Mr Hancock’s Cockamamie Apology

“I’m truly sorry that we allowed government to become a distraction from the vital work we’re doing on issues that matter to Albertans.”— Premier Dave Hancock to PC party supporters, May 1, 2014

Bill Clinton apologised for slavery, Tony Blair apologised for the Irish potato famine, Pope John Paul II apologised for the Crusades*and Premier Dave Hancock apologised for allowing the government to become a distraction.  A distraction?

It’s never a good idea to legally parse an apology (Ms Soapbox knows this from personal experience) however Mr Hancock’s apology makes absolutely no sense.

Who is apologising to whom for what?

Let’s try that again: “I’m truly sorry that we allowed government to become a distraction from the vital work we’re doing on issues that matter to Albertans.”

Mr Hancock apologises

Now ask yourself: who are “we” and how did “we” allow a government elected by the people to become a distraction from issues that matter to Albertans?

Either Alberta is being governed by a secret cabal (otherwise known as “WE”) or Mr Hancock the leader of the PC party is apologising to the party faithful for letting the “government” distract the PC party from running the province. Neither is good.

The litany of wrongdoing for which Mr Hancock says he’s sorry includes: damaging Albertans’ confidence in “the party” (not the government?), losing touch with the “grassroots” (not all Albertans?), taking the support of Albertans and PC members for granted and acting contrary to “our” (presumably PC) values.

Behavior versus character

Mr Hancock acknowledged that caucus lost its way but promised to get caucus back on track. He said it was possible to regain trust because “There is a big difference between behavior and character. Behavior can be changed. Character is a different matter.”**

Mr Hancock is dead wrong.

Trust is based on behavior. Behavior is the external manifestation of character. The two are indivisible. The only people who believe that behavior can be separated from character are proponents of the “Devil made me do it” theory of misbehaviour.

Dr Daniel Borenstein says trust is based on our evaluation of three dimensions of behavior: ability (knowledge, skills and experience), integrity (congruence between word and deed) and benevolence (promoting someone else’s interests or at the very least not impeding them).***

A heartfelt apology and promises to do better in the future will rebuild trust; but apologies and promises must be backed up with behavior (ability, integrity, and benevolence) that demonstrates that trust is not misplaced.

The government’s behavior

Mr Hancock promised to do a better job on “reporting how we use taxpayers’ dollars and ensuring Albertans see and understand the value of these changes”. He promised to demonstrate “how we’ve changed through our policies, practices and legislation”.****

But the government’s behavior fails to engender trust.

Mr Horner

Instead of announcing a decision to scrap the confusing budget format that makes it well nigh impossible for Albertans to understand how their tax dollars are being spent (to say nothing of failing to meet general accounting standards) the Finance Minister staunchly defends the format as the best way to ensure Albertans understand that their $43 billion is being spent wisely.

Instead of announcing a decision to repeal the sinister Bill 45 that makes it illegal to even talk about taking strike action and the draconian Bill 46 that removed labour’s right to binding arbitration, the Justice Minister and the Jobs Minister are busy carping about Ms Redford’s failure to return to work.

The apology minister, Mr Hancock, is no better. He was introduced at the PC party fundraiser with a short video that flashed pictures on a screen of past Tory premiers…but Ms Redford was curiously absent. She’d been erased as effectively as a fallen Chinese leader in the Cultural Revolution.

When asked about this peculiar omission, Mr Hancock said “I would have had her in the video”. So what happened? Did he fail to notice she was missing when he reviewed the program for his maiden speech or did those presumptuous PR guys delete her of their own accord?

Mea culpa

Historian Margaret MacMillan researched Canadian, British, Australian and American governments issuing apologies. She concluded:  “Words are cheap…and politicians like to appear caring and sensitive…Moreover apologies about the past can be used as an excuse for not doing very much in the present.”* She was referring to government apologies for incidents that occurred decades ago, however her conclusion rings true for abuses that took place yesterday.

Words are not enough when the PC caucus (by Mr Hancock’s own admission) messed up the governance of Alberta so badly that it became dysfunctional. His apology will not stem the exodus of disgruntled PCs because his caucus either refuses or is incapable of backing up his apology with trustworthy behavior.

Trust is founded on behavior. Behavior reflects character. The behavior of the PC government reflects a character with a single-minded purpose—staying in power at all costs.

Consequently Mr Hancock’s apology is insincere and I refuse to accept it.

*The Uses and Abuses of History by Margaret MacMillan, p 27, 28, 30.

** http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/05/02/its-just-not-acceptable-albertas-new-premier-uses-first-speech-to-apologize-for-redford/

***http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/trust-building

****Calgary Herald, May 2, 2014 A4.

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21 Responses to Mr Hancock’s Cockamamie Apology

  1. Rose Marie MacKenzie-Kirkwood says:

    All I can say is that his apology is another “political waffle.” Even when Mrs. Soapbox was a child and her mother made her say she was sorry, for saying her younger sister was stupid, she managed to be direct, on point, although not very sincere. If I remember correctly she said “I am sorry you are stupid.” No waffling there.

  2. Do you ever get the feeling that you are pissing into the wind? I realize that Albertan’s feet have to be put to the fire and stay there, but maybe we should make things worse. In prolonging the process of this province’s descent into perdition we may playing into their hands. We might just be providing balance which will ease this province into the right wing’s dream and spare citizens the shock that might as a wake-up call. Just a thought.

    • goinfawr says:

      Oh you inciteful sweet-talkers…
      If everyone ‘pisses into the wind’ then they’ll know who their adversaries are by the dry clothes they are wearing:
      Peasant 1: Who was that then?
      Peasant 2: I dunno, must be a king…
      Peasant 1: Why?
      Peasant 2: He hasn’t got (piss) all over ‘im.
      Monty Python’s Holy Grail

      I would imagine that one sure fire way to play right into ‘their’ hands is by ‘making things worse’; of course that depends entirely on what you meant by that (care to elaborate? I’ve got money on my flank that says you don’t; you sweet-talker you)

      “Riot:the unbeatable high! Riot: shoot your nerves to the sky! Riot: Playing right into their hands; tomorrow you’re homeless, tonight it’s a blast!” Jello Biafra

      • Fritz and goinfawr: This is a very interesting question. Actually I’ve never considered I’m playing into their hands because I don’t believe that they’re that well organized (whoever “they” are).

        Having said that, it takes a lot of effort to fight the slide to the right. Why do we do it? I raised the question with a Green Party friend this morning. We agreed that the consequences of doing nothing (continued degradation of the democratic process, the naive belief that the private sector can provide healthcare, education, etc better than the public sector, and so on) are too devastating to ignore and those of us who can do something about it (even if it’s not a lot) should do so. I think it’s as simple as that. So we’ll continue to seek out like minded people and political parties and offer our assistance.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Doing nothing is exactly what it means – NOTHING.
        They will continue mismanaging and building penthouses and all the abuses we know so far. Never mind the screw ups at all other levels.
        I do not agree with that at all.
        Change may not be better but it is a try.

      • The fact we’re out here creating a fuss and supporting the opposition parties is making a huge difference. Yesterday Bills 9 and 10 (public and private sector pension plan reforms) were delayed until the fall; the week before that the government agreed to a generous settlement with the AUPE and gave up the appeal of the injunction on Bill 46. Nothing like torches and pitchforks on the horizon to make you sit up and take notice.

  3. Velvet Martin says:

    Insincere promises are excuses and hold no value other than being a distractive red herring, as was Roundtable Discussion on child fatalities in the Province rather than Public Inquiry. WAKE UP! While the public has been distracted with tabloid shots of former Premier Redford bicycling in warm climates following revelation of spending Albertan’s monies, the LARGER issue rests with the fact that the government hid the deaths of almost 700 babies, children and youth. This ‘serial-killer’ otherwise known as Child Welfare/Human Services needs to be independently investigated by Public-Police! https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/force-rcmp-to-do-a-criminal-investigation-of-children-s-aid-and-the-alberta-justice-lawyers-who-helped-hide-the-deaths-of-685-foster-children-from-the-public#

    • Velvet, thanks for reminding us of how adept the PC government is at the art of distraction. Mr Hancock was shockingly dismissive of this tragedy when it first came to light. He refused to call a public inquiry and then bounced out of the portfolio leaving it in the hands of Manmeet Bhullar who called for a Roundtable Discussion. Your comment indicates that this was nothing more than window dressing. I know that Mr Bhullar appointed a 5 man team to review child deaths again but surely we’ve conducted enough reviews over the years and should be pressing on with the changes necessary to ensure that children won’t continue to die in government care.

  4. cwolsey says:

    I believe Mr. Hancock also said “we need a Place where our children and grandchildren Will be successful and that’s what we’ve Been distracted from”; so he is admitting that Our overcrowded classrooms are not places Where students can be successful! Our government has not been doing it’s homework on smaller class sizes As recommended in the Learning Commission. (Which was paid for by Taxpayers!) It is a total travesty that high School students have to sit in classes Well above the 27 limit suggested by the Learning Commission. 43 kids in a math 10c Class does not ensure success for anyone!

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Cwolsey: I’m no longer sure what Mr Hancock said when he apologised. I took the quote from the newspapers and videos of his speech. On Monday in Question Period he said “Mr Speaker, what I said to Albertans on Thursday was that this government and this Premier are very sorry that we have not made sure that the public understood what we were doing and why we were doing it, and that we wanted to make sure that every dollar that we spend on behalf of Albertans is spent well. We have allowed the issues around those things to become distractions from the real governing issues of how we create the right kind of place for our children and grandchildren. We will now make sure that every dollar spent is spent appropriately, that for flights that are taken, people understand what the value of those is and why we’re doing it”. Hansard, May5, 2014 p 685
      So he starts with the public didn’t understand (something), he allowed a”those issues” (what issues) to become a distraction to governing and creating the right spaces for our children and grandchildren.
      God only knows what he’s talking about. But I agree with you 100% that jamming kids into classrooms like sardines is a travesty.

  5. Carlos Beca says:

    In the last 3 decades we completely lost the meaning of government and citizenship. This is to me the real problem. We have been inundated with Neo-Conservatism propaganda of markets and efficiencies and extreme views on individualism and we are now realizing we are in the wrong path. We are witnessing the government of Alberta apologizing for not being a government at all. Whether or not they actually mean it is another story in itself because one of the great problems with Neo-Conservatism is that lying to achive any market objective is acceptable if if it means being anti-democratic. The recent arguments between the prime minister and the Supreme court is just a clear example of how far they want to push for their market paradise. It is no longer a political objective, it is life itself. It is a mental psychotic state. I found the proper word by a lawyer in Ottawa – Depravity.

    • Speaking of Neo-Conservative propaganda I tried to read Tom Flanagan’s book Harper’s Team but lost it on page 18 when Flanagan referred to an essay by the young Stephen Harper in which Harper said the tension between the “neo-cons” (fiscal conservatives) and the “theo-cons” (social conservatives) largely dissipated with the rise of socialism and “other radical left wing ideologies, such as feminism and environmentalism”. Feminism and environmentalism are ideologies??? Give me a break.

      • carlosbeca says:

        To Harper anything that is not what he believes in, is a radical ideology and has to be eliminated.
        He muzzled scientists, wants to change elections to favour power elites and he is now attacking the Supreme court. It is quite unreal.
        He has offered Nigeria help to get the abducted girls back to their parents but simply ignores the more than 500 native women that were abducted and possibly murdered here in Canada. What a joke.

