by Mark Zaugg 31. March 2014 19:03
Some time in the early 90's I became dissatisfied with the provincial government.  I wasn't really thrilled with 5 percent cuts across the board.  I was definitely unhappy with the direction post-secondary education was taking at the time.  The thing that really upset me the most was when I heard over and over again that the government was talking with ordinary Albertans.

"Well," I thought to myself, "They haven't been talking to me.  I'm an ordinary Albertan too, but they sure aren't acting like they're listening to me at all."

The good part about voting against the political dynasty is that it's very freeing - I could vote for pretty much anyone else I wanted to and it didn't seem to make a damned bit of difference.  Vote for the Marijuana Party just to throw out a protest vote?  SURE!  I don't even smoke it, but I got to vote for their candidate once.

It was two or three elections back where someone used the phrase, "A lot of Albertans are looking for somewhere else to park their vote."  I equally liked and disliked it.  I was very much parking my vote, but it was also very ineffective and really hadn't spurred much change.

Today, it's a whole different world.  We have genuine options with different visions of Alberta.  And, unlike so many elections in Alberta's past, we have a genuine chance to change our government and reshape our future.  Not that it's all been bad, in fact Albertans have for the most part been very well off and well governed.  However the revelations of the past few weeks have clearly shown that we can definitely do better.

So here's your chance.  If you don't like how the government has behaved you can create the change you want.  This is participatory - if you want change you must be involved to bring about change.  That's a good thing, it's time the government respects the people it represents.

My choice has clearly been the Alberta Party.  I like the new outlook, I appreciate they don't feel the need to demonize any of the other parties, I love the fact that there are members of all political stripes and they don't rigidly subscribe to Left or Right wing doctrine.  Pragmatism and a willingness to listen to alternative viewpoints and try to find consensus is a big change that appeals to me.

I appreciate not everyone will believe the Alberta Party is the best choice.  That's okay too, we don't all have to wedge into a single belief system.  What is clear is that Albertans are really looking for choice right now, and there are a lot of people working hard to be heard and to be better represented at the Legislature.  So, if you're looking around for choices, try out politicalmatch.ca.  It's a quick quiz and gives a pretty good idea of the kind of person affiliating with the Alberta Party.  If you're not a match, that's okay too.  Find the home that suits you best.

At the end of the day, we're all Albertan and we have more things in common than we have differences.

Holding Higher Expectations

by Mark Zaugg 16. March 2014 22:03
How can you not be sucked into the circus that is the Government of Alberta this week?  I keep waiting for the Keystone Kops to scamper across the stage flailing billy clubs and rubber hoses.  The title for this post was originally going to be "The Good Old Give and Take" which was meant to allude to the lame predictability of an austerity budget, followed by a fudgy number budget, followed with a good news budget and finally - just in time for the election - a break open the piggy bank budget.

Predictability has gone out the window this week.

I have long lost faith with the PC party in Alberta.  I don't know precisely when, but I believe I split permanently after Premier Klein cut five percent across the board regardless of consequence.  It seems to me it wasn't actually a five percent cut across the board - something twinges at the back of my mind that not all departments ended up with the actual five percent mark, but I'm more than willing to be corrected.  I know that five percent was not felt equally everywhere and I feel we are dealing with the consequences of that decision to this very day.

I didn't fit in with any of the provincial parties since then.  It has only been when the Alberta Party came onto the scene that I've felt I have truly been able to find a political home.  I like very much that my views hold weight, but I also appreciate the people around me share most of my views and we're more than capable to respectfully disagree when we don't share perspectives.

With your pardon, I'll first address my disappointments over the budget.  I am absolutely not a financial genius.  I have no great insight into the Alberta Budget as presented by the government.  My lack of understanding is the very point.  On every board I've been a member we get a budget presented periodically.  Usually, but not always, it is an annual budget with all the numbers presented in tabular format on a spreadsheet.  There is no split between the books - are a second set of books always looked upon most unfavourably?

