The Alberta Blue Committee
Over the course of the past few years a number of prominent next generation Albertans have had conversations about the need for Alberta to launch an Alberta Blue Committee. The concept came from a federal group who called themselves the Blue Committee.
The Blue Committee was a loosely knit group of (mostly) federal Progressive Conservatives that worked within that party in order to push it to the political right – pushing balanced budgets, lower taxes and strong families. During the mid to late 1990s however, this group became heavily involved in the federal “Unite the Right” debate. They attempted to recruit Stephen Harper to run for the leadership of the federal PC Party against Joe Clark. They pushed for cooperation at the riding level and ultimately played an important role in creating the Canadian Alliance. Most of the members of the Blue Committee continue to play important roles in national politics… indeed, some of them are now Members of Parliament and Ministers.
But back to Alberta. For some time now a group of Albertans – many of whom are now on the Steering Committee of the Alberta Blue Committee – have talked about forming such a group here. Until recently, the focus of our discussions was how to keep the PC Party focused on fiscal and social responsibility. But we never got around to forming a group, and many of us pushed ahead in ways we felt best. Some went to work with the Wildrose Party. Some continued to work within the PC Party. Some are or went politically neutral.
The resignation of Ed Stelmach was a rather surprising catalyst for many of us to start rethinking about the direction of Alberta Politics. As a group, we have some disagreements about how to promote some of our Founding Principles. Some of us are bullish on the Wildrose Party. Others continue to believe in the Alberta Progressive Conservatives. And some of us are on the sidelines.
But we all agree that now is the right time to start talking about some critical issues facing the province – including the need for those of us on the political right to have one political home.
The Alberta Blue Committee (ABC) is established to promote the following four Founding Principles:
- Alberta needs a single right of centre political alternative.
- Alberta should balance the budget and keep taxes low through reductions in spending and improvements in service delivery.
- Alberta’s resource sector is the most ethical, innovative and clean in the world.
- Alberta needs strong families working and living in vibrant communities.
What Alberta Needs Next
Alberta’s political scene has been thrown into political turmoil by the resignation of the earnest and honest Ed Stelmach.
Like most, I knew our soon to be former premier to be a most personable and approachable man who believed in public service and our great province.
But turmoil, as it often does, creates opportunity.
And there is now an opportunity for the next leader of the PC party to do three great things.
First, bring all conservatives back into one home.
A new leader (who should be chosen by June) should spend his first couple months working on a formal or informal rapproachment with the credible elements within the Wildrose Alliance party.
This must be done based on a strong policy foundation, as well as contain key political elements such as grassroots reform and changing the name of the PC party to the Conservative Party of Alberta.
If rappoachment is successful, the election should be delayed to fall 2012.
If not, the election should be held in the fall of 2011 or spring of 2012.
Preparations for an election should proceed alongside efforts at rapproachment.
This is what Stephen Harper did in late 2004 to create the Conservative Party of Canada with Peter MacKay.
Second the province needs to get its spending under control.
On a per capita basis, Alberta spends $5 billion more than the average Canadian province and almost $10 billion more than Ontario.
We’ve blown more than half of the provincial savings account in the past couple of years and we are still running deficits.
Alberta has a spending problem — nay, an addiction.
This must end.
Baseline spending must immediately be reduced by $5 billion and I would push for another $5 billion over the mandate to pay for the agenda outlined below.
This will be hard.
But doing the right thing is rarely easy. Ralph Klein, Jim Dinning and Ed Stelmach did it in the early ’90s.
We can do it now.
Alberta agenda needed
Third, the province needs an agenda for the future — an Alberta Agenda.
That means defending Alberta’s interest in the great Canadian federation and abroad.
That means promoting our natural resources as the most ethical, most innovative and most environmentally sensitive in the world.
And that means focusing our public policy on families — a Families First agenda for Alberta.
Families First means creating a formal policy filter so all policies are viewed through the lens of how it impacts families.
It means giving moms and dads the maximum flexibility in their child-care choices by putting more money in the hands of families with young children.
It means doing the same for those caring for ageing parents.
And for those in the middle it means maximizing choice in education by letting money follow the student and continuing our legacy of research.
The last generation of Alberta politicians did some great things — from balancing the budget to flattening and lowering our taxes.
It is time for the next generation to seize this legacy and bring Alberta back to greatness.