3 #ableg predictions for 2016

The start to a new year wouldn’t be complete without a few provincial political predictions. Here are mine – based on 2015 observations.

In 2016 Albertans will watch …

… the MLA for Calgary-Bow, Deborah Drever, welcomed back to the NDP caucus.

For many this does not seem to be ground breaking but more and more we see this independent member being treated as if she never left the caucus. Her passed private member’s bill that was supported unanimously by the NDP caucus was the icing on the cake in 2015. The bill surfaced after a summer long road trip touring non-profits supporting vulnerable women, no doubt orchestrated by the NPD caucus after our Premier gave her a special assignment. The by-election saw Deborah become a NDP campaigner. And her swearing in was attended by and cheered on by a NDP caucus leader.

But, the less obvious, is a recent community newsletter article that social media politicos are obsessing over. The story the online army of conservatives is professing is the fact that Deborah “copied” a neighbouring MLA’s monthly article. I don’t see it that way. I worked in a constituency office and we would regularly get community related copy intended for newsletters. They were written centrally and many MLA office managers, including me, used the copy to supplement articles or even simply be the entire article. So no, I’m afraid Deborah didn’t copy her neighbouring MLA, she simply used the NDP caucus communications suggested newsletter content – and that’s the story. As an independent she shouldn’t have access to those communications but clearly she does. For the record I live in her constituency and my newsletter was different than the one referenced, which does further confirm the message was indeed a centrally crafted based on specific community needs. The last sign that she is already unofficially back in the fold, and the official announcement is imminent.

… the PC Party’s most progressive voice make a bold political move.

It’s been interesting to watch the PC Party grapple with two core components of the party – conservative and progressive. In order to win back the grassroots support it has lost they have to choose which grassroots support to focus on – those that have looked to the progressive side of the spectrum and are flirting with the Alberta Party or those that looked to right and are flirting with the Wildrose and a conservative merger. In a caucus of over 60 the voices that were considered the extremes of the party were often muted because of the wide range of voice representing the center. Now, with a fraction of those voices on the bench, the progressive voices have gotten louder and so have the conservative ones – which makes the vast differences of opinions in the party more obvious.

One voice has been particularly loud in recent months – unsupportive of a merger, loud on progressive issues, and a defender of the previous government’s social policy. I believe Sandra Jansen will make a bold political move to show her true progressive allegiance. The move will either be a floor crossing to the Alberta Party, which some have already predicted, or a decision to run for PC Party leader with a platform that will attempt to sway progressives back into the fold of the party. She would be the voice of anti-conservative reunification sympathizers.

… a by-election in Calgary-Mountain View.

Tragically Albertans will have to watch a by-election in Calgary-Greenway in 2016. But I believe we will see 2 elections when this writ drops. Calgarians will also go to the polls in Calgary-Mountain View. David Swann has been a true champion for the Liberal movement in Alberta for years and has publicly acknowledged he has considered retirement in the past. As the sole member of the Liberal Party caucus one can assume that he is working long hours but with the Liberals barely on Albertan’s radars those hours may not be paying off.

Plus how could we go one year without a provincial election in our province? Seems to be one of Alberta’s new political staples. J

It will be an interesting race to watch. My prediction for a winner? The Alberta Party. I believe the Alberta Party could attract a high profile candidate, like Matt Grant, who is fresh off a high profile federal campaign, and is maintaining his election ready social media presence.

There is no doubt that this will be another interesting year … policy changes, economic diversification (or attempts at), political protests, progressive movements, and conservative realignment.

It will be a ride – so put on your seatbelts and look forward to an eventful political year.

CP

Jim Prentice is the Real Deal

I’m preparing for a presentation to my MBA class next week on the question: What should we know about ourselves to become better leaders?

As I prepare, I can’t help but be inspired by Premier Prentice as he navigates his way through the process of establishing himself as the leader of our province. While it’s only been a week since he’s been sworn in, it’s clear that when it comes to ability to lead, Mr. Prentice is the real deal.

As part of the research I conducted for this presentation, I came across an interesting study about the impact that “Authentic Leadership” has on “Psychological Ownership”. Short of getting into the heavy academic theory behind all of this, I can say that based on how my own feeling have suddenly become positive again towards the PC led government, this theory seems to resonate with me.