In particular, inside the Alberta Party our budget was presented both annually and we get monthly updates on the status of the budget.  I am not expected to be a financial whiz, the books are presented to me in a clear and sensible format so I can make sensible and well-informed decisions.  Why is our provincial budget not the same?  I do not ask that every single Albertan will understand the budget as written, but I would expect that someone such as myself who has a basic familiarity with balance sheets ought to be able to  understand the state of the province's finances.

The problem goes beyond the bottom line of the budget.  It hardly matters if the government calls the budget balanced while so many Albertans question how they can possibly call it such when we are spending more than we are bringing in.  The problem goes beyond the spin.

The problem lies in the very culture.  The problem lies in the DNA of the government that drafted such a document and then pats themselves on the back to call themselves transparent.

In the Alberta Party, I'm spoiled with clear numbers and a willingness to work to find common ground.  Our party leader - Greg Clark if you weren't aware - presents an update to us every two weeks to let us know what's happening.  Greg is unflinchingly reliable to update us, he is consistently available and endlessly willing to assist us in anything we tackle that will help improve policy, engage Albertans, attract members, form Constituency Associations and, of course, achieve fundraising goals.  The culture, the attitude and the desire within the Alberta Party is entirely about creating something better, something more representative, more responsive to Albertans.

Now should you find a home within the Alberta Party as I have, I would be happy to welcome you.  This isn't simply a recruitment drive for Alberta Party members, this is a call to all Albertans to question just what needs to be changed to start getting better results from our government.

I expect the openness and willingness to communicate that Greg has demonstrated.  I expect clear budgets.  I expect collaboration and a willingness for each member to perform to the best of their ability.  I expect an open ear to every suggestion that gets voiced.  I expect everyone to be able to show their work instead of just blurting out an answer.

Our present government has been tone deaf to criticism.  The budgets are obfuscated and while claimed to be balanced, in whole they clearly are not.  Rather than collaboration and seeking the best answers we have endless sniping back and forth with political theatre in full force.  Over the past week there has been an absolute intolerable lack of respect within the Provincial workplace called the Legislative Assembly so extreme that I would expect to be fired should I act so shamefully at my place of employment.

Kids are afraid to attend Question Period!  Now I understand Question Period has been a staged farce for forever and a day, but imagine a government that would actually answer questions seriously and an opposition that scored points not for pouncing on failings but for presenting valid, well reasoned alternative viewpoints.  It sometimes happens, but not very much lately.  I got to watch Question Period this week, I made it about two thirds through it and felt disgusted.  Albertans deserve better.

Albertans deserve better than an insulated Premier who does not have the respect of her party, much less the respect of most Albertans.  You cannot demand respect, you are only paid respect through your efforts of earning respect.  I have not been a great fan of Ms. Redford, but her actions have convinced me she is incapable to represent me, to respect me and feels no need whatsoever to answer to me.

I had to search my own blog to find the Open Letter I wrote to her.  I'm shocked it's almost two years old.  I can't help but feel Premier Redford still believes she's striking the right balance so long as people on both sides of her are unhappy.  She appears to have reached the stage where the majority of people are unhappy with her now.

Just so you know, Ms. Redford, I don't think I'm willing to meet with you to talk any longer.  It's you, it's not me.

To run for the Alberta Party Board

by Mark Zaugg 24. September 2012 04:14

I received an email August 11th that I was unprepared for.

It was a simple, one liner.  "Would I be interested in letting my name stand for the Alberta Party Board?"  I had some concerns.

Foremost is that I have very publicly questioned the effectiveness, the equitability, and the very operation of the Alberta Maintenance Enforcement Program.  I believe it is broken, our divorce laws urgently need upgrading and the government remains 30 years behind our circumstance.  We need to have a serious, comprehensive discussion and to fix not simply the problems with money, but with access, with the high cost of divorce, with the willingness to retain a contentious system at large.

I am not driven by a single issue, but I clearly have an interest in getting an issue fixed.  I am open about it, I believe we need a society-wide conversation and we need to find better answers.  However I'm much more than a single issue, and I'd hate to have the Alberta Party unfairly painted into a corner on account of my preoccupation.

My second concern is one of time and emphasis.  Where do I wish to focus my energies?  Local or on a provincial scale?  I am bound firm and constant to the local.  My friends are my neighbours, my neighbours are my friends.  Do I wish to go beyond my neighbourhood?