      • Carlos: agreed. Harper’s attack on Chief Justice Beverley McLachin was unbelievable–a deliberate attempt to discredit Ms McLachin and the highest court in the land. Harper seems to have forgotten that our Parliamentary system is based on checks and balances which is why we have three branches of government: the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judiciary. Harper’s latest stunt was more than the petulant temper tantrum of a PM who didn’t get his way. This was serious attack on our democratic structure.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I totally agree with you Susan and as far as I am concerned expecting that only through elections we resolve these serious challenges to our democratic institutions is to me bizarre. By the time elections come around and knowing the poweful media and PR control the Conservatives have nowadays, it could be too late. After 3 years of Neo-Conservatives I have no doubts that these people are to be taken serious in terms of the danger they are to our most respected institutions. We have seen it over and over and if they feel that Canadians do not react, they will just forge ahead and I for one do not know Harper’s limits. I do not trust him a milimeter.
        I hope that this challenge to the Chief Justice is dealt with appropriately. If not we could have serious consequences in the near future. What I am most concerned about is that it seems that with the implosion of the PCs here in Alberta, people are actually considering voting for a party that is very much the same lines of Harper’s government. If anything Danielle Smith is to the right of Steven Harper. This is scary. I know that she paints a different picture but I do know what she believes in.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Hi Moriddle

      What I read here did not surprise me a bit. This is now the type of meeting we get in Edmonton when we have those wonderful community gatherings for information and consult the PEOPLE. The word people is key of course, more than it use to be in the old Communist world – remember the People’s Republic of …… whatever, or better the People’s Democratic …….
      Those people in the blue suits are what they call the consultants, the new word for the experts or gurus. Then the session starts and we have the feeling of being herded through the path to their chosen way of resolving whatever problem people are supposed to be discussing. It is to say the least, very insulting. I have gone to some organized by the city and will never waste my time again. Everything has been decided before those meetings. Those are just items on someone’s check list that need to be checked before the contract is finally signed. If you have had the chance to read about our political/social world lately you will notice the following:
      The stock markets are rigged
      Elections are somewhat rigged even in the so called first world – Robocalls in Canada and what happened in Florida when Bush won the elections
      The election voting system is unrepresentative and allows majorities with 39% of the vote
      Consultation meetings are pre-arranged to a certain conclusion
      Our Justice system is a competition between the smarter lawyers for the win and has not much to do with what happened and on and on and on.
      What is happening in Alberta is just an example of what they could not hide anymore. A plot that was supposed to have been handled by the people in the blue suits but did not work this time. The garbage around all these lies is so enormous that no one can hide it anymore. This is why everything is now coming apart at the same time. Alison Redford just came back from a six week paid vacation and we are the ones that are the problem because we are exposing these abuses. Who is Alison Redford really? A person like you and me that was given the privilege of representing us with a hefty salary and great benefits. The problem is that we are like lions in cages – we cannot get over the fact that all it takes to stop all of this is to realize the strength we really have. We are citizens disunited by those that play this rigged game with all the power and money behind them.

      • Carlos and Moriddle: On May 5, 2014 Joe Anglin (WR) grilled the Energy Minister on the AltaLink sale. He pointed out that the AltaLink’s financial structure provided no incentive to keep costs down. (He’s right—cost plus arrangements for new transmission assets encourages gold plating) He said that after the sale SNC-Lavalin would make $2.4 billion profit and Warren Buffett (net worth $64.2 billion) would get a guaranteed annual income of 9% on all future transmission lines constructed. Instead of addressing how this lucrative situation came to be, Energy Minister, McQueen prattled on about the Alberta Utilities Commission ensuring Albertans got competitive and affordable rates. This means she confused the regulatory process to set rates with the regulatory process to set the appropriate financial structure of the corporation (AltaLink). I wonder whether she has any inkling of how regulated utilities are run, let alone what happens to consumers in an AltaLink situation when the corporation is sold to people like Warren Buffet.

  6. david swann says:

    I have listened to Ms McQueen for 5 years now and have been equally dismayed by her lack of understanding, honesty, or both, as Environment and Energy minister. She epitomizes the lack of ability and willingness of current Alberta government ministers to listen, consider research and expert information, and provide authentic leadership on key issues that will determine our economic, environmental and social future. They must be challenged to develop a credible narrative in AB that change is both possible and essential. Thankyou Susan for the well-researched and wise comments on the folly of out times. Hopefully people will rise up to the challenge of the next election, join a Party, consider running for office and achieve an honest, smart government!

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