The study makes some general comments about authentic leadership, which it also correlates to the concept of “transformational leadership”. These include:

  • Authentic transformational leaders set personal examples, create a shared vision, take risks, promote trust and collaboration, and reward others for their accomplishments;
  • Authentic leaders are deeply aware of their values, emotions, goals, motives, strengths and weaknesses.

According to the study, psychological ownership is a natural feeling by individuals that is concerned with feelings of possession. The study goes on to say that when followers perceive leaders as authentic, they tend to display more organizational citizenship behaviours, commitment, satisfaction or performance. It also says that because open and truthful relationships are integral to authenticity it is reasonable to expect that authentic leaders fulfill the followers’ need to belong. Finally, and perhaps most encouraging for the PC Party and Caucus, the concept of “positive modelling” may result in followers identifying themselves with the leaders as a person.

So far during his short but action packed week as Alberta Premier, Mr. Prentice has certainly had this kind of impact on me and based on conversations I’ve had with many of my PC friends, I’m not alone in that feeling.

When it comes to the theory of authentic leadership, Premier Prentice seems to be the real deal. Of course it’s very early and only time will tell for sure, but so far I feel proud of my new leader and I hope the feeling not only continues, but deepens, matures and flourishes.

Thank you Mr. Prentice for bringing back that feeling of pride that was once associated with a PC led government – keep up the great work!

PP

My open letter to Jim Prentice about the state of the PC Party

Dear Jim,

Can I call you Jim? I feel like you’re the kind of guy that would want me to call you Jim.

I don’t know if you remember me. I volunteered for you back when you were a federal MP – actually one afternoon during a membership drive in Frank Hickey’s office I met the love of my life. That’s a long story though, but I do hope to tell you in person one day. If you don’t remember me, that’s ok, just know that I still support you, and I support our Party. I’m a concerned Party supporter, and I have been for some time.

I know you’re really busy right now. There is a lot to do and people are expecting big things in the next two weeks. I’m excited; I get the sense you’re committed to the change in government people want to see.

Albertans are waiting – and Albertans are important to convince of the change. But I’m writing today to ask you to please not forget about the change our Party members are also waiting to see.

You see Jim, our last leader forgot about that. When our last leader had the political clout to come in and really shake things up at the party level she didn’t. Right now, you have the clout to ruffle feathers and get our ship in order. A ship we need in order to fight by-elections, and regular elections.

Our Party has served for over 40 years because of its strong grassroots. I remember being a teenager on Calgary-Shaw and being so excited to truly know that my voice mattered. I had incredible political mentors on that board, including the MLA, Cindy Ady, that encouraged me to always stand up for what I believe in, challenge the things that I didn’t, and to always push our Party to be the best it could be. As a board I believe we did that.

We have a grassroots problem Jim. Our grassroots don’t feel that excitement anymore because that’s missing.

I believe the culture of an organization changes as soon as a new leader shows up. It changes by their example.

After your example (which at this point I don’t think is an issue) it is important for you to show that you understand that there is a problem in our Party right now. I think you understand that and more importantly I think you will be committed to that. But please don’t wait too long to show your commitment.

Great leadership attracts other great leaders, that’s great. But I also believe that great leaders need to start by proactively recruiting other great leaders. We need a great team. And a great team doesn’t mean people that have surrounded this Party for years, and are loyal soldiers, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they have specific government experience. A great team for our Party means a group of people with complimentary skill-sets, passion, and experience. And I’m not talking about our caucus team (I believe you’re already dealing with that), I’m talking about our PCAA team including the positions in our Party office and on our Party Board of Directors. These positions shouldn’t be rewards or favors, they should be based on who can best do the job that we need them to do.

And I think we both know that the job we need them to do over the next 2 years is a big job. Volunteer or full time staff – both of these will be stretched to their maximum potential and that has to be what they expect. And they have to be excited about that … and willing to get their hands dirty. We don’t need more people telling us what to do, we need more people just doing it. And if they are excited that will trickle down and re-excite the grassroots.

Personally I don’t want the loyal soldier type at the top of our grassroots organization. I want people who are willing to ask questions, challenge, and push us in a new direction.

Jim, I’m going to be honest, that’s not happening right now. I’ve chatted with many, and have my own examples, but when the grassroots speaks up … speaks up with the purpose of bettering our Party … we’re told we’re hurting our Party, we don’t understand our Party, and we’re against our Party. Jim, if we were against our Party we’d be gone already to either the left or the right.

