10.27.2013

A Rose By Any Other Name

The weekends Wildrose AGM has drawn to a close in Red Deer and with it came big changes.

Gone are long-standing ‘firewall’ policies such as a provincial police force; in are new visions of the environment and the Human Rights Commission.

In an effort to become more ‘electable’, party members decided to buy into the ‘man-made climate change’ narrative (for business purposes, I was assured), and reversed the popular ‘kill the HRC’ stance. 

Party leader Danielle Smith publicly acknowledged her belief that humans have an impact on climate change – although she is unsure to what extent and that it’s for scientists to determine.  Politically, it’s a very wise move that should defuse the ‘anti-Earth’ image opponents have painted the party with.

The problem, of course, is that the rest of the world is starting to discover what an overblown hoax the entire issue really is.  Is climate change happening?  Of course it is.  It always has.  But there’s a difference – a BIG difference when it comes to government policy – between climate change and man-made climate change.  Many Wildrose members are a bit leery of this new direction and are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach.  The verdict will be in the Bills presented.

The HRC issue is one that has caused perhaps the most buzz for long time members.  Proud that the party would work to eliminate the race-based kangaroo court, the Wildrose’s new ‘kinder, gentler HRC’ approach is being met with raised eyebrows from many who weren’t in the AGM bubble.

Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson was quick to tweet me the explanation that the new party policy was “…EXACTLY the same as the CPC’s”.  Not comforting to those who see any HRC’s for what they are.  My take, as I told Rob in response, was that it was disappointing but that I understand the need for moderation from the party’s point of view. 

Surely Rob and other AGM attendees can understand why some party members would see this move, as well as the climate change policy, as reactionary.

There were some good moves at the AGM, perhaps none more so than the new candidate selection procedure.  This acknowledges a huge weakness that I and many others (including voters) saw from the last race, but it won’t solve all the problems.  While getting the right candidate is essential, knowing the ins-and-outs of the campaign game is just as vital.

It should be anticipated that the media will do their best to trip up a Wildrose candidate in the attempt to get a damning quote, most likely out of context.  While the ‘lake of fire’ incidents should be extinguished by the new requirements, it won’t stop candidates from misspeaking on race issues or help them recognized traps before they step in them.  We just have to be smarter and less na├»ve than we were last time.

A side note to some AGM attendees who were kind enough to send me messages suggesting that perhaps I should not be voicing my opinion since I wasn’t able to physically attend the AGM: we must be careful not to allow the same kind of arrogance into our party that caused many of us to leave the Progressive Conservatives.  No one member’s opinion holds more validity than another’s, no matter where they happen to be.  Be mindful of that.

All in all, the AGM has re-imagined the Wildrose Party as one that is fiscally conservative and socially….  Libertarian?  Centrist?  The answer to that question is what party members will be chewing over between now and the next election.

While I continue to support the Wildrose and intend to work hard to ensure the long-overdue change in government Alberta needs finally happens, I am also taking a small leap of faith.  I trust the party not to sacrifice more of our founding principles in exchange for the possibility of votes. 

Offering Albertans a soggy Grapenuts, PC-lite alternative to the current incompetent party in charge is no alternative at all.

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His Name Was Steven