Friday, November 24, 2006

Leadership Candidate Profile - Gary McPherson

There's an opinion out there - I don't know if it the prevailing one - that politics at a high level is best left to the professionals. Now, that may or may not be true in most cases... but Gary McPherson needs at least one professional politician on his team. If he had that one professional, then the aforementioned pro would have reminded him shortly before the campaign kicked off: "Gary, now remember: You're running for the leadership of the Alberta PC Party. They're good people, but not the most cosmopolitan group. No matter WHAT, avoid being seen as too intellectual."

But, alas, no such conversation took place. So on the opening day of the campaign, Gary announced his candidacy, made a good speech, and unveiled his campaign slogan: "Vive La Difference".

That's french, isn't it? Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted.

Gary's website isn't the easiest thing to navigate, but once to find what you're looking for, it's pretty clear where he stands. He has quite a few really good ideas, and (as I mentioned in the review of the debate), he can be a very strong force for the Party even if he DOESN'T win the leadership.

Gary thinks that we would be much better off if our Health system focused on promoting HEALTH, instead of repairing illness. He would make use of chiropractic and physiotherapy to these ends, as well as promoting physical activity, supporting community leisure centres, and educating the public about healthy choices. The example he gives is of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which is entirely preventable, and yet costs the province hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in surgeries. He wants to explore the benefits of the treatment that many Albertans currently get each year with tremendous result, but pay out of pocket for, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine. To help free up the backlog to see doctors, Gary's suggestion is shocking in its simplicity, and its effectiveness: Let people be seen by Nurse Practitioners. It works in many places around the world, and there are just a ridiculous number of nursing students out there. Truly serious cases would be diagnosed sooner, because the wait wouldn't be 8 hours, and then the patient would have more immediate access to a doctor, because he wouldn't be tied up with his 32nd consult of the day complaining of flu symptoms.

In the short term, Gary says we must address the infrastructure deficit in our schools. Down the line, he wants to institutionalize a way of measuring the advancement of students who don't respond to the traditional "test and mark" model of schooling, and wants to offer optional programs in areas such as money, credit, invention creation, investing, and entrepreneurism.
As far as Day-Care and Post-Secondary education go, McPherson's stance is pretty much the same: "We need more spaces".

One of Gary's more shocking ideas, and one that I am beyond surprised never came up in the debate, that he wants Alberta to become a GST Free Province. In effect (and I'm oversimplifying, here), he wants retailers to not charge the 6% GST, and Edmonton will send 6% of the previous year's applicable purchases to the Federal Government as part of the federal equalization payments. So, essentially, the province will pick up the tax tab on everything purchased in Alberta. I don't know if this is good or not, it's so revolutionary... it will certainly stimulate spending. The problem is, that when spending goes up, so does demand, and increased demand means increased prices, at least in the short term. In the long term? It'd be nice not to have to spend that extra 6% on the next house or car... and towns on the Alberta borders with BC and Saskatchewan would make a killing on cross-border shoppers. Time to open up a retail store in Lloydminster. :)

McPherson wants to establish an environmental think-tank, to come up with ideas on how to protect the environment. He wants to look at the pricing structure for water, so that low-volume users (Joe and Jane Six-Pack) are charged less per litre, while high-volume users (oil companies and wet t-shirt contest organizers) are charged more. He wants to review forestry practices - as he puts it,
"Are we really planning to cut our forests for almost no profit, and lose endangered species as a bonus?".
He proposes that tourism will bring almost as much money to provincial coffers as cutting in some areas, and will leave the trees where they are for future generations to enjoy.

Gary agrees with Jim Dinning in that, if you mine it here, you should process it here. He also wants to make sense of the current oil-sands mess, and make it possible to fast-track workers to Alberta from other countries.

All in all, Gary's platform is very well thought out. He thinks outside the box, sees problems, and tries to find REAL solutions, not just band-aids to cover up the bleeding. He's got a quick wit, and is a moderate. We could do MUCH worse that Gary McPherson as our leader. If his campaign was just a wee bit better known, and a little shinier, he'd probably find himself on the second ballot come Dec. 2nd. Heck, he still might. But that's not up to me... that's up to YOU. :)

Gary McPherson's website is

- ES

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