Friday, July 09, 2010

This Week in Alberta - We Need To Talk

On Wednesday, the Alberta Liberals ran full page newspaper ads in the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal urging other parties to co-operate with them to offer a progressive alternative to the Progressive Conservatives.

Even though it's hard to keep track of all the new parties that keep springing up in Alberta, at first glance it would seem this is targeted towards the NDP (who have said they won't work with the ALP) and the Alberta Party (who are only a party in the loosest sense of the word). And, I guess the Greens, who were desanctioned and don't even exist anymore.

But I'm sure the Liberals recognize that formal co-operation on the left isn't going to happen any time soon. After all, you don't negotiate mergers through ads in the Calgary Herald. Rather, this would appear to be targeted towards disillusioned and disenchanted voters looking for a home. Portray Swann as a leader who does politics differently, who puts partisanship aside, who listens.

Is this the start of a larger campaign, or just a one-off to put the "cooperation resolution" behind them? Hard to say, but I think the point has been made and I wouldn't spend much more time or money on this one.

17 Comments:

  • I like it when any politician is genuinely interesting in talking with, rather than to, their "opponents".

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 10:16 AM  

  • And I think a lot of voters feel the same way you do Jacques. Which is why I like the message behind this.

    I guess the point is just that formal cooperation is unlikely, and the ALP can't afford to be seen as pandering too the left. But I don't think this add does that, so as long as they don't push it any more, I don't have a problem with it.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:46 AM  

  • In this morning's Calgary Herald there's a letter from Phil Elder in which he announces that he's taken out a membership with the Alberta Liberals after NDP leader Brian Mason rebuffed the Liberals' invitation. Phil ran for the NDP way back in 1982 and has recently been a prominent supporter of the Democratic Renewal Project, which is attempting to get strategic non-compete arrangements among the Liberals, ND's and Greens (the latter not currently having official party status) for the next election.

    By Anonymous Finnegan, at 11:06 AM  

  • The letter is aimed at the party members and regular Albertans--not the parties. :) Everyone knew Mason's and the NDP's response would be, but what about those regular members and Albertans struggling against the ineptitude unwilling, staunch partisans? Those Albertans, those guys and gals, are the ones that'll like the ALP's letter and call to action.

    By Anonymous LibVin, at 10:35 PM  

  • What do you suggest they mean when they say they'll continue to promote "moderate" views "between the two extremes"?

    Sounds to me like they're saying that these "extremists" (particularly those on the left) need to moderate their views before they become part of this Party.

    Is there any other way of reading it?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:15 AM  

  • Unless progressives want 70 more years of right wing rule in the province we should all sincerely hope that the Liberal call for cooperation isn't merely a "one-off" event and merely for appearances to try to attract non-voters. As similar situations with small, fractured opposition parties in European politics (and the previous Reform and Conservative split) have proven time and again, cooperation is the logical path to winning.

    Recent polls place combined progressive support in Alberta higher than either the Conservatives OR the Wildrose -- Ted Morton's worst nightmare come true! What a golden opportunity.

    The most effective strategy at this point is for progressives to bombard the NDP party, Rachel Notley and Brian Mason (and the Alberta and Vision 2012 Society, too) with letters and phone calls demanding cooperation NOW.

    Imo, Alberta progressives are their own worst enemies. Anyone who is against us all sitting down at the table to discuss things either doesn't want change badly enough, is new to Alberta, hasn't voted in enough elections to become disillusioned, or hasn't studied history enough to understand how clever a political strategy has to be in order to circumvent the first-past-the-post system.

    Dreamers step aside. The truth is no single progressive party ALONE can win in Alberta -- not in this province where oil money buys right wing power and holds influence over the mainstream media with an iron fist. Let's work together!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:32 PM  

  • I agree with the comment that "no single progressive party ALONE can win in Alberta." We have many elections behind us that prove this to be the case. So, if the Liberal party proves unable to break down the barriers that cause progressive voters to split their votes in several directions, it will do no better in the next election than it did in the previous one.

