Friday, January 12, 2007

Shirley, $5000 Receptions, and Ken Chapman

Well, we’re certainly not lacking for topics today, are we?

Firstly, Shirley McClennan announces she is done with provincial politics. Although not unexpected, this certainly is a touchstone moment for our political history, and is a sign perhaps of a trend to follow. How many other Klein loyalists, many of whom backed Dining, are going to follow suit in the days and weeks to come? This brings to 2 the number of by-elections that have to be held to replace outgoing MLA’s (Klein and McLellan). If enough MLA’s follow suit, it may be apropos to call a general election, which is the LAST thing the government needs or wants right now. Ed needs time to establish his style and form a solid imprint on the public consciousness, and the party needs a policy convention to give Stelmach a platform to run on… expect Stelmach’s people to be working the phones like mad to “Dead MLA’s Walking” like Denis Herard, asking them to stay on just a year longer…

Stelmach’s people. That beings us to our second issue of the day: Which staff member, in charge of supervising the set-up of fundraisers, has the brain cramp necessary to allow the establishment, and the PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT, of a $5000 “private access to the Premier reception” at his Edmonton and Calgary fundraisers?

Don’t get me wrong… this is certainly business as usual, and most, if not all, politicians in power hold similar functions, with similar “tiers” of access… $50 for dinner in the same room as Mayor Sixpack, $200 for one of the 50 spots at the cocktail reception, $1000 for a private meeting of 10 minutes and a photo… it’s how business is done, and it’s unlikely to change as long as sitting politicians are thinking about their next election campaign, with visions of advertising expenses dancing in their heads. That being said…
for a newly-minted Premier whose entire campaign was based on honesty and transparency, and who vowed to do away with the “back-room boys”, the optics on this are TERRIBLE…
Ed did the right thing by coming out and offering up a Mea Culpa – but I talked before about first impressions, and he needs to make sure absolutely EVERYONE working on something with the brand name of "Ed Stelmach" attached to it understands the reality of his position: PC Party members have given him their trust. Average Albertans are still trying to decide if they trust him or not – and although the immediate apology, and canceling of the $5000 access, will help with that, not screwing up in the first place would have gone a whole lot farther.

Working on a piece about political “fan-boys”. If you recognize the term, or have attended a convention any time in the past 4 years with your jaundiced eyes installed, you’re going to love the piece.

Met with Ken Chapman while he was in Calgary had a delightful chat, if any discussion approaching 2-and-a-half hours can be categorized as a “chat”. Not often I run into someone whose opinions and stances run the gamut as much as mine – refreshing, really. Had some very constructive discussions about revitalizing te concept of citizenship and the participatory nature of our democracy.
Keep an eye on this Chapman kid, ES Nation – he could go places. ;)

- ES


Anonymous said...

HI ES - I enjoyed meeting "vitally" and not just virtually. For the record ES's "kid" reference must be understood in context. He is 28 and the Kid (me) - well - I am 60. But still very much a kid at heart.

We did indeed spend a considerable amount an a good time trying to define the problems of participatory and effective citizenship and how the Blogosphere is such an interesting opportunity for renewed non-cynical citizenship.

We both hope to see it evolve into a positive force for good governance as well.

Time will tell. No doubt ES and me will continue to be in touch and kindle the kindred spirits we found and consumed.

Anonymous said...

If I were some individuals employed directly or indirectly over at the the Calgary Health Region, I would be very careful next time to cover your tracks more thoroughly. Your involvement in this $5K story and how it got into the hands of the media is as transparent as a pane of clear glass