it must be a Liberal party event).

Trevor said...

People didn't show for the election, you think they will show for this meeting?

This is going to be a bunch of liberals still whining because they got crushed in the election.

Spare me.

Anonymous said...

Ken Chapman is a Conservative and Joe Anglin ran for the Greens. How does that make it a liberal party event?

Rhys Courtman said...

Looking forward to it....

... there were two similar meetings here in Calgary these past few months. For the most part, I think, those meetings served to spark some creativity about how to (possibly) shake the Opposition in Alberta out of the doldrums; A few different ideas did seem to shake loose around that time, the "New Liberal" initiative among those.

Even if those ideas prove successful or not, getting together and beating the bushes for new initiative sure beats sitting on the benches hoping one shows up.

Anonymous said...

Multi partisan if anything. Swann and Blakeman are Liberals, Ken Chapman is a well known PC, and Joe Anglin is a former Green Party candidate.

I was at the Better Alberta meeting in Calgary and it was a positive experience. Hopefully this meeting will be just as positive.

pret said...

Good for Swann for organizing this event.

I wonder if any Conservative MLA's are planning on being there. Maybe I will call my MLA Tony Vandermeer's office and ask if he will be attending. This is an important issue across partisan lines.

tjk said...

Ken Chapman's not a conservative. He points out quite regularly that he is a PROGRESSIVE conservative.

Seems very opposition stacked and/or oriented, but I may swing by. Chances were much greater until Blakeman's name was included.

c in westminster said...

From the view here in BC it looks like Ed Stelmach is dropping the anchor on this file. He should take a card from Gordon Campbell's deck and take advantage of his large majority by pushing this issue. Not only could it deflect the attention that the hippie enviro-terrorists are getting -- it would also shift Albertans attention to it. Campbell was smart about it and will win a third majority when the next election roles around. If Conservatives in Alberta were looking to their future they would take this issue by the horns. But if the Liberals, the Greens, and "Progressive" Tories are the ones doing it at least someone is talking about it in Alberta.

A said...

This meeting won't help at all in cases where "a" stands for "apathy."

But where it stands for "abject frustration" that isn't about who lost as much as it's about what's wrong with the game, this is at least something.

And for that sliver of possibility, I'm in.

Rhys Courtman said...

"I wonder if any Conservative MLA's are planning on being there. Maybe I will call my MLA Tony Vandermeer's office and ask if he will be attending. This is an important issue across partisan lines."

I have my doubts. I would argue that the current state of Albertan democracy works fine for the Progressive Conservative Party; just look at their majority of seats.

And you need only look at the habitual absence of PC candidates from all-candidates forums during election time to see that, too.

Kuri said...

Rather toney nabe for a town hall meeting aimed at increasing grassroot participation. Might I suggest that future gatherings be situated in places where participation was lowest (i.e. low-income neighbourhoods?).

I'll want to check it out, though, if only out of curioustiy.

daveberta said...

Kuri - The person who booked the hall lives in a condo in the area and was able to book it through his community league.

Also, the poll in which the Glenora Community Hall is located only had a 54% turnout (wow, I am a nerd), which while higher than the average, is still embarrassingly low.

Anonymous said...

I like what swann is doing with this and also his attempts to form a single opposition. Even as someone who usually votes conservative, democracty in Alberta would definitely be better off with a stronger opposition party.

Competition leads to better service!!!

Does anyone know if swann is thinking about running for the liberal leadership?

Anonymous said...

Short of another peter lougheed with a vision that captures imagination of albertans.

Economic downturn is the only way people will get upset and thus become involved.

That is surely a huge reason why US is having record voter turnout.

Stop Telling Me I voted for the wrong team - I voted for the Winning Team! said...

This is obviosuly a liberal event with a couple of token people invited in order to try and suggest it is multi-partisan.

Because Blakeman has decided to show up I am suspicious it will turn into (if it's not already) a liberal leadership event. Yay.

I am still left with the indelible impression that the people that will show up to this event will be of the combined opinion that for there to be any democratic renewal in Alberta people will have to vote liberal.

For people to vote for anyone they have to have political parties that will compete for their vote and not just tell them who to vote for. The Albertans who bothered to vote voted the PC's in. It's high time we stopped trying to alienate those voters - the people who actually voted - and stop trying to ram this new and improved liberalism down everyone's throats.

And call it what it is, its a liberal event.

Good luck!

strathcona tory said...

I'm a frustrated conservative and I'll be there.

Thanks for posting this, Dave.

I'm particularly interested in hearing what Ken Chapman has to say.

Rhys Courtman said...


"I like what swann is doing with this and also his attempts to form a single opposition. Even as someone who usually votes conservative, democracty in Alberta would definitely be better off with a stronger opposition party.

Competition leads to better service!!!"

I would agree with that... and a consolidated opposition may also encourage more people to cast a ballot, by making the choice a lot simpler.

Instead of the current "multiple choice," the ballot would essentially become an "either\or" decision - the status quo under the Progressive Conservatives, or change.

Why not? It worked in Saskatchewan.

Jonathan said...

Interesting comments on the whining. I wonder what conservatives on the Federal scene were doing circa 1993-2006?

Even the most hardcore PC will admit that the line between party and government is not just blurred, but invisible. Call it what you like but it is certainly not democracy.

bernie said...

The democratic renewal meeting in Glenora was hosted by 2 Liberal mla’s. A full house was represented by all parties. A panel consisted of conservatives, a Green and a Liberal. The Greens and ND’s in the audience asked most questions and shared most opinions. The Liberals listened since they had held post election reviews.

Alberta Liberals lost significant number of seats in Leg but rec’d half the popular vote of governing party thus retaining viable opposition party with huge debt.

The ND’s lost official opposition status. At a recent convention, ND’s overwhelmingly voted not to join a one left party for fear of losing their ideology as well.

The Conservatives have no ideology to lose and their dream electoral team which consists of enshrined rural conservative brotherhoods could surely elect a fence post. Unfortunately, this dream machine has created an Alberta nightmare called VOTER APATHY.

The Greens have lots of ideas and most to gain since they have no budget and low membership.

What can the result of the democratic renewal meetings be?

Democratic renewal could result in a new party trying to engage Alberta eligible voters and change existing voters. This would also cause further dissemination to existing parties. Or the meetings could return party members to work even harder knowing the difficulty in establishing a new party. Alberta is unlike Saskatchewan who changes governing parties and a new party is accepted. Or will democratic renewal simply offer those seeking meaningful political dialogue in Alberta a venue.

What must happen in Alberta is electoral reform.

Rhys Courtman said...

"What must happen in Alberta is electoral reform."

Electoral reform likely won't occur so long as the Progressive Conservatives are in power. It's doubtful they'd want to change a system that works so well for them...

... barring a change to proportional rep, or something to that effect, consolidation in the Opposition is perhaps the best thing to do if you want to affect change.

Also, having a single Opposition party - or at least, a single credible Opposition party - may also make it easier to address the problem of debt and lack of funds that cripples just about the whole of the Opposition in Alberta, as it would be far easier to present said consolidated party as "the" government-in-waiting.

Anonymous said...

It was a great event. Can't wait to hear your feedback Dave!

kate said...

So what happens now?

kate said...

I should note that CPRN has a handbook for citizen engagement that I found helpful in my work: