Another reason I'm proud to be in the Alberta Party

by Mark Zaugg 3. October 2011 03:49

I try to be pretty careful when tiptoeing through party politics.  Not that I'm really afraid to offend anyone, more so because I've never really fit into party politics before.

I've never bought a membership to be a part of any particular party before last December.  I've stood on the sidelines and cheered.  I voted somewhat consistently according to my values.  As I've said before, I'm generally lumped into the red Tories, but the line gets awfully blurry.

I will happily admit I have previously voted PC.  But I felt the PC Party made me unwelcome when the Klein cuts started in the early 90's.  I've been driven further and further away as I've felt I've had less and less influence in government.  Not that I ever particularly had any influence whatsoever, to be honest, but I've felt that even raising any of my concerns left me brushed aside or mocked by those in power.  What started as a protest vote against the cuts became cemented as a vote to state, "They do not represent my views any longer."

Someone along the line used a great term:  I had been parking my vote with the Liberals until something better came along.  Truthfully, I threw away my vote on independents or whomever I could along the way, but in practical terms that usually meant knowingly voting Liberal futilely.  I even may have voted NDP when Bob Hawkesworth was running provincially, but the timing seems funny and I'm probably thinking of when he ran for Alderman.

There was no question that I looked long and hard at the Wildrose, particularly after the election of Danielle Smith as leader.  I liked the populist approach, I appreciated they were willing to call out bad legislation as such and they stood up for solid values.  I'm a little uncomfortable with their health care policy and I don't fit well with a socially conservative stance for the most part.  Nonetheless, I'm more willing to support someone I disagree with who will openly debate me.

What turned me off was the black and white characterizations.  Ms. Smith's take on Ms. Redford's election is equal parts congratulatory and accusatory.  Perhaps Ms. Smith hopes to never be elected and have her turn to inherit full responsibility for those messes.  I hear it's a horrible job to have to clean up.


Happily for me, the Alberta Party came along at a great time.  In the Calgary Herald / Edmonton Journal forum the question was asked if the Alberta Party would fold with the PC's led by Redford.  Frankly, I don't believe so.  The Alberta Party is not a reaction to Progressive Conservative discontent, it's a response that democracy in Alberta as a whole needs renewal.  The Alberta Party has formed it's policy and principles not in response to the PC Party, but instead in response to the Albertans we have heard through our Big Listen.  It's been successful, so much so that listening to Albertans has become the cliche of the day.

There's no doubt, I have laid out a challenge to Ms. Redford myself.  From my own personal experience I have reason to doubt her sincerity and ability to fairly and objectively listen to viewpoints differing from her own.  I hope and expect a better experience in the future.  I think that we are watching warily for change in the government's direction and will actively help foster change for the better.  We are not willing to just accept that a new leader will inevitably lead to positive change in government.  Our government.

I'm most grateful to follow the lead of Danielle Klooster.  She has masterfully found the balance I've been searching for between accepting the best Ms. Redford has to offer with the steadfastness of sticking with her own principles.  I met Danielle this past week, I hope I mentioned how much I appreciate the example she sets for me.  Just another one of the fantastic people the Alberta Party has attracted.

Lastly, even though I've challenged Ms. Redford, I'm more than willing to accept and applaud good ideas.  Good ideas do not come solely from the Alberta Party and we are open to finding and implementing the very best for our province.  Under Ms. Redford's leadership the PC's are about to take on some important and much overdue improvements to education, health care, politician recompense, and hopefully AISH.  Should she find success I will applaud every improvement.

I don't pretend to know anything special.  I don't allege to be smarter than anyone.  I do know that the PC Party has been on a course I've been unwilling to follow for 20 years and that cannot turn on a dime.  Tomorrow, like today, I'll keep working to try to make this place a little bit better than it was before.  In my own way, according to my own principles and cornerstones.

I shouldn't be up this late and not looking at the sky

by Mark Zaugg 2. October 2011 04:19

I used that line as a tweet, but it's too significant to just leave at that.

I'm awake at 2:30 in the morning to watch a leadership election from a party I do not support and have no interest in.  I don't entirely know why.

Interested in the race, yes.  I want to know who our next Premier is going to be, yes.  I have huge doubts that we're going to see significant change in provincial governance.  We have changed the leader of government many times over the past 20 or so years, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, usually a little of both mixed together.

We talk about 40 years of Progressive Conservative rule in Alberta, but we don't talk much about how the internal tides of that party twist and shift the party itself.  Peter Lougheed was very different from Don Getty who was very different from Ralph Klein who was very different from Ed Stelmach.  Now we have a new different leader with Alison Redford.  Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.  Right?

Granted, much of my cynicism comes from a personal non-relationship with Ms. Redford. She held power over my life directly and vacated actually listening to me.

She says a lot of the right words, she puts them in the right order, but my past history with her certainly does not correlate with the words she is speaking today.  My history says that I will be brushed aside, ignored and be re-fed the official policy without examination of my circumstance.

In the swell of optimism of friends and foes alike, I feel troubled.  Change means public debate and discussion, not decision making within caucus behind closed doors.  Change means true input and listening to all citizens, not exclusive booths at party events.  Change means open public meetings with open minds and willingness to hear discord and dissension, not private security and spying on citizens.  Change means acknowledging good ideas can come from anywhere, discarding the "Not Invented Here" mentality.

I honestly hope I'm proven wrong.  If I'm not, I have to work just as hard tomorrow as I did yesterday to accomplish the change I want to see.  Should Ms. Redford succeed, we'll end up meeting somewhere in the middle.

Best of luck, Ms. Redford.  May we agree more than we disagree.

The Point

by Mark Zaugg 13. September 2011 04:53

Being driven solely by fear is a terrible feeling.  Being driven by anger is equally bad.

It is vitally important to have an understanding of both sides of the equation.  To be driven only by fear to press forward.  To be driven by only by anger to accomplish a goal.

It is also just as important to understand there is a completely other side.  To be the one to create the fear, to be the one to cause the anger that serves as the final motivation to force another to bend to your will.

I am a more than imperfect man trying to get through my world intact and whole, leaving the world a better place behind me.  Some days I feel like a rampaging beast leaving ruin and destruction in my wake.  On good days I create some good, I assist someone in need, I rise above my imperfections and accomplish something I am proud of.

My son asked why I have a blog.  This is my journal, my record.  My primary target audience is myself.  I air my thoughts and try to make them coherent.  Some days I'm vague, other days I'm blunt, but I know I've been successful when I read through my writing a month or a year down the road and realize that putting my thoughts down have helped me decide to choose the path I was destined to travel.


I have already said that I am afraid to complete this entry.  I have good friends who may think less of me.  I have detestable persons who will point to me and say, "I told you he was no good."  I am going to discuss the people who do not know me, who have pre-judged me, who have blamed me.

This is about my anger, and how the influence of a friend I deeply trust has blunted my anger as a driving force and caused me to re-examine myself in light of my own values and my own professed cornerstones.


To this very day, nearly one third of all the traffic that comes to this site comes for one article and one article alone.  I am shocked, terrified and amazed that my blog is on the front page when you search for "Alberta Maintenance Enforcement Program" on Google.

