Allison Redford’s New Years Resolutions

The only thing more irritating than your own New Year’s resolutions are those made for you by someone else.  Nevertheless, I’ve created 10 New Year’s resolutions for Alison Redford.  Hey, she’s busy preparing for the spring election, I’m sure she’ll appreciate the gesture.  So here goes:

1.  Find the line between “politician” and “public servant” and enforce it

This shouldn’t be too difficult.  “Politicians” focus on their political party’s best interests while “public servants” focus on…you guessed it…the public’s best interests.  So no more misguided statements from the likes of Finance Minister Liepert about why there were no non-PCs participating in the round table discussions about the 2012 budget.  He said it was a government process.  Yes we got that, but what about the fact that only PC members were invited to attend?  Mr Liepert was acting as a politician when he should have been acting as a public servant.

2.  Listen more, talk less and share (also known as Public Consultation)

We love public consultation provided we’re actually consulted!  It’s not enough to invite your PC friends (see resolution #1) and push the rest of us to an on-line survey, then triumphantly declare that you’ve consulted all Albertans.  You haven’t.  We know it and you know it so stop it.  While we’re at it, we’d like to see the results of the public consultation processes.  We interested in what other Albertans are thinking (and we don’t really trust you).

3.  Demand accountability  

MLAs who are given cabinet posts are accountable for the actions of their ministries and you as Premier are accountable for the actions of your ministers.  Ministers who dance around failures in their ministries should be removed from office.  It’s early days yet but two ministers are on the knife edge and should be turfed if their performance does not improve immediately.

Both of these ministers are responsible for our most vulnerable citizens—the sick, the elderly and the disabled.  Mr VanderBurg, Seniors Minister, has called for a judge-led “probe” into the recent scalding deaths in provincial facilities.Health Minister Horne is calling for a “proactive” investigation into the spate of medical test misdiagnoses.

There have been enough probes, investigations and inquiries in these two ministries to fill a warehouse with paper.  The correct ministerial response is:  you’re right, this is unacceptable, we’ll be back in 2 months to show you how we’ve fixed it.

4.  Transparency

Alison, this one needs a lot of work.  The freedom of information laws have been in place for years and yet the outgoing Privacy Commissioner, Frank Work, has repeatedly expressed concern over your government’s efforts to circumvent these laws.  You promised transparency, but once elected you delivered a Freedom of Information pledge.  A pledge??  To do what…obey the law?

Instead of trying to appear more transparent, be more transparent.  Start by disclosing the amount the PC party is paying to top-up your salary.  And yes, this is our business because these funds are donations.  If the top-up is $3000 we won’t care, but if it’s closer to $100,000 then we want to know who the donors are so that we can watch for conflicts of interest.

5.  Give the Opposition some credit

You don’t have all the answers.  Accept that.  Allow others to input into your decisions.  Your government represents all Albertans, not just those with PC membership cards.  You were well advised to heed your own Mr Marz, who bravely spoke out against your .05 drinking and driving bill.  You’d be equally well advised to pay heed to the Opposition MLAs.  How else will you know what we’re thinking?

6.  Uphold the democratic process

No more ”faux throne speeches” on days reserved for private members bills and no more ramrodding contentious legislation through the House under the guise of “informed debate”.  There’s nothing more to add to this point—it’s such a flagrant abuse of the democratic process that it’s unconscionable.  See also resolution #5, give the opposition some credit.

7.  Stop the yo-yo budget process

From Feb 2011 to Oct 2011 the 2012 budget was in deficit (Mr Morton), no it wasn’t (Mr Snelgrove), yes it was (Mr Liepert).  Get real.  The PC budget process is a yo-yo driven by (1) the price of oil and gas and (2) where we are in the election cycle.  It is symptomatic of irresponsible governance.  You asked Albertans for their input into the 2012 budget.  Now create a real budget and test it with the voters instead of promising the world to get elected and then slashing social programs once you’re in office.

8.  No more “bait and switch” on campaign promises

I don’t care how you package it, the Health Quality Council investigation under the Health Quality Council Act is not the same as a public inquiry under the Public Inquiry Act.  And promising to support public funded healthcare is not the same as promising to support the publicly delivered healthcare.  Gary Mar lost the leadership race because he clearly stated he supported privately delivered healthcare.  You said the opposite.  So before you slide us into the arms of even more private service providers we need to talk.  And on that point see resolution #1 public consultation.