And what of time?  I chose 2016 because my eldest will be 18, my youngest will be 15.  How much time will I be willing to give away in the meanwhile?

My third concern is a question of resources.  I can't offer a lot, I do not have a lot of reserve to fall back upon.  That is actually part of the reason I'm trying to make things better.

In discussions, I was convinced the first would never matter because my solution to the MEP issues lies in discourse, based in finding equity and effectiveness for all parties.  Time was never answered, and whether I could focus locally and provincially at the same time remained a concern.  I remain a member of the Alberta Party Builder's network, apparently I remain above average and I'm happy to stay right where I am.  Yes, yes I would be willing to stand.

So the list of candidates came out and, to my surprise, I wasn't on it.  I should have asked up front, I guess.  I was put forward from the floor, we voted, and I lost.

I thank everyone who voted for me, I also thank everyone who did not vote for me.  My mother firmly believed that everything happens for a reason.  Yesterday I saw 28 people stand up and say firmly and clearly that we are not willing to quit trying to make things better, we are dedicated to working towards a progressive future, and we are bound and determined to do things differently, to do things better.  Best of all, we were promised that every board meeting would be open to members and that, board member or not, we would all participate and our ideas would all be used to advance the Alberta Party.

I saw around 100 people recommit to the Big Listen.  We had wonderful arguments about how to best reach our objectives while still obeying our own rules.  The magical part was that, in the end, the final resolution was forged stronger than before and we are well served.  We had our nail biting moment when the elephant in the room was addressed; every hand in my view supported working to maintain party status.  We attended in order to get back to work, not to bury something special that we love.

So I was freed from the responsibilities of the board and can trust 25 other wonderful, talented people - no, friends - to take care of directing us with my whole-hearted support.  I have already started work for Calgary East and will continue.  Because I love my neighbourhood, and because I love Alberta.  We aren't shedding even a fibre of our principles, we are weaving an even more fantastic fabric with all the richness and diversity of Alberta itself.

Look for more Alberta Party Big Listens coming soon.  I can promise that, I'll be organizing at least one of my own.


by Mark Zaugg 11. September 2012 19:34

"You're quiet."
"You know me, I never have much to say."
"Yes you do!  You just say it in other ways."

Thanks Jen, you're right.

The point I was thinking about last night when I stopped writing was the effect of the Alberta Party not being strictly Left or Right oriented.  The most important point to me is one of inclusion.

It doesn't matter if I'm a fanatical debt averse, libertarian tinted, bleeding heart.  I've been welcomed into the Alberta Party based upon what I bring as opinions and solutions to the issues we collectively face.  We are most effective, most capable, most beneficial when we share the very best we have to offer with each other, proceed with complete dedication and just try to make things a little better than they were before.

There is no entry fee.  There are no signs that say you must be this tall or that old.  There is only the invitation to participate and the expectation that you be honest with your thoughts, listen to the opinions of others, and try to raise the level of discourse beyond sound bytes and into the realm of accomplishing good.

The underlying acceptance of people and their opinions is incredibly powerful to me.  The knowledge that the principles I hold dear will be given fair hearing is something I can believe in.  The expectation that I treat others around me with the exact same respect gives me confidence to be honest and to listen openly.  I believe it makes me a better person.  I believe that simply by being a member of the Alberta Party has helped me become more tolerant and patient person.

This inclusiveness was no accident.  It was with great insight that the Reboot Alberta and subsequently the Alberta Party was set up in just such a fashion.  It was a special degree of wisdom and forethought that baked that level of tolerance into the Alberta Party from the start.

We remember Pam Crosby, one of those wonderful people, today and I saw her fingerprints scattered across so much that I value.  I share her belief that we can do better than we have done in the past, there is room for improvement and there is always time to get things right.  No matter what happens down the road, knowing Pam makes my life better today and I cannot thank her enough.  The eclectic mixture of people who shared my sentiment today confirmed she touched every person around her for the better.