In the simplest of terms, I feel I was treated extremely unfairly by the program's staff.  I have been treated with contempt, treated hostilely, and unfairly subjected to harsh penalties without warning.  When I have tried to lodge a complaint, I have been told "The system is working as intended."  There was no flexibility or willingness for discussion - according to the persons I spoke with at the department my only two options were to allow MEP access to my bank account or to prepay my child support one month in advance.  The department has, in my eyes, worked towards coercing me to giving them direct access to my bank account by the continual restrictions they place towards allowable payments.  Direct payment is not acceptable, I know not all fees incurred were reimbursed.

I had to plead with my company to find a solution in extraordinary circumstances.  The only way to change this is to go into court.  I absolutely cannot afford a lawyer, so I'd be forced to go into court on my own and hope to hear a judge who will hear me with an open and fair mind.  Going to court is a crap shoot, I'm afraid, and onerous and extremely stressful for me.

How can it be that a program can be so detested by "creditor" and "debtor" together?

"Creditors" complain about a lack of enforcement, of a toothless department who do nothing to ensure collections are made.  "Debtors" like me wonder how some people get away with such outrageous behaviour while we live under constant threat of losing our driver's licences, passports and continual penalties applied.

I stand behind my words.  The program is not working for custodial or non-custodial parents.  The entire system needs to be redressed and systematically re-examined.  Complaints of mistreatment must be taken seriously.  Actually, all complaints need to be taken seriously.

When I recorded my rebuttal to Mr. da Costa's interview my father asked me, "Aren't you afraid of what they [the MEP] will do to you?"  No, they've done to me all they can.  If I am blackballed as a trouble-maker, I'm well and truly on their bad list by now.  All that is left is to try to never fall behind in payments ever again so they have no reason to act against me and to try to apply pressure so the department at large will become fair and effective in the future.

Penalties applied against me when I have struggled financially only increase the difficulty.  We may as well re-establish debtor's prisons.  Cancelling the driver's licence of someone who's struggling to make ends meet becomes counter productive when it restricts the ability to make a living.  When faced with continual threats and recriminations from the department staff, the lesson learned is don't ever get forced into needing to ever deal directly with the MEP at all.

When a custodial parent cannot collect support, it can put them in a very tough position.  When the MEP puts in little to no effort to actually collect due support it becomes aggravating because the family can be left unable to make ends meet.

So what's the fix?  My lawyer tells me the staff are overworked, the department is underfunded and the people there are left in an impossible position.  I feel sorry for every time I am forced to call with a problem, because each and every call they get is going to be one parent complaining about not having enough money.  It has to be a tough job, but that's still not an excuse for treating clients abusively.


When I first raised the issue of the unfair way I was treated, it was to my MLA with a copy of my complaint sent to both the Minister of Justice and also to the MEP.  Only my MLA responded, but he said that my issue was raised with the minister.

This is a matter of critical importance to my life, in response to a government department who openly warned that the department has power of collection actions which are long-reaching.  If you thought fighting City Hall is something, you ain't seen nothing until you're up against the MEP.  The MEP is the single biggest source of stress in my day to day life.  I wrote a letter of complaint and heard back from one of three people I received a copy.  Rather than standing as a buffer between myself and the department and acting to facilitate communication between us I found myself receiving a list of the demands the MEP gave me from the start.  As to the abusive staff, I was told, "It is regrettable that you feel you have been mistreated by MEP staff, as they are expected to be professional, courteous and helpful to clients.  Manuel da Costa, Executive Director of MEP, has asked me to extend his apologies if this is not the standard of service you received."

I remain gobsmacked to this very day.  That could have been a 30 second hallway discussion between my MLA and the minister.  The recital of what the abusive Collections Officer said makes it appear that the points I tried to make were written off in favour of established policy.  Granted it was delivered more politely the second time around.  I do not believe any of my argument was fairly represented, I know it was never discussed with me.  It feels that I have been written off as just another whinger with an axe to grind.  I hope I'm very clear that I am much more than that.  I may be a little naive, perhaps a little too optimistic, but I also have answers that can help resolve some issues.

This is a serious problem.  It is a serious issue.  It affects about half of all marriages in Alberta.  Sure, not all of them are high conflict, but high conflict separations are common enough to be a major issue in our society.  My complaint went to my MLA, disappeared for six weeks, then came back with an unsatisfactory answer and an unbelievable apology.

I beg of you to understand this is greater than one complaint against one mistreatment.  This is a single anecdote from a single department within a single ministry of our Provincial Government.  The same is rampant in our Health Ministry, in our Education Ministry, in our Energy Ministry, seemingly in all of our government.  This top-down, controlling approach where problems are passed into a black box to either be mysteriously fixed or never seen again is more than just my story - it's the story of thousands of Albertans who are not receiving the leadership we deserve.  We need change, I have lost faith in change-from-within and am looking for change-from-without.


So in the office where I work there was a sudden influx of people coming and going into the basement.  I was surprised when some of my newly made friends began appearing at the door when I was coming or leaving work.  There are plenty of people that have earned my immense respect over the past year.  Much to my chagrin, most of them were challenging me as to why I was sitting on the sidelines of this campaign.

I've been afraid and uncomfortable to admit that I'm still angry with Alison Redford for not seeming to act on my complaint while she was Minister of Justice and address me fairly.  I'm left in a bad position where I like much of what she says, but I'm overwhelmed with disbelief that she will respond any better as Premier than she has as a Minister.  Any time I agreed with her was diluted with the sense that I am just a little person whose opinion holds no weight whatsoever.

Ms. Redford is certainly a significant part of government that affects me directly.  Sadly, it has been a government that has completely rejected me as a Debtor with an axe to grind.  I have not had any standing whatsoever with the government for my entire adult life.  There needs to be change and the change needs to be significant.

I have decided that the best party to institute the change I am hoping to see will be the Alberta Party.  I believe the Alberta Party is most capable of giving Albertans standing in their government and is best positioned to create the dialogue Alberta needs in order to become a better Province for us all.

It's through the Alberta Party that I meet spectacular people like Tammy Maloney, who chastised me for my hypocrisy and it has bothered me ever since.  The problem with being driven by anger with the Ministry of Justice and the government at large is that I fail to live up to my values of being a force for open and communicative discussion.  Ms. Maloney clearly outlined that I am wrong to not continue to try to have a conversation and express my views with a fair and open mind, just as I expect to be heard.  It's been tough and I've been trying to amalgamate it all together.  I hope I can consider myself a friendly opponent.  I intend to be present for the remainder of Ms. Redford's political life while she will be present for the entirety of mine.

We absolutely have to have some very tough discussions in Alberta about our future direction.  We absolutely have to involve more Albertans than have been at the table lately.  We must break down the institutions within our government and bureaucracies that have been creating barriers to discussion, actively fomenting conflict, or masking accountability and transparency.  I wish Ms. Redford success because I don't believe she wants to perpetuate the problems we have discovered we're living with.

I also wish she'll walk up two flights of stairs, turn left, and ask for Mark and have a serious conversation over coffee some time.

