We are in the midst of a provincial election and I find myself in a quandary of who to vote for. This is an essential question and served as a catalyst for examining the issues. The concerns that emerged are the inability of politicians to stop using catch phrases, stop making illogical promises, and stop thinking all the electorate do not get it.
Danielle Smith, the leader of the Wildrose Alliance, claimed her party, if they formed the government, would act as servant-leaders. Her logic is that they would serve the interests of the people of Alberta. Robert Greenleaf proposed the ultimate test of servant-leadership is the growth of those most marginalized within an organization or society. What would Ms. Smith do for those who have the least, live on the street, are undereducated, and lack access to supports they require to grow as people? Several days later she promised, when a surplus budget was achieved, her government would pay each Albertan $400/year. What does that do for those who are most needy? I submit, if the roughly $1.2 billion that amounts to was used to upgrade, not close, schools in settings with the greatest need and further transformed them into community hubs to provide a broad range of social, health, and educational supports for people in those communities, there would be money left. For those living on the streets, allocate resources to responsible charities to help people in need. There would still be money left. When a similar enticement was sent out some years ago, I turned it over to a charity but not everyone is able or willing to do that. I believe governments, modeling true servant-leadership, have mechanisms to effectively develop and distribute resources. Moreover, I can only think of a handful of politicians who deserve the label of servant-leaders. Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire and former Conservative MP Doug Roche, come to mind. Surely, Ms. Smith is not suggesting she and her party fit that mold?
Premier Alison Redford made promises, as well. She seems to have fallen out of favour with some media people and is taking a bit of a hit. My concerns are about building a number of schools and refurbishing others. Besides asking where the money will come from, what happened to the concept of transformative education? That term suggests the possibility of real conversations about public education happening at and with the grassroots in this province. Are politicians not aware of a growing trend towards alternative, private, and home school decisions made by families in this province? It seems to go unnoticed by politicians and bureaucrats alike. What does this trend mean to the future of public education? This question is long overdue; and we need to consider it and develop real, meaningful dialogue around it. If we consider the increasing usage of technology in our lives, do schools have to be buildings or is that, in some cases, an outmoded way of thinking? Surely, Ms. Redford and her party do not think they are promising anything transformative in public education? Keep in mind, there are other areas requiring transformation. What would transformation of education, health care, social services, and environmental stewardship look like in this province?
The most likely candidates for the Premier’s office make promises, use catch phrases, and will spend money and resources in ways that perpetuate the status quo. Both are nominally politically conservative, but what are they trying to conserve? I want to conserve things, too—the environment, public education, affordable, accessible health care, and a social support system working for all citizens of Alberta. This conservation assumes a different view of community, leadership, conversation, and resource development. No politician or media shill has the right to say they speak for all Albertans until they have spoken to all Albertans. When did that happen? Will it ever happen?