Indeed, as I sat beside one of my favourite people in the entire world my mind turned towards the parallels between Pam and my own mom.  The were similar in dedication, in desire to make things a little bit better, in their work to collaborate and give positive council to improve others around them.  It is impossible to carry the torch as high as they held it, but there are many of us in their wake who were touched by their light.

Sorry, Pam, I guess I won't get you the right address for the next election.  But I'll do my best to carry on with what you've taught me, and I'll always try to make the world around me just a little bit better than it was before.  And I will welcome all who will work to make things better, whether we agree or not.

The Alberta Party and the Political Spectrum

by Mark Zaugg 11. September 2012 00:34

One of the things I like the very best about the Alberta Party is that it really doesn't fit into the classical left/right political spectrum.  Granted, I'll argue that "left" and "right" are far too encumbering labels that don't really reflect the diversity of views in politics.  But too often it's too easy to try to shoehorn a party into a narrow definition.

The attempt to broaden the scale by adding a second axis is a small improvement.  Parties are thusly ranked left vs. right on both their economic and social views.

Now, economically I get ranked pretty far right.  The problem I have is that I don't feel our provincial governments have been aligned with my economic views.  Their budgets have not been particularly prudent, they have demonstrated a willingness to jump into deficit spending that makes me extremely uncomfortable, and I disagree with their unwillingness to present fiscal data openly (as shown by the complaints about how the government presented it's numbers during the recent budget update).  In my view there's been a lack of foresight in planning.  An inability or unwillingness to get off a reliance of oil and gas royalties as a primary funder of government services neglects both our obligation to future generations once reserves have been exhausted and a blase attitude towards the volatility of commodity prices.

We rely upon our abundant resources in Alberta.  We need to take care that we use our resources wisely, that we get full value for non-renewable resources, and that we protect our bountiful province for our future.  We absolutely must ensure our children receive the very best education we can offer, to ensure they grow to become the citizens who will take us into the future.  

This is fiscal responsibility.  Retain maximum value for our resources.  Invest in our future.  Borrow wisely and with extreme caution, and save for the future.  Being fiscally conservative means a lot more than just having the lowest tax rate, it involves using foresight and good planning to invest wisely.

Socially I guess I'm much more progressive.  I'm finished with governments passing terrible laws in order to pass judgements on the rest of us.  For what?  So we can debate using the "Notwithstanding" clause over same-sex marriage?  Forget it.  Laws need to be as unobtrusive into our lives as possible, and when they do intrude, they damned well better be clear.  If every single citizen in Alberta can't understand the laws that get passed, all the laws are diminished in value.  Clarity matters, without clarity in our laws we cannot hold each other to account.  Without fairness and equity in our laws, we risk holding everyone accountable under the law.

My progressive social perspective has been tinged by knowing so many good people suffering on stagnant AISH rates, who strain to make ends meet on social assistance, who feel lost and despair.  People who feel locked at the end of a marionette's strings, people who feel they must dance to a bureaucrat's tug rather than do what's right for them.  Clawbacks that prevent escaping poverty's cycle.  In a province where so many do so well, we really need to look at that rising tide and make sure none of the boats are anchored down.

Am I left or am I right?  A little of both, I suppose, but then again so is everyone else.  The most hardcore, "Right-minded" individual I can think of gives openly and generously through his church.

The point of the Alberta Party not really fitting into the spectrum is magical for me.  It is not that we are post-partisan.  Frankly, we're a party, and by definition that makes us partisan in and of itself.  But we are a party where no one has ever looked at me sideways and said, "You don't belong here."  The only questions that have ever been asked of me are:

 - What are your pressures and concerns as a family, and as a community, as an Albertan?
 - What are your hopes and aspirations as a family, and as a community, as an Albertan?
 - What are you grateful for, living in Alberta?

The Alberta Party is much, much less concerned about whether I fit into that "centre-left" or "far to the right" side of the spectrum.  They care much more about what solutions to our collective problems I bring to the table.  They are focused on the answers.  That is why I belong.

Approaching the Alberta Party AGM

by Mark Zaugg 9. September 2012 02:49

I've been a little bit afraid for a week or two.

Ever since the end of July when I expressed my hopes for the Alberta Party I've been nervous about what I should or should not say.  I am but one member of the party, and a somewhat insignificant one at that.