Law and Order, Order and Law

by Mark Zaugg 31. August 2011 09:40

I'm not particularly a "Law and Order" guy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty much on the opposite end of the spectrum from hardened criminal element here.  My mommy says I'm a nice boy, and if you've been reading here you'll know that my cornerstones are my all and I genuinely want to create positive change in the world.  I just don't buy  "If you do the crime, do the time."  It's empty rhetoric to me.

Now, my values tend to reflect the more traditional end of the scale and I'm pretty okay with that.  Social mores don't come from a vacuum, they tend to be tried and tested principles that have stood the test of time and bonded our society together.  Still, there are subtleties and differing opinions that make all the difference in the world.

When I was in university, I had a professor insist that prisons were for punishment and punishment only, and rehabilitation of criminals was a fallacy.  She will have to rail the rest of her days, and still will fail to convince me of the validity of her argument.  Quite simply, I believe there are subtleties too numerous for a black and white case.  Some persons will need to be locked forever in a prison.  There will be others for whom being in prison will be the least appropriate place to be incarcerated.  We are individuals, we have individual responses and individual needs.

There are a storm of issues this week that are demonstrating just why I will forever be separate and apart from the Law and Order adherents.

The first off is the cuts in the Restorative Justice program.  To me, it is yet another example of the myopia in our provincial government that is driven by opinion polls and ideology and a absence of leadership.  To me, it's an annoyance because it's restricting the options we have to deal with fellow citizens and we need as many options as is feasible.  Then I read this piece of brilliant insight by Danielle Klooster and I feel my blood pressure rise.  This is a short sighted, horrible choice and needs to be reversed immediately.  I look to Danielle for leadership precisely because she can describe explicitly why such a program is so important.  Her explanation has helped turn my unease to clear, straightforward, informed opinion.

The second is the distracted driving law that comes into effect this week.  In a nutshell, this is a terrible law that should never see the light of day.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying certain behaviours are unacceptable while driving - in fact it's quite the opposite!  Some behaviours while driving are simply irresponsible and recklessly dangerous.  Unfortunately, the law as written adds nothing to the mix.

We already have a law that states you must not drive with undue care and attention.  There is absolutely nothing that the distracted driving law adds to that.  Instead it confusingly lists a series of actions that are unacceptable and leaves it to the police to interpret and enforce without guidance until it is tested in the courts.  A range of actions that are distracting may or may not be illegal and it's near impossible to figure out where the lines will be drawn.  Here's my prediction:  We're going to see a rash of tickets in the following months, followed by less and less enforcement until such time that the only tickets that are issued happen in correlation with a collision on the road.  I hope I'm wrong, but if "Driving with undue care and attention" is essentially unenforceable now, I have no idea how Distracted Driving is going to fare any better.  It's a feel-good law that says "We have the toughest in the country - nay - in the WORLD!" while not really generating anything other than a new source of penal income.

When I get stopped at a red light, I count the drivers talking on a cell phone as they drive past.  My rough estimation is that ten percent of all drivers are talking on the phone while driving at any given time.  That's an awful lot of $172 tickets.  I have no faith that that number of tickets will be handed out, nor do I have faith that the tickets that are handed out will significantly alter driving behaviours.

The third thing bothers me the most.  I vividly remember the murder of Lucy Turmel.  I remember the test case of DNA evidence being brought forward for a conviction.  I have absolutely zero sympathy in me for her killer, I can only think of a beautiful young woman who deserved a happy life today.  I'm not feeling mamby-pamby here, as far as I'm concerned he can rot in jail.

I wonder if I'm cold and calloused.  Or perhaps biased because she was young and pretty.  I'm having a hard time tonight reconciling the first and the last.

The problem, for me, is the middle.  The bad laws that are passed.  The meaningless laws.  The ill-defined laws.

When the provincial government went into deficit spending on our budget, why did we not have RCMP swarming the legislature slapping the cuffs on every government MLA in sight?  After all, deficits were outlawed in Alberta!

The answer is that it was just an empty platitude of a law.  Something to be abrogated at will when it became inconvenient.

Law and Order requires good laws that are clear, understandable, consistent and meaningful.  Punishments must be fair and equitable.  All citizens must live under the rule of law, it is the very reason for the Magna Carta and that has served us well for almost 800 years.

The junk laws are demeaning justice.  You have probably broken a law today.  I will not be hypocritical and demand punishment of someone else while expecting forgiveness for myself.  First we have to clean up this mess of a legal system we have.  Let's start with more community involvement, fewer junk laws and have a real debate before any law gets passed.

Compromise within politics and without.

by Mark Zaugg 5. August 2011 00:11

My mind has been spinning circles this past week.  Topics have been very far ranging, and the connections have been very interesting to me.

It's been pretty hard for anyone to escape the news of the U.S. debt ceiling crisis.  I can't say I followed it closely at first, to me it was just another one of those hyper-partisan issues from the States where hyper-partisan seems to rule the day.  Any problems the U.S. has with it's debt is going to affect us indirectly, so it's worth paying some attention, but I wasn't losing sleep over it.  It wasn't until twitter started edging it's way into my consciousness that I started to get a little more informed into the background.  Much of what I read disturbed me greatly. 

The first article that got my attention was this article from the Guardian.  The shock to me was this was routine 140 times since the second world war.  It's just not okay that it came down to brinksmanship now.  Now, I'm not an expert and I don't believe the Guardian is the be all and end all on U.S. finances, but it drew my attention to a situation down there that should never have come about in the first place.

Last Monday I got a mind full from an unexpected source that I really do trust and respect.  Bob Lewis is an IT management consultant who has a very keen mind and great insight into all matters relating to IT, business leadership and good business practices.  I'm on his mailing list and read his articles weekly either in my email or directly on his website.  He doesn't normally cross into political commentary, but this week's article has a huge relevance.  Relevance in politics, relevance in business, relevance in every day life.  If you can't find it, search his archives for "A CIO’s-eye view of the debt ceiling crisis."

There's a few points he makes that are more than worth quoting.

Blame isn't the point. It's the situation as it is today that matters, because every participant in every dysfunctional relationship has a decision to make every day ... whether to escalate or do their part to help dial it down.

There comes a point where pointing the finger is well past useful.  We hit a point where the origin really doesn't matter any longer.  Our collective focus definitely needs to be targeted towards solutions.  Arguing over who started what becomes quite pointless once you're in the thick of a crisis.

There is no point arguing about who let the cows out of the barn last week when the barn's on fire tonight.

More from Bob:

Don't make this mistake in your relationships with other players in your company. The moment you make disagreements and decisions that don't go your way personal and acrimonious, the next time there's a decision to be made, you won't have much influence.

Together we need to find solutions that work.  That requires compromise and not recrimination.  You're wasting your ability to get things accomplished when you dig your heels in and be intransigent.  This does not mean liquidating your principles.  Sticking to your principles is very much a Good Thing and it's essential that you carry your principles with you always.  Bob describes in much better words than I could possibly express just how important it is to remember that regardless of how strongly and passionately we hold our principles, those who disagree with us have equally strong and passionate belief in their own principles.

