A Message to Every Alberta Liberal: End the Writing off of People
I was reading one comment made over on Calgarygrit’s blog made by a fellow by the name of “Frank.” I felt this sinking, sickening feeling as I read it. Every single time I hear someone saying we shouldn’t attempt to bring in a group of people into our camp I am sickened. Every time I hear someone saying “x group will take us over if we try” I feel a sinking feeling in my gut, as if I had just been sucker-punched. In this comment Frank trashes a leadership candidate and says Albertan Liberals should curl up in a ball and give up on attracting new people into the party, like people involved in unions or in their faith communities. I am just sickened by this attitude.
I think it’s a weakness to write off groups of people and never even attempt to ask them to join the Alberta Liberals. I think it’s wrong to say people of faith shouldn’t be asked to join the Liberals. I think it’s stupid to throw up our hands and say union members are all Dippers (because they’re not!). I think it’s ignorant to assume every group or amalgam of people are a threat to “take us over.” The attitude that Frank holds is holding the party back from reaching out and becoming a party worthy of governing Alberta. It’s also holding us back.
I can understand folks like Frank, though. We’ve just payed off a debt that has come about from Ms. MacBeth’s leadership but we have also inherited another debt–a debt that Frank still carries with him. It’s the debt to a way of thinking. After Laurence Decore passed away there was a vacuum that has since remained empty. Except, of course, to be filled with a cloistered way of thinking chained to past Edmontonian glories of ’88 and ’93. The bitterness of partisans who have been beaten down, again and again, into a dwindling group of angry Albertans who just are not sure about what to be angry about anymore filled that container too. This tenacity is great for just surviving but the Liberals ought to reach above and beyond just surviving.
So we should exchange this debt for a promise. A promise of openness and inclusion.
We’ve already thrown aside the barriers structurally in our party twowards including people. We are the most open party in all of Alberta and we’ve stared into the very eyes of every Albertan to say to them that they may come, from any part of this province and any group, to join us in making Alberta a better place. We’ve made the commitment–and the party has grown by a thousand supporters in the first week since that convention. Two weeks later another thousand had joined us. And we’re still growing, still including, and still bringing in new people.
We have room for fiscal conservatives. We have room for ex-pastors, businessmen, teachers, leaders, and carpenters. We have room for the LGBT community and parliamentary procedural whizzes. And of course we have room for traditional Liberals–and traditional Tories!–in this party.
I’ve signed up more than a dozen supporters of the Alberta Liberals in the last week alone. I have a small packet that I carry around and, when I meet up with a friend who I know who wants to be involved or be heard… I sign them up. Giving people a voice–and an outlet for inclusion–is powerful and rolls forward to be self-empowering. When I talk about the different candidates for leadership they are interested, want to know more, and, of course, proceed to press me for answers about them that I don’t know (it’s why I wrote up the leadership survey, actually). People are interested in joining and participating: just ask. Our best days are ahead of us.
So let’s go. There’s a better way–the sunny way.