Letters April 4 - Leadership without consultation isn't leadership

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It has been disturbing to see several political signs being vandalized in our province lately with swastika signs, and labels of socialism, communism and fascism. There has been a lot of talk about these various “isms” in the latest Alberta election, and it appears its use is to scare and insult people. As a nation we have valued the socialist ideals of health care, and we have fought wars against the tyranny of communists and fascists like Hitler. Communists arrogantly fight to rule in what they purport to be in the best interests of people. Likewise, Wikipedia defines Fascism as a form of “radical, right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy”. Communist and Fascist leaders rule with absolute power and with no consultation from the people whom they represent; it is the antithesis of a democratic government.

So imagine my surprise and concern, when I read in The Lacombe Globe about the election platforms of the various parties running in the upcoming April 16th election. It was clearly noted that what the United Conservative Party would NOT DO was to consult with Albertans about its major plans. After the criticisms that the UCP launched against the Notley NDP government for its lack of consultations in the Farm Safety Bill, and in the Bighorn Country Development Plan, I thought this must be a mistake.

However, further investigation did reveal that in October, Kenney told a Calgary Chamber of Commerce luncheon he didn’t want to get “bogged down” with public consultations. The UCP has already hired former public servants and a transition team to pen legislation so the party can avoid opposition and push through changes “within days” of forming government. This blatant disrespect for the process of democracy is exactly why the Progressive Conservatives lost the last election, including in our own riding where consultations were seen as “a waste of time” by our former MLA.

Democracy and the passionate debate that arises from it, are not a waste of time. In fact, it is through this process that we obtain the best solutions representative of the many voices at the table, including those from opposing sides. Democracy is not about entitlement and privilege, something we saw for too many years under the former Progressive Conservatives. It is messy and we need governments to be open and transparent, and willing to work hard to build consensus. We need them to answer questions from reporters. We need them to attend and vote on matters that come before the legislature. And we need them to participate in political debates in order to address the concerns of the citizenry. I continue to hear of UCP members throughout the province who are not doing this during this election. Look in the mirror Albertans, is your party/candidate going to govern with the arrogance to think that they can do so without any public consultation? Throughout history we have seen what has happened when we allow our leaders to govern this way. I for one will NEVER vote for a person or party who thinks that they can govern without first consulting the people. And as an Albertan, I will forever fight to make sure our voices are heard and our democracy is never at risk.

-Brent Galloway,
Lacombe Citizen

Kenney cut backs, 40,000 immigrants and sale of crown land

Jason Kenney proposes to move Alberta’s public health care to a U.S.-style, two-tier system with privatizations and 20 per cent budget cuts.  Kenney, like all conservatives, sees benefits in privatization, but those benefits never materialized under Ralph Klein’s premiership when hospitals were blown up and a couple others sold off to conservative friends for next to nothing and used for private surgery clinics which promptly went bankrupt and eventually saved by taxpayers money.

Privatization of utilities under former Premier Klein was also to become market competitive, and cheaper. Instead, utilities and especially delivery charges greatly increased.  Private services almost always become more expensive as they are out for maximum profits.

Kenney cites Saskatchewan as an example for a privatization success story. In Saskatchewan, some services like hip and knee surgeries were privatized to shorten wait times, but that program was eliminated in 2014 as it didn’t work. Cut backs to the health care system under Klein resulted in a big loss of nurses who found work in the U.S. or other places in Canada.

Kenney, the former federal immigration minister who implemented the controversial Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), says he’d like to bring more immigrants to Alberta and plans to bring in 10,000 more per year. That’s 40,000 in a four-year term (times four, as statistically an average of four family members come with each immigrant) and establish them in rural Alberta.

The federal government assigns approximately 5,000 positions for the Alberta immigration program already. One has to ask why not implement programs instead for the tens of thousands Albertans still unemployed as a result of the largest down turn of oil prices in decades, and about the impact of more immigration on an already over-burdened health care, education and road system – where Kenney proposes cut backs. Why not use the money spent on settling new immigrants on more programs to reduce the double-digit youth unemployment?

Another proposal from the UCP is the sale of Alberta crown land. Several groups, such as the Fish and Game Association, have already spoken out against this plan.

Most of us know crown land is important for wildlife and biodiversity. When sold, it will be changed from its natural beautiful state – either plowed under and sprayed with chemicals, logged, or built on. As a grandmother, I’d like to see it preserved for future generations in this country. There already has been more than enough Alberta land turned into industrial sites with dire environmental impacts.

-Ilse Quick,
Lacombe, Alta.

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