As I left the Alberta Liberal Party convention yesterday I was exhausted. Between doing a panel on social media, attending almost 24 hours of straight training and politics, and then being at the Bruce Payne suite until 3 am in the morning with a bunch of young Liberals yacking it up about what needed to change by the end of Sunday (where we voted for gargantuan change) I was stretched to exhaustion. But I kept on going. I skipped breakfast to be on the debate floor, and the party president felt such excitement he stayed up with me until the early morning and then pushed through breakfast and lunch to talk politics and reform. After getting home that night at 6 pm I collapsed on my bed and slept for 14 hours straight.
- “What we did this weekend in Alberta,” with Corey Hogan
- [Updated] “Real Renewal,” with Dan Arnold at CalgaryGrit
- JASON FEKETE gives his piece.
- Edmonton Journal recap with Karen Kleiss (who, I believe, wrote the most balanced article on the convention. It’s very pleasant reading good journalism.)
- Graham Thomson writes on the seismic changes to both the party and province
- Calgary Herald: “Liberals welcome all Albertans to help select new leader”
- Don Braid, being his regularly and expected anti-Liberal self
- Postmedia: “Alberta Liberal leadership candidates promise grassroots rebuilding”
- Edmonton Sun summarizes leadership changes
- Another article by Karen Kleiss, but on cooperation
When looking at the articles that have come out in the last few days on the convention I see two trends that they’ve missed: one, the overwhelming strength of focus and passion of this liberal revolution in the party that just so happens to be led by the youngest party leaders and presidents in Canada and two, a direct call to all Albertans to participate in a time of cynicism and anger.
On the first, we have party president Eric Ambtman, executive director Corey Hogan, and a sizable portion of the convention attendees as young people. I counted eight or nine tables where I didn’t see a single grey hair. Young professionals, students, young entrepreneurs, and young activists were in the room and wanted something not new but something that brought them to the center. It’s not about just young people, though. Having young people attend and give input is all fine and good, but there’s something deeper here that is alway missed by politicos and partisans. Reason number one for this is that the more experienced liberals wanted change, too, but didn’t quite know what it was just yet. I think it was a desire for something more out of politics and to reach out, shared by both experienced and new, which came from the newer people who have joined and have taken on leadership roles in the last few years. It’s not about age, it’s something bigger. It’s a deeper revitalization, spread across any one grouping but everyone.
It’s the way that new liberals engage. Rather than being there to vote just with leadership contestants, with party partisans of decades of experience, or being tied to any particular factional groupings these young people took a step back and asked: ‘what do I need to be able to achieve the things needed to lead this party?’ Full stop. It’s about their leadership. It’s not about being recognized or having envelope stuffers. It’s not just about volunteering or getting a letter of recommendation for law school, or finding connections, or attaining influence. This question for myself and most of the youth in the room is the reaching out not for power but to reach out and lead. And they wanted the tools to do so.
It’s the thought that they wanted to lead now and so could entrench the party in Alberta so when these young men and women are going to run in five or six years times they can form government. If the election happens this fall these new liberals will push Alberta Liberals to heights only touched before in the early nineties, as both candidates and leaders, to form government now.
This feeling was infectious, too. The new liberal phenomena didn’t just stay with the portion of the new liberals that entered into the convention floor on Saturday morning. It spread and spread quickly. At the end of Sunday it was thoroughly spread to almost all the Liberals in the room. I think the old guard shaved off ten years by the end of the general meeting on the Sunday and the passion they gave exemplified their rebounded energies. The changes to the leadership rules and the weighted one member one vote (W-OMOV) all needed 75% or more to pass–the willfulness for change sprung out of the voices of those with experience in the party and the recent new comers. By the end of the debates and the animated voices from all the tables in the conference center the party stood united. All of them passed, with some passing almost unanimously.
It took a moment to take stock of just what exactly happened after the last resolution passed. We, as a party, stated overwhelmingly to open up our nominations and leadership races to the public, while at the same time opening ourselves up to places we haven’t been active in years. You, dear reader, can sign up as a registered supporter and vote for your Liberal candidate in your constituency and for the Liberal leader you want to lead this province. More than 95% each time, the Liberals said they wanted Albertans involved in their nomination races and in their leadership races. With 77% Liberals said they wanted every constituency to be inside the Liberal tent.
And with almost unanimous desire those Liberals wanted it now. Initially the resolutions on opening the leadership and nomination races were to be brought in 2013. Graham Thomson already had his article written in advance saying how the Liberals wanted to change and show their change, but just not right now. He now had to completely rewrite his article. He, and many others, didn’t think we’d do it. A lot of people didn’t. They thought we’d give lip service and nothing more. Many of the party’s stalwarts were also of the opinion that these changes weren’t going to happen. Dave Hastings, perpetual volunteers and a pillar of the party in Calgary, didn’t think we’d do it. Hugh MacDonald, leadership candidate, found his time more worthy in Edmonton at an education rally than on the convention floor.