We are not each others foes.  We are not our own enemies.  We may be opponents with different views and differing perspectives.  The responsibility of us all rests in being able to clearly espouse our views, retaining our passion and our strength of conviction but allowing that we need to have a complete conversation to find the balance that serves us all best.

Politics is nothing more than group decision making.  The abyss that has been happening south of me has not been politics - it has been the absence of group decision making.  It is wrong and unacceptable.  It has resulted in poor governance and despicable decision making.  I fear for the cowardice of policy makers who feel that compromise equates to weakness.

Bob makes the point that there is not an alternative in business.  Failure is always an option.  Failure in government is unconscionable.


Which brings me to Nycole Turmel.

If you're not Canadian and you're reading this, I'm going to have to give you a nutshell description.  Canada just went through a federal election a few months ago.  Quebec voters shifted en mass from voting for the regional Bloc Quebecois to a national party, the NDP.  In a country of multiple parties, it was a significant shift in parliamentary power.

The Bloc Quebecois have a platform which includes separation of Quebec from Canada.  I'll be somewhat vague about just what that separation would theoretically entail. 

It has become divisively partisan.  That sounds familiar, yes?

Here's the hook.  The leader of the NDP (if you're not in a British Parliamentarian system read that as, "potentially the most powerful governmental leader in Canada") is fighting another bout of cancer.  Jack Layton is very well respected and regardless of how I feel towards his party or policies I wish him the very best ahead.  However the person chosen to serve as the interim leader for the NDP, Ms. Turmel, was formerly a card carrying member of the Bloc Quebecois.

My goodness, the firestorm this has created!  The theoretical Prime Minister of Canada is a person who is theoretically ideologically bound to breaking up Canada itself!  As a western Canadian, I am theoretically obligated to be outraged at this insult against a united Canada that treats all of it's citizens equally.  This entire paragraph is slightly sarcastic because it certainly does not reflect my personal feelings.  There are too many theoretical possibilities to be a realistic outcome.

And then the wisdom of Bob Lewis came flooding back to me.  Ms. Turmel is not my foe, she is not my enemy, she is not a member of a political party I am sworn to oppose nor is she a former member of a political party I am sworn to oppose.  She is a strong and passionate champion of her principles in the way I am a strong and passionate champion of my own.  It is my responsibility to express my views clearly so that she may understand my concerns and it is her responsibility to express her own views.  We then exchange responsibilities to listen to each other.

This really isn't about Nycole Turmel.  It is about me.


I have never been a member of a political party until December 4, 2010 when I joined the fledgling Alberta Party.  I joined the Alberta Party because they best represent my beliefs and convictions. 

I demand that our government be fiscally responsible and I feel that our present government has been responsible for very poor stewardship of our economy, especially with regards to our savings.  I believe our present government has mismanaged our health care system and let it flounder without clear, publicly defined guidance and without a mandate for centralizing and layering middle-management.  I believe our government has vastly overpaid CxO level staff for drastic under-performance and there needs to be an open and public accounting.  I give our government failing grades for continually tinkering with our education system's funding and curriculum and putting excessive influence on centralized testing which has limited relevance to our children's performance.  I feel our government has done a demonstrably poor job of monitoring and scientifically analyzing our environmental impact on land and water.  I hear our government had not performed a fair and exhaustive public consultation for at least the past twenty years and quite possibly beyond that.  The fact that they have failed to do so over the past ten years as technology has made it easier than ever to undergo widespread consultation makes it morally repugnant.  We absolutely must have a free, fair and open discussion about the purpose and the routing of power lines where not only are all the details laid out on the table, but all the details must be demonstrably and openly laid out for discussion.  There cannot be even the whiff of impropriety that our present government has salted the crowd and spied on landowners.  Be it right or wrong, we need to have this discussion out in the open for everyone to be able to analyze fairly.

I am appalled with the self-aggrandizing efforts such as the re-branding of Alberta ("Spirit to.. something - excel?  Freedom to.. achieve?  I'm honestly trying to remember here) and the re-creation of the font in which our provincial government writes the word "Alberta."   Does anyone remember the creation of new license plates?  It was completely necessary because we were going to run out of three letter - three number combinations.  Well, it wasn't such a crisis, we found a way around it.  Let me point out for those unfamiliar, that our current plates use blue and orange text in a salute to former self-aggrandizement.

We need more maturity in government - and I'm not talking about a government that's been in power for 50 years.  We need to have some serious discussions about where we are going as a province and what choices need to be made to benefit us all.  We need to have an inclusive discussion that goes well beyond party insiders deciding amongst themselves the group decisions we all must abide with.


I am a proud member of the Alberta Party.  Does that make me branded for life?  Does that mean that the Alberta Party will continually represent my views?  Does that mean that should I support another party's policy above the policy of my own party I am to be branded a turncoat and never to be trusted again for the remainder of my days?

Of course not.  I have my principles and I will stand to them steadfastly.  I also have an open mind and a willingness to listen to the principles of others.  I have the courage to change my mind when merited though consideration of another's views.


Mayor Nenshi knows very well that should he no longer represent my viewpoint, I will campaign equally hard against him as I campaigned for him.  Happily, we are still on very firm ground with each other and I feel he has done an excellent job representing my views.

We do not fully agree on every issue.  When we do differ, I am very happy with the knowledge that I may express my dissent here or on twitter or by contacting city hall and I will get a response just like every other citizen in Calgary.  I know that the City of Calgary has demonstrated exemplary leadership towards public consultation in a manner that emphasizes how poorly our provincial government has performed.

I know that I have felt terrible disappointment that Mayor Nenshi's goals towards secondary suites was not resoundingly welcomed by city council and passed immediately.  I feel we have continued work to address concerns and get a much fairer policy enacted throughout the city.  I believe he probably feels the same as I do.

My thoughts towards Mayor Nenshi and the ability to agree, dissent, and possibly campaign either for or against his future leadership was contrasted with Hosni Mubarak's trial.  I feel grateful I live in Calgary, but I remember that none of us - no matter where we live - are immune from this problem.  I fervently hope that Mr. Mubarak has a free and fair trial and answers appropriately to the charges levied against him.  I am greatly disturbed by what I perceive as the poor leadership in Libya and Syria at present.

I need to re-quote Bob Lewis from above.

The moment you make disagreements and decisions that don't go your way personal and acrimonious, the next time there's a decision to be made, you won't have much influence.

This is the price of intransigence.  This is the cost of hubris.  We cannot afford poor stewardship.  We cannot sustain bad decision making.

We very much require peace, order and good government.  We require rational and open discussion.  We require as many viewpoints as possible brought to the table to be able to analyze our situation fully.

We know what we need to do.  Can we find it within ourselves to act upon it?

Thought Provoking Days

by Mark Zaugg 3. July 2011 02:28

I like thought provoking days the best.


I'm happiest when my mind is churning over new ideas, new notions, new ways of dreaming and growing and developing.  I'm happiest when I'm trying to align my values with my perspectives and my goals.  Some days it works, some days it doesn't, but the attempt tends to be what matters most.  The sort of day where I'll take a while just to sort everything through in my own mind.


I took a few things of great value to me out of today.  One from the beginning of the day, one from the end.


