Friday, April 15, 2011

I Love Alberta

For the last several months I’ve been on an incredible journey as I have sought the Leadership of The Alberta Party. I’ve met wonderful people who have great ideas – about what they want to see this Province become.

They have told me they want a long-term vision for Alberta; not just for the next election or to grab a headline, but for generations to come. They have told me they want government and leadership that will build a solid long-term plan around that vision as well. And they want political leadership to actually make it happen.

In my campaign, I have brought these issues from the majority of Albertans – rural and urban – to our Party. Those voices reflect a clearly moderate, centrist and inclusive Alberta and Canada.

I’ve also had the opportunity to recently meet with several senior members of the Alberta Party, who told me that many of my fellow Alberta Party members find it distasteful, even offensive, that I do not (in their opinion) respect the Party’s policies and philosophies by coming out with definitive statements that “put a period at the end of the sentence”. They have also suggested I should not bring up issues that have not been raised through the “Big Listen” process. I’ve been told that the Leader of our party is to simply listen, and is not to attempt to shape policy in any way.

With all due respect – If we are not prepared to “put the period at the end of the sentence” on ending Aboriginal poverty; on ending industrial wastewater and emissions; on eliminating illiteracy; on demanding stable, publicly funded healthcare and educational systems – then, yes, my campaign is clearly at odds with the philosophies and policies of The Alberta Party.

A couple of weeks ago, Jeff Blodgett (one of President Obama’s organizers) inspired us with many things, but particularly that "leaders needed to be authentic and genuine". But during the past couple of weeks I have been asked several times by Party people to “tone down” the fact that I’m an energy CEO, and to “soften” the message that I’ve been in the energy industry for 28 years. I had hoped that my energy sector knowledge would be seen as a benefit to the Party. I had hoped it would be seen as an opportunity to build bridges and help move Alberta forward into a long-term vision of energy and the environment. Instead, I’m told this is a bad image for the Party.

To be authentic and genuine, I want to make this clear (again): The energy industry needs to make positive change. It needs to change its practices with regard to industrial wastewater and emissions. It needs to continue to improve its methods of environmental response. It needs to take a long-term view of wealth creation, and long-term capital infrastructure investment for all Albertans. I was very clear on these issues during my campaign. And I also want to be clear that I am very proud to be part of the energy industry and the new generation of professionals that are determined to bring balance to that industry.

Many Albertans have asked me to make a statement on the “power line” issue. I have held off making such a statement, as it would have been definitive, and not in keeping with the Alberta Party policy process. But it needs to be definitive, particularly for a leadership candidate. This has a dramatic impact on all Albertans, as well as the energy industry. We need to take an immediate and courageous stand on this issue. But, as a Leadership Candidate for The Alberta Party I cannot make a definitive statement because, to many in the Party, this would not respect the policy process.

I want to express my sincere, heartfelt gratitude to all of you who have encouraged me in the campaign. Your support, encouragement, thoughtful and heartfelt discussions about real issues that really matter to you, your families and your communities is what always made my day.

However, I cannot continue to run a campaign that offends the Party, including some of the Board, and causes them to say I don’t respect the Party’s policies and processes.

All of my platform issues and comments have always been within the clear context of Alberta Party policies. And, to be true to myself and not hypocritical, I will continue to “put the period at the end of the sentence” with respect to poverty, illiteracy, sustainable funding of healthcare and education, wastewater and emissions, an Alberta-first agricultural strategy, and other issues. I will not, as was suggested to me by a senior Party member, “embrace the ambiguity”.

I am a moderate, centrist and inclusive Albertan. At the 61st Annual Canadian Oilmen's Executive Association Governors' Ball, which I attended a few days ago, several senior energy executives told me they found such a notion appealing. But they would only support strength, not ambiguity.

Here is my video:

I will continue my efforts strenuously to bring a moderate, centrist and inclusive long-term vision and strategy to Alberta. I have listened to Albertans, and I have heard what they’ve said. And I am prepared to act on what they tell me.

Many of you know I’m on a journey to lose 50 lbs by 2012. You’ve shared your personal stories and congratulated me. I’ve talked about it a lot, thought about it a lot, and consulted with my doctor about it. I thank all of you who’ve given me encouragement. And I haven’t lost a single pound. In fact I’ve gained a few. This morning I woke up, got on the exercise bike, and had a healthy breakfast.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

No Bluffing in Bluffton

Tonight was another one of those watershed moments that has happened to me on the "campaign trail" when I met with rural Albertans in another rural Alberta town. I listened, and we talked (and talked) about the real issues that are affecting their everyday lives and existence. Those people, and those issues, are why I am running to be Alberta Party Leader. This leadership race isn’t just a contest to me; some match to be won. It’s much bigger than that. Sue Huff, our interim leader, said it best last Friday at the Jeff Blodgett Alberta Party event in Calgary, “people are hungry for change”. And I can tell you tonight, once again, Albertans aren’t bluffing. They've had enough, and yes, they are willing to take action. And that is what I want to be part of – making positive change happen in my beloved Alberta.

The good folks in Bluffton, and many other parts of Alberta, tell me they don’t have time to wait. Their land and their livelihoods are at risk. They fear the government will come and take their land for a completely wasteful power project which is not needed and not wanted – except by big multinational interests. They fear the government will let real estate investment trusts come and take their farms, and then rent them back to them. They fear that our government would rather industrialize Alberta's farms, while they ignore proactive local agriculture initiatives. They fear our government will continue to destabilize public education, closing their community schools, then lease out the buildings to private companies while their kids get bussed for miles instead of walking. They fear our government will continue to “farm out” its responsibilities to more corporate and entrepreneurial control – who would then charge a “user fee” – we wouldn't want to call it a tax.

From what I hear on the campaign trail, the people of Alberta aren’t bluffing. They are seriously looking for a party that can send new elected representatives – and they are willing to elect them – to the Legislature in Edmonton. They want true, authentic MLAs who will represent their hopes and dreams for a better Alberta, for their children, grandchildren and communities, whether rural or urban. They are looking at two young parties. The Alberta Party is one of them.

And that’s where you and I come in. With the Alberta Party we can listen and clearly hear what Albertans want. And we can bring the change that’s been 40 years coming. This I believe. With the creative and innovative energy the members of The Alberta Party can bring to our beautiful Alberta, the time for action and transformative change is now. But, I am told, we better be prepared to “transact” soon – to actually deliver on what Albertans are telling us. They aren't bluffing in Bluffton, Red Deer, Coaldale, Airdrie, Lloydminster or Banff – and every other town and city in our beautiful Alberta. They are willing to see what we can do. But we have to show them we will act upon what we hear. To them, the time has come for a Big Change.

Come and join me, first as a member, then as a volunteer, and then as a voter to bring the change Albertans want.