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.
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