Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Political Bowling.

Edmonton Journal columnist Todd Babiuk wrote a piece a few weeks ago about his "bowling date" with representatives of the Liberal Party of Alberta and the new Alberta Party. The gist of his effort was to find out why the two parties don't just merge... since they seem to stand for many of the same things... at least in Babiuk's perspective. The piece ends without any real reason why the two parties don't get together. I responded to Babiuk's piece with the following letter to the editor that appeared in the "Letters" section of the Journal on February 17th.

Since coming onto the public radar, the media has portrayed the Alberta Party as dissatisfied Liberals. Although that's an easy angle for journalists to try and understand the roots and reasons behind the Alberta Party, it misses the point of the new Party, and why it's gaining traction so quickly.

What excites many of us is the diversity of those involved in the new Party... and it isn't made up of any one traditional political group. There are ex-Progressive Conservatives... ex-Greens... ex-Liberals... ex-New Democrats... and a whole lot of people who never wanted to self-identify as a member of any political party. Even with it's name, the party has shunned an old way of partisan thinking and opens the possibilities that there is a political entity that is prepared to look beyond traditional party labels and partisan thinking

As a rural Albertan, I see in this new party a chance to break away from the narrow classification as a "conservative farmer" which puts me at odds with "urban liberals... and allows me to be simply an Albertan looking for better ways to move forward.

I see in the new party a chance to re-build rural Alberta into vibrant communities, where families live, and work and play... where municipalities are allowed greater decision-making power and won't have policy imposed by the province. I see a party committed to subscribing to good ideas, whether they come from the right or the left. I see a party that puts less importance on political identity than it does on good policy.

I see a party that is willing to give Alberta's environment equal status to our economic well-being... and that understands the two are inextricably linked. I see a party that will attempt to balance the province's need to organise land-use and plan for the future, with landowners' rights to steward their own land, and to a fair appeal process and fair compensation when a landowner's rights are compromised.

I see a party that does not carry the baggage of an outdated political label (fairly or unfairly burdened) foisted upon it from far-removed circumstances... and a party that would rather spend time and energy on policy than explaining why a toxic name doesn't matter.

At 50, I'm no "babe in the woods" willing to believe everything with the new Alberta Party will be smooth sailing or problem free. However, its commitment to open and democratic process, and no allegiance to old ways of thinking, this party stirs me with excitement for what might be. As a member of the new party, I'm not interested in mergers with the Alberta Liberal Party, The Progressive Conservative Party... or any other party, for that matter. I am, however, interested in working constructively with all Albertans (of any political stripe) to make Alberta the best place it can be for all Albertans... for Canada... and even the world.

If I'd been invited to bowl with Todd Babiuk, that's what I would have told him.

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