Friday, November 27, 2009

Daddy's Home

Quick, time to refill the vodka bottles with water and hide all the empties... E.S. is back in the house...

Hello, Nation.

Anything interesting happen while I've been gone? ;)

It's good to be back, although I certainly could have gone for another week or two in the beautiful Mayan Riviera. Mrs. Savage and I dodged a meteorological bullet, having Hurricane Ida pass right by our resort, and then enjoyed a week of blue skies and temperatures that are just plain unnatural for a born-and-raised Albertan and his Yukoner bride to be experiencing in November. All that said, though, I can't recommend the resort more highly - if you're planning on heading that way, look up the "Valentin Imperial Maya" - you'll be glad you did.

I want to thank Jane Morgan, the "Acting Savage", for holding down the fort while I was gone. She did a great job, as there are no e-mails from lawyers waiting in my inbox, so she definitely kept you all in line. I know she wanted to post more that she actually got to, but I understand that things have been rather... interesting... in WAP-land over the past week or 2, so the fact that she was able to post at ALL is very much appreciated.

I'm going to be doing my best over the next few days to respond to most of the major issues that cropped up during my absence - I'd do one of my patented "quick hitter" posts, but these issues deserve more than just a passing reference.

I WILL try to break a little news, though, so remember that you read it here first: With the "Fiscal Four" growing to the "Magnificent Seven" after adding MLA's Alana DeLong, Doug Elniski and Raj Sherman, the group will soon be able to bill itself as the "Enlightened Eight" with the addition of another veteran Calgary MLA to the mix. They might not be able to bill themselves as the under-40 "young turks" of the caucus any longer, but with over 10% of the PC caucus on board (and 5 of the 8 from Calgary-area ridings), it will certainly make for an interesting spring session - and some interesting discussions heading into a rumoured January cabinet shuffle... can you actually promote some of these "rebels" into full cabinet positions, or does that diminish their ability to publicly use QP to question cabinet members about spending?

Of course, you have to ask the question... if these 8 are the real "fiscal conservatives" among the PC caucus... then what does that make the other 62?

If the PC's want this group to keep its credibility among fiscal conservatives, they have to tread carefully... what, dear reader, would YOU do? Pull a "Ralph", and promote almost all of them to cabinet to show how seriously you're taking them? Or let them maintain their "outsider" image, so they can be seen as an in-caucus alternative to casting a vote for "the devil you don't know" with the "WAP" after his/her name on the ballot?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Can you hear me now???

Well here it is the long overdue blog entry by the “Acting Savage”. I am sure by now the Enlightened Savage (ES) and the Mrs. have had a chance to take in some sun and should be in full relaxation mode.

For those of you who don’t know me, I normally blog over here. ES gave some very kind introductory words about me here and here. I will endeavor to make sure those are not the last kind things he has to say about me.

In those comments he mentions I am the Executive Director of the WAP; well that was true…until the day he left. In the interest of being completely open, I will share with you that I am now the Director of Operations. I still do all the fun things as before, plus some. One of my new tasks is constituency development. A quick look at our calendar will reveal just why I have not had time to blog regularly. As such, this will be more of a recap of the past week.

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to Jim Campbell, Executive Director of the Alberta PC’s. I was asking him about observers attending their convention this past weekend. I was surprised to learn that they don’t allow this and never have. They had already refused requests from the Libs and NDP; and now the WAP.

I found this a bit odd. In June this year when we (the WAP) held our AGM we allowed both academic and political observers; including the leader and president of another party. Just last month I was welcomed as an observer at another political party’s AGM. In both situations members of other parties were allowed to sit in on all events of the day; including policy formation.

Whether it’s the results of elected positions or policy passed at AGM’s; they will be reported either in the media or via party members’ blogs. It would seem to me the more open and transparent you make the process; the more likely you will achieve accurate and consistent messaging.

During the convention though it appears political observers from other parties are not the only group they blocked out; the media was also subjected to the brush off.

On the Friday Don Braid Tweeted
“Tories are pouring in; media are poured into a tiny room - no power bars, just 8 chairs.”
Then three hours later;
“We now have 10 chairs and two tables; media gulag improving.”
By Saturday;
“Tories now have 19 reporters stuffed into a broom closet. We expect the air to be sucked out shortly.”

And if that was not enough the Premier himself had this to say of the media;
“This is the biggest challenge we're facing as a government. I really do feel that the policies we have are the right ones for Alberta, but it's difficult to get it through the present media that's available to us."
Huh, say again? You stuff them into a tiny, ill equipped room, ban them from being present when the results are announced, change your mind at that last possible moment; and then claim it's their fault that they are not available to you???

Rob Breakenridge delivers an excellent summation of this stance of blaming the media.

While the current government is not communicating very well with Albertans, the media is the last group that should be taking any heat for this. They (the government) are now trying unique ways to getting their message out; I predict that this will still ultimately fail. Here's why.

Communication is not just about being able to craft a message and deliver it to the masses. The key to communication is listening. Successful relationships; be they personal, business or even adversarial negotiations; are built by listening and understanding. Through that one can mirror their responses (messaging / policy) to reflect the needs of the other. If you fail to listen (in this case to Albertans); you will always fail in developing your policy and delivering your message.

Few governments and politicians have figured this out; but those who do will be successful and their message will be spread quickly and efficiently. After all, isn’t that all we really want at the end of day; to know we have been heard and understood; to know we are not being ignored and will not be taken for granted.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu...

Nation, this will be my last post until Monday, November 23rd as I am on my honeymoon with the beautiful Mrs. Savage in the Mayan Riviera.

In my absence, the "Acting Savage" will be the democratically-elected Jane Morgan. Jane has very kindly agreed to help me out, and is going to be blogging in this space, bringing a refreshingly different take on things (you can't have Prime Rib every night, after all - spoils the palate. Mix in some Filet Mignon). She's been given full administrative control of the blog while I'm gone, so knuckle-heads and trolls will have their comments deleted just as quickly as they would if I were around.

If everyone who reads this blog AGREES with everything that's written here, regardless of who authors it, I'll be disappointed. But I hope we can all DISAGREE without being disagreeable.

There will be plenty afoot in the next week or two - the PC AGM, the fall-out from the H1N1 vaccination program, Premier Stelmach's reaction to the leadership review vote this week-end... it's an exciting time to be a political participant in Alberta. I'm (almost) sorry to be missing it.

Handing the ball off to the Acting Savage, walking off the mound and heading straight for the beach...

- E.S.