I don't want to step on toes.  I don't want to put words in the mouths of our leadership.  I don't want to put someone into an untenable scenario.  I don't want to paint someone else into a corner.

One of the things I've been thinking about this past week has been that the Alberta Party has been built upon the absolute opposite principle.  Every single member of the Alberta Party deserves to have their voice heard.  Each of us matter.  Each of our attitudes, opinions, dreams and desires have coalesced into a marvellous amalgam we call the Alberta Party. 

Our AGM is coming up in a few weeks on September 22.  It has been made very clear, everything is on the table.  Every outcome is up for discussion.  No thread of conversation will be squelched, it is time for us to look inwards and to decide together our direction ahead.  Group decision making at it's finest - with open discussion and examination of our possibilities we shall collectively choose our path.  The results of our AGM will come directly from our membership, and I cannot wait to learn the results.

My choice is clear.  The Alberta Party is something unique and special in Alberta.  I am most definitely not talking about just the name.  I applaud those who have lead in the creation of a party that is open, inclusive, and serious about a new approach to politics.  I am amazed to stand with people who are dedicated to listening, who are sincere about change, who are determined to stand on our principles.  The choice to create a party and try to bring those ideas to the political realm gave me a new political home and gave me genuine hope for Albertans.

I believe the Alberta Party as a party has been overwhelmingly positive.  Not everyone has heard our message, but we have tried to hear all Albertans.  The Big Listen is very much a response to a government who has been so complacent, so arrogant, so paternalistic that Albertans just like me have not felt like anyone has been listening and there was nothing we could do to make ourselves be heard.

I believe the Alberta Party has a true standing in a place where we outright reject the Left-Right spectrum.  A party that focuses on solutions to real problems we face is much more important than being painted with a superficial brush of "Left-of-Centre" or "Right-of-Centre".  We cannot begin to solve our collective problems when it is taboo to even bring the problems up in polite conversation.  The shame of neglecting our Heritage Trust Fund for years, our reliance upon Oil and Gas revenues to balance our budget instead of using sustainable and fair revenue sources and putting savings towards improving our standing for today and future generations, our crushing health care problems, our lack of solid environmental leadership, our neglect of our children's education:  these are all the important issues of the day discussed and highlighted by Alberta Party policy.  These are real issues that affect all Albertans on a daily basis, it's not a dog and pony show put on to pander for votes.  We have a long ways to go, and I have every confidence we will get there, but we have a lot of work ahead of us.

You have a mere few days to become part of the membership and add your voice to the conversation.  What is definitely clear is that there will be a conversation that is earnest, open, and honest.  I will try to write my thoughts over the next two weeks as we approach our AGM.

Oaks and Apples - from Conversations with my Dad.

by Mark Zaugg 13. August 2012 03:38

I had a rather mixed bag of ups and downs this weekend.  Definitely beyond the usual range I usually bounce between.

My life's mantra is, "Balance in all things."  It is so incredibly important to keep things smooth and level in rough seas.  I'll be the first to tell you, it gets bloody hard when you're ripped with devastating blows down and irrepressible boosts up.

Dad is playing bachelor this week, so it was one of those rare opportunities to have a real three generation men's night together.  I invited him over and for the first time in ages I got to make dinner for him and my son.  We spoke for a long time together, and he brought some of the balance I'd been seeking this weekend.

He was talking on a completely different topic, but Dad mentioned hearing a lecture he heard lately that inspired him.

He spoke about two types of trees.  The first tree was an oak tree.  Oak has great strength, the wood is dense and hard, and is resistant to weathering.  It's a fantastic wood to build with because it is so strong and durable.  Imagine a table made of oak, it could be built last year, it could easily be 100 years old.  Oak is beautiful, that beauty is passed along to the furniture built from it.

But as he spoke about the oak tree, we walked past my neighbour's apples.  An apple tree isn't as strong as an oak.  You can't build a table that will last as long, or be as solid, or resist scratching from apple wood.  But you can get an apple from an apple tree, and you can't get an apple from an oak.