Something has kept us here – waiting – wanting change. Maybe it’s because we know that the culture of fear and punishment isn’t really what our Party is based on and that we were just waiting for a new leader to set a new example.

There are some important dates coming up that I’m sure your talented transition team has in mind, but I thought I’d remind you. I believe you can use these dates to start setting an example …. and a direction for our Party.

September 20 is our next PCAA Board of Directors meeting. This will be exciting – I wish I could be a fly on the wall. I hope that you will discuss the following and ensure that the Board communicates it in a public way back to the grassroots:

  •  A clear review of electronic voting: we aren’t asking for a review of the outcome, we need a review of the process. We need to learn from the blunders now so that we can do better next time. We need to show that we care that there were blunders in order to start healing the relationship with the thousands of people who wanted to participate and couldn’t. It’s not enough to say next time we’ll do better. Let’s do it now so we aren’t in a rush to do it when we need to. I hear there is a petition circulating asking for this to but has not been received by our Board well.
  • A clear review of the Leadership Election Committee: it’s not about reviewing who was on it but more the skillsets that were. What key roles did we miss and how can we ensure we have those next time? Let’s create a process surrounding this committee and set it in stone at the AGM. Let’s give the grassroots a reason to have confidence in our Party.
  • Staffing: time to have an honest discussion about who does what at the Party office. We have some true champions there, but we are missing skillsets. We need to have an honest conversation about who fills what roles. We need a leader in the office with a background in non-profits or associations with a board structure. We don’t need someone with a government background, or inexperienced folks with Party loyalties. We need qualified individuals. We need an open competition for some roles, and we need your leadership and connections to help make recommendations to the Board for others.
  • The Board: I hope you’ll have an honest conversation with the Board about their own roles. I know you’re having those conversations with caucus – who goes, who stays, who represents the future, who has the skills we need to be successful, who needs to move aside for the next generation (not necessarily younger, but fresher)? I love that you’re having those conversations, that shows you are the leader we need. Please ask those same questions of those that stood, or want to stand, for election of our PC Board. The directors in place are as important as our caucus team if we want to continue to be successful.

Speaking of the Board that’s the other important date, September 26 is the deadline to submit a nomination for the 2014/2015 PCAA Executive Board. This date seems to be flying under the radar. But Jim, we need good people to run for these roles. And not good as in nice, but good as in strong, charismatic, skilled, experienced, passionate, that bring both strategy and the ability to execute the strategy to the table. These people are volunteers, yes, but they need to be committed to YOUR vision for our Party, and they need to be people the grassroots can count on to question, challenge, encourage, and empower.

Empower … this is the big one.

Our Party engine hasn’t been empowering volunteers. But you can change that.

Empower the grassroots by asking those you feel are qualified to step up and run in the executive races. Some may say that those who want to run will just run, but it’s my experience with volunteer management that you really do have to ask. It means a lot when you ask someone, and have a conversation with them, about a position you’d like them to take on. They take it seriously, and it creates accountability. And if you are leading by that example they will act the same – they will in turn empower those around them by asking them to do small (or large) meaningful tasks to help our Party.

We need to get back to that. Many hands make for light work – and there is a lot of work.

Please empower us. Empower our Party and don’t forget to set the example and start shifting the way our Party has been doing business.

Please ask people – ask people to do things – if you do it will make us stronger, and it will help the grassroots to realize how important it actually is. Set the example so we can get back to being excited about asking questions and making our Party better.

Please don’t forget to not only shake up government, caucus, and cabinet, but shake up your Party.

I’ll be watching with anticipation.
CP

The Freedom to Express my Thoughts

I’ve remained quiet online regarding the recent events of #ableg. Like many PC Party members I haven’t really been sure what to say. I’m embarrassed but also on the edge of my seat waiting to see what’s next.

Today it became apparent that I can no longer keep quiet.

Today Jim McCormick, PC Party President, held a press conference and said this:

“I don’t think people should be disciplined for their thoughts or expressing them.”

This is offensive to me. Why? Because I have been disciplined by this Party for expressing my thoughts.

It started with a blog I wrote about being invited and then uninvited to the 2013 budget  – you’ll notice that blog is gone from the site – but I know many of you remember reading it. I wrote that this wasn’t good practice in terms of volunteer retention and how frustrating it was to be removed from the invitee list just days before an event without any legitimate reason as to why. In the end I was offered a ticket to attend by the Leader of the Opposition. I accepted and attended.

