A well overdue thank you – for Mr. Will Munsey

Being from Alberta one must accept certain truths. The first, is that we are a unique bunch, the second is that we are more alike than we care to admit. Last May 6th 2015, I was reminded of both by a good friend, Mr. Will Munsey.

Mr. Munsey is, as he will tell you, a railroader, a farmer, a father, and – rural to my city. But he is more than that.

I met Will in our tireless, some would say fruitless, pursuit of establishing the Alberta Party as a legitimate option in Provincial politics. I left the party a year after serving as it’s Provincial Board President. Will, assumed the role and worked it amazingly. We both wanted the same thing, a centrist government – but I was frustrated by the inability of the party to consolidate support from average Albertans. I chose two years later to track that with an attempt at the PC seat in Edmonton Rutherford, he stayed on the Alberta Party Board and has ran as a candidate in two elections for them.

As I ran in May 2015 for the PC’s, Will was good enough to support me by delivering brochures in Edmonton Rutherford, easily against his disdain for the 43 year reign of that government.  That is Will, friends above party.

But, this story is not about politics. It’s about the thing we should truly care about, friendship.

The day after the good citizens of Edmonton Rutherford delivered me our well-deserved loss, something terrible happened. Our dog Murphy, of ten years, suddenly went into a complicated diabetic shock and we were faced with the inevitable choice but to have him put down.

I was devastated and in utter shock.

The election, the day before, was frankly a shot of relief. As I have mentioned before, serving politically was always an uncertain pursuit. But being the master to a mediocre hunting dog, the one that our whole family loved more than anything, was certainly who we were.

The day after the election, in total disarray and without any idea what to do, I remember calling Will – he knew I was crying – and we both ignored that, as men do. At the veterinary clinic with my wife and two daughters, all of us in disbelief and emotional ruin, I reached out. It was 2:00 in the afternoon.

Will, who was working and on a train somewhere in Alberta, had built a newly started pet cemetery on his farm in New Serepta. He was immediately supportive and invaluable. The best of friends. Will suggested that he would pick up Murphy, well after midnight, from the Vet, and make sure he would respectfully bury him on his beautiful farm. He did it without question, without payment, and certainly on top of what would have been another long day for him on the railroad. We, as a family, could go home and not be burdened with the horrible reality of dealing with the physical outcome of the day.

I am writing this tonight because I need to thank Will. He was and remains, a very important friend. I can’t ever properly thank him for his kindness. I love him and his family because, at the time, he didn’t need me to do anything – he just helped.

I can’t place where politics matter much anymore. It’s a game where sometimes people take advantage of those who can’t see past the first layer of what partisanship is. But beyond that layer, there is a place where most of us reside, and that is where we stand behind each other as friends.

Thank you Will for your support and friendship. I loved my dog, you honoured that. You are the best of Alberta.

7 Dog Years Later.

A year ago tonight, I was summarily rejected by the people of Edmonton Rutherford; caught up in the election sweep of Alberta by the Rachel Notley led NDP – benefactors of a widespread rejection of our 44 year old PC government. In my opinion, history will prove it was PC establishment arrogance that lost the election and had nothing to do with any new ideas, let alone better ones, from the NDP. But the NDP won, and for that they own the right to govern Alberta for four years. I will always be cheering for Alberta – so by extension, I will cheer for them/us. Until of course the next election.

I wasn’t ever 100% sure I wanted to be a politician. I have always wanted to drive my ideas and ideals into good governance; but the role of an elected official was always one that still freaked me out. As an independent business owner and the kind of guy who likes to call a spade a spade, it became very obvious, very fast, that running for office is no place for someone who has a strong opinion and can’t keep it to her/himself.

Frankly, seeking the nomination, the two-months of glad-handing and door-knocking, was in many ways a daily hell. I was expected to bite my lip and told to skip debates, I had my written words changed by the people behind the war-room curtain, and every day as I walked to the doors of regular Albertans, who I am sure I would have normally really enjoyed… I was called a liar, a cheat, arrogant and entitled. Not because they knew anything about me, since of course they didn’t, but because every political race needs a loser and far too many regular citizens think all politicians are assholes. Of course in 2015 our PC party, as a whole, essentially fit both descriptions.

