Saturday, September 24, 2011

Convince Me: Doug Horner

Nation, yesterday I challenged my IRL friends and contacts within the PC Party and the various leadership camps to write me and explain why their candidate was the best choice to lead the party and the province.

You didn't let me down - responses started coming in almost immediately.

I'm not going to analyse or critique these arguments. I've read them, and I'm posting them one at a time for the rest of you (with the sender's names removed) to see for yourself what the arguments are.

We're all smart people, in a mature democracy. You don't need me telling you who to vote for. But below is someone else's opinion on PC Leadership candidate Doug Horner.


Hi Joey,

Here is my pitch for Horner- I am not going to reiterate his policy, but rather why I think he should lead. In our shop we are quite concerned that the other candidates only glaze over economic diversification and do not understand its importance or what it takes. That is not the case with Doug. I have three items I want to share with you, a letter, a bit more background on diversification and then some thoughts on Doug as the most experienced leader. My great concern with lawyers as positions is they are trained to persuade people to accept other people’s positions. I want a leader with on the ground, practical experience and who has their own views. Views they developed in dialogue, of course, and which they have come to make their own mind up about. Policy is one thing but in the end we are electing someone to make the best decisions on the margin. I believe that leader is Doug. He is in it for all the right reasons.

A letter to Albertans

The future prosperity of Alberta depends on our ability to broaden our economic base (see below). Our new Premier’s top priority must be this goal.

The Premier’s job description necessarily includes knowledge of and commitment to economic diversification. This involves broadening the economic base, stimulating innovation and technology commercialization, and spawning the creation of new Alberta companies producing new products in new industries. From this perspective in the Party’s decision making, the experience of the three candidates is relevant. The choice should be obvious—Horner is clearly the most qualified of the three candidates.

In addition to his previous business experience and his tenure as Minister of Agriculture, his five years at Advanced Education and Technology has forged Horner’s qualities as a leader and shaped him for the job ahead as Premier. The importance of this is not significantly acknowledged.

As Minister of Advanced Education and Technology, Horner was responsible for 26 post-secondary institutions and the entire provincial research cluster, recently reorganized into Alberta Innovates. Doug created the Value Added and Technology Commercialization Task Force, whose mandate was to direct the diversification of the Alberta economy over a 15 year time frame. The Task Force resulted in the creation of Alberta’s Action Plan for Technology Commercialization, which focused on entrepreneurial support, innovation assistance and the creation of the Alberta Enterprise Corporation. The AEC serves as a catalyst for venture capital activity, which is a priority of the Alberta capital market.

Doug’s department conceived the Premier’s Council for Economic Strategy (PCES). The PCES released its report, referred to as the Emerson Report after its Chair David Emerson, prior to the leadership campaign. It includes five major recommendations intended to diversify and strengthen the Alberta economy within a 30 year time frame. The vision which the foregoing represents is central to Doug policy platform in the leadership race.

Doug’s platform is important to Alberta, as it supports the development of the province as a venture capital centre. We know that deals come to the money and tend to stay where the money is managed. Silicon Valley, and its Sand Hill Road, is the best example. As the oil sands and conventional fossil fuel related industries mature, Alberta can transcend the hydrocarbon economy by developing as a financial services centre including energy finance and venture capital.

The top three candidates are each strong in their own way, all will likely be in cabinet. What we have to ask ourselves is who we want to lead. For us, it is the leader with the most relevant experience, the boldest vision and the most realistic action plan. That leader is Doug Horner. Visit his site, check him out, and make the right decision for Alberta in October 1st. Vote Doug Horner.

The future prosperity of Alberta depends on our ability to broaden our economic base

In December 2010, the Alberta Competitiveness Council released its first annual report. It compares Alberta to 15 other jurisdictions on 45 indicators. Of particular concern was Alberta ranking in innovation and venture capital, the only section in which Alberta ranked in the bottom quintile; consider the following indicators:

· Gross expenditure on R&D, as % of GDP: 14/15
· Business expenditure on R&D, as % of GDP: 13/15
· Employment in high-tech manufacturing: 13/14
· Employment in knowledge intensive industries: 13/14
· Venture capital investment, as a % of GDP: 14/15
· Venture capital deals, per 100,000 people: 9/13

This comparison showcases a significant strategic weakness in Alberta economy. It represents a classic case of Dutch disease, whereby the presence of a major export market crowds out the development of a more diversify economic base. A strong and growing industrial base is foundational to a successful society. Given the competitive advantage of large, low-cost economies such as India and China, maintenance of our economic base requires continuous innovation. This innovation should be both in the extraction, processing and transporting of commodities but also in the development of capabilities in new markets such as clean technologies. One of the major components in bridging this gap is further development of the junior capital markets. Alberta already as a good start in financial services and expertise and it should be nurtured and encouraged to focus some attention to non-energy related financing. This growth of junior financing activity is one of the mandates of the Alberta Enterprise Corporation (AEC). The formation of a vibrant market requires an understanding of the potential participants, their needs, and the ways in which they interact.

Horner as a leader

· Doug recognizes that the oil and gas sector and oilsands development are paramount to our province today, but he also has a vision for a more diversified Alberta, critical to the long term expansion of our economic base. Alberta today stands at a crossroads which will determine the type of province our grandchildren inherit. To degrees, this vision is not being similarly demonstrated by the other candidates—but Doug gets it!
· As Minister of Advanced Education and Technology from 2006-2011, he was responsible for 26 post-secondary institutions, Alberta’s research and innovation programs, and the Task Force on Value Added and Technology Commercialization. Doug was the only candidate present at the release of the Premier’s Economic Strategy Council Report, a plan for Alberta 30 years hence. He is one of the few politicians who really understands the importance of our post-secondary institutions in relation to culture, innovation, venture capital and entrepreneurship.
· His working background includes significant banking, international and entrepreneurial business experience, ten years in government, including 3 years as Minister of Agriculture, and a solid, on-the-ground understanding of the entire province. Doug has the perspective required to lead!
· As we’ve introduced him to small groups around Calgary, Doug’s grasp of the issues has become very apparent. He has depth and breadth. There is nothing shallow about Doug, once people have a chance to know him their support follows.

I am available to talk more about any of this and I hope it has spur some thinking with you about what Doug brings to the table.


I want to thank to writer for his thoughts, and his passionate argument for Doug. He's given me a lot to think about. I hope it has been in some way useful to the rest of you, as well. I'll keep posting the best of these for the 3 candidates - more than one for each candidate, if I can keep the numbers balanced - between now and next Saturday.
- E.S.


Anonymous said...

Yes please vote for Doug Horner, the former deputy premier to Ed Stelmach.

Someone who is incapable of just even apologizing for the incompetence, rudeness and sheer stupidity of this government deserves lead their party.

This way, when the general election comes, Albertans will finally be able to render judgment on the last five years and its former deputy leader. C'mon, this government made old ladies and kids wait in the cold for flu shots while Calgary flames millionaires received them (among many other incompetent things). How can we even consider letting the same people govern another term?

Elect Doug, and see him make the same mistakes as Ed did and then boot the lot of them out in the general election.

PCs always say it's about the future, not the past. But tell us PCs, how can we trust you with the future if you've failed so miserably in the past?

Enlightened Savage said...

Anon: Fair questions. I look forward to seeing some answers underneath. :)

Thanks for contributing!