There is an old saying in political circles – at least the ones I was involved in: “never let a good crisis go to waste!”
Yet in Alberta, squandering a crisis is what we are used to. In the great rollercoaster of the 1990’s and the present collapse of oil prices, our beloved and simply wonderful Government (sic) avoid tough choices and hope for a rainy day, while at the same time beating up the public service. Klein did it. Prentice is about to do it.
Yet a crisis is a great opportunity to engage, inform and change. As we saw with the GSA issue, if you want to truly engage Albertans they will get engaged. You may have to sort through a range of different issues, but this place is an engaged place, especially when it comes to social issues. It is also a place with a large number of knowledge workers – give us a bone to chew on (like what are the alternatives to running a government on oil and gas fumes?) and we will come up with creative and imaginative responses. If you ask us to change, we will – look at the transformation of our attitudes in just 25 years to LGBT issues. Klein opposed gay marriage and opposed giving equal rights to LBGT. Bill 10 reflects the will of the people and LBGT now have rights not just for GSA’s but under Alberta’s Bill of Rights. Citizens did this. Remember: governments don't start parades, they get in front of one that is moving.
So if the Government are about to miss an opportunity, loud voices are needed to ensure that there is a parade they need to get in front of. Public Interest Alberta has the knowledge and can provide thought leadership, the Alberta Party and NDP seems to have traction (no idea what is happening to either the Alberta Liberals or the Wilder We Are Still Here (We Hope) Wildrose) – but there is no parade. Time for coordinated, concerted action. Time for us to make something useful out of the crisis.