how about ‘make politics relevant?’

In his column yesterday, Graham Thomson wrote about a plan proposed by the Alberta Federation of Labour to forge a “United Alternative” between the Alberta Liberals and NDP to battle the 37-year old Progressive Conservative regime in Alberta. A friendly reader emailed me a copy of the AFL memo proposing this a couple weeks ago, so I wasn’t surprised when it hit the mainstream media.

The AFL plan proposes that:

1) The Liberals, NDP and Greens would “divvy up” all Alberta ridings and agree not to run candidates against each other.

2) The parties would maintain their autonomy and run their own election campaigns but would agree on a list of “core priorities to act upon if they are able to form a government after the next election.”

3) If they form government, the parties would look at major electoral reform, possibly adopting a system of proportional representation for future elections where political parties would receive a percentage of seats based on their percentage of votes.

If you’re interested in a plan that theoretically might help the currently existing opposition parties win a handful of more seats in Edmonton, this plan is for you. I’m interested in a plan that will make politics relevant to people, which this plan doesn’t accomplish. Without relevant politics, it doesn’t really matter who has how many seats, and it is clear that the three current parties in the Alberta Legislature aren’t making politics relevant to Albertans.

With 42% voter turnout, it is clear that no candidate, MLA, or political party successfully engaged Albertans in the last election. This is what needs to be changed. As long as parties are more interested in winning seats than actually accomplishing good, I can hardly see anyone getting excited about electoral democracy. This is why I was interested to hear the work that Calgary-Mountain View MLA David Swann has been doing since the election.

Calgary Liberal MLA David Swann has been quietly meeting with MLAs and other interested people about starting a new party based on green politics, accountability and democratic reform.

Swann has held two meetings in Calgary over the past months that have attracted around 25 to 30 people, mostly Liberal and NDP supporters and some Greens, including rural land activist and Green candidate Joe Anglin. Swann has also held individual meetings with other interested people.

The purpose, for now, is to simply start a discussion among those who feel left out of the process of governance.

“How do we re-engage the citizens of Alberta?” Swann asked. “If the issues with the citizens of Alberta are not being reflected in either of the mainstream opposition parties, then we have to talk about the possibility of forming a new party. “

Swann said he plans to meet with former Reform Party leader Preston Manning to talk about his experiences starting a new party and about green politics and democratic accountability, favourite issues of Manning’s.

Now this sounds more like a plan to me.

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