But we still did it. A set of liberals walked in and shared their vision, the thirst for change by the party stalwart was strong, and leadership was provided by caucus, the party, the grassroots, and the new liberals. We set aside the sacred cows, lifted ourselves up, and stared into the heart of what we needed to do.
We need to fight the cynicism in Albertan politics. It isn’t just picking between the old Progressive Conservatives or the Progressive Conservatives with a flower in their name, and the indistinguishable character of each. It isn’t about absolutes or partisan politics. It isn’t even about the party anymore. It isn’t about staying on the sidelines and letting things go on as they have been.
We need to include everyone. That 60% that don’t vote–they’ll join in if they can. The barriers to being a Liberal supporter is nothing now aside from the desire for leadership and a willingness to say ‘yes, I want to have an impact.’ We’ve opened ourselves and now we need to reach out and talk to every Albertan to welcome them in. But we can’t (and we haven’t) just said we’ll ‘welcome’ them: they’re a full participant in who and what we are. Every Albertan should look at our leadership contestants and every Albertan should look at our candidates… and choose with us.
I don’t see a separation between the party and Albertans. What we’ve done this weekend is say, to every Albertan, is not just to join us but become a part of us. I wrote a few weeks about building the Liberal iceberg. Here with the Alberta Liberals I, and many other people, have that chance. This is the time for renewal, to be building, and to touch the heart of every Albertan, to build up from Alberta, out from the Liberals, and across this province.
In the end we need to take heart with what the party and the new liberalism that has sprouted here. Last year, when I wrote about the convention in Edmonton, I spoke about the ‘haters’ of the Alberta Liberals. These are portions of the media, the executives of other parties, NDP-leaning bloggers like Climenhaga, and hardcore partisans that wont be able to be brought in. We can’t convert most of the already converted and we really shouldn’t try. It’s your neighbor, your boss, your active community association folks, and the people that care, but just not about politics, that are the people we need to target and include. It’s those Greens who jumped to the Alberta Party (or just stayed home), then jumped back to the Vision 2012 group, and then are now in limbo that we can bring in too.
There are some people who are currently haters that I’d love to bring onside, though. I’d like David Climenhaga to support the Liberals but he has taken a position that would require us to show more proof of our willingness to include him and more proof of our successes at including others–it will take at least one election cycle to prove to him that he’s both welcome and can be an active participant. Don Braid could be at least pleasant with us again. Old Liberal staffer Dave Cournoyer at daveberta.ca, with his tireless energy aiming to better Alberta and spread political discourse into the hands of regular Albertans, should also be brought back into the fold. He, too, requires proof.
And that proof will need to be provided. In the words of Chretien: a proof is a proof. It’s not just words now or just a constitution. Although these two things do give direction the only way to go now is forward and upwards. The only way we can go now that we’ve tossed aside barriers and sacred cows is to touch every Albertan and get to everyone so that not only can we build the best team in Alberta to win in the next election but create such an amalgamation of Albertans (our ‘iceberg’) that the Alberta Liberals will forever enmeshed with Albertans and their values. So lets show them.
So two people have passed me CDs with attack ads. I now have, in my possession, three attack ads blasting the Progressive Conservatives and then the Wildrose-. They’re well written, short, and made to be shared.
What I really like about this set of ads is that not only do they attack the Progressive Conservative but it knocks the Wildrose while adding the failures of the PCs to the Wildrose. It’s wonderful political maneuvering.
I really like this particular ad because it builds on a rising media storyline and that gives it a sizable amount of credibility. While this particular ad targets Stelmach, and is outdated because of it, it still hits at a core point on the PC agenda–defunding schools. Just this week school boards in Edmonton have had their funding threatened, school staff have been cut (while the province announces money for new schools), and the school board there opted to follow through with a strategy of anti-sprawl strategy of school placement. This adds onto the weakening of school boards in general, the PCs denying them funding and support while also subverting their ability to control their resources. And then the ad hammers in the point of right-wing incompetence while taking fire at the Wildrose Alliance and particularly their leader’s past pronouncements.
This is a good ad. It’s truly a shame it’s out of date, however–with Stelmach leaving and the Progressive Conservatives having their leadership race any attacks on Stelmach wont have much, if any, effect on him. It might even help a lot of PCers who are involved in the different leadership camps right now as a jumping board to separate themselves from past PC (and current Wildrose) policies.