I penned this letter on a flight to Whitehorse this past weekend, and sent it to every member of the PCAA caucus, as well as former PC MLA Thomas Lukaszuk and the PCAA Executive Board. To this date, only Lukaszuk and interim leader Ric McIver have acknowledged this letter. Are the other members of caucus and the executive board afraid of change, or have they just been too busy preparing for the next sitting of legislature to respond? As a concerned conservative, I hope it’s the latter. I originally had no plans on making this public, but the lack of responses has pushed me to do so.
To Whom It May Concern,
May 5 was a humbling day in Alberta’s history. The once-great Progressive Conservative government fell on its own sword. After years under an “aura of power”, a growing ego and deep corruption, Albertans elected a party on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, almost certainly out of spite. Many are expecting the Progressive Conservative party to go the way of the United Farmers and the Social Credit Party. However, I disagree. I believe that this was the cleansing that this party needed. Many of those who were black eyes on the PC Party were booted out the door. Cleaning out the likes of Jim Prentice, Mike Allen, et all was the best thing that could have happened to the PC Party. Clearing out executives like Kelly Charlebois was another key step in cleansing the party.
Now the rebuilding must begin. On social media, I have spoken to a number of faces well-known in PC Party circles. From long-time MLA’s like Thomas Lukaszuk to controversial ex-candidates like Jamie Lall, one thing has stood out to me above all: the PC Party must embrace a youth movement. The PC Youth is a strong organization. There are some incredibly hard working, passionate people involved with this organization, who could be absolute assets to the PC Party in the near future. What has also stood out is a call for a grassroots campaign. The PC Party must move away from corporations and the ultra-wealthy, and seek out a grassroots support base; be the party of the people, not the elites.
The simple fact is, the PC Party cannot continue down the same path it has been on since the retirement of Ralph Klein, or it will indeed follow the SoCreds into obscurity. I do have some ideas, and I am writing to you to express these ideas.
1) Embrace a grassroots youth movement. – Bring in strong, fiery voices from average Albertans. No, I’m not talking about baristas and undergraduate students a la NDP, but rather experienced tradespeople, small business owners, community leaders, medical staff and others with relevant experience that could be useful in a government setting. People with a knowledge of emergency/disaster management, safety codes (ie. building, fire and electrical code), marketing, social media, etc would be absolutely essential to creating a party that average Albertans could relate to, but also feel comfortable knowing that they are well-equipped to run government.
2) Become more active and efficient on social media. – One thing that the NDP did particularly well in this election campaign was that they had a very strong social media team. They utilized popular online fads such as memes, YouTube videos and viral posts that got their message out and were easy for the average Albertan to understand and relate to. An effective social media team would absolutely benefit the PC Party when it comes to connecting and relating with Albertans.
3) Shift back to a more fiscally conservative set of policies, while being socially liberal. – One thing that threw many conservatives away from the PC Party, and in the direction of the Wildrose was the sheer amount of waste that came up in each budget post-Klein. Long-time PC Party supporters grew more and more disillusioned with the party as it shifted farther away from fiscal conservatism. With an NDP government now in charge, a party that is known for high tax, high spending platforms, more fiscally conservative PC Party policies will be extremely attractive to Albertans heading into the 2019 election. In this changing society, it is extremely important to embrace socially liberal policies. Equality regardless of race, gender and sexuality is important to the current generation of Albertans. Policies that embrace that will resonate with the average Albertan.
4) Become more transparent. – PC governments of the past were much more transparent than the Stelmach, Redford and Prentice governments of recent days. One major criticism of all party platforms in the recent campaign is that details were not laid out well by any parties. One thing the Wildrose Party capitalized on leading up to the 2012 election and for the two years after that election was their ability to clearly lay out a plan with details that, again, the average Albertan can understand. Transparency goes beyond that as well, however. The shredding of so many documents after the election defeat was not a good start, but there is plenty of time to repent and work towards regaining the trust of Albertans. Transparency from the current 9 MLA’s and remaining party executives, including on the events of past PC governments will be essential to regaining the trust of Albertans. The PC Party must admit its faults, admit its mistakes, and prove to Albertans that those same mistakes will never happen again by displaying the highest possible level of transparency.
5) Find the best possible leader. – The best possible leader doesn’t need to be a former MP or an elite CEO. The best possible leader will be someone who is willing to go out, pound the pavement and listen to Albertans. There should be no coronation. It’s important to recruit leadership candidates who truly love Alberta, and represent everything that the PC Party needs to be in order to relate with and regain the trust of Albertans. The next leader cannot be someone who just wants power handed to him or her. The next leader needs to be someone who is willing to truly fight for the party and its vision.
An election campaign doesn’t begin when the writ is dropped. It begins when the ballots are counted. The PC Party has 4 years to rebuild, or risk going the way of Social Credit. I believe that the 5 points raised in this letter will be essential in completing that rebuild. In four years, I expect that Albertans will once again be demanding change. A rebuilt PC Party with strong grassroots and youth movements will be exciting to Albertans from Indian Cabins south to Coutts; from Hythe east to Lloydminster. Transparency, fiscal conservatism and strong social policies will give Albertans a platform that embraces everything we stand for as a province.
I would like to thank you for the time taken to read this letter, and I hope you take my points into consideration when looking ahead to the future of the PC Party. Albertans needs a party that embraces the responsible conservative fiscal policies and socially progressive policies that Alberta stands for. The PC Party still has a place in this province, but it must embrace change in order to maintain that.
Spruce Grove-St Albert constituency resident and passionate conservative
I welcome feedback on this from supporters of all parties. Ultimately, I do feel that Albertans would be best off with a united right, however, both parties have expressed their complete refusal to work together, and the Wildrose Party is still seemingly stuck on the idea of trashing the PC’s at every opportunity that arises. It does not appear that a merger is happening any time soon, thus I believe that the PC’s must follow through with the above, or go the way of the SoCreds.
JUNE 11 UPDATE: I have received further responses from both Sandra Jansen and Richard Starke since posting this. Jansen’s was particularly heartfelt, and she seemed very, very dedicated to admitting to mistakes and rebuilding the party.
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