August 8, 2017 at 10:33 am  •  Posted in Dave's Blog, Featured by  •  7 Comments

Hello from Salt Spring Island. It’s another beautiful day here.

One of the things I love about living here is, inherent in the culture, the understanding that having more than one way of viewing the world is normal, natural, and healthy.

This understanding leads to another: that it’s perfectly acceptable for your neighbour to vote a different way than you do.

I don’t believe that capacity for understanding exists among the people who formed the United Conservative Party last month in Alberta. I see no evidence that either the would-be leadership of the party or the UCP’s supporters comprehend or accept that the people of Alberta have the right to disagree with the UCP’s narrow world view.

I thought Alberta had moved beyond this. I think Albertans have moved beyond this. Well beyond.

That’s clearly my experience.

I managed to get myself elected to the Alberta Legislature…as a Liberal…twice…in Calgary-Currie, a constituency that had never before elected anything but Conservatives. That was in 2004 and again in 2008. In the near decade that has passed since then, Alberta has only become more culturally, socially, economically, and — dare I say it — politically diverse.

The UCP wants to put a stop to that.

The Alberta I know is a resilient province full of resilient people. People who come together to deal with crisis, take advantage of opportunity, and solve their common problems. Young people with a future ahead of them and a sincere desire to do their part to help shape it. New arrivals willing to take a leap into the unknown, with all the sacrifices that can entail, in order to give their children a better life. Old-timers and long-timers who’ve made Alberta a better place than when they found it. Dreamers. And builders.

The only thing Jason Kenney, Brian Jean, and the far-right Frankenparty they’ve assembled from parts of the Wild Rose, Alberta PC, and federal Conservative parties dream of is getting back into power, which they see, somehow, as their birthright.

The only thing they want to build is a big ol’ time machine set to return to some mythical “good old days” that have never existed anywhere but in the hallucinations of people who imagine their birthright to be under attack.

We’ve all seen this movie, or various remakes of it, before. Margaret Thatcher. Ronald Reagan. Ralph Klein. Mike Harris in Ontario. Stephen Harper. Rob Ford in Toronto. Trump/Pence. Some versions are more odious than others. But the very first time you saw this movie was in school. It was called — with apologies to Barbara Coloroso, who wrote a very good book on the subject by the same title in 2002 — The Bullied, The Bully, and The Bystander.

Coloroso has written and spoken extensively on the subject of bullying. In 2011 she wrote:

There are not just two, but three characters in this tragedy: the bully, the bullied and the bystander. There can be no bullying without bullies. But they cannot pull off their cruel deeds without the complicity of bystanders. These not-so-innocent bystanders are the supporting cast who aid and abet the bully through acts of omission and commission. They might stand idly by or look away. They might actively encourage the bully or join in and become one of a bunch of bullies. They might also be afraid to step in for fear of making things worse for the target—or of being the next target themselves.

Right-wing political parties in Canada have a problem: their core supporters are highly committed, donate generously and work tirelessly to Advance the Cause….and the majority of voters think those parties and their core supporters are too extreme. So the parties face a challenge — winning over the moderate majority who are not committed to the Cause and generally distrust those who are.

Parties on the Right frequently respond to the challenge by adopting “What’s wrong with you?” as their communications strategy.

Ralph Klein and his minions excelled at it. In Ralph’s world, people who agreed with Klein were portrayed as “Martha and Henry.” Salt-of-the-earth. Old Stock. Pure laine. The kind of good, honest people who were the very backbone of this province. Severely normal Albertans — a term Klein often used. Anyone who disagreed with Klein, then, was an outsider of some sort. A minority of one. Maybe an Eastern bum or creep. Lazy. Looking for a free ride. Or worse, someone whose judgement, loyalty, and even sanity was suspect. The message was devastatingly effective — go along to get along. Or else.

Or else — what? Well, that doesn’t really matter, does it? The object of the game is power. If a bully can’t co-opt or coerce a bystander into becoming an ally, it’s enough to intimidate the bystander into standing idly by. Either way, the bully wins. The bully only loses when the bystander says, “Stop.”

You are a bystander. What are you going to do?

Coloroso again:

Bullying takes place because some people feel a sense of entitlement, a liberty to exclude and intolerance for differences.

You are a bystander, and I’m guessing it feels as if it takes all your energy these days not to get steamrolled by events beyond your control. I know times have been tough and, even though all the economic indicators clearly show the recession in Alberta is over, it doesn’t feel over yet.

I get how utterly satisfying it can feel to find someone or something to blame for one’s misfortune: the carbon tax. Rachel Notley. Justin Trudeau, or his dead father. Or British Columbia. Or GSAs. Although none of those potential scapegoats stands up to scrutiny and I notice the UCP isn’t saying squat about the only one that might — the Saudis, who flooded the world with oil in a bid to protect their own market share by driving North American producers out of business and you out of a job.

You are a bystander, and it doesn’t matter to me whether you support the NDP, the Alberta Party, or anybody else who may come along, as long as it’s a party that stands for something positive, a party that seeks to dream and build, to tolerate and include.

But if you cast your lot with the UCP, you’re enabling the bullies and the victim of this piece will be Alberta.

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  1. beverly / August 8, 2017 at 6:35 pm / Reply

    Well said. Current limited perspective southern politics is rapidly seeping into the thinking of too many in our beautiful province. Makes me sad to envision what’s coming in the next election.

