Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Necessary Ask

I’m duly registered as the Alberta Party candidate in the upcoming by election in Edmonton-Whitemud.

It’s been a bit of a rush to get everything done but now that signs are made, pamphlets ordered and website up. I can focus on door-knocking, addressing the issues this by-election will bring front and centre.

It's always my preference, and that of the Alberta Party to run candidates in their own constituencies.  I was preparing to do just that this fall by throwing my name into a nomination contest in my own constituency of Leduc-Beaumont. 

However, when Premier Hancock suddenly resigned, with more than 16 months left before the next general election, the situation changed.  Two people in Whitemud who expressed an interest in running for the Alberta Party in Whitemud in a 2016 general election were unable to do so this by-election.  That left us with the option of putting a paper candidate on the ballot who could not take the time to door knock, meet people, represent the values of the Alberta Party in an active way, meet the media or participate in forums… or we could find someone from outside the constituency willing to do all of that, representing the freshest political option in Alberta.

I volunteered and the Alberta Party accepted.  Now I need to ask for your help.  With an obvious focus on electing our leader, Greg Clark in the by-election in Calgary-Elbow, we are counting on friends in and around Edmonton to help us make a proud and credible showing in Edmonton-Whitemud

Many have already volunteered your time and now that I am the official candidate, I can ask for donations. 

It’s not something I’m comfortable with (and I hope I never will be) but we're all aware how costly elections are.  It is unfortunate former Premier Hancock resigned 16 months early, but while the cost of signs, pamphlets, websites and office space is expensive… the cost of not contesting democratic elections is far higher.

So here I am, cap in hand, counting on my friends and supporters to help us fund this run.  If you have never made a political donation before, you'll be happy to know you will get a tax receipt that will get you back 75% of your donation, up to $200.  That means, if you write a cheque for $100 to support our run, when you submit the receipt with your taxes, you'll get $75 back in a refund.  That means you'll only be out of pocket $25 for supporting me in this race.

I promise everyone that we'll do this as fiscally prudently as possible.  We need signs and pamphlets and a website… and perhaps some office supplies, but we are working out of a volunteer’s home and so our costs will be minimal… far less than the long-established parties with corporate and union connections. 

If you can find it in your heart (and budget) to give us a bit of help, we will use your donation effectively and with great respect.  If I didn't believe the Alberta Party offers the best new option for changing the tone of politics in Alberta, I  wouldn’t be using my vacation to take part in this very important exercise in Alberta’s democratic process. 

Donations can be made through the website or cheques can be made out to "Will Munsey Campaign" and sent to our campaign office ℅ 499 Buchanan Rd,  Edmonton, AB,  T6R 2B5

Whatever you feel comfortable with will help us.  If you have a few hours of time one night, I’d love you to accompany me on the streets of Whitemud, dropping flyers (you don’t even need to knock on doors) or door-knocking and talking with people.

Thanks very much for reading and considering supporting us.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Who’s Afraid of Virginian Mandel?

“Lately, friends have been asking me, “Munsey, are you crazy, running in Edmonton-Whitemud against Stephen Mandel?

Well, I don't think I’m crazy, and here’s why. 

First of all, I didn’t intend to be the Alberta Party candidate in a 2014 by-election.  I was looking ahead at throwing my name into the ring for the 2016 general election in the riding of Leduc-Beaumont.

Then, back in the winter and spring, the wheels started falling off the PC government bus.  Alison Redford’s government was the focus of the ire of so many Albertans her caucus got scared and decided to pitch her under that same bus.

Enter Jim Prentice as our new as-yet-unelected premier.  You would'a thought a fiscally conservative premier would have sought the already vacant seat in Calgary Elbow, but that’s not what’s happened. Nope.  Mr Prentice appointed two unelected ministers to his new cabinet... and they PCs need to look for three seats. 

Then, Whitemud MLA (and former premier), Dave Hancock stepped down, even though he had another 16 months to serve… even when no one was asking him to resign (well, not constituents, anyway).

Now we have a by-election in Whitemud so Stephen Mandel can sit in the legislative assembly (I've heard he's already moving into Mr Hancock's office).  I admit that caught the Alberta Party a bit unprepared. 

So as the PC party “renews” itself yet again, the rest of us have to dance to a tune we didn’t choose.  The Alberta Party had a local resident-member interested in becoming the candidate for Whitemud in the 2016 election and another expression of interest from someone not yet a party member but our potential candidate was not in a position to put her name forward now.  Our constitution requires potential candidates have to be members for 30 days prior to the nomination process so while we're interested in the person who expressed the interest, we were left us scrambling

As the president of the Alberta Party for the last two years, and having already decided to seek the nomination in near-by Leduc-Beaumont in 2016, I am well-positioned to fly the Alberta Party flag.  I fully recognize I’m not a resident of Whitemud, but I suspect Whitemud voters recognize The Alberta Party is committed over the long-term to local fielding local candidates and accept that we’re simply adapting to another “rebuilding/rebranding” of the PC Party.   

I will fly the Alberta Party colours with pride.  Again, I recognize the importance of local people representing constituents and I’m not about to try to minimize that.  However, if elected, I will work for the people of Whitemud from morning to night at least five days a week, knocking on every door in the constituency prior to the 2016 election and being available to any and all constituents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  I’m a railroader, after all, and I’m ready to go to work day or night.

And as my wife assured me, “ Stephen Mandel probably puts his pants on two legs at a time… just like you do, dear.”

Monday, March 3, 2014

Let them eat cake!

Marie Antoinette

In a recent Twitter exchange I was taken to task for criticizing the cost of accommodations for Premier Alison Redford’s Executive Assistant when he stays overnight in Edmonton.

I tweeted, “he could have found decent accommodations for a cheaper rate than $200 per night for him to stay at the Hotel MacDonald.”

Someone replied the issue is a “tempest in a teapot” and that in the scheme of things $200 a night is not expensive… that Brad Stables (the premier’s EA) needs to be housed in safe, convenient, clean accommodations.

That response is valid, and I almost conceded the cost was not all that excessive, especially since the Hotel MacDonald offers provincial employees a special rate.  Yet, for some reason, I just can’t let go of the level of luxury the young EA seems to enjoy, or the way the evidence is piling up that Ms Redford is oblivious to the way her spending is affecting the way we see her.

First of all, her EA is not an elected official.  When our elected officials travel away from home they should be accommodated appropriate to their status and the business they are doing on our behalf.  But, Brad Stables was not elected. He works under contract, paid out of the public purse.

It’s not like I expect him to stay at some grungy motel on the edge of town, but I’m starting to get the feeling our current premier has no idea how many of the rest of us live.  She doesn’t even attempt to keep costs down when it comes to her own comforts and to those she favours.  

Her unnecessary trip to London during the Olympics, the $146,000 spent on hotel rooms that went unused, her use $45,000 in associated costs to fly home from South Africa after Nelson Mandela’s funeral, including the $20,000 spend on flying her EA to and from Johannesburg on a private journey.

I don’t want to come across as a spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation.  I think the premier needs to travel… and I think she needs to travel in a style that befits her elected position.  She is, after all, the premier of our great province.  Nor do I expect the people who do the work of this province—and travel away from their families and homes—to stay in Spartan of conditions. 

It would be refreshing if our political leaders tried to operate in a way that made us believe they understood where the money they're spending comes from.   We all appreciate a bit of comfort, but wouldn’t it be something if our leaders... you know... actually led... by example.