The first thing of value is a phrase to describe me.  "You try to squeeze a 14 page essay into a 140 character tweet."


Yup, that's exactly right.  And every one of these blog entries I've been writing have been 1400 page manifestos.  Each one has been something about myself, my development, my ideas, my creation, my disappointments.  All written in bas relief.  Mostly because I'm struggling to find a way to express the idea that this is a snapshot of my environment today resulting from a lifetime of experience of questionable value.  I'm okay with that, it's who I am today, and am important view into who I am today and who I'm becoming.


The man I am formed from the man I was.  The man I am becoming will develop from the man typing today.  The friends and influences around me are the people who will create the experience and provide the raw materials that will go into the building of the future me.  It's not always easy to value all the experiences at the time, but I try my best to keep my perspective and to continue to grow.


I don't know how I can fully explain every idea that gestates in my mind every time I encounter a life changing moment.  Sometimes I can piece together a concept and explain it descriptively, other times my thoughts are entirely convoluted and nearly impossible to explain in short order.  I may try to guide you through it, or I may take a shortcut and just throw out a tidbit and let you piece together your own meaning.  It matters less than I usually wish to think.  I try to keep my writing to what my mother could understand, but I'm really my own primary target.  I write to remind myself where I was at a particular point of time, what I was thinking when I made a decision, how I developed the way I have.  You're more than welcome to tag along as a voyeuristic guest, and should you gain anything of value I'm ecstatic for you.


The second piece wasn't anything that was spoken to me, but the experience of going to a friend's backyard barbeque.  It is well and truly not an experience I'd normally enjoy and certainly not something I'd seek out.  Perhaps it's a sign that I'm growing up and learning to challenge myself and put myself into uncomfortable situations.  It's only through new experiences that we can develop ourselves - if we only live the same experience day after day we will be locked into the same life day after day.  I crave more.  I long to be effective on a greater level.  I want to follow through on more than just rhetoric, I need my words to reflect the cornerstones of who I am.  Sometimes I'm not always happy with where that leads me.  I want to go into those uncomfortable places willingly and with my courage at my side.


Two people that I truly value highly.  Both are "losers" and in that process have made me so much more than I ever was before.  That's winning to a much grander degree.  Thank you both.  Tomorrow will be even better than today.

Construction Ahead. Somewhere. Maybe.

by Mark Zaugg 7. June 2011 16:52

Okay, let's pretend you're driving along a pretty quiet road at 10:00 at night and you see an orange "Construction Ahead" sign at the side of the road.  It's late at night, you don't see any lights on, you don't see any equipment moving, you don't see any people about and the entire area appears entirely absent of any signs of work happening. 

Ask yourself honestly, do you slow down? 

I'd like to think that, being Canadian, we're all really nice, fine folks who always do the right thing.  I know better.  Some of us will slow down for fear of a cop waiting on the other side of the road, some of us will slow down because there's a sign asking us to, others will blow right on through with nary a care in the world. 

Me, I would slow down a little, but more out of fear of getting a ticket.  That is until one of the traffic reporters on one of the local radio stations put forward an actual sane argument.  It's a construction zone.  There could be pipe lying around.  There could be pavement breaking up.  Some idiot may have dropped his hammer and left it in the middle of a lane all day.  You don't know what's out there.  Slow down so you can be ready for surprises.  It makes sense!  It's a deal.  Always, always, always slow in construction zones.  No exceptions.

This doesn't even count trying to protect the people out there working for us.  I'm immeasurably saddened when I drive past the Calf Robe Bridge - someone was killed there a few years back by some idiot who didn't slow down.  There's a reason fines are doubled when workers are out there.  If the drivers would smarten the hell up and make it safer for the people doing the work, things would go faster and be less of a headache for the drivers in the first place.  Short sightedness that costs us all.

In return there's a bit of a code that comes with it.  When workers are out there, the first thing they do is put the signs up.  When they're away, those signs should be down and we should at least have a fighting chance to know that the site is vacant of activity.  It's safer for everyone.

I've been riding my bike all week for the joy of riding.  This is my holiday and it's doing wonders for my soul.  The shine went off a little today.

One of my major routes that I end up taking is alongside the Bow River down Inglewood past the Alyth rail yards and then typically off at Heritage and then along Deerfoot Trail to Southland Drive. 

I took it Saturday when I attended the Calgary Ukrainian Festival - so that was for fun.  Sunday night I looped the Weaselhead and returned using that route.  Monday I ended up taking it so I could go get my handlebar replaced.  Otherwise it would have been out of my way.  Today, tomorrow and Thursday I have business in the south and I'll have to find alternative routes each day.  It's particularly annoying to me because it is now unavailable to me when I actually most need to take it.

I don't want to appear ungrateful.  It needed work.  But part of the reason it needed work was because it's a popular route that goes where there are few alternatives.  Yes, that means the detour is going to be cumbersome.  At least we sorta knew in advance, right?

I'm going to argue we didn't have adequate notice, the signs are confusing and meaningless and while I understand there's very limited opportunity to provide better detours we've done a pitiful job at guiding people towards where the detour route lies.


This details a whole pile of unacceptable mistakes regarding the pathway closure.  I'm going to have a very hard time believing the city is going to be serious about becoming a friendlier city towards alternative transportation when we show great difficulty managing the system we've got today.

The first problem is this sign announcing that the pathway is closed.  (I'm sorry, I tried to figure out how to put images inline, you'll have to click and come back.)  Wonderful sign, very clear.  Unfortunately it's been up every day I've been riding recently and it was up the last time I took that route which was probably two or maybe three weeks ago.

Aesop has a fable on this topic.  Even if I go back to last Saturday when I'm absolutely positive the sign was posted, how am I ever going to possibly know that today we're actually serious and we're closing the pathway.  Ignore the dates posted on the other sign (I'll get to that one!), it's not really May 24th we're starting but June 7th.  Before when we said the pathway was closed and it really wasn't, just forget it ever happened.

Signs have to be timely.  If the project is delayed because of weather, signs should be taken down or covered up.  No more signs that say the pathway is closed when it's open and passable.

So today I rode up past the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and just as I reached the intersection I spotted an SUV and hit my brakes to stop.  So did the SUV.  The guy behind me did not stop and zipped right across the road.  Some guy in a fluorescent vest jumps out of a silver car and pulls the other bicyclist over.  "Hoo boy," I'm thinking, "Bylaw?"  Happy to have not got his attention I proceed along my path.  I come to this pile of rubble and I'm thinking that's a pretty unusual sight.  Not too much further down the path I'm greeted with a bobcat hauling an 8' slab of asphalt.  He takes out his earplugs and starts exiting to talk to me when I yell out, "It's not passable?" and he shakes his head no.  I flip a U-turn and pass the other cyclist that got pulled over.  I try to warn him off, but he goes by, later to return as I had.

He passes me when I'm taking a picture of this sign.  Laid face down on the ground, I certainly didn't notice it while riding on the other side of the pathway.  I pick it up and look at the other side to see it's a "Men At Work" sign.  What the hell do I do?  Do I put it up?  Do I leave it?  It should be erected but I don't particularly feel like I have the authority to put it up in case it was down for a reason. 