That blog was posted the afternoon of March 6, 2013. I received a call that evening to let me know that “I had made my point” and it was time to remove it. I removed it. I did it out of respect for the individual that called. The next morning I actually received a phone call from the Premier’s Chief of Staff over my ticket. He apologized to me for the mix-up. True example of the squeaky wheel … and I truly appreciated it. For me that particular issue was resolved.

But then a few minutes later, this is what I received from the Party.

A letter of censure explaining to me that my “blog crossed a serious line” and I needed to give “second thought prior to any communications that may reflect negatively on either the Party or our Leader.”

Sending letters like these to your members is the exact opposite of encouraging people to express their thoughts.

I have been a long time advocate of #changefromwithin for the PC Party. But as Donna Kennedy-Glans pointed out yesterday … I’m just not sure that’s possible.

CP

Meet our Friend Matt

The New Year got me thinking … we have a ton of new MLAs (can we still call them new?) sitting in the Alberta Legislature … we don’t necessarily know a lot about them … which leads to my excuse for a new series (hopefully) of blogs. A New Year featuring New MLAs.

First on the list? Our friend Matt.

Peter and I met Matt Jeneroux, Alberta’s MLA of Edmonton-Southwest, before the 2012 provincial election. He attended the nomination workshop we were hosting on behalf of the PC Party. He stood out in the room. I remember standing at the front of the room looking at those that were learning about the process and wondering who might go on to become MLAs. Matt was an excellent choice by the constituents of Edmonton-Southwest.

Since that day Peter and I have gotten to know Matt and consider him a friend. He is strategic, dedicated, hard working  … and thoughtful. Peter and I received the loveliest (“official”) letter from Matt after we got married – I must admit that the inner political geek in me was quite excited about having something like that grace our mailbox but the words written and sentiment behind it truly demonstrate the type of individual Matt is – gracious, kind-hearted, and, like I said, thoughtful! Perhaps a side of a MLA you don’t often hear about or get to see.

Matt always seems to be up to something new. Give him a follow on Twitter or check out his website. He has quite an impressive schedule. My favourite of his posts? The photos of him visiting schools and students in his constituency – making a positive impact on Alberta’s next generation. He’s quite active online – keeping Albertans posted on his goings-on, tweeting directly with those that have concerns, and sharing information not only about government but the things that matter to his community. Like this one from yesterday:

We asked Matt a few questions to start off 2014 so Albertans could get to know him better. His answers are in italics.

Why did you choose to get involved in politics?
It was a decision I made after a lot of thought & consideration. I have 2 young daughters and I want to ensure they have every opportunity to grow up in a remarkable Alberta like I was able to do. I want them and their generation to have pride in a province that is quite simply the envy of the world. I want them to be able to say, “I’m from Alberta” anywhere in the world and be proud to say it!

What did you do before you were a MLA?
I worked for the Federal Government as a Policy Advisor.

What is your favourite part about being an MLA? 
The opportunity to have a voice for our generation, specifically opportunities like being on Treasury Board. Also being the youngest government caucus member, I often get to provide a viewpoint from our generation and add insight as a single dad raising a young family. It’s a tough balance sometimes where I have to bring my two daughters to a number of meetings but I’m hopeful hard work and sacrifice will help to give us a voice at the decision making tables.

What is the number 1 issue you are passionate about in our constituency? 
A few issues have really stood out for me. As of recently, being able to speak about and provide insight on our changing interprovincial and international relations has been quite interesting. I have a very forward thinking constituency with a lot of young families who are passionate about Alberta’s place in the world. I’ve been able to bring a proactive and forward thinking discussion about our future to the table on a variety of topics which I’ve had the luxury of chatting with my constituents about again and again!

Oh, and of course the continued growth pressures and the high demands for increased infrastructure i.e. New Schools

And, any New Year resolutions?
Hopefully avoid the stigma of overweight & unhealthy politicians and continue to go to the gym often… even if it means at 11:30pm after evening sittings!

Good luck in 2014 Matt! We’re watching (especially that 2014 resolution) and looking forward to all you’ll accomplish as government’s youngest member (which is an accomplishment in itself) … thanks for representing your constituents, our generation, and most of all for your friendship.

– CP

PCYA AGM 2013 – My Executive Endorsements

At this point I don’t even know how long ago it was when I first got involved with the PCYA – it seems like eons – and not because your time there drags on and on but because while you are there you seem to get so much accomplished in such a short time span.