9.   Get elected by demonstrating authentic leadership

You respect “authentic leadership” which you define as “this is who I am, if you elect me this is who I’ll be”.** When you were elected you said:  “Make no mistake—we’re going to do things differently”*** So here we are.  These resolutions embody “doing things differently”.  Breaking them is not the same as breaking a resolution to lose 10 pounds.  We won’t care if you’re plump, but we will care if we can no longer trust you.

10.  Sing in public more often

You were the key note speaker at a recent fund raising event.  You praised the efforts of the Homeless Foundation to improve the lives of disadvantaged Albertans.  Then you sang “In the Jungle” with the Heebee Geebees.  It’s easy to be magnanimous when there is nothing at stake.  Alison, if you let your heart and spirit guide you as it did that night you will accomplish great things.  But if you succumb to the pressure of the PC party (and perhaps it’s impossible not to be swallowed by the machine) then even if you win the election you will have lost your purpose.

Good luck.  We’ll see you at election time.

*Calgary Herald, Dec 31, 2011, p A6

** Calgary Herald, Oct 29, 2011 A4  

***Calgary Herald, Dec 30, 2011, A4

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16 Responses to Allison Redford’s New Years Resolutions

  1. Elaine Fleming says:

    Our Premier would be very wise to take this counsel to heart, Susan. I would think the clarity of your message to her would be appreciated, especially as it comes from one lawyer to another. Thanks for sharing your valuable insights with the rest of us, too. 2012 could prove to be even more interesting, politically speaking, in Alberta than 2011!

  2. I agree with you Elaine, 2012 will be a very interesting year for ALL political parties. The Premier’s missteps should drive the the two minute Tories (of which I was one) back into the arms of the opposition parties. The challenge faced by the opposition parties is to find a way to bring the majority of these voters into their party instead of allowing them to scatter across all of the opposition parties, thereby splitting the vote. That will take charismatic clear thinking leadership!

  3. roy wright says:

    Short, sharp and pretty darned pointed! All of the resolutions are based on common sense framed in the commitments made by our Premier. Now we get to sit back (not likely!) and see if she chooses Door A (fulfills her promises), Door B (pretends to deliver her promises through sleight of legalize, or Door C (blow right through the promises because Albertans don’t care, won’t notice or the press is asleep at the switch).

    I agree with Elaine…political times in 2012 will be a barn burner. Lets hope lots of integrity joins centre stage with our politicians and we can all regain hope for our province.

  4. Door C…now there’s an alternative I hadn’t given much thought to, probably because there are a number of us who are, to use Nenshi’s phrase, “hyper-engaged” and we forget that the majority of Albertans are not. One way to ensure that the Premier will fulfill her promises (Door A) is to work hard to ensure that more opposition candidates get elected. An effective opposition will result in a more balanced democratic process. I’m in and I’m sure you are too!

  5. roy wright says:

    It just dawned on me that Elaine’s comments about Alison listening to you as “lawyer to lawyer” is only one half of the story. When the election writ is dropped, electoral boundaries shift, thus putting you into Calgary-Elbow, which also happens to be Alison’s riding. She should listen to you as one of her constituents (apart from being everyone’s Premier).

    I presume she will make a few token appearances in her riding, and hopefully you can ask her in person how her resolutions are coming along. Lets hope she does not borrow a page from the Harper book of democracy, and have you blocked at the front door because of your blog, or colour of your car. Yes, 2012 is shaping up to be quite exciting (guess you can call that terminal naivety!).

  6. Ah yes, thanks for pointing that out. Like so many Albertans I would welcome the opportunity to talk with the Premier and get her take on whether she’s delivered on the promises she made during her leadership campaign. The ThinkHQ poll (Herald Dec 15/11) said that 55% of those polled thought she was doing a good job on delivering on her promises. The only rough spot was her promise to call a public inquiry–only 6% of those polled thought she’d kept that promise, 53% thought she’d broken it. I’m in the 53%.

    And Roy, it’s not terminal naivety…it’s optimism and perseverance!

  7. Susan;
    Very well said. As 2012 unfolds, early though it is, I remain optimistic about the future here. We have everything we need to make this province one of the leading economies in the world – our Premier needs to make sure we capitalize on our promise. She most certainly should listen to her very wise constituent.
    Happy new year to you and Roy.