So I head back up to the Bird Sanctuary and I find that the guy in the silver car has actually pulled forward onto the path, blocking it properly.  Aha.  This was supposed to be my clue they were actually starting to work.

Someone needs more training.  If you're performing traffic control, you have to stand out there and be authoritative.  I might be miffed if you stop me from going where I want to go, but I'm going to be seriously pissed off if you let me go past you and I have to come back to where I should have been stopped in the first place.

"I'm really upset about this," I say to him.

"Yeah, I know," as he walks away from me to talk to two women who have turned out of the Bird Sanctuary onto the pathway going south.  I'm trying really hard to not complain for the sake of complaining, I'm trying hard that when I have a complaint I make sure I do something positive to make it better.  I'm not sure the words, "I'm really upset about this" constitute strong enough language that you need to walk away from me and avoid having a conversation.  I didn't even get to ask him about whether the Men At Work sign should be up or down.

This is ultimately about me getting a better pathway!  Stand up there, take a little bit of heat if you have to, direct people to the best alternative and provide good information.  I'm definitely not the person to be avoiding, I'm specifically the person who needs to be addressed over stuff like this.  I apologize if being really upset came across as too intimidating.

The other side of this is that we need to take the amount of complaints the poor guy heard today as a indication that work on the pathway has not been communicated well and that we absolutely have to do a better job.  That communication needs to come in a notice of what's going on, but also with an indication of what's happening now.

The signs we passed just at the entrance of the Bird Sanctuary are seen here.  I like to think of it as the, "No really, we mean it today sign" and the "Public Notice spew of illegibility" sign.  To me, "Public Notice" means the neighbour has a building permit to put another bathroom in his house.  This needs say something much more meaningful.  "Notice of Construction" or "Planned Closure of Pathway" are both better choices.

In fact, I'd love a half hour meeting with whoever designed the entire sign in the first place.  No joke, I'm completely serious.  I'll completely make myself available if someone from the city can schedule that.  Email me with my first name at my vanity domain.

I'll promise the meeting will start off rough.  The first words out of my mouth are going to be, "What, are you STUPID?"  This is a ridiculous amount of pointless information packed into a sign.  Motorists would never accept such a thing.

Signs need to be simple and clear.  "DANGER - Construction ahead.  No admittance."  Put on a simple map of the detour, not that abomination that labels every neighbourhood in proximity.  Unless, of course, you need to know the names of every neighbourhood that you'll be riding by instead of passing through.  A good sign is going to be inviting to read.  It doesn't need to be wordy - I only want to get to where I have to go as quickly and safely as possible.  Tell me why I can't go that way, show me my best alternative.  If anyone wants more information than that, send them to 3-1-1 or the city's website.  We've got that part right.

Think, for a moment, about who your audience is supposed to be.  We have pedestrians, dog walkers, cyclists, skateboards, wheelchairs - everyone who gets out and uses the pathways.  A pedestrian may stop to look at the sign.  The dog is probably pulling at the leash so the owner won't have a lot of time to read it.  The cyclists are supposedly moving at 20 km/h.  How are we possibly going to absorb what's on that sign?


Closing that section of pathway is a huge inconvenience.  I fully understand that there's not a lot of great options.  It's like closing Deerfoot trail at Southland Drive and directing people onto Blackfoot Trail -- only we don't actually tell drivers until you get to Glenmore Trail!

We have a huge problem with signs leading up to the detour!  Hey, everyone!  We're on a detour!  But we don't really know where the pathway is closed unless you're willing to read the "Spew of Illegibility" in great detail.

Equally a problem is all the "Spew of Illegibility" signs are identical.  There are no "You Are Here" markers on any of them letting you know which direction you need to go to find the best route.  I'm going to try to remember to bring a Sharpie tomorrow and I'll happily deface the signs I come across to at least try to help someone else.  I know the paths and I was getting confused trying to figure out which way to go!

Worse, the sign that I took a picture of is located on Ogden Road just coming out of Old Refinery Park.  It's got the detour pointing in both directions!  Helpful hint, going north on Ogden Road leads you straight to Alyth Bridge and is most definitely not the direction you want to be going.  Unless you need a few extra kilometers on your exercise routine and have the time to double back.  I made the mistake and was shaking my head all the way back because I knew it was the wrong direction but I followed the sign and took it anyways.  Clarity is necessary.

This photo is a bit sarcastic, I generally don't ride on stairs and I know very well that there is a ramp just a little past the stairs for wheeled vehicles.  If you don't know that and you're following the sign, you're hauling your bike up the stairs until you get to the top and look at the lovely pathway down and to your left.  It may be the detour if you're walking, but there ought to be a detour sign for wheeled traffic as well.

Signs are up there to communicate!  Signs are supposed to let us know what to do.  Signs need to be clear on when a change in rules is in effect.  Signs need to be simple and clear.  Traffic control that actually controls traffic. 

Timely.  Better.  Meaningful.  Legible.

We've really flubbed this.  There's lots of time to make it better and put some dedication towards alternative transportation.

That Damned Magical Weekend

by Mark Zaugg 1. June 2011 01:49

Some days are magic.  

I'm not talking about just a good day or a really fun day.  I very much mean a magical day that surpasses all expectation, a day that defies explanation, a day that forever changes your world and leaves you a better person at the end of it.  A day that revisits you over and over again to return even more gifts and blessings to you.  

I'm not talking about a day that defines me as a person, although I've certainly had those.  I did not change as a person at all.  I think in my case I'm thinking of a day that defined my direction and forever has changed my course in life.  For the better, I believe.  So much of what I feel is shaping me today can be traced back to one single, special day.

To explain how I got there may very well take my entire life's story.  How about instead I jump in at the point where we have a single dad with not a lot of money and two pre-teen kids to keep amused and occupied in Calgary.  Bicycles and festivals filled a lot of the gap.  We hit every festival I could discover that was cheap and not too far out of the way.  My goal was to be outside and get out of a drafty apartment every single weekend after a hard, cold winter.

I can't explain why the magic happened on the week that it did.  We were at Lilac Fest, we went to SunFest, we went to handfuls of festivals, sometimes two or three on the same weekend.  We saw many of the same people event after event, we met many new people along the way.

My magical day happened August 23 last year.  There are a lot of factors that lead to it.  A festival involving bikes has to appeal to me.  I attended Bow River Flow the previous year (it's first year) and while I originally felt dismissive towards it I found that we sincerely appreciated the moment.  Returning was never a question because my kids hugely connected with it.

If you've been around here a while, you know what happened.  In brief, I changed my mind about who I was going to vote for and decided I had to take a better examination of the candidates.  Win or lose, I decided I would work with my choice and support him or her in their bid for office.  I thought hard about choices, I weighed my options, I took it upon myself as a responsibility.  I chose the right guy, and he continues to prove to me that I made the right decision.

Naheed gets to smile about how he ruined my life.  In reality, I think that feeling of engagement was always there, I just needed a way to express it and a person who I believed would sufficiently represent my views.

But the magic of that weekend is not held solely within political re-engagement.  