An oak tree is not better than an apple tree, any more than an apple tree is better than an oak tree.  They simply are different, they have different properties and we, as people, have found different ways to use them.

In the same breath, why doesn't Canada take a very fast runner and make her run the 100 metre dash AND a marathon and clean up in all the races at the Olympics?  Perhaps some day there will be an exceptional woman who has the ability to run short, high energy, bursting races and have the talent to carry her speed and stamina over the entire length of a marathon.  However I doubt that we'll ever see such a feat.  Training for each event is specialized, it takes different skills from the runner.  A marathoner needs to sustain, a sprinter throws everything she's got into a short distance.

All the athletes Canada sent to the Olympics are Olympians.  It's not that sprinters are athletes and marathoners are sub-athletes, they are simply different people with different talents, different sports, and together they formed a team of inspiring and dedicated people with their own story lines to live out.  We can be proud of the people who went to compete, and win or lose they represented us well.  Collectively they are known as the Canadian Olympic Team, and they represent our best, a team we can all support.

Dad and I spent a great deal of time discussing future and past, goals achieved, accomplishments missed, futures uncharted.  One of those deeply philosophical conversations you need at the end of a tumultuous weekend when it is time to bring everything into perspective.  We covered a lot of ground today.

Now my Dad understands me better than I understand myself some days.  After touring the community garden together he described why I love Albert Park / Radisson Heights in my own words.  We spoke long and hard about my future, my doubts, my goals, my direction.  We discussed my career, my parenting, and most surprising to me, the Alberta Party.  Dad knows better than anyone why I am passionate about being part of a new approach to Alberta and its leadership.

"You can handle what you will be facing.  You have a goal in mind.  You learned the right lessons when you were young.  You learned the skills you will need to rely upon.  You got the anger.  You dealt with the anger.  You focused your anger.  You have your principles that will not be compromised."

I know what the Alberta Party has inspired in myself and in others.  I understand the drain we have inflicted upon our flag bearers, but I also understand that they held the flags because they are our brightest and our strongest.

I cannot sleep, thinking of the good people who stepped forward, who stood for Alberta Party principles, who believe completely that we can Dream Bigger and find a new approach that is more fitting with Albertans at large.  I cannot stop thinking about the people with whom I have connected who had no faith in politics, no belief that anyone would listen to them and lost belief that every Albertan's opinion is important and we all deserve a say in our collective future.  I cannot shake from my mind the thought that those that bore our flags are the very people that most deserve my gratitude and my dedication to continue their principles and ideals.

Yes, it is rough to have disappointments.  But we are not all sprinters.  The Alberta Party is an entire team of people.  We need our sprinters, but right now it is time to let the sprinters regain their wind.  It's time for the marathoners to step forward, to organize, to strengthen, to create.  The Alberta Party was never about displacing the other parties, it has always been about creating a new way to make collective decisions, to be more attentive to the people we represent, to encourage every Albertan to feel free to say their opinion openly, to be heard, to find a way to find what binds us stronger than what tears us apart.

We must also recognize when we want an oak tree and when we want apples.  The Alberta Party was denied our electoral apples in the last election.  Right now we have time to strengthen our foundations, the time to build something long lasting and strong.  Now is the time for Big Listens, Big Ideas, Big Dreaming.  To prepare for when we next will show the province we have listened and we are prepared to champion Albertans' concerns to the Legislature.

If you believe in the Alberta Party, now is the time to make your voice heard.  If you were intrigued by the Alberta Party but didn't choose them, now is the time to test and challenge by attending a Big Listen.  If you wanted to vote for the Alberta Party but had no candidate, now is the time to form your Constituency Association and become prepared.

If you don't believe anyone in government has ever listened to you, it is time to talk to me.  You deserve to be heard as I deserve to be heard, and at the very least we can listen to each other and choose the direction to strike out together.

I said WHAT now? Oh yeah!

by Mark Zaugg 1. August 2012 02:16

"First Alberta Party candidate announces for 2016"

I read the headline and I spent a couple minutes trying to figure out who it was.

Oh.  Right then.  It was me.

