It’s April 7th, 2015 here in Alberta. It’s a steel grey day and snowing lightly. And today, an early Provincial Election will likely be announced. A surprise to no one.
The last provincial election, in 2012, cost the people of Alberta 13.6 Million dollars and only 54.4% of eligible voters showed up to participate (and that was the highest Provincial voter turnout in 19 years). This seems like an astonishing amount of money to spend on a process that almost half of our citizens have lost faith in. The truth is, we should go into every election and select the individual we feel will best represent us for the upcoming term in office, but instead we choose the person who is flying the flag of a Political party we kinda/sorta identify with. We buy into the smoke and mirrors of a Party’s Political Platform even though we innately know they have no idea, which of their supposed “promises” they will be able to get passed through the assembly as they don’t know what the balance of power will be. They serve up a fictional budget which they have absolutely no obligation to follow even if they end up holding a strong majority. We essentially choose from a small selection of glossy promotional packets and once we buy, there’s no money back guarantee ………. And we almost never get what was promised in the brochure.
How do we get away from this? They always say “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”. But what if we just all refused to play? No, I don’t mean not voting; we’re already not voting and all that’s accomplishing is maintaining the status quo. I’m thinking something even more radical. What if for the next Election (I suspect it’s too late for this election) we ensure we have at least one “Independent” running in each Riding? Now, I know you’re thinking “but aren’t independent candidates just radicals, outcasts, the disgruntled, and the disgraced?” Well, sometimes. But what if from now on they were just active, engaged citizens interested in governing? What if we had a healthy selection of Party-less People to choose from each election and could select the person we thought most shared our vision and, more importantly, showed the best cooperative/collaborative/consensus building skills? What if we actually voted in a majority of people who we believed could work TOGETHER for our best interests? What would that government look like?
Oh, I know the fly in the ointment is leadership. How can we vote when we don’t know who will be Premier? Well, unless you happen to be a member of the governing party and vote at the leadership convention, it’s not like we get to vote for who the Premier is anyways. I think I’ve got the solution. IF “independents” held more seats than any other party then there is no reason why they should not be the “Governing” group in the Assembly; the MLAS from the other parties would, technically, form the opposition. However the first act by the Ruling “Independents” would be to divide all the MLAS equitably (by number and by affiliation) between all the Portfolios. Each Portfolio would then choose a Leader (who would become Minister of that Portfolio) and the entire Assembly would reconvene and choose the new Premier from among the Ministers. The whole process at each stage could happen through vote or consensus and could easily happen inside of a week, and it’s not as if we get to vote for our Premier anyways. From that moment on, we would have a Government built for action and service. There would be no extra pay for committee work, as everyone would be doing committee work, and committees would be expected to create fair and reasonable bills and budgets, etc, to present to the assembly at regular intervals. Think of what could be accomplished quickly, cheaply, effectively, if we actually made MLAS work together for the people. Cooperatively built, cooperatively run, and ready to face the realities of Alberta’s current situation, not an imaginary one that glorified advertisers have created for an Election Campaign.
So I guess the question is, can we lead this Electoral Revolt? Are we brave enough to take a stand and reject the boxed prepackaged governments we’re being handed? More importantly are we finally ready to REQUIRE that we be led by people who will strive for success by working together? It is important to have good leadership, but that leadership should be thoughtful, creative, flexible, and meet the needs of the people; and that kind of leadership does not come out of a box.