A disappointing day for Alberta

Everything that is wrong about Alberta Politics was on display today as the Premier fought off more internal party fighting and her Deputy Premier Dave Hancock, was left to be a spokesperson for.

In many ways I admire how hard-working and loyal Minister Hancock is to his party, constituency and leader. He is one hell of a listener. But his loyalty has stretched to a fault. In trying to defend his leader and his party, he turned his back on the principles most Albertans subscribe to. Fairness, humility and frankness.

Now, I don’t think for a second that Minister Hancock wants to be anything but fair. I also don’t think he strives to be anything but humble. But today, he seemed to avoid his opportunity to be frank, because he works for a leader who confuses such frankness with disloyalty. Of course this is my opinion and observation. Here is my argument.

This is borne from the problem with our Premier right now. Maybe intentionally, but I suspect more due to a personality flaw; she perceives anyone who speaks against her mistakes, as an attack born from disloyalty.  It’s HER character flaw that she can’t hear truth to power. As a lawyer, maybe she only hears fact-based arguments and is hard-wired to win all arguments as opposed to valuing nuance and differences. I personally think it’s what happens when someone succeeds again and again, and has never experienced failure or rejection to any large degree.

But, in Deputy Premier Hancock I was most disappointed. He had an opportunity to both defend his party, his leader and good governance, by being a bit more fair, humble and frank. Today he acted in a way I don’t think was consistent with his character.

I have fantasized what he should have said, when given the difficult task of speaking for a caucus that is obviously fractured. Here is what he could have said:

“Clearly Albertans and some of our caucus and members are frustrated with us. The Premier herself has apologized for violating certain trusts, and we just met and talked about how we need to rebuild that trust together; for Albertans.

It’s not time to blame those who have lost confidence in us. It’s time to reconnect with the people who lent us their vote. Rest assured we want it back. Not because we think we are entitled to it, but because we think we have the best plan for Alberta.”

This is what Minister Hancock said:

“This premier is a very strong premier. She has got strong leadership qualities and she has a strong caucus.”

Hancock said Webber’s remarks are tainted by the fact he is an ex-cabinet minister.

“He could not take the fact that in this business there are ups and there are downs,” said Hancock.

“He’s a very sad man.”

The amazing simplicity of things, is this. The Premier and her Deputy, would be significantly more popular and have avoided these problems, by simply being more humble and honest with themselves. More important, I think they both would be more effective, if the Premier was more open to frank challenges and the best ideas which surely must be available inside her own caucus, and even her from the opposition. She should admit her mistakes more rapidly; encourage and listen-to a wide range of criticism.  For practical and political reasons.

Great leaders want straight-talk from their subordinates. Great team players give it, respectfully. Both the Premier and Deputy Premier have failed us, respectively, in this regard.

Ironically, people will be hurt by my comments, thinking I am playing politics. But I am not a politician. I am an Albertan, who like many, has lost faith in our leadership. I simply see a Province losing its opportunity to be it’s best self. A Province where we have everything going for us, except good governance.

If you disagree, consider that today our Premier has created a leadership vacuum, where against all laws of physics, she finds herself putting out fires. Cancelling all meetings, speaking engagements and her role in question period in the legislature at a time where her leadership was most needed.

I am less critic than I am constituent. Something the current PC leadership seem to have lost a sense of accountability to.

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