    David Swann DOES mean what he says when he calls for cooperation. This is not a gimmick from yet another jaded politician of the sort who has caused most Albertans not to vote. The Liberal and NDP brands are both tarnished in Alberta and Vision 2012 (the phoenix arising from the Greens) and the Alberta Party have no organization or money or, in the Alberta Party's case, a coherent message. David Swann offers the Liberals the chance to get beyond the "party of the NEP" image that shuts down consideration of its policies both federally and provincially (the large number of voters who mentioned the NEP to Liberal canvassers in the Glenmore by-election provides a recent example). But it's because he is, at root, a non-partisan (and so in a way was Kevin Taft) who can get across to voters that the Liberal party is simply a vehicle for certain policies, not an end in itself. Those who oppose cooperation do seem to see the Liberal party as the end in itself. For most voters, that is indeed a conversation ender.

    By Anonymous small l liberal, at 4:06 PM  

  • Instead of empty speculations on what this may mean, this should be seen as a great opportunity for dialogue amongst all who are committed to promoting progressive policies in Alberta. So, well done, ALP, WAKE UP, NDP!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:15 PM  

  • Anyone who knows David Swann knows he is sincere in his desire to talk, dialogue, seek solutions with others who would like to see Alberta with a humane, fiscally responsible, and more transparent government.
    If ever there was a moment in Alberta's last 40 years to bring about a political change, it is now. I would say that anyone who really desires to see Alberta with a government that is more in tune with the needs of Albertans - all Albertans - the onus is upon you to respond positively to Swann's invitation.

    By Blogger kaidsmom, at 5:12 PM  

  • I've seen your take on the Alberta Liberal Party's pro-cooperation ad. It may be true that, because of Brian Mason's inexplicable reluctance to work with others to replace the PC government of Alberta, it's not worthwhile spending much time pushing formal cooperation.

    However, I'm sure you agree that replacing the present government is worth a great deal of time and effort. Thus, the Democratic Renewal Project continues along both tracks - pushing non-compete for 2012 and 2016 and planning on a strategic voting campaign to elect the progressive candidates with the best chance if formal cooperation doesn't gain traction.

    Why is Mason's obstructionism inexplicable? Because the DRP's non-compete strategy would assign about 11 exclusive candidacies to his party and he's planning on running only about a dozen serious candidates anyway. So if the non-compete negotiations gave him a fair shake, he might garner twice or more as many seats under this strategy compared with going it alone.

    His party is also leaking support because of his stubbornness and the Liberals are benefiting. For example, I've been a New Democrat for 35 years and in 1982 ran for them with Grant Notley. But this week I joined the Liberals and brought along 2 family members. Several other DRPers (and probably many other Albertans) have done the same thing.

    So please continue, Calgary Grit, and give us your ideas on what should be done next.

    Yours truly,

    Phil Elder

    By Anonymous Phil Elder, at 7:07 PM  

  • Well actually I WOULD put my time and money behind this one.

    The Alberta Liberals (and NDP and Greens) have already visited the living rooms of Albertans and heard their concerns. In fact, Albertans have already moved beyond their living rooms. They've indicated loud and clear that they are frustrated with this government. That's why thousands are involved in non-partisan organizations that deal with issues around seniors, environment, farming, de-regulation, corporate subsidies, health care, education, daycare, taxes that can support our potentially superior standard of living ... the list is very long.

    The Liberals have taken a necessary step to actually bring those voices to the legislature by considering ways to elect more politicians that are committed to transparent, accountable government that reflects the views of ALL Albertans.

    I think a small group of stalwart partisans are limiting MY choice by inadvertently continuing to elect Conservatives.
    David & Rachel, your leadership influenced the 2009 NDP convention to defeat the idea of cooperation. Can we really afford to let a handful of delegates doom this province to Conservative mismanagement? Please take the bold step to lead them towards a future with more politicians that represent those thousands of Albertans who are not partisan - but desperate, none-the-less.