    • Thanks Sheila. We can all take heart in your comment that we have everything we need to make Alberta successful–particularly since you’ve researched this very issue for your two books*. It’s all here–the resources, the people, the innovative and caring spirit–all we have to do is manage it wisely.

      *”Catching a Rising Tide” and “An Extraordinary West”.

  8. Carlos Beca says:

    Happy New Year

    Very well said and I am sure we would be a much better province if our premiers would follow them. Somehow politicians always agree with you before and especially after they leave office. I am sure Alison Redford agrees with you in many of them except that now she is running the Cult and she no longer sees the light. That 55% of Albertans think that she is doing a good job is scary to me as we are heading for another 4 years of PC Cult mismanagement. I would like to add a very imprtant point to the ones you mentioned. Total Democratic Reform of our political system including Proportional Representation. Yes I have said this before but repetition seems to be the only way it works just like in Elementary School. Total Separation of Church and State was a major accomplishment in the Western World now we need separation of Elites and powerful lobbyists and State as well. If they need to talk to you they can come to the constituency meetings just like the rest of us.

  9. Carlos, good point about the need to separate private interests from public ones. My fundamental concern with the increased privatization of healthcare is that corporate goals (legitimate in and of themselves in the corporate setting) are not compatible with the public goals of caring for the sick, the elderly, and the disabled. If our society can’t care for this vulnerable subset of the population then there is something seriously wrong.
    Coincidently, as I was typing this, I received an automated phone call from a pollster. I could tell from the questions that the purpose was to determine whether I supported the Wildrose or the PCs. I had to keep pressing the key for “other”!

  10. Carlos Beca says:

    Susan I laughed so hard with the phone poll story. What a waste of time and resources. Can we no longer wait for the elections and be surprised with the results. Everything has to be right now.

    The neo-conservatives got the privatizations in their cult and now they cannot think anything else. Everything public is bad is their motto. My concern is that they are winning this batlle and so many mistakes are being made and when we all wake up it is basically irreversible. Usually these kinds of changes are extremelly difficult to reverse. We see with the health services in the US where the battle is basically impossible to win unless when done at local level like it seems to be happening in the state of Vermont. Furthermore the idea that everything is a commodity is terrible and causes what you mention in your note about not caring for our elderly.

  11. Carlos, one final comment about the automated phone poll…the recording said that the poll would ask 3 questions and would take about 45 seconds to complete. After I’d answered the first and second questions with “other”, it hung up. That way the poll could report the number of Wildrose votes vs PC votes without having to report that 30% (or more) of those polled didn’t like either one of them. Political polling like politics in general is a tricky business.

  12. Carlos Beca says:

    Well that is something I have experienced myself. I actually was doing a poll on the net and suddenly the process stopped and I got this message ‘We already have the information required for the type of answer you have given – thank you and have a nice day’.
    I do not believe this is that unusual. We all know that nowadays that many polls favore the side that paid for the poll. How many times have I read that the country has moved to the right? Almost every week despite the fact that Harper had less votes than for example Mulroney. 60% of Canadians voted anything but Conservative, but we are more right wing than ever before, they say. What they should say is that the propaganda and spin in Canada is abhorrent and on a massive scale allowing characters like Ezra Levant to think they can lie and say anything they want because they are in fascist territory.

    Back to the polling, you are absolutely right except that I am not as well mannered as you are and would say that it is not just tricky, it is in many cases outright dishonest.

  13. Rose Marie MacKenzie-Kirkwood says:

    So, I am a little slow to get going this year but I have read all the comments and agree that 2012 will be an interesting year. Not being as well versed as some of you in the political arena I will reflect back to what I know. As a mother, and a voter, I have only one comment to make. I am not looking for a friend and I already have family, so stop trying to make me like you and start doing what you said on the podium. Here’s the kicker, follow through on your political promises and you will have gained my trust and maybe even my friendship.

  14. Very nicely said Rose Marie. At the end of the day it all boils down to trust. If Ms Redford and all of the other politicians, be they Tories, Wildrose, Liberals, Alberta Party, or NDP, all lived by the motto: This is who I am, if you elect me, this is who I’ll be” we’d rest easy. Thanks Rose, it’s nice to see you back here.

  15. Pingback: Five Resolutions for Rachel Notley | Susan on the Soapbox

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