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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

look outside the dome.

Alberta's Opposition should look for critics outside its ranks.

Though the Official Opposition has just released a new lineup of MLA critic roles for the upcoming Legislative session, newly elected leader David Swann should look outside the ranks of the nine-member Liberal Caucus to fill some roles.

Just as Stephen Harper appointed Josée Verner to represent Quebec in the Federal Conservative caucus in 2004, and Stéphane Dion appointed Bob Rae and Gerard Kennedy to the Federal Liberal shadow cabinet in 2007, similar moves in Alberta could be a game changer for the Opposition. As both the Liberals and New Democrats only succeeded in electing MLAs from Calgary, Edmonton, and Lethbridge, appointing critics from outside the Legislature could: 1) strengthen voices from regions of Alberta that aren’t represented by the Opposition in the Legislature; 2) make critic responsibilities more manageable for sitting MLAs; and 3) strengthen the quality of opposition critiques and responses to Government decisions.

Though these critics would not have a seat in the Legislature, the Opposition in Alberta is hardly in a position to be picky. After 37 years of one-party government, it’s long past due for the Opposition to start acting outside the traditional political structure. With traditional politics failing to connect with Albertans on a meaningful level (as demonstrated by the 60% of Albertans who did not vote in the March 2008 election), this is one example of how the political establishment in the Legislature could approach politics differently.

A change like this may seem minuscule or insignificant in the short-term, but it has the potential to change the long-term culture of politics in Alberta. By bringing a larger diversity of ideas and voices into the political debate, there is a chance it could make democracy in Alberta a little more competitive, and in turn, a little healthier.

14 comments:

Corey Hogan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Corey Hogan said...

I really like this idea. I don't even think it's outside the traditional structure.

And running as a candidate who's already been a critic? Could give some good returns on balloting day.

Denny said...

I agree that this is an especially good idea for small caucuses such as the Liberals and NDP.
Not only would it allow them to create some sort of regional representation for their parties, but it could be advantageous to have someone who is well versed in a certain area acting as the opposition's critic. Want to have a health critic with some experience in the area and credibility, but you caucus does not have any former doctors, nurses or other health care practitioners in it, appoint someone from the outside.

-dj said...

What a smart idea. The ALP could use some more of those if they are to right the ship in a big way.

Duncan said...

That would also make it easier to expense lunch if Dr. Swann makes you my critic.

Matt Grant said...

This is an awesome idea. I'm assuming you've shared it with Dr. Swann. You should if you haven't,

calgarygrit said...

Ooo...I like that. Especially when you have a small caucus with no rural representation. It's a good way to showcase future candidates.

Ian said...

It seems counterintuitive to claim to be a democratic alternative however and then to go and appoint unelected positions.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, poor idea. This is tantamount to Steven Harper's appoint of Michael Fortier to the Senate & Cabinet. He used the excuse of not having enough MPs in the Quebec area, and this is the same idea on a much smaller scale.

People wouldn't like it. It won't attract votes.

Denny said...

I think the difference between this, and what Harper did with Fortier is that these people would be more along the lines of spokespeople, and they're not being paid out of the public purse.
Harper appointed Fortier to the senate, which came with a substantial paycheque, and appointing him to cabinet further increased his compensation.

Matt Grant said...

Exactly, they wouldn't have a vote in the Leg, they wouldn't really get legislation passed, they wouldn't be paid by tax-payers, and they wouldn't run departments.

The Fortier situation isn’t analogous at all.

Party of One said...

It's called the "extra-(meaning without)parliamentary party, and is quite developed in some parts of the world, especially in countries with some form of PR voting.

And yes, CalgaryGrit is right, it's a great way to identify recruit, and develop talent.

Party of One said...

That's "extra-paliamentary" party, I mean.

Party of One said...

Errrr...."extra-parliamentary". Extra-palimentary presumably refers to a "pal" on the side that one might have to pay palimony to...

I really should post while I'm awake!