Thursday, November 23, 2006

Leadership Candidate Profile - Victor Doerksen

Sorry, all, been slacking today. The "Quebec as a Nation" topic should hit the blog on Saturday, and then Sunday we'll deal with fall-out from the first ballot results of the leadership vote.

Victor Doerksen is a firm believer in the business precept "know what you do well, and focus on that". Victor is focused on a few key areas, and they're areas that cover enough ground that every Albertan will likely be interested in at least one of them. Those areas are: Renewed Fiscal Discipline, Accountability in Health Care, Supporting Parental Roles, and Conservation. Not EVERY proposal in his platform is related to these areas, but they're by far the most "fleshed out" areas in the platform.

In the area of Party renewal, Victor makes a great suggestion: REGIONAL policy conferences. If the Party wants to hold its annual policy conference in Fort McMurray, so be it... but a regional conference in Cochrane is a lot more likely to involve me - I don't think I'm the only one that feels that way. It's a big province - let's make it easier to have our voices heard within the Party. He also wants to utilize computers (those funny looking tv's with typewriters underneath them) for reviewing and voting on party policy, staying in touch with other party members, etc.
Great idea. Would have been better 10 years ago, when this "Inter-web" thing came out, but no time like the present to embrace the state-of-the-art, 1990's technology.
At least SOMEONE'S bringing it up... the Party leadership seems stuck in the 1970's. For that matter, so do at least half the members. Trust me, I've been to the meetings.

Victor thinks we should have a few Nobel Prize Winners. Okay. We'll get right on that. I'm just trying to win a BLOGGING award, Vic - slow down. ;)

On Water, Victor wants to implement the Water for Life strategy sooner rather than later, and to introduce water conservation on a provincial level. He also wants integrated Watershed/Land Use policies (about bloody time - like the LAND USE doesn't affect the rivers and lakes the water passes over - anyone remember the flooding West of Calgary in 2005? A few more trees would have helped avoid that whole bloody mess). Environmentally, Victor wants higher fines and penalties for rule-breakers, and to begin a province-wide Blue Box recycling program.

Doerksen will eliminate health care premiums, and invest $25 Million to allow children of lower-income families to participate in organized sports. Like a hockey scholarship, for 7 year-olds. Excellent idea, especially with childhood obesity reaching critical mass. Further, he wants to add to the Federal Government's Child Care Allowance by providing another $100 per month, per child under 6, directly to parents. It's a good play, politically, but it'd be a much bigger deal if we hadn't had a nation-wide screaming match over the same issue less than a year ago during the federal election. We like it , we'll take it, we can use the money... but we're not going to hit the streets with placards over the issue. Victor also wants to extend tax relief to those caring for older relatives, which is just flat-out the RIGHT thing to do. Caring for an elderly relative is expensive, and we as a province SHOULD help the people who are doing it.

In Education (a pet issue of mine), Victor wants to regulate school fees (good luck!), and increase the focus on English-As-A-Second-Language (ESL) programs. The only problem with regulating school fees, is that each and every school has a completely unique set of circumstances determining its fees. There are public high schools in Calgary with a fee of about $200 per year, and that covers very, very basic needs. To actually take part in a specialized program, though, like Music, is at least another $250. This money doesn't go to pay for Escalades for the teachers - it goes to things like sheet music, when the school board's budget allows enough money for that school to buy each and every music student 1 single 12-page piece of music, to last the entire year. In a lot of cases, families never pay these fees, and their children are still allowed to participate - as they should. Nobody is saying that an inability to come up with $500 should keep a kid who wants to play football off of the field... but in a lot of cases, certain schools will have fees that 100% of the students pay in the first week, and other schools will have fees that are set higher, with the knowledge that half of the students at that school will never be able to pay, so they're subsidized by the other half. How are we going to be able to address each school's need from an office in Edmonton?

Doerksen wants to increase the municipal share of property taxes from the current 60% to 75%, and also wants to share some gaming and liquor revenue. On Health, he proposes the creation of a health innovation fund, to help us pursue new technologies. He also wants to take 25% of our "non renewable resource revenue" (can nobody just say "oil money"?) and create a $25 Billion Health Trust by 2016, for the express purpose of serving as a buffer in case of unexpected costs in health care. Victor is committed to a fully public health system.

Renewed Fiscal Discipline. It's what we all want to hear about. Victor's vision of it looks something like this: Legislate defined purposes for "oil money". Establish a $1 Billion Conservation Legacy Trust, to help fund environmental legacy projects. Review the current oil & gas royalties. Maintain 3-year business plans. Maintain current levels of taxation, minus the health care premiums.
I guess this will all save us a few bucks, but enough to cover the $1 Billion for conservation and the $25 Billion for the Health Trust? I dunno...

As the former minister of innovation, Victor has a lot of ideas on how to foster greater innovation and scientific discovery in our province going forward. It sounds expensive, and might be worth it... but, I don't think the average Tory party member is going to vote for the Leadership based on your scientific platform.
Give us health, education, roads and cops, and we're happy Tories.

A solid candidate, not too flashy (just the way we like 'em out here), with a few really good ideas. Those few ideas are right for the people of Alberta, but is Victor Doerksen the right man to lead the next wave of the Big Blue Machine in Alberta? Party members will decide on Saturday. He's added a lot to the discussion of the campaign, but he hasn't won many new converts to the cause, and when they count the votes, Victor's lack of... well... panache... is likely going to cost him a shot at the top job.

Victor Doerksen's website is

One profile left to go... phew...

- ES

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