By Medicine Hat News Opinon on May 19, 2017.
Whether attending town halls or speaking to individual Albertans across the province, I find one constant: exhaustion with this NDP government. There’s really no other way to put it.
The reasons for Alberta’s NDP fatigue have been discussed in the newspapers, the Legislature, the coffee shops and homes in High River to High Level, and all points in between. With new taxes, economic interference, and inefficient government not showing a hint of restraint (to name just a few), it often feels like we are on the receiving end of a government determined to work against our interests and our values.
But, as we approach the halfway mark of this term, every source of frustration seems to get wrapped into one main question, often delivered with a hint of exasperation: “How do we dump the NDP government?” The polls suggest an overwhelming majority of the province feels the same.
I understand the sentiment, but I also believe there is more to the question than just a change of governing parties. We must ask ourselves why this government is faulty and how superior ideas can restore us to a position of advantage and improved quality of life for all Albertans.
So it goes with discussions on uniting the right, a prospect endorsed by many conservatives of all stripes. We in the Wildrose have spoken about uniting the right people under the right ideas. To this, I add a third: we must proceed for the right reasons.
The path towards unity must be walked for a greater reason than simply tossing the NDP and changing the names on government letterhead. I hear time and time again that the ultimate pursuit in all this must be principle, not power. We must desire good, honest governance above simply forming government.
It goes without saying that the pursuit of power at any cost can lead one astray. Power tests character, so the best defense of virtue is to firmly root one’s character in principle.
Even among those who desire unity, there is very little desire to return to what came before — a scandal-ridden government that had lost its way and set us down a path of fiscal irresponsibility. This unity movement must be built on a sound footing of shared values and core ideas that we can stand on, and in this way, we can build something stronger and more effective than previous PC governments the voters rejected.
Unfortunately, the infamously misguided floor crossings of 2014 still cast a shadow over Alberta politics, but history, while not always pleasant, can always be instructive. From that painfully difficult moment, it became clearly understood there could be no more closed doors, backrooms, or secret talks. The input and consent of the people would be essential.
There would be no shortcuts to power. A cynical alignment of the political ambitions of the players involved does not pass the smell test with Albertans, and for good reason.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “A great man is always willing to be little.” I am encouraged that in the talks taking place across Alberta, so many people are willing to be little, and they have become little in service of a bigger, principled cause.
We will harness the greatness of this province when we empower communities through local-decision making. We will restore prosperity when we allow workers and investors to enjoy economic freedom and opportunity. We will handle our fiscal obligations responsibly when we focus on efficiency and innovation in the delivery of core government services.
These conversations about what it means to be a conservative are taking place everywhere. Whatever form unity takes, what matters most is that we continue to have conversations that transcend partisanship or how many seats we can win.
It can be tough to think beyond party politics or loyalties. However, we must always remember that of all the things in this world we can be loyal to, the most important loyalty is to principle. Following this path of integrity, those willing to be little will accomplish great things for Alberta.
Drew Barnes is the Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA representing the Wildrose Party and Shadow Minister of Energy.
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