And here is the difference that makes the Alberta Party something I completely adore, affiliate with, and support completely:  The act of simply announcing an intention to run is EXCITING.  It makes a splash, it makes a difference now when we need exciting news.  I didn't think it was news, I'm pretty sure I told Brandon Beasley that I wasn't planning to campaign with him next time around since I was hoping to run my own campaign.  Still, I can see how that would be news to others.

Okay, good then.  I've announced that I'm running in 2016.  Except I have to win the party nomination first.  Absolutely nothing will please me more than needed to contest the Alberta Party nomination for Calgary East in 2016.  Without a doubt, I fully intend to put my name forward to represent the Alberta Party.  My party.

But first we have to form a strong Constituency Association before I can even begin in Calgary East.

I understand completely how hard it will be for a "fringe" party to gain credibility against the established party.  I am also completely sincere that I feel battling for the leadership and subsequent steerage of the "big tent" party has directly led to a complete lack of discussion of the most important points of Alberta's governance.

I'm entirely aware of the concerns that the Alberta Party has become nothing more than Alison Redford's policy development committee.

This is precisely the point where I should be expressing weasel words so all the pundits can start calling out, "I totally called that, dude!"

Except I'm not.  My word is my bond and I feel I can provide value to the neighbours I care about.  Like so many of my fellow Alberta Party members, I'm determined that the Alberta Party's values not only represent my own but are inherently worthwhile to support and encourage.  I know the work ahead and I relish the challenge to stand on my personal values and represent my party to the very best of my ability.

I need to establish credibility within my community.  I sincerely love my neighbourhood and the people who live here.  I believe in the people first and foremost, I want to ensure they are served as well as possible.  I believe the open conversations and the Big Listen experience of the Alberta Party is best able to present their beliefs and opinions.  I don't expect them to simply believe that I'm putting them first, I need to demonstrate that I serve them and we work together.

They come before the Alberta Party.  Happily, the Alberta Party not only recognizes this but welcomes it as well.  The Alberta Party makes it possible for me to express my beliefs and values, and to discuss and accept dissenting opinions from my friends and neighbours.

If we do nothing but create policy to be appropriated by Ms. Redford and the PC's, I want to be absolutely certain that they appropriate the very best policy that truly represents and serves Albertans.  Someone needs to lead the discussion and the Alberta Party seems the most eager to take on the hard discussions the government will not tackle.

I'm not naive enough to believe this is a simple feat accomplished.  I am not cynical enough to believe this is not a valuable accomplishment on behalf of all Albertans.

I do intend to run for the Alberta Party in 2016.  I sincerely hope there's active and eager competition against me from like minded people.  As a party, we are taking a deep breath and we shall continue along the next step of our journey together.  Improving every day.

In the meanwhile, I think I'm going to ask Tony Jeglum to write all my headlines from here on out.

My Alberta Party hopes - move forward.

by Mark Zaugg 31. July 2012 13:45

 I wasn't ready to write a blog on the Alberta Party yet.

My good friend, Glenn Taylor, has resigned as the leader of the new Alberta Party.

First, I'm sorry Glenn.  I've done my best, if I had the resources I'd love to be able to dedicate enough so that Glenn could work full time without stress on building something that this province desperately needs.  I consider you a close and personal friend and I will stand beside you in whatever we tackle in the times ahead.

Secondly, I want to address some of the discussion that's been formed since the last election.  According to some, the Alberta Party has already folded and faded from the electorial map.  According to others, it never existed.

With Ms. Redford's election as leader of the PC Party, there has been much conversation that they have sucked the void the Alberta Party hoped to fill.  I have no difficulty saying that although Ms. Redford's policies somewhat align with policy the Alberta Party has brought forward, I do not support her government and will continue to advocate for change, more forward thinking, more attentive attitudes and behaviours towards Albertan citizens and more respect paid from the government to the people it is supposed to serve.

Alberta has been poorly served with a big tent party where discussion is meted out according to the wishes of it's leader.  Alberta has suffered when our government has shied away from difficult discussions when it endangered how the government is viewed and when it risked future election prospects.

