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Monday, October 26, 2009

reboot alberta.

As the Second Session of the Twenty-Seventh Legislature re-convenes in Edmonton, I am finding it increasingly difficult to get excited about the kind of debates that we have become accustomed to witnessing on the floor of our elected assembly. With only 13 opposition MLAs in the Assembly, much of Hansard have unfortunately become an endless echo chamber for the chorus of backbench PC MLAs either reading pre-scripted soft-ball talking points or attempting to gain points with their political masters through flattery. Of course there are exceptions, but they remain far and few.

The debate outside the Legislature is a very different story. Over the past year, I have met an increasing number of engaged citizens who are intent on carving a new direction for our city and province outside the realm of traditional partisan politics. Evolving across the province - ChangeCamp Edmonton, CivicCamp Calgary, and even out at lunch - I have witnessed engaged citizens congregating to flesh out the next big out-of-the-box ideas to drive Alberta into the future.

I am particularly interested in attending the upcoming Reboot Alberta meeting to be held in Red Deer from November 27 to 29. Organized by Don Sherman, Michael Brechtel, former Cabinet Minister David King, and increasingly disengaged PC member Ken Chapman, the weekend event is billed as an opportunity for progressive-minded Albertans to work together to develop a vision for our province, and start to explore how to bring that vision to life (which is key).

Last week, Ken and I met for coffee and had a great discussion about the potential for re-visioning citizenship in Alberta and how to re-engage individual Albertans to participate in the way they are governed. Ken successfully pitched the concept of Reboot Alberta to me and I am excited about the opportunity that this meeting presents. While I am not convinced that a new political party should develop from this meeting (nor is it the ultimate solution to re-engaging Albertans), the leadership vacuum that our province is feeling presents an opportunity for change that Albertans haven't seen in a long time. As I have written before, it is only a matter of time before we witness a big political shift in our province, but it will be up to Albertans to decide what this change will embody.

If you would like more information about Reboot Alberta, please email Ken at ken@cambridgestrategies.com.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Alberta might need more than a reboot.

We night need to turn it off, unplug the power cord, and then plug it back in and turn it on.

Seriously though. Worst name ever.

I know it's just a name, but... said...

re·boot (rē-bōōt')
To turn (a computer or operating system) off and then on again; restart.

Usually when I do this, I end up in the same place I was before I rebooted my computer.

daveberta said...

I use a mac. I can't remember the last time I had to 'reboot'.

Anonymous said...

'Reboot' is an understatement. 'Overhaul Alberta' is more accurate.

Chester J said...

Agreed, Anonymous 12:24 - Alberta could use a whole new OS, not just a reboot.

And I have to say, I fought the urge to suggest they change the name to "Press CTRL-ALT-DEL and close the unnecessary background processes Alberta".

Oops, looks like I gave in to that urge after all.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest the the political shift will be to the right, and as it should be. When one looks at the left-leaning options, we have the protest-socialist NDP and the Alberta Liberal party which has just admitted it is "entirely irrelevant". I kid you not, Dave, when I worked on Laurie Blakeman's executive committee, they were incensed by Anthony Henday Drive. They were convinced that, and I quote, "it's the Tories' way of killing Edmonton by making the traffic drive around the outside". Unfortunately, that sort of rediculous thinking sums up the ALP.

The mere fact that you think a non-partisan movement can achieve government in Alberta speaks to your irrationality. If someone holds a view that you do not agree with, partisanship exists. The closest thing I have seen to a non-partisan party is the WRA. If a WRA MLA can vote against the party line, and in accordance with the riding's wishes, partisanship IS being dismantled.

It could be that Alberta is the MAC of provincial governance. It continuously works well with a reboot needed only every 40 years or so....but reboots with essetially the same operating system.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:41,

I don't think Dave was saying that this non-partisan group should form the government. I think he's talking about an engaged group of citizens getting together to discuss making Alberta better.

Anonymous said...

But that's the irony isn't it? Government is a key tool in "making Alberta better". You can try all you want through other venues, but without access to the kind of expertise and capital that come from being the government, what exactly can you achieve?