Stemming from Mayor Nenshi ruining my life, I began talking about #BetterYYC.  Earnestly trying to do one thing each and every day to make Calgary a better city.  Some days it was literally the one thing dragging me out of bed in the morning.  Some days it feels like I'm completely on my own.  Other days one or two other people jump in, renew my ideas and spur me on.  I'm still trying.  Trying to encourage someone else to do one thing each and every day, trying to do one thing on my own every day.  It originated from that one day, Aug 23.

Last year, for the first year since I was in Jr. High, I rode my bike year round.  I did it for my health, I did it for my lungs, I did it to save money, I did it to save time.  But I did it.  I love riding my bike, now I know that I can completely love riding my bike even when it's 20 below.

A bicycle is my single favourite form of transportation - of freedom.  I know that I can personally extend it to the entire year and do so safely.    That love of alternate transportation reestablished itself at Bow River Flow.  Sure, I rode my bike in the city before, but now it became my primary choice of getting around.  I got to say that for the census this year.  That felt exhilarating.

I've become much more aware of Bike Calgary and I'm feeling a greater affinity to a community of people like me.  I'm very interested in what we're going to develop for bicycle infrastructure in Calgary to make bicycle commuting more attainable to average cyclists.  I've met Sean from Bike Bike who was immeasurably helpful in helping me transition from a fair weather cyclist to the cyclist I want to be.  I feel good to ride my bike along the river every morning and see the dog walkers and say good morning every day.  I attended An Evening With Mia Birk, and got my own copy of Joyride.  I'm not sure if it's ironic or imminently sensible that listening to Mia meant I finally started to understood the Bow River Flow.  

These are all ways that the decision to reconnect with my bike year round continues to return wonderful moments to me.

I thought that somewhere I spoke about how wonderful and surreal it was at the Bow River Flow to have a parade with the Ogden Legion Pipe Band in front and Calgary Escola De Samba behind, while my children and I were in the middle ringing our bike bells in time to the beat.

I'm not Scottish, but I love the bagpipes.  Strong, bold and distinctive, they can rock you, they can be moving, the can express touching heartbreak.  There's never been a pipe band I haven't enjoyed and when they're as good as they were that day I like it all the more.

But Samba?  Wow, the Samba was new to me.  It moved me in a very literal sense.  It was incredible fun to overlay with the festival.

Years ago, my aunt asked if I was a drummer.  Uhm, no, no I wasn't and just where did the question come from, anyways?  Apparently I was tapping out a rhythm and she thought that it sounded pretty good.  I must have a very strong sense of rhythm in me.  In another festival somewhere near the end of the year the kids and I ended up playing in a drum circle and I got the sense of what it was like to really play.  Another good moment.

I'm not sure who runs @yycsamba, but whoever it is found me on twitter and followed me.  I'm a fortunate man, I probably wouldn't have sought them out.  I've appreciated that they get my love for #FunkFridays, but I've had very little actual connection with the school since.  Until #Sambafied.

Last week I got the invite to go to Endeavor Arts and take part in the school's #Sambafied event.  I got to play a couple drums, I got to watch a whole bunch, and I got to reconnect to that kid that beats out rhythms on kitchen floors.  It very much brings out a sense of fulfillment to be part of a group creating something more than you can on your own.  I completely enjoyed it.  I might have to do some creative thinking of how to take it up, but I'll work on it.  It's become this surprising piece of my life that I value greatly.  It may take me a while, but I at the very least I'm a friend of the band and someday hope to be a full member.

One of my favourite parts of #Sambafied was when I got to watch Valerie Roney (or, as I like to call her, @vlrny) hammer on a surdo while completely lit up with joy.  It's easy to understand the appeal after trying it just for a moment.  I want a little more of that joy in my life, too.

I've mentioned Valerie before, but the past week I've been reading her blog cover to cover, if you will.  It's given me pause for thought and a great deal of consideration.  Cause to reevaluate things I've been doing wrong or haven't been doing at all.  I've reconnected, at least somewhat, to my creative writing.  I'm sure it's horrible, but it's horrible *mine*.  There are a few people around that have told me I can implausibly weave a coherent story out of my narcissistically-addled rantings.

And, while I'm at it, I need to mention Art Walk With Art because that was my introduction to Endeavor Arts.  I went out in an attempt to stretch out my #BetterYYC experience and really enjoyed it.  You have to remind me on that more often, Art.  I have to get out to another one soon.

It's good to challenge one's complacency - after all, isn't that what I've been discussing all along?  August 23rd, 2010 was the day I actively started challenging some of the complacency I was getting swamped under.  It hasn't been all smooth sailing, I continue to learn just how dumb I am for a smart guy.

In the process I've tried to make for a better city, and I suspect I might be in the midst of making myself a better person for the effort.  I am feeling more connections with my past, I'm remembering things I used to do that brought me joy that I haven't been doing.  I've already reconnected with my love of space through the interest of my children, now I've been rediscovering more things I'm passionate about.  I haven't specifically changed as a person, but I feel more freedom to strike out and be the man I want to be.  Stretching, growing, feeling better about myself.  Taking good chances.

I'm not sure where I'm going, I just know it's a better direction.

Sadness and Joy

by Mark Zaugg 28. May 2011 21:49

Or as I like to subtitle this one, an insider's blog on the Alberta Party Leadership Convention. 

This is the blog where I expose all the underhanded dealings, the backstabbing, the dirty mudslinging and the general nastiness we carefully hid from the public. 

Well..  A couple days ago Tammy asked if I would write and read an endorsement for her at the convention.  It took me a little while to put together.  Other than that, it really was exactly as it looked.  I've never seen four nicer people get together and talk with each other about our collective future.  I've never seen four people who were competing for such a prestigious honour work so politely with each other.  Barring my family and a select few friends, I don't think I've been prouder of a group of people.  And politicians, at that! 

My story has three parts.  The trip.  The sadness.  The joy. 


My weekend schedule made it necessary to drive to Edmonton in the wee hours of the morning.  Of course I couldn't be organized enough to make it all go smoothly.  Out the door five minutes late, choosing the route of excessive red lights, needing a short stop to check my tire pressures (they were low) and I was starting to wonder if I was going to have to speed like a demon if I was going to make it on time.

My trip up consisted of singing along to Tim Hus and Porkbelly Futures, enjoying the misty morning rain and the eventual red haze of smoke obscuring the sun.  Just as the skies began to brighten I spotted movement to my left and I spotted a hawk diving for her breakfast in the meridian.

I realized this is the Alberta that I love.  The wide open, green, safe (unless you're a tasty rodent) world where I love to spend my days.

Probably not relevant to anyone except me.  But my drive was very serene.  Although the headwind was brutal.  I burned 3/4 of a tank of gas to get from here to there.  Glad I got great mileage going home.


I must acknowledge the sadness.  My choice didn't win.  Losing sucks. 

I fully expected to be undecided until the convention today.  That didn't happen when Tammy asked me to be part of her campaign team.  I'm not going to go half hearted into the breach, it became a full commitment and I made the early choice to contribute to Tammy what I could.

I had two fears. 

The first fear was that Tammy, Lois and I would be sitting around her table and her final tally would come in as two votes. 