Social justice demands that difficult discussions take place.  It remains crucial that we have fair and open conversations about policy.  The Redford led government is every bit as guilty as the Stelmach led government before it and the Klein led government before it of passing laws and setting policy that has not been discussed and reviewed thoroughly to examine the full effects.  AISH recipients left to scramble to survive.  Distracted driving legislation, or the 0.05 BAC legislation that does little to encourage safer driving but does much to create an environment of fear with more laws that are extremely difficult to enforce.  We have better means at our disposal, but they are NOT being talked about in public discourse.

Good economic policy demands that difficult discussions take place.  We need to proceed beyond a reliance upon oil and gas revenues for many reasons.  We have no Heritage Fund to speak of, we've had a government of spendaholics who cry poor when revenues dip.  We need sustainable financial planning and we haven't had it for 25 years.  As a fiscal conservative, it makes my heart cry.

Alberta has been very poorly served when only one party is seen to be capable of governing and the wings of the party wrestle back and forth for control of the agenda for the next four or eight or twelve years.  We need discussions about budgets, about environmental monitoring, about expenditures, about government programs opened up and we need to hear from every Albertan.  It is not happening now, it will happen with the Alberta Party because the Alberta Party is built upon it.

We knew that the Alberta Party was not going to be a pied piper and have the rest of the province accepting our message.  We have to prove it and sustain our message of positive action and open discussion.  That's going to be very hard work, particularly difficult without a single Alberta Party MLA elected in the past election.

But my discontent remains, I am not heard by Ms. Redford nor her government and I must look for better solutions that I can believe in.

I hereby formally announce my intention to run for the Alberta Party in 2016 in Calgary East and dedicate myself to listening to my neighbours and trying to present their opinions and concerns.  I may not be elected either, but we need to keep trying to find ways to advance open, public discussion.

Our First Step

by Mark Zaugg 23. April 2012 20:00

Alberta Party, I support you.  I stand amongst your numbers.  I believe in your principles and work towards your aims.

We have created something this province has been lacking.  We formed in response to a need.  The need for a government who is in touch with Albertans.  A need for a political process that's more respectful towards Albertans.  A need for citizens to feel that their voice matters to government.

Others have responded as well.  Some have formed the Wildrose Party.  Others have chosen to work towards changing the PC Party.  Some have stayed steadfast to the Alberta Liberal Party or Alberta's NDP.  I welcome them all.

Tonight amongst the parties it is all about win or lose.  Tomorrow it needs to be about good governance.  Good representation of the needs of all Albertans.  Good decisions about our collective future.  I am proud in our party for it's campaign of doing things differently, of working towards collaboration and problem solving.  We have staked out a unique area this election by trying to find creative ways to express our message, even during times we were excluded from televised debates or left off polls.  We have created something astounding, something meant to last beyond an election or two.

The foundation of the Alberta Party is rock solid, built upon people who are earnest, trustworthy and forward thinking.  We are also based upon the notion that the other parties have been built by people who are earnest, trustworthy and forward thinking.  Our fundamental principle is that good ideas can come from anywhere, and we'll support a good idea regardless of where it originated.  We debate the merit of ideas rather than tear down the image of others.  Stay true to that goal.

We will encounter growth as our message resonates.  We want to attract Albertans interested in a positive change in government.  Remember as we build to honour our principles of local engagement, of respect towards differing opinions, of accepting positive ideas.  Our growth in the past two years has been astounding, our growth in the next two years should continue along the same trend.

Get involved.  Stay involved.  Donate time and money.  Form constituency associations.  Talk with neighbours.  Stimulate ideas.  Nominate candidates.  Talk with your MLA.  Learn the processes.  As the newest party we have a lot of work ahead of us, but the rewards are great and the people alongside you are fantastic.  Let's keep building our own legacy.  This election is only our first step. 


Change is the only constant.

Welcome to the semi-exciting new look, same crappy blogger.

All comments are still moderated, I'll approve everything that isn't spam or offensive.  Agreement with His Dorkasaurus is not necessary.

What has changed is that I don't have 1000 junk accounts clogging up the system that I have to go through one by one.  Yes, you too can set up an account and no longer need to wait for me to notice you posted.  Completely optional.

As always:  Have fun, be respectful.


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