I'm appearing at the All-candidates' Forum hosted by the grade 10s at New Sarepta Community High School tomorrow night. Below are the introductory remarks I've prepared. Once I start talking, everything is bound to change... but this is the direction I'm going to start... and loop around to in the end.
Oddly enough, it was my own son (Curtis) who was randomly selected to introduce me.
Thanks, Curtis… and thanks to the grade 10s for organizing the forum.
I’m going to use my four minutes to give you an introduction of the Alberta Party. We’ve only been around since 2010 and many people don’t know much about us.
Albertans haven’t had much choice in provincial elections. If you weren’t happy with the PCs… if you thought they’d stopped listening… if you figured they’d forgotten who pays their salaries… if you believed they’d lost touch with average Albertans… there wasn’t anywhere to turn. Many Albertans simply stopped voting.
The NDP are too far left for a lot of us. The Liberals are hamstrung by that name and a lot of unbalanced federal policy. The fact is… neither of these parties even went to the trouble to find a local candidate for this election.
But this election, George is looking over his shoulder. The Wildrose Party gets credit for that. But the alternative they offer makes some people uncomfortable… Anyway, the Wildrose Party is largely made up of people who used to be PCs themselves. I think their slogan ought to be: “Send the PCs a message! Vote for people who used to be PCs.
Enter the Alberta Party. We began as a group of people tired of the partisan bickering and the negative tone of our public debate. We believe good ideas can come from anywhere on the political spectrum… and when they do, they shouldn’t be ridiculed just because the “other guys” thought of them.
We formed the Alberta Party to find common ground… and look for a better way to do politics.
In the last two years, we’ve held hundreds of meetings with thousands of Albertans… all around this province… in coffee shops… in private kitchens… in town halls… and we asked Albertans three things:
1. What challenges do you and your family face and what concerns do you have for the future?
2. What are your hopes and dreams for Alberta?
3. What are you thankful for as an Albertan?
What we heard in those Big Listens has become the basis of our policy.
I admit, we aren’t as fully developed as the Wildrose Party… and we don’t have decades of government experience… and I can tell you right now… we don’t have a fraction of the money either of these guys have behind them… but I actually think that’s a good thing. We don’t owe anything to any interest group.
The Alberta Party has created a credible option for people sick of partisan nonsense… for people who want to build on good ideas… not knock them down. I’m going to leave it to you tonight to ask me about our vision for Alberta… so you can decide for yourself if we’re for real.
But I’m also going to promise you three things tonight… promises that won’t cost you a dime… and which I know I can keep:
- We’ll be constructive. We will offer solutions to the challenges Albertans face and not simply complain about what other parties stand for.
- We’ll be respectful and positive. We won’t attack other parties, or those who support them… and offer credit where credit is due.
- We’ll listen and learn from you. We know we don’t have all the answers. I might not be able to answer every question… but at least you’ll know I’m not trying to snow you.
A lot of you want change. I get that. A lot of you are thinking the only way to get that change is to vote for the Wildrose Party.
Others are worried about the change the Wildrose Party represents and believe a vote for George is the way to prevent change that makes you nervous.
But there is another credible choide… You can dream a bigger… help build the Alberta Party and it’s goals of cooperation, inclusion and public engagement.
We can dream bigger. Achieving those dreams will take leaders who work for the common good… who don’t care about left or right (or further right)… or who has done them favours. We need leaders willing to represent people… all people, regardless of economic or social standing, race, or political stripe.
Your choice is between cynicism and hope. Albertan’s dreams deserve more than short-sighted, partisan politics. Albertans deserve a government that seeks their input and makes common sense decisions for the common good.
We’ll always achieve more by voting for what we want than voting against what we don’t want.