The second fear was that Tammy would attract thousands of people to the Alberta Party and at the end of the night we would all stand around wondering just what we had voted for.

Tammy herself slayed both my fears.  She drew people in and genuinely connected with Albertans.  I was needlessly concerned that she might not connect with a room full of people in a speech in the way she can connect with you when you're talking together in solitude in the middle of a crowded restaurant.  You can be one in a room of 300 and feel like she's speaking to you in particular with all her passion intact.  One hundred and three other people agreed with my choice and I dare say that a great number more felt a connection with Tammy and an appreciation she ran the race.

Tammy's been working on policy committees, she's done more research than I can shake a stick at, she's answered questions on topics both mundane and obscure.  I may know more on some things, but she is far, far more qualified than I across the board.

My regret is that I did not give Tammy enough organizing support or in selling more membership on her behalf.  Lessons I can apply moving forward.

Thank you, Tammy, for your trust and your friendship.  I look forward to working alongside you again and again.


My joy is sincere that Glenn is the leader of our party.  I have absolute faith that he is up to the task.  I admire his honesty, I admire his candour, I admire his experience.  Above anything else I have ever known about Glenn, I admire the very first time we interacted and I felt that he had truly listened to what I had to say.  He has never forgotten - how people can remember such details when they must meet thousands of others I'll never understand.

I'm so impressed with Glenn's organization, his ability to delegate, his trust in others to do the right thing.  When I told Glenn that Tammy had asked me to work with her I confided that I was leaning towards him as my first choice and it was with some regret that I chose to support one candidate above any others.  I made the right choice for me for the exact right reasons.  However I pledged on that day that, should Glenn win, I would support him wholeheartedly and unconditionally.

I'll renew that pledge tonight.

I don't mind losing to Glenn too badly, but I don't want to be on the perpetually losing side.  It seems like even when I've voted PC in the past I've wound up losing somehow.  It's time for better engagement and a better representation of Albertans in government.  The Alberta Party with Glenn at the helm can be the force to truly make a difference in this province.


Both Lee and Randy joined the race after I had already declared for Tammy, so I felt like I should watch them from somewhat of a distance.

Neither would have anything to do with it and they both greeted me with warmth and welcoming.  Lee has impressed me as a highly upstanding man, full of honour and a person who truly listens and leads.  Randy is stunningly intelligent and broaches depths of topics I haven't even considered thinking about.  They both are incredible people and I am immensely honoured to work alongside them both.


The last point I want to mention is a special mention to dear friends from twitter or blogs which I have only met today.  I got to meet Will Munsey in person, I at least got to see Grace Wong, and it's always a great day for me to shake the hand of Dave King.  I'll be sure to give a very special shout out for shaking Ken Chapman's hand.  When I was exploring the Alberta Party Ken was the person who presented the ideas, values and principles of what makes the Alberta Party genuine and powerful.  Thank you, Ken, for being informative, welcoming and encouraging for me to start down this path.

A very, very dear thank you must go to Sue Huff for the strong and positive first impression she made on me as our Acting Leader.  When I first met her she was open and forthright I knew I had found my political home.  She is a person I richly admire.  I owe you a signature, Sue.  Keep that placard primed for me next time we meet.

Thank you to everyone who showed up and voted.  Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to put on such a great event.  Congratulations to us all. 

I know that no one is going to read this tonight.  You people owe me a party.

A Listening Leadership

by Mark Zaugg 27. May 2011 00:26

I've been wondering how to write this without being overly partisan or blatantly trumpeting one direction or another. 

Today the answer came to me.  Write on my principles.  Write on my values.  Tonight I write from my heart and hopefully I'll make my point clearly and openly, separate and apart from my leadership vote.

We, the Alberta Party, are moving towards our next big decision this weekend.  We collectively will be choosing a leader who will represent us, possibly define us, and must guide us through good stewardship of our energy, our focus, our efforts.

I have been working with Team Tammy Maloney and support her for her bid for leadership.  This entry is more fundamental than who I'm voting for.  This entry is about the core of what makes the Alberta Party to me, why I support the Alberta Party, and why I will support and work with whichever of the four candidates we elect on Saturday.

I ask - no, I exhort - each and every member of the Alberta Party who is going to vote for a leadership candidate this weekend to take just a few moments and to wipe the slate clean.  I'm not asking you to throw away all the thought you've already put into your decision making.  I'm asking you to set everything aside just long enough to ensure that you and every single member of the Alberta Party perform the most important function that each and every Alberta Party member has.

I plead for you to listen.

This is a special weekend.  We are not going to listen to other average Albertans we meet.  You and I have a special responsibility to listen to four particular Albertans.  We ought to do so with an open mind and genuinely hear what they have to say.  This is our chance to ask them the questions we would like to have answered.  It is our chance to hear them fully explain their values to us and to evaluate how they align with our own.  It is our chance to evaluate how we feel their values align with our collective values as our party.

If you've already decided on a candidate, that's wonderful!  Please be sure to listen to all four with an open mind and an open heart.  I'm not trying to change your mind, I want to ensure that you are making an informed choice for the very best of reasons.

Lee, Tammy, Randy and Glenn are four very different, very talented, very special, very capable and very formidable people.  They all bring individual strengths and talents and they all have a voice worth listening to and truly hearing.  Be attentive to them all.  They all have a role in creating a better Alberta.  They all have a component of their personalities that we, as the Alberta Party, are going to need to channel if we are to create a successful government.

The Alberta Party is a party of listeners - good listeners who try to create a consensus from what Albertans want and need.  We cannot be true to our values as a party if we stop listening to each other.  We will make a decision and it will be decisive, but we will do so on the basis of an open mind and sound reasoning.

The Alberta Party is the party who will do things differently from other parties.  We need to demonstrate how we will do so by collectively choosing a leader for all the right reasons.  We want to make our decision based upon consensus building, rational debate and the clear goals and directions which are presented to us.

We need The Big Listen to become The Big Action.  Our values and our principles are absolute and unyielding - they are the values and the principles of Albertans.  The plan of action needs to be charted and we shall enthusiastically embark upon the change that Albertans want, deserve and demand.

Pay attention to the qualities where each candidate excels.  Their true strength lies in what traits they bring to the table.  We, the membership, will fill in the details through our support, work ethic, and indeed our listening skills.

We shall set the standard by defining our leader on the traits that we admire, value and respect!  We fervently hope that the other parties follow our lead and select good leadership for the best reasons.

We shall remember that the decision is made by those who show up.  We will make our choices boldly knowing that we have lived up to our responsibility to choose wisely.  We shall remember that 60 percent of Albertans did not choose to vote in the last election and it is our most solemn of duties to reach out to them, discover what has created such disinterest and disenfranchisement.  We must do our best to try to represent them in our selection by choosing as wisely as possible and to consider their interests as much as we are able.

We shall not select a person to hold above ourselves, we shall select a leader who will best represent us all.

Please, listen to them all attentively to ensure your decision has been made with full consideration.  Choose the person that you feel best represents you, your party and your province.  Listen with your heart and choose well.  The real work begins again on Sunday.


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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