Albertans are entitled to better
Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 06:00 am
Albertans are the boss – hardly an epiphany, unless you’re talking to some members of the provincial Tory caucus who share a sense of entitlement.
Former cabinet minister Jim Dinning had to remind his Progressive Conservative party that Albertans are the ones who are entitled, “entitled to good government and strong leadership.”
Unfortunately, Albertans have had to endure poor leadership over the past years. Former Premier Ed Stelmach believed that he and his 23-member cabinet were entitled to a 30 per cent pay hike in 2008 and rammed that decision through behind closed doors, while guiding the province to its first budget deficit in 16 years. His successor, Alison Redford, also shared that vision of entitlement, from the proposed penthouse, to the infamous $45,000 South Africa trip to lavish perks – it appears the trappings of Alberta’s highest office made the lines between right and wrong indecipherable.
Dinning’s criticism of his once mighty party was spot on. He urged the PCs to “purge any sense of entitlement.” He said the next leader has to do what’s right, even if it sacrifices political expediency.
“Doing the right thing for Alberta is more important than getting re-elected,” he said.
Premier Dave Hancock, however, isn’t giving much credence to Dinning’s musings. Hancock brazenly declared the PCs are doing a good job with record revenues and a budget that is either a deficit or not a deficit, depending on who you talk to, along with claims that the PC government is in lock-step with the average Albertan despite the fact that every recent poll shows the PCs at the bottom of the popularity contest.
Hancock’s reaction is hardly surprising. After all, the last two premiers set the precedent of deflecting blame and passing the buck. In fact, you’re more likely to spot a sasquatch than witness an Alberta premier taking ownership of a crisis. But true leadership is about admitting mistakes, taking personal responsibility for them and making them right.
St. Albert MLA Stephen Khan is in a bit of a tight spot. When asked about Dinning’s views, he said he has "enormous respect" for Dinning, having worked with him at the University of Calgary, but he disagrees that the PC party is entitled and arrogant. Khan ceded the PCs have to go out of their way to be open and accountable, but he stopped short of sharing Dinning’s no-holds-barred notions. The Tories are undoubtedly trying to tackle their shortcomings in the backrooms while putting on their best collective face for the public.
The Tories might not agree with all of Dinning’s dissertations, but they better heed his advice on choosing an effective, decisive leader – a true leader that embraces Tory policy and refuses to compromise them in order to sell the most party memberships. If they allow their next leader to come through the back door once again, it will be at their own peril. Albertans live in the best province in Canada and they are entitled to the best leader as well.