    It's really up to us voters to pressure the political parties to start cooperating.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:36 PM  

  • Thank you David Swann for showing us what progressive leadership looks like! This was a courageous move for you, as leader of the ALP, and historic moment for the party members who supported the motion at the ALP's annual AGM last May. It was a close vote, yet you're honouring democracy with this letter of intent. I'm sure the ad was costly so I'm sending a donation to the party as my way of thanking the ALP for such an open-minded initiative. Thanks also to Tony Sansotta for stepping up to the plate on this--it wasn't easy for you Tony but unlike Mason, your mind is flexible. I suspect that if any of us asked Mason "What would it take to change your mind?" he'd say "Nothing. Absolutely nothing!" What would that tell us? It would tell me that he seems more dogmatic than democratic. Come on Brian, you're smarter than that! I'll send your party a donation too if I hear/read a comment from you saying you've reconsidered your position on this and will work out a cooperative strategy with David Swann. Too much is at stake here. Let's put fresh ideas ahead of stale ideology and do as Swann and Sansotta suggest--stop perseverating over right vs. left and focus on right from wrong. As their letter notes, there will be no back room deals here, and since Swann is highly respected for his integrity, I think we can trust him on this.

    By Anonymous Judy J. Johnson, at 8:51 PM  

  • I am so happy to see some initiative on political cooperation! It's about time we got a progressive alternative in Alberta. I am supporting the Liberal party because they are providing a real way forward.

    By Blogger Beth, at 10:17 PM  

  • For me, the real issue is the election of our representatives via a fair voting system and the dismantling of the gerrymander operating in Alberta. As someone who is left of centre, I applaud the appeal for co-operation.

    At this juncture in Alberta politics. I cannot see any other way of achieving a fairer voting system than by co-operating on a political level and gradually attaining control of the legislature and then pursuing a fairer voting system through all legitimate means.

    The methods of the tired ideologues is getting the Liberals and NDP nowhere. More offerings or variations of the same strategy is not working. It is a sure-fire recipe for political irrelevancy. I do not know what Brian Mason is in politics for? Is it the pension? Is it ego? Is it what is best for Brian Mason?

    And that is the difference with Dr. Swann. The interest of the Albertan are at the heart of the matter. That is why I admire and applaud the move of Dr. Swann. It is a bold move that reflects the reality of the political scene and gives us on the opposite side of the political divide hope.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:48 PM  

  • "Anyone who knows David Swann knows he is sincere in his desire to talk, dialogue, seek solutions with others"

    Then why doesn't the ad say as much? Instead, it says that only moderates (or those willing to adopt a moderate stance) need apply. What sort of message is that?

    Where is the sincerity if he's not willing to consider the extremist views as his own? That you have to compromise to his views (more or less) in order to participate in his Grand Compromise.

    Sorry, that's not leadership: that's a request for capitulation.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:59 AM  

  • I won't speak for David Swann. Why don't you call him and ask him? I'm not suggesting this in a flippant way; I really mean call him and speak to him. He's very accessible.
    As far as extremism vs moderation is concerned, the Liberal Party has adopted the position of being a centrist party. It would, I'm sure, like to pursue dialogues with others who also hold similar views. Do you really think that, for example, Wildrose's desire to strip unions of their right to exist when Alberta's worker safety standards are comparable to those of China would find a place in the camp of a centrist party?

    By Blogger Paula, at 9:35 AM  

  • People here seem to be forgetting the fact that a Vote for the NDP does not automatically equal a vote for the ALP, and vice versa. The people casting the ballots for the 2 parties are not the same as their activists. It's likely that some of the ALP voters would cast a ballot for the PC's or WRA if they were absent on a ballot, same would even be true for some NDP voters. I don't think Greens or most New Democrats are seeing the Liberals as a progressive ally with Dr.Swanns new support a pipeline across northern BC.

    By Blogger Kevin Wright, at 12:22 AM  

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