These are not complaints. I quite sincerely found daily energy from the 150 volunteers who gave me their support in time, money and encouragement. Because of the volunteers, family and friends, it was all, almost, bearable. Perhaps like a sexual rendezvous with an exotic stranger, it may come with some exhilarating moments…. but, just as likely, it can leave you with lingering regret, a sore back and some questioning of your own judgement.

So why bother writing this piece of reflective, self-indulgent and essentially pointless piece? Well, basically because I needed to finally put the whole thing behind me. My year since May 5th, 2015, has been everything but politics. I have literally hidden in corners of rooms to avoid having to talk about my brief political experience. I am ready to finally think about what it might mean to get back involved in my community and my vision for all three levels of government. That doesn’t mean I am interested in ever going back to politics… just that I am hopeful for good governance and will be there to help find it.

I am happy to be back writing as well, and hope to publish here more regularly.

Living with Intent.

I have had one hell of a year. I have had my political ass kicked, kicked some business ass, lost my dearly beloved dog Murphy, and sadly accepted, last summer, my 21 year marriage would be best converted to a deep-friendship and lifelong partnership in parenting.

I drank too much and exercised hardly at all. I spent too much time thinking that success in boardrooms; time in airplanes and airports, closing deals, would deliver me a kind of happiness. I started taking blood pressure medication. No fucking kidding, right?

So yeah, I am happy to leave 2015 behind. But I am also deeply thankful for the lessons it gave me. I am thankful that I get to remain dear friends with a woman who shared with me more than half of her life, and who, with our two daughters, have taught me what unconditional loves means. I am thankful that I get to work with my best friends, so those hours in the boardrooms never feel like work… and finally I am thankful for the chance to build a newer version of my life, with intent and more purpose towards health and happiness.

Of course we all get that chance, every morning we open our eyes. I just might be a more stubborn, a slower learner than most of you. Come back and visit here from time-to-time; I am happily back sharing my thoughts, ideas, revelations and questions with the World from here. (Because, allegedly, living a life of intent requires me to express my intentions).

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

Talking business. Yardstick’s path to a Billion Learners.

As I have mentioned in my most recent “life” update, I was dealt (and dealt myself) some shitty cards in 2015. None of these bad cards seem to make it into my business hand, and Yardstick celebrated many great milestones in 2015.

I am sure there was a correlation between publically losing an election and then coming back to my happy place (work) and doubling the effort to make our year great. Not that it was all just my efforts doubled, but certainly I had a chip on my shoulder and a huge debt of gratitude to pay to my business partners, our staff and customers.

I have encountered many lessons working on the development of Yardstick from just an idea, to over $20M in revenues and 75 employees. As is often the case with founder-led companies, building this business has mostly been instinctual and opportunistic; entrepreneurial of course. As we point our company towards the $100M revenue mark, (Or a Billion Learners as our BHAG instructs) I find it’s time to be more strategic and thoughtful about people development, transitions to scale, and eventually what a globally sized Yardstick might look like. Expansion to other markets, governance, even my own transition away from CEO, these are all thoughts I will spend time developing.

Finally, on the topic of business, I hope to write much more about the ideas of others I encounter. I have personally invested in several Edmonton companies over the last 4-5 years and will continue to cheerlead for them, plus feature and talk about some other ideas I see percolating in our City and Province. Hopefully in doing so, I will find the opportunity to meet smart entrepreneurs from whom I can selfishly draw inspiration from.

Edmonton is disproportionately more entrepreneurial than most cities in this great Country, and Alberta has a long way to go to diversify our economy and survive the transition away from a solely energy economy. So it goes without saying that Edmonton can be the epicenter of the diversification of Alberta’s economy. A driver at least.

I believe strongly in free-market capitalism and the role of the entrepreneurs to drive us towards prosperity… I can’t wait to talk more about it here.

…and of course in the Politics section 😉

Politics – Reflections from the brink and going forward.

The Provincial election in May 2015: This is a topic I might need a full year to develop and several bottles of whiskey to relive.

Personally, I was blessed with so many lessons in partisan politics; well considering my experience, a lifetime’s worth.

Even now, as I write this, my stomach tightens and my blood pressure rises at the thought of the work, the humiliation, and the appreciation for hundreds of people (many strangers) who stopped their lives to help me. I, of course, lost my bid for Edmonton Rutherford, as did almost all of my fellow PC counterparts. I don’t begrudge the people of the constituency; they chose to pursue a fresh path away from what looked like a set of tired ideas.

The PC’s ran a horrible campaign at the Provincial level, but personally, I feel we achieved many amazing things at the constituency. I was blessed to have had the support of hundreds of volunteers from all walks of political life, and a campaign team that was amazing in talent and dedication. We spent the most money of any campaign (that’s easy – and means nothing) in the Province, and frankly would never have been able to overcome the broader narrative developing against our Party. Not to take away from some of our really dumb mistakes…. like “The Blog”.

Richard Feehan, whom I ran against and of course won, was a classy and considerate challenger. We will almost certainly disagree on methods and the ideas required in running a government, but knowing what I now know about this nasty business, he deserves our support and best wishes.

But… what a hell of an experience! I still now want to puke; and that’s from the good memories 😉

Going forward, as I am still want to muse about politics, I must work to be WAY less opinionated here about the individuals and people of politics. I will still strive to be focused on ideas, to hopefully reflect on the inspirational ideas of others, maybe even invent a few of my own… but what I won’t do is attack, cajole or berate another political player here again. It’s too easy, it’s hurtful, almost always unfair, and it’s the path of the weak-minded. It is also how people win in politics. Which sucks donkey-balls…

We have an amazing Province and from all I can tell, the current government, the past government, and hopefully future governments, are, were and will be filled with people who care about our collective future. We will disagree on what it takes to get there, and even what “there” might look like… but I have gained something valuable from my very brief time in politics; my unending respect for those who put their name forward, regardless of party. It’s truly thankless.

Now… there are some things from the election of 2015 which are still worth talking about; reflection on the PC implosion from an insiders perspective, my personal failings as a candidate, our arrogant war-room, and the role of the media in this nasty business…. and beyond that, of course, I simply must talk about why I still think Alberta needs a fiscally conservative government to lead us in both good times and bad.

As I believe strongly in the words of Larry Kudlow... “that free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity.”

Discuss.

Edmonton and Uber. Each, young and confident, disruptive ideas.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE EDMONTON JOURNAL – December 17th

What a time to be an Edmontonian. Our city is enjoying what feels like an unbeatable energy; fed by our entrepreneurialism, a new confidence of identity and our ever-present community approach to building things.

Tapping into that energy, or perhaps helping feed it, this year’s E-Town Festival successfully challenged its 1,000 attendees to “think differently.” The festival is designed to “feed the mind and heart of people who get excited by innovation, creativity and disrupting common thought.”

Peter Diamandis, one of the festival’s keynote speakers, was perhaps the most challenging: presenting mind-bending examples of disruptive and exponential ideas and organizations. Diamandis founded the X-Prize, which made commercial space travel a reality and co-founded the Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution studying the ability of exponentially growing technologies to transform industries and solve humanity’s grand challenges.

Peter Diamandis is not a small thinker. Neither, I hope, are Edmontonians.

Diamandis talked at length about the rapidly expanding and truly disruptive nature of car-sharing services and Uber, in particular, a ride-sharing service that I have much personal experience with. In his words, “it fits the model of an exponential organization. It is democratizing travel options for users, it uses technology to dramatically improve a broken system and it is universally loved by its users and drivers.” He challenged us to imagine our place at the forefront of the “Uberification” of many things; which means, at least to me, a community of citizens using technology to share resources, helping each other, and unleashing entrepreneurial opportunity and a new economy.

But what is the greatest enemy of innovation? It is an establishment-biased fear of the unknown and an over-reaction of regulation, where regulation is not needed.

Cities around the world are fighting ride-sharing services, instead of adapting to work with them. My own discussions with some of our politicians and bureaucrats lead me to believe that Edmonton will be no different. They will argue concerns about safety and fairness, which are of course important, but they are misguided. With each of Uber’s product levels, from private citizen-driven uberX cars, to uberTAXI or the more luxurious uberBLACK car service, I have experienced a better product, at a significantly reduced price.

Like traditional taxi services, Uber drivers go through a rigorous background check. Drivers must maintain a minimum insurance coverage, supplemented by coverage from Uber’s policy. There is also a quality standard for Uber cars, which are also mandated to be newer vehicles. Conveniently, drivers and riders need not carry cash or credit cards: fares, including gratuity, are automatically paid from the phone-based application.

The advantages don’t stop with safety, quality and convenience.

Every ride is logged and GPS tracked in real time, so, if necessary, authorities can access driver and rider whereabouts. Before getting into a car, riders can review their driver’s service record and vehicle description, provided by past customers. Riders themselves are subject to similar anonymous reviews by drivers. A system that relies on both parties to maintain their reputation within the service is a system that, in my experience, provides cleaner cars, friendlier and more helpful drivers and no hassles with payment — every time.

Finally, we must consider impaired driving. Conveniently accessing taxi service, especially when needed most, as citizens pour themselves out of bars, can be impossible. Sadly, some citizens will make the irresponsible decision to drive impaired. If greater access to convenient and cost effective driving alternatives helps with this problem, we must embrace ride-sharing as one of those alternatives.
So, Edmonton, are we really ready to “embrace innovation, creativity and disrupting common thought”?

We are about to see a fierce debate play out in our city. The taxi industry will fight ride-sharing services. They naturally want to protect their monopoly. Some establishment-thinking politicians and bureaucrats will lack the courage to change our regulations and accept a product that virtually everyone wants.

Sadly, I know people who have gotten behind the wheel because getting a taxi was difficult. I need to support this service to help end that thinking. I want to support this service because of my own positive experiences with it. Join me to think differently; we can easily split the fare with these innovative apps.

Peace, Order and Good Government

FIRST HALF

The phrase ‘peace, order and good government’, a technical component of the Constitution Act, has meaning beyond my understanding; stuff of parliament, provincial vs. federal powers, taxation, etc. The cultural principles of POGG however make sense to me. I firmly identify with it as a Canadian and I suspect most everyone else does too. It’s really who we are as citizens.

Strangely, I thought of this with about 2:00 minutes left in the CFL version of the Battle of Alberta, Eskimos vs. Stampeders. A redux of the same battle from last weekend, an important game for both teams as first place is within the grasp of each. Absorbing the sunshine and a few cold beers, I was with my family and friends, sharing a gorgeous Saturday evening with 41,000 fellow Albertans.

At the exact same time, just one train stop down the LRT line, another Battle of Alberta (a PC party optimist would argue Battle FOR Alberta) had come to a close.

The leader of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta and our new Premier was elected by a group of members smaller than half of the football fans at Commonwealth Stadium. The announcement witnessed at the Expo Centre, by an even smaller group, no more than the first 20 rows of fans seated in our Section X. Also, interestingly, a new Premier for the Province and nary a word from the football game announcer. A smart move by the team, as the Eskimos could ill-afford a misdirected chorus of boos from a cynical citizenry. Even at the PC Convention, the room was reportedly subdued. No raucous after-parties were advertised, the Prentice team avoided the typical hubris of this type of victory; as if everyone knew, “tonight proves nothing”.

I couldn’t help but feel torn. I wanted to be there to hear the outcome, feel the room and assess the character of a Premier who says he is committed to changing how a 43 year-old government, well, governs. But, the Battle of Alberta was still within reach of my beloved Eskimos so I stayed and enjoyed the end of the game .… joining the clear majority of Albertans, at least at that moment, not caring about politics.

INTERMISSION

I have questioned myself a great deal lately, wondering (wandering?) for a political home. It’s unlike me to avoid a fight for something and I have searched for answers politically, nearly my entire life. I believe in the systems and science of good government and know that we are lucky to have, in democracy, the best of a bad lot. I don’t take it for granted and yet I have chosen the partisan sidelines. I need to unpack that, and I can only start by letting some thoughts flow freely:

I am convinced that Alberta is basically drowning in ‘Peace, Order and PROSPERITY’. Prosperity, to many, is a good enough substitute for good government; ignoring that for short periods of time, it can be had with or without good government. A stroke of luck, like high priced oil, can also mask a lot of bad government. Of course we may ignore the actual problems created by prosperity: a damaged environment, economic stragglers, or the risk from lacking economic diversity. But, if $150,000 50/50 draw prizes are any indication, we are basically inclined to sit fat, dumb and happy when presented the opportunity. Me included.

I also believe that normal citizens care little for politics and only concern themselves with outcomes (see above); and as long as things are moving along swimmingly, we can ignore the responsibility of having to stay informed or getting involved with politics. This became obvious as I spent a few years of my life trying to help build a new political party with the Alberta Party. Thankless work to say the least, many would argue a complete waste of time.

Finally, I am convinced that many of those who do choose partisan politics, think they can remedy a declining interest in citizen politics with a raised, shrill voice. Attacking and mauling any idea, good or bad, that is not theirs. Crafting ridiculous spin to ridiculous issues, made up for selfish partisan reasons only. A cause and effect, leading to smaller parties and even more cynical citizens. Definitely making it harder for the good ones, fighting the good fight. (This is where many on Twitter have devolved for anyone who follows the #ableg hashtag)

SECOND HALF

I am ready to get back in the game of democracy; if not on the field, maybe as a simple commentator, maybe as a coach, definitely as a fan. As a taxpayer I have certainly bought my ticket and I am going to get my money’s worth.

But in an Alberta context, what is one to do? There are as many opportunities to get involved, as there are bad sport analogies. We must also be honest with ourselves and accept that over the next two years, a Jim Prentice government will reveal it’s ability to provide us good government or it will not. As an Albertan first, I am never going to undermine those efforts. Well beyond that, I am going to hope and trust that it can be done. Mr. Prentice is a very accomplished public servant who had little to gain personally taking on this rotten task – so I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he will reveal his plan and implement many changes to a positive effect.

Also, since I am mostly concerned about the Good Government leg of the tripartite motto mentioned above, (it’s the one we as citizens have the most direct control), it would seem this is the best place to focus one’s efforts. It’s time to support a real effort in reforming the way the government functions. We should be pushing our ideas on transparency, citizen engagement, and good policy. We should admonish the government if they stray from this. But this is our government today, is our home team, like it or not.

Many of my partisan friends will mock this as blind faith in a team that has lost its moral authority to govern, or that “past performance indicates future results”. It may be and they might; but I am going to join the majority of Albertans and eschew the partisan rhetoric.

Good luck Mr. Prentice. Don’t forget that you are playing the game FOR us Albertans. We are your team, not the PC Party.

Go Alberta Go!

It’s Show Me Time in Alberta Politics

Trying to find an opinion about the Alberta PC Party and its recent leadership race is easy. Finding one that is new, or would make a difference after being said, is nearly impossible. For this alone, the person who invented the word ‘clusterfuck’ might deserve a Pulitzer. But in my stupidity, I will try.

For the first time in my political adult life, I am exhausted by a situation. The fact of the matter is that the next PC Leader will be our next Premier. The next Premier will lead a party that has control over a piece of political real estate that every other plausible governing Alberta party wishes it could: the Centre. Social Progressive and Fiscal Conservative. (Some share that space, one pretends too, but none control it).

Clearly Jim Prentice is the likely candidate to emerge with the PC job. No matter how hard Thomas Lukaszuk might scrap for it, or how blindly Ric McIver may think he is equipped for it, neither could sustain the party as leader with no support from caucus. People who think otherwise are loyal and idealistic at best and delusioned at worst. Contrary to what they might think, I still admire many of them.

So, what?

Well all I can think to write, that has not been said enough, is this:

It’s fucking Show Me Time.

Here is what I mean by Show Me:

  1. A damn near brand new cabinet.
  2. Many notable retirements across rural, urban and rurban constituencies by PC dead-weight who have served more than 2 terms
  3. Retirement of any MLA caught in ethical or legal conundrums
  4. New MLA candidates that represent the best of Alberta. I’d personally like to see the Top 40 under 40 of farmers, policy wonks, artists and entrepreneurs. Piss off career politicians and graduate degreed “know it alls” who haven’t done much past suck at the tit of people in power.
  5. A massive by-election, of say 10 constituencies, where these new candidates can prove (or not) if the people of Alberta are really ready to give this government one more shot… as we are led to believe.
  6. Mr. Prentice and his team endorsing a slate of candidates for this fall’s PC Party executive elections. The Party is more than it’s elected leaders, and although the party has many great volunteers, it’s Executive, Regional Directors and even many CA Presidents need to be replaced.

Now, dear friends from other centrist parties, who think I am part of the problem even supporting the idea of another PC government. Well, truth is, as I have said above… we will have a PC government for another 2 years like it or not. If they can’t do much or all of the above, then they will be dealt a mother of a blow and be out of the government business anyways. Then, if that happens, we will have this… which isn’t all bad either:

  1. A complete collapse of the Party in 2016 election results
  2. The legitimate land rush to the political real-estate left behind
  3. New alternatives, like the Alberta Party, getting a chance to really prove themselves

Everyone wins. Either way.

 

Why I am Supporting Randy Boissonnault for Edmonton Centre

For many years, I chose not to concern myself with what the rest of Canada thought about Edmonton. In my heart I knew the special nature of this community and in many ways me, my company and my family have all benefited because of it. But in the last few years, especially as a business owner who relies on a vibrant community, I chose to double-down my commitment in helping the city; because what is great about Edmonton is often misunderstood.

We are entrepreneurial builders; we are a tolerant, accepting, diverse place, and we are scrappy about helping each other succeed as opposed to tearing each other down in competition.

In Co-Chairing the original Make Something Edmonton taskforce, and as an ardent supporter of Startup Edmonton and its first board chair, I met Randy Boissonnault. Randy, shares the same passions I do for these things, but he also embodies them. He was one of our first supporters of Startup Edmonton, donating to join the Founders 50, a significant commitment to give back to the startup ecosystem exploding in Downtown Edmonton. As the founder of Literacy Without Borders and a successful entrepreneur in his own business, Randy is also a builder, a maker, a starter and a finisher.

Randy will be a great Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, I have little doubt about that. I have worked with him as a volunteer and my company has hired him as a business consultant. Randy is driven to results and committed to positive outcomes.

However I am supporting Randy for something more than that. When Ottawa and the rest of Canada look at Randy as an example of Edmonton’s best, we will  be proud of what they see. As Randy has said to me again and again, Canada needs more Edmonton… and I couldn’t agree more….. which is also why Edmonton Centre needs Randy Boissonnault.

Questioning a Jim Prentice coronation

Danielle Smith Leader of the Opposition

Danielle Smith
Leader of the Opposition

I have met Danielle Smith. I like her. She is forthright and a great communicator; fun, authentic and passionate for her ideals.

I’ve known Greg Clark for some time. I really like him. Greg is the perfect example of the new Alberta in my opinion. Young family, entrepreneur who started and built a fast growing knowledge economy business, passionate about a social safety net and innovation in politics, but still fiscally pragmatic and experienced. He is also leading a movement of young, idealistic, and innovative Albertans.

Greg Clark Alberta Party Leader

Greg Clark
Alberta Party Leader

I’ve even met Brian Mason and Raj Sherman, who both interest me. Mason, has been perhaps the most passionate supporter of his beliefs of any MLA I have watched. A great public servant who wears every one of his ideals on his sleeve. I’d suggest most Albertans admire his work ethic, even if his political beliefs are often in conflict with our business-loving ethos.

Sherman, who in my opinion, has troubles containing his hubris, still busts his ass for his struggling party and brand. He is an animated character, and I think a pretty good guy. Even if I wouldn’t trust him to good governance.

But, for every one of these party leaders, I have an idea of their character. They have made mistakes and they have made impassioned pleas about a future Alberta. Love them or hate them, I at least understand them.

So, let’s shift to Jim Prentice, the heir apparent to the PC Party of Alberta. What do we really know about him? Sure, It could be as simple as me not knowing him personally; maybe he is the finest character known to politics. I just don’t know. I hope we will learn more about him. He has certainly been very quiet when it comes to Albertan issues.

But, let me share with you how I FEEL.