This non-partisan movement is hocus pokus. What Alberta needs is multiple competitive political parties. With the WAP's recent movement we seem to be inching towards that... too bad the Alberta Liberal Party elected a joke as leader. Only the PCs can get away with doing that right now.

Albertagirl46 said...

See you there Dave. As for the concern about the name "call me anything, just don't call me late for dinner". :)

Anonymous said...

Reboot!

Anonymous said...

Reboot Alberta sounds like an opportunity for disenchanted red Tories to vent...but not much else. Why don't Rebooties join forces with the DRP and make a real run at the governing party instead of just settling for a few minor policy changes in the existing Tory platform? If disaffected groups split the "unhappy vote" then no gains will be made in the next election!

Eric said...

Hmmm, wonder about Chapman's company and their government of Alberta connections? Something is up with that.

To those of you who have never had to reboot a frozen Mac, just wait a couple of years and you'll be doing it all the time. Happens to all of us who own a Mac.

Anonymous said...

Hats off to those who want to engage in NGO, civic, interest, advocacy, protest -- whatever -- movements or groups. This kind of engagement and participation is important. But Dave's (and presumably Ken's) diagnosis of the current predicament verges on the absurd. All this naive silliness about post-partisanship and the leadership vacuum. Not really very helpful. Calling this group "progressive" is self-congratulatory spin. Most of those people aren't really progressive in the customary sense of that term.

But you did get one thing right Dave, which is the absurd spectacle of the backbench Tory MLAs asking Tory Ministers questions...questions that the Minister has in front of him/her, generally because they've been written by the Minister's staff. Excellent use of public resources Ed!

daveberta said...

Thanks for all the comments. One thing that I've noticed is that some people have had a hard time understanding what my motivations are when I talk about discussing politics outside of the traditional political parties.

A non-partisan group can't achieve government in a parliamentary system and that's never been my goal. I want to see Albertans get re-engaged with their citizenship. The traditional political parties have failed miserably at this important task - people don't trust them and they are generally controlled by a small group of insiders - but they are still have central control over the political system.

I want to get people involved from outside the traditional parties. If they join parties afterwards, then good for them, that is their decision. But right now, I don't see any of our elected political leaders seriously examining why citizens are disengaging from the traditional political structure, and how to change it. It's not the fault of citizens, it's the fault of an outdated political structure that hasn't responded to societal change.

That is why I am interested in starting discussions outside of political parties.

Cheers,

Dave

Alberta Altruist said...

Dave,
I think it is great to engage people and empower them with nonpartisan knowledge and ideas. Hats off to Ken, yourself and others working towards this. The problem in AB is not the parties but the attitude that precedes them. Left, right, centre, conservative, liberal... who cares? Good government is needed and the only ones to ensure it exists is our citizens. The more they understand the more engaged they will be in holding our system accountable.

Rob Harvie said...

My take? The machine is there for the taking. The problem? Why would anyone want to seriously become part of it. What's the major incentive to become an MLA for any party? The pay, frankly, is not nearly attractive enough for most Albertans to put their current career on the backburner to take a leave of absense to be an MLA.

However - if you want to join the PC Party or the Liberal Party, or for that matter the NDP or WRA, go ahead.

Here are the choices:

a) Become a PC and work to make things better from the "inside";
b) Become a Liberal, and seek to make things better from the "inside" to hopefully gather enough support to if not form a government - to threaten to form the government;
c) Become a member of another party and seek to do the same - as per the current "protest" party, the WRA.

BUT - and here's the thing. It's not enough for YOU to think you have good ideas - you have to articulate that in a way to resonate with others - with the public in particular, because it's all about votes.

This is what the Liberals don't get. They gaze at their navels and refuse to consider the reality of the prevalance of small "c" conservatism in Alberta.

So - I think broad and open discussion (something more compelling than just complaining about what IS) is a great idea - the trick, however, will be creating a reasoned and broadly attractive message that can get people re-engaged.