Thursday, September 29, 2011

Convince Me: Alison Redford

Submitted text appears below. - E.S.


Many of you probably know that the party I have long been involved with, the Alberta PC Party, is about to choose a new Leader who will ultimately become Premier of this province. And I’m sure it won’t surprise you that I’m involved in helping to elect one of those candidates.

But I wanted to share some of the reasons that I think Alison Redford should be our next Premier, because they’re very different than you might expect.

Over the course of my political involvement, I have come to work for a number of candidates because they were friends or I had friends working for their campaigns. Normally I have a horse picked in any given race long before it starts. Not this time, though.

A few weeks before Premier Ed Stelmach announced his resignation and launched us into a leadership race, my wife and I found out that we were expecting our first child. I share that not to politicize my first-born, but because it very much changed the perspective I had when trying to decide who I wanted to be our next Premier.

Gone were my bachelor days when fancy logos and a good hospitality suite at party functions would go a long way in swaying my vote. All of a sudden I was about to become someone’s father – responsible for their well-being and success – and I wanted to use my involvement in the political arena to choose someone who would do the right things for my kids’ future.

So instead of thinking of the usual party politics, I started asking myself what was important. Health care and education were rarely policy topics that I spent much time on before, but they were suddenly front-and-centre as an expectant father.

The biggest area of public policy that someone who is about to have a baby comes in contact with is our health care system. As someone who hadn’t previously spent much time in doctor’s offices or hospitals, I was suddenly introduced to a world of specialists, referrals, hospital protocols and so on. It is a delicate patchwork of a system that confuses many. One of the first things that struck me about Alison Redford was her proposal for province-wide public Family Care Clinics open from 7am to 9pm. Anyone who’s been through an emergency room recently know that there are far too many people who have to rely on emergency as an access point for basic care. This is a tremendous waste of resources and, I think, can be drastically reduced through these proposed Family Care Clinics. Putting the parent-to-be hat on, I’d sure rather avoid taking my child to an emergency room if I can.

As someone who just built a house in a new neighbourhood that doesn’t yet have a school nearby, I also wanted someone who was focused on improving outcomes AND access to education. In Alison Redford, I saw someone who listens to the teachers like the ones I talk to when they say that the Provincial Achievement Exams for Grades 3 and 6 are a burden on kids with no correlating benefit to the education they receive. And I saw someone who was committed to predictable funding so that we don’t have to wonder if our son or daughter’s teachers would have jobs the following year. As much as my wife and I joke that we don’t want to become “those parents” who micromanage their kids’ education, I do want the system that educates our kids to be properly funded and managed so that our kids are ready to go out into the world when they graduate.

The other thing that struck me about Alison Redford is her global, big-picture perspective. Being able to think about Alberta beyond its borders will be important for the next Premier as they work to diversify our energy and agricultural economy and to improve and defend our reputation abroad. When I say I want someone with a global perspective of Alberta, I don’t mean “What do people in Washington think about us?” We need a leader who truly understands how interconnected our world is and can talk about Alberta not just in the context of the United States but also in the context of places like Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Alison Redford has worked in almost every corner of the globe as a legal advisor and election administrator with the United Nations. I am confident she is best suited to represent Alberta to the world and, just as importantly, bring the world to Alberta. That’s the kind of province I want my kids to grow up in.

I was lucky enough to sit next to Alison at a dinner a few weeks ago in Edmonton. The conversation between her, myself, and another Redford supporter who is also expecting soon, varied back and forth between our forthcoming kids and the politics that surrounded us. At one point, talking about what Alberta might look like 20 years from now, I stopped the train of conversation and said “You know, that’s really what this is about. The Alberta that Jess and I are going to live and work in is already coming down the pipe. We’re all doing this for our kids.” It was an absolutely true statement, and exactly the reason I want Alison to be our next Premier.

If any of this has stuck a chord with you, my non-political Alberta friends, you can actually have a say in the outcome. For $5, you can buy a membership in the PC Party of Alberta and join me in electing this incredibly thoughtful and intelligent woman as our next Premier. Election day is Saturday, September 17 (advance polls today, September 13!) and there are voting locations in every constituency in Alberta. You can read more about Alison and how and where to vote at

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