Saturday, January 29, 2011

Questions before Answers

This post isn't going to be a terribly long one... mainly because I still have less to say than I have to think about.

We're 4 days into the unofficial PC leadership race and people seem to be tripping over themselves try to find the "answer" for the PC party. Depending on who you ask, that answer could be Ted Morton, Doug Horner, Alison Redford, Jim Prentice, Jim Dinning, Dave Hancock, and the list goes on.

The answers that folks will come up with over the course of this race will depend a lot on the question they're asking. Who can bring Wildrose Alliance supporters back into the PC fold? Who will appeal to moderate Albertans? Who will best continue the work started by Premier Stelmach? Who will be our best voice on the national and international stage? And the answers to these questions will probably be different depending on who you ask.

Lots of folks have asked me who my "answer" is - but I'm not there yet.

I think Albertans of all stripes understand that we're in a different political climate these days. There are more and more of us talking about the direction our province needs to go and how we should set out to make it happen. Even though a lot of people think that PCs are afraid of these kinds of discussions, I personally find it exciting. Its said that a strong opposition makes for a strong government and, although the opposition is fractured right now, it is definitely more of a force in Alberta politics than we've seen in a long time.

Because of all this, I think PC members (and any Albertan who chooses to join the party to help select the next Premier) shouldn't jump too quickly towards a candidate that they think is the "answer". The next Premier of Alberta shouldn't be chosen as a quick fix to whatever we think the most pressing problem in the party might be. In other words, we shouldn't be rushing to find an answer without first determining the right question. And, at least in my mind, the right question is going to be far more complex than the simple ones I listed above.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a partisan and I want the PC party to pick someone who will have a broad electoral appeal and attract good candidates to match. But we owe it to ourselves and to Albertans to take a long, hard look at where we want this province to be in 5, 20, 100 years and beyond - not just the next election cycle. That kind of in-depth reflection is going to give us the right question to ask when we go to mark our leadership ballot. At this stage of the game, our party still has the best chance of implementing the kinds of policies that will make those dreams a reality. But we need to show Albertans that we've done our homework, chosen an intelligent and charismatic Leader to outline our plan, and offered up a slate of top-notch citizens to be part of the team that makes it happen.

For now, I'm going to take my time to determine what my ballot question is. Until I'm confident in what that question is for me, I won't set out to answer it prematurely. I hope my fellow Tories do the same.

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