Two weeks ago at at the Edmonton PC Premier’s Dinner, I was lucky to be the guest of some great Albertans. Two past Premier’s Chief of Staffs (to Klein & Lougheed), a First Nation’s Chief, and an Edmonton business Legend, all at my table. We were treated fairly quickly by a visit from Jim Prentice, for obvious reasons.

Jim Prentice PCAA Leader Candidate

Jim Prentice
PCAA Leader Candidate

Mr. Prentice was surrounded by a throng of party insiders. I did feel like I was witnessing the chosen one. I don’t begrudge Mr. Prentice for this, what a great position to be in. But I did pass two judgments in that moment:

  1. What has this man yet done to connect with the party machine, to prove that he has a plan to give it the reinvigoration is most desperately needs? The tribulations of the party are not entirely due to the bad leadership of Alison Redford. Much of their problems are a result of desperation in clinging to power over a genuine interest in reinventing a politic commitment to service for Albertans.
  2. Why does this party get so excited about a messiah figure, and not realize that it needs to rebuild its relationship with regular Albertans? Does the party desire to rebuild its infrastructure to serve the citizen and party member, as opposed to just their elected official. Finally, why does it pretend that things are A-OK as long as a popular new leader is found?

 

I can be convinced that Jim Prentice is a great potential Premier of the Province, but ONLY through his actions. He has chosen an old-school approach to his early leadership campaign, which relies on the typical PCAA maneuvers, and is ignoring what I think is important in any political movement in 2014. Show Albertan’s, the general public, your authentic self.

This is why I am actually more interested in seeing a PCAA race, which includes other interesting PCAA candidates. Ric McIver has been a lesser known, but certainly more authentic candidate from the start. As a Calgarian, I simply don’t know him as well, or understand his style. I have read that he is trying to tackle the “everyman” narrative, and that’s a good thing, but I am still unconvinced he has the “Royal Jelly” to transcend the party past with a renewed vision for Alberta. In a different set of words, he strikes me as a “Ralph Klein Light”. Not bad, necessarily, but not NEW, and not INSPIRING… In my opinion, certainly not enough of a character to beat Danielle Smith and the Wildrose Party, who are the best version of old politics in Alberta right now.

 

Thomas Lukaszuk Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training & Labour.

Thomas Lukaszuk
Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training & Labour.

Thomas Lukaszuk however, has an interesting potential. We know him quite well. He acts with authentic impulse on almost every issue. His social media presence in the last three years as a cabinet minister, has been polarizing to say the least. But, assuming he was playing the “bad-cop” role for Premier Redford on the Advanced Education file, we can describe him during that time as an “aggressive loyalist,” at best. Many, and I wouldn’t disagree, feel that his handling of the post-secondary (especially U of A) funding crisis was an abomination. Interfering with the Board of Governors in full public, was poorly handled and not consistent with the way the government in Edmonton has typically dealt with its appointees and normal supporters.

BUT, I have to give some credit where credit is due. Lukaszuk has been 100% authentic with us. And as much as he may have offended some Albertans, he has also made up for it by being one of the most tireless political workers I have witnessed. As past PC MLA Doug Elniski has suggested, none of the potential leadership candidates understand the grassroots public service as well as Minister Lukaszuk.

A leadership race can be a fickle and interesting thing. Day by day challenges from the opposition (outside the party) and the opposition (within the party) can make a hero transform to zero very quickly. Jim Prentice is the most accomplished individual in the race. Hands down. But he is also the most vulnerable, and deserves a tough analysis of his vision for the province.

I don’t know if I like the man or not, mostly because he is still an unknown local personality. I do wonder this:

How much can he connect with regular Albertans? How much does he value economic diversification or democratic transformation? And how much is he committed to changing the way the PC Party serves the average party member and citizen?

If these are a few of the ways we evaluate a successful Leadership candidate in Alberta right now (It’s how I do), I like Thomas Lukaszuk, Greg Clark, Danielle Smith, Brian Mason and Raj Sherman… at least right now, until we hear from the polished and old school Jim Prentice.

I like them better, because I feel I know them. I FEEL I have seen into their heart, if only a little bit. Not just their expansive wallets.

I like authentic, servant leaders. Even if they are not perfect.