Youth really are the backbone of any political party. Yes, they are the “future” but more importantly they are the ones that aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, get passionate, and keep the more experienced members on their toes. The passion of the youth that are politically involved in this province always amazes me; social media certainly amplifies the passion. I remember being the VP Youth in Calgary-Shaw almost a decade ago and thinking “where are all the other young people?” – today you just look online, or better yet, you look to the PCYA.

The PCYA was also the group I looked to during the 2012 election. They were the Party’s “SWAT Team”. I could always rely on them to roll up their sleeves and help out any constituency at any time. It was never about where they were going or who they were helping – they always did it with enthusiasm for the party and because they believed in the Party’s principles.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with these 3 gentlemen that I’m about to tell you about. If you’re under 26 and at the PC AGM in Red Deer this weekend I encourage you to seek them out tonight and meet them for yourself (find me and I’ll introduce you if you like!). I think you’ll agree that they are the best people to continue the PCYA legacy of fun, passion, and accomplishment.

See you this weekend!
CP xo

Chris Carlile for PCYA President

I am pleased to give my official endorsement of Chris Carlile for PCYA President. He has the right attitude, passion, experience, and humility for the job.

I had the pleasure of meeting Chris when he first started at the UofC when I was the UCCCA President. I had no one on my team as eager to help out as he was. I could always count on him for advice, strategic insight, and to get the task at hand (whether large are small) done right.

Chris has been a force within the PC youth movement ever since then. He is a strong advocate, a representative voice, and takes any role he takes on with great seriousness. He has played key roles within the PC organization for the past several years – both youth related and at the table with 40 years’ worth of volunteers.

Most recently I got to work with him during the 2012 provincial election. In his role of campaign manager for Calgary-Klein he excelled; he truly showed that he was not only a youth leader but a leader within the entire PC Party. I will never forget one call in particular with all Calgary campaign managers where Chris spoke up confidential amongst several seasoned PC campaigners. His insights, questions, and suggestions were thoughtful, direct, and left a strong impression while making an immense impact.

Chris will be a strong voice for the PCYA. He will not shy away from advocating for youth at the PC Executive table and his experience will be the catalyst the PCYA organization needs to move to the next level.

Thomas Ockley for PCYA VP Finance

There is no job Thomas isn’t willing to tackle. He is principled and always follows through on what he commits to. I am pleased to offer my official endorsement of Thomas Ockley for PCYA VP Finance.

I met Thomas several years ago when he first got involved in the PC Party. My best first memory of working with each other? Sending Thomas on a wild goose chase through NW Calgary because we needed certain materials for an AGM for the UCCCA we were having later that evening. He committed and he delivered. I could count on him even in the last second before a major event. Not only did he get the job done, but he did get it done at the best price. Part of his wild goose chase included ensuring the best price and even tackling part of the project himself so we would save money as an organization on labour costs.

Ever since that moment Thomas has always been someone I rely on, someone I ask advice, and someone I look to when I need help. He is incredible at rallying support, volunteers, and morale. He has a depth of understanding of our PC organization like no other. He is experienced and he is effective.

Thomas is the best choice for this role. As a friend, a peer, and as someone who has worked with him on numerous events, boards, projects, and campaigns, I can say with confidence that he will deliver on his promises and will continue to be a valuable asset to the PCYA if elected.

Patrick Beatty for PCYA VP Policy

I am pleased to offer my official endorsement of Patrick Beatty for PCYA VP Policy.

If you collected political hockey cards Patrick’s would be the rookie card you’d want to get your hands on and mount in one of those plastic covers. His accomplishments politically and professionally outweigh any possible story I could tell about his work ethic. He knows policy, and not just because it’s been his role the past year, but because he is passionate about it. Patrick truly is passionate about the nuts and bolts that define a Party. He is not afraid to speak up for what he believes in, ask tough questions, and make sure the underdog has a voice.

Patrick is kind, considerate, approachable, and always puts his friends first; by default that means he puts the PCYA first. I’ve heard his girlfriend tell countless stories of the late nights he has pulled working on policy resolutions for the youth. Patrick understands the power of the youth voice within this Party and does not take it for granted – he takes it seriously and ensures that not a single opportunity is missed to allow the youth to speak up for what they believe in.

There is no doubt in my mind that Patrick will be an incredible policy leader for a second term for the PCYA.