Democracy Derailed is really a cross between the Liberal Party Platform and what I'd call "the Taft manifesto". It's divided into chapters on the different abuses to democracy in Alberta. Each chapter has several anecdotes, followed by action items a Liberal government would bring in to stop them. While there are some famous Ralph Klein stories, it's really an attack on the institutionalized one party "democracy" of Alberta.
First of all, let me say that it was almost depressing to read this book. As someone who has focused more on federal than provincial politics over the years, I wasn't aware of all of the abuses detailed in Democracy Derailed and it's just sad that the Tories get away with it and no one bats an eye. People in Alberta rant about Ottawa on end, but all Kevin Taft is asking for are the same accountability measures we see in the federal government and other provinces brought to Alberta. Taft makes numerous references to the mechanisms which allowed Adscam to be uncovered and is simply asking that the same openness be brought to Alberta - whistle blower protection, a real public accounts committee (the World Bank has said many third world countries have better PACs than Alberta), non-partisan internal auditors, and an auditor general with real teeth. The double standard is apparent in almost every domain. For example, freedom of information rules in Alberta are, to possibly make up a word, oxymoronic. Documents which are sealed for two years federally are sealed 15 years in Alberta. Requests which cost 5$ and are delivered in days federally take $6,000 and nine months to be delivered provincially.
Of course, this just goes to illustrate the problem. If you're reading to this point, you deserve a lot of credit, because most people's eyes glaze over when the intricacies of FOIP laws are discussed. Because of that, this book isn't going to quite sell like The Da Vinci Code and a movie deal likely isn't in the works (how about an all Star Trek cast with Patrick Stewart as Kevin Taft and William Shatner as Ralph Klein?). But it's because of the one state controls that the sexy scandals never come to light and never get legs.
Like I said, it's frustrating to read about a lot of this and Taft's frustration reads through the pages. Although I enjoyed the many quality Ralph Klein stories, the laugh out loud moment of the book was probably Taft's description of the lengthy debate to make "rough fescu" the official grass of Alberta which went on for far longer than most budget debates. Democracy Inaction.
It would be great if every Albertan read this book but that's certainly unlikely to happen. Instead, it should hopefully serve as a valuable weapon to "fire up the troops" and perhaps recruit a few star candidates to the Liberal fold before the next election. If you're looking for a quick read on Alberta politics, pick up a copy. If reading isn't your thing, then there's a handy website to check out as well.