It's been a while since we spoke. At first, I was just avoiding you because of the glazed-over look in your eyes after the butt-kicking of monumental proportions that the interested voters of Alberta gave to your party in early March. I know, it's hard to get over rejection... but it gets easier the more it happens (take it from me - I know). That being the case, I'd think that, having been rejected in the last 23 consecutive elections, you'd be used to it by now. Only the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Washington Generals are better at losing.
Indeed, before we get off the topic of rejection, I wanted to take this time to express my condolences to you on the fact that even your own MLA's are rejecting you... I mean, the Tories have certainly had their share of maverick MLA's and candidates, but to have a sitting MLA holding public discussions about forming a new party, while still sitting in your caucus? THAT has to hurt... even if I'm not privy to the morale level in the Liberal caucus meetings (we saw more people at my last poker game) or your internal polling, Swann certainly is - so don't tell me I'm imagining it, or making it up.
What I'm writing to you about today is your alleged "subversive" nature. I heard about it while reading Hansard, and just felt compelled to offer my two cents.
See, the thing here is, the Premier and Mr. MacDonald actually agree on the role of the Opposition. What I find unnecessary, on BOTH sides, is the sniping that's going on, ON THE RECORD, between these 2 political parties - and then we wonder why Albertans have given up on politics.
Exhibit A: Mr. MacDonald
"... You may not like it, but it’s a function of democracy, and it’s worked quite well..."
First of all, Hugh... did the Premier say "I don't like the fact that we have an opposition"? I read the Hansard, and I didn't SEE him say that... so you're putting words in his mouth, which sucks and is juvenile. Don't be juvenile - the people of Alberta pay you to Oppose in a respectful manner worthy of your office, and worthy of my tax dollars, so don't act like a twit.
"... I’m surprised that some of your Public Affairs Bureau money wouldn’t be under this title because so much of it is going to be used for the greenwashing program."
Secondly, I read the budget also, and didn't see reference to the "Alberta Greenwashing Program"... is this something that only elected MLA's got a memo on? Or are you deliberately mis-representing the government's position or actions by offering up your SUBJECTIVE, partisan view as factual and objective? Are you, in fact, using taxpayer dollars (your salary) to re-brand the government's efforts for your own partisan means - EXACTLY what you're accusing them of doing? Or did the money that you were paid while thinking up this question come the "pay-Hugh-MacDonald-to-act-like-a-twit fund" of the Liberal Party?
What, no such fund?
Sucks when people make stuff up in order to make an attacking statement under the guise of a "respectful budgetary inquiry", huh?
"...Where will this $40 million go? Will it go into another propaganda campaign?"
Lastly, Hugh... regarding "propaganda campaigns". One man's propaganda is another man's truth. I don't suppose you decried the "No Plan" campaign during the election as "propaganda", did you? How about the millions spent trying to make Kevin Taft look like something other than an out-of-touch elitist? That was money spent of "disseminating the truth", right? Hypocrisy is beneath the public service, Hugh, and it should be beneath you... if you're going to make a career of throwing rocks at other people's glass houses, you should probably avoid living in one yourself.
Exhibit B: Premier Ed Stelmach
"The role of opposition in a democratic government is very important, but it’s not to be subversive. There’s a big difference..."
I agree, Mr. Premier. I disagree that they're being subversive, though... or, at least no more subversive than Jon Stewart... they're making fun, or being petty for the sake of appearing to be a viable opposition. One's childish but occasionally entertaining... the other one's just sad. But neither is all that "subversive" - they're not telling Albertans to avoid filing their taxes. My advice? You're going to be the Premier for 4 more years, probably 8 or longer... develop thicker skin.
"... Once again, you hear comments made that are not just critical of government, but they lead to innuendo."
Not to overstate my last point - but ALL partisan criticism of government leads to innuendo. It has, sadly, replaced real debate as the weapon of choice, on both sides of the aisle. Hell, even *I* use it - but at least I'm aware of my own hypocrisy on the issue. It's not going to change until politics changes, so get used to it... the opposition is ALWAYS going to suggest that you're evil, hate children and ducks, and in the pocket of the oil companies who of course loved you so much after the Royalty Review... just as those on the government side will ALWAYS suggest the Liberals are bitter elitists with secret plans to destroy Alberta's economy and give the oil to the federal Liberals to fund their next federal campaign. That's the political reality we live in - get used to it.
"... I am very proud of my province. I share the pride of every member in this Assembly. If they don’t have that same pride, well, that’s up to them, but I do, and so do my colleagues."
Speaking of innuendo... there we go.
So, my Liberal friends, I think it's important that you understand that I share your frustration with Tory hypocrisy, and dirty partisan games. What it is critically important you understand is that if you're going to, as the Opposition, hold the Tories to a standard above those things, you must first hold YOURSELVES to that higher standard as well... the only real currency in the political sphere is credibility. Either the voters believe you'll do what you say, or they don't. You'll know which one is true about 3 hours after the polls close.
What you're doing right now? NOT helping your case. At all.
It's hypocritical. It's childish. It reeks of bitterness and churlishness. And Albertans can see right through it.
Pick a new leader, pick a new strategy, and move on. Because you're not GAINING votes for 2012 doing what you're doing right now, you're LOSING them.
Now, to reply to the comments I'm about to get:
- 1. Yes, I'm aware I called on the Liberals to stop being childish, in the same post that I said Hugh MacDonald was acting like a twit. The difference here is two-fold: Firstly, the taxpayers of Alberta aren't paying me to write this. Secondly, I'm not asking for people to vote for me (yet), and then acting like a petulant child.
- 2. I know full well that the PC's have access to more funds with which to research the opposition, come up with slick memos and commercials, etc. Some of that is through government expense - and the voters chose to put the PC's in a position to access those funds. 4 years from now, we'll see if the voters approved of their use. The rest of it is through private donations, which the Tories rake in more than anyone else - and if you expect them to stop accepting donations to level the playing field, I want to know what you're smoking.
- 3. I agree whole-heartedly that we need to hold politicians on ALL sides to a higher standard of conduct, in public, during elections, and in the House. If that means holding ourselves, as bloggers, to a higher standard first and waiting for the politicians to take the hint, then I'm willing - provided I'm not the only one to do so.
Nation, this just goes to further illustrate the divisive nature of partisan politics, and why the party system itself is fundamentally at odds with the basic concept of democracy... in the pursuit of power, the parties polarize the electorate and forsake what is RIGHT for what is politically expedient. How, then, can we EVER expect good governance, when all sides are focused mostly on seizing and retaining power through partisan games and promising us what we WANT rather than providing us with the leadership that we NEED?