What do we know now about Wildrose Premier Jim Prentice? What does his actions, words and behavior tell us about him? This is what I am observing:
He is imperial – he expects his instructions to be followed, for example by Committees of the House over which he has no jurisdiction. He alone rules. He sees his cabinet members as followers not colleagues and we have seen several of them blindsided by his decisions or contradicted.
He has partial hearing – he listens with one ear to the corporate entities that have supported the PC’s for over 40 years and doesn’t listen at all to those who take a rational cold look at Alberta’s situation. He is quick to ensure that people know he cant hear them by repeatedly denying major opportunities for transformative change. This is coupled with the fact that he is partially sighted – he can only see in one direction.
He has visions – he sees where others can and is sure that his visions represent the ‘new reality’ of Alberta. A much smaller, leaner and meaner public service; a more compliant public; a less needy group of people even if they are working poor, single parents, disabled or otherwise in need of our collective support.
He is positioning himself as a saviour without the necessary characteristics of compassion, engagement, healing or ability to inspire. Indeed, he is fast becoming an anti-saviour, having engendered more resentment in a shorter time than any of his PC predecessors.
He is not to blame. Indeed, he positions himself as faultless and his government as having been sent by some divine process to “save Alberta”. The fact that almost all the people around the cabinet table conspired to get us into the situation we now need saving from is ignored in the new rhetoric of “Prenticism”.
He is strategically naïve. He is presenting himself as a strategist, yet his policy positions are imported (cut Government, promote austerity, ensure the rich are happy) – which is no strategy for Alberta. What Alberta needs is honest straight-talk – without looking in a mirror – a systematic, results based approach to budgeting, selective and strategic budget reductions in Government departments, a rethink of health care, strong devolution in education (massively reducing the role of Government and trusting school boards and schools), a new regime for revenue which follows the advice of the Premiers Council on Economic Strategy and a much more effective, transparent and engaging system and process of governance for Alberta. His strategy – import Republicanism and take a shotgun to the budget rather than a snipers rifle – is not a strategy at all.
He is not a leader. Genuine, authentic leaders engage and inspire. He has enraged and created despair amongst those who have spent their life rethinking Alberta and trying to help Alberta communities and Government become the Alberta the world needs to see.
So that is what I think we know about our Wildrose Premier. He does dress well, is articulate and seems to be a stable and mindful person. I am sure he genuinely believes he is doing the right thing. The trouble is, it is not right for Alberta.