    We must stand for our beliefs…not fall behind and obey the marching orders of those with far too nartow viewpoints.

    Individuals have power but only when they exercise it. Big business is not the be all and end all. We, the people are.

  2. Sam Gunsch / August 8, 2017 at 10:42 pm / Reply

    Well said. Sad state of affairs.
    Is it too far to say Kenney and Jean and Fildebrandt et al are the anti-Lougheed conservatives.

  3. Ruby Gilmore / August 9, 2017 at 10:49 am / Reply

    I miss you so much.
    Every time a an Alberta Liberal has asked my input, I have responded to beg for your leadership.
    Your voice, was the only one I heard that remotely resembled mine. I was in a time of great struggle, your broadcast helped me feel less alone. Now, in a new time of difficulty, there is no voice that represents mine. I hope Rachel Notley will win again. You know, with facts and stuff. I fear it will be dreadfully uphill.

    • Dave Taylor / August 10, 2017 at 9:48 am / Reply

      Those are kind words, Ruby. Thank you. I’m glad I was able to make a little bit of difference in your life.

  4. Richard Soley / August 10, 2017 at 6:04 am / Reply

    Sorry Dave, you sound like you’re advertising for a job again ,need more tax dollars to round out your penision?
    Your diatribe against the Alberta United Progressive Conservative Party sounds like a reformed drunk who has been born again and sees devil alcohol around every corner!
    What you missed my friend, we were friends before hour departure from radio, what you missed living as you are on Salt Spring is the debt, billions of dollars of debt , debt that will follow our children, and our children’s children!
    By what right do you or your Liberal friends, or our NDP friends spend money. That is not theirs to spend, decades and decades of future debt that somehow is viewed as the current governments right to spend until they have spent so much that it ordains what your grandchildren will have to do!
    That’s right Dave your grandchildren will be paying off debt that was incurred to do the things this current group of politicians view as important, like paying their union buddies more than any other union in Canada , opening in access to the watershed green space to every hero who can buy a dirt bike,quad,off road vehicle, and tear up the countryside at tax payers expence, ! Yes Dave and then to pay for these privileges the NDP will tax the citizens, who already work for six months to pay for the current tax load, tax them some more!
    Dave Canada has 900 million acres of tress, forest,farm land wet land green space, you can look up my numbers, this green space uses up 2.578 tonnes of carbon per acre per year, that’s a multiply factor of what we cause yet instead of getting a check for all the excess Carbon we consume we are being taxed , by your friend Justin and by your friend Notley , great more tax they can waste onparty politics! Speaking of tax shut down all the carbon based power, creating an expensive climate for business, you know the industry that creates jobs, it moves away from the high taxes and goes elsewhere like Saskatchewan!
    Yes Dave your failure as a breadwinner has translated itself into a “socialist” that’s a group of people who can’t or don’t face reality and like Robin Hood take from the rich, ( anyone who has more than you ) and pays thier union friends from the NDP Broadbent foundation imported to run Alberta, yes Dave that’s what you missed ,the debt got your opinion today our children and our grandchildren will pay and pay and pay! For the record Dave and a past friendship you are full of S$%!#!!

    • Dave Taylor / August 10, 2017 at 9:44 am / Reply

      Rick —
      I read your rant, and I will defend to my death your right to hold and express your opinion — as full of tired old conservative cliches as it is. However, you’ve crossed the line with your personal attacks on me and I will not let those stand. Not because you attacked me — God knows, I’ve got a thick enough skin for that after a dozen years as a talk show host and eight more as a politician. But because you’re spreading fake news about me and I thought you were better than that.
      First, retired MLAs in Alberta do not get a pension. Ralph Klein did away with MLA pensions years ago. You should know that. So cut the crap about my needing “more tax dollars to round out your pension.”
      Second, DO tell me where I failed as a breadwinner. I was never unemployed for so much as a single day from the time I entered the workforce — except by my own choice, when I THOUGHT I’d retired (from politics), which lasted until I got talked into going back on the radio. I won’t take all the credit, because Martha worked too — although she stayed at home with the kids when they were preschoolers and did not work full-time until our daughter was 13. You might remember our daughter — you met her. In those preschool years, we were a sitcom family (remember sitcoms — TV situation comedies?) — single income, two children, outrageous mortgage. Yet we got that mortgage paid off in a dozen years, raised two great kids of whom I’m exceedingly proud as adults, saved for our own retirements (since neither one of us had pension plans for great chunks of our working lives), invested prudently, and here we are — retired, kids launched, on the cusp of my 64th birthday. And all along, we paid our taxes and didn’t bitch about it. So you might just want to reconsider.

  5. Arthur Zrill / August 11, 2017 at 6:35 pm / Reply

    Thank you for your letter. I have been a Liberal all my life. That dead father that you wrote about was my MP growing up in Montreal. Having lived in Calgary twice in my lifetime, I do remember Lougheed, who at the time was a breath of fresh air for this province. He was a Progressive Conservative and yet the PCs abandoned their principles both provincially and federally. Although no great fan of Brian Mulroney, there were what were called Red Tories like David Crombie and flora MacDonald among others.
    Is being in the middle such a bad thing when one can be fiscally conservative and socially progressive. Oh, and by the way, good ole Ralph left this province with millions of dollars in infrastructure deficit. Just exchanging one debt for another.

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