An update appears mid-post in Italics.
It has been a very interesting week.
At the end of the work day on Friday, Alberta Party President Pat Cochrane sent out a message to people who subscribe to emails from the party (although the subject line indicates it was intended for members).
To all the members who received this message yesterday and were unaware of my departure, this message is exactly what needed to be said. They would feel reassured that their party stands for something, and abhors sex crimes committed on youth. They would even feel the party wants to stand up for victims of such crimes. This is a very good thing, and is exactly what those members should feel.
However, to all those who were aware of my post yesterday, this message rings a little hollow. They would be aware of the fact that I departed from the party because the party did not take a stand as their first reaction. They would be aware of many of the messages of support I received on social media. They might not be aware of the nearly dozen phone calls and dozen more private messages I received yesterday providing support for my departure and even considering it themselves, but they might suspect I would have had those conversations yesterday. And unless they live in Highwood, they would likely not be aware that the radio picked up the story yesterday, too.
They would see this new email as exactly the right message, issued far too late, to the wrong people. It should have been the first response, to stand up for victims, to take a stand as a party, and to reassure members and Albertans that the Alberta Party is a truly principled party who fights for those who need a hand. It should have been sent to the media, so that they could have helped spread the word that the Alberta Party is strong. By being one more voice to stand up for victims, perhaps the silent victims would feel a bit more confident in reporting crimes perpetrated on them, as it seems such crimes are one area of weakness for our justice system.
But it wasn't.
It was a response sent almost 45 hours after the original response which was, despite my recommendations and advisement, woefully inadequate. It was a response sent 20 hours after the phone call conversation I had with the same Pat Cochrane who wrote the response; a conversation in which I was told to "trust the people in the party making the decision, because they know more than you do" (obviously oblivious to the implications it had on me and other members professionally). It was a response sent 8 hours after my public departure, with a litany of people expressing their support and concern over the party's actions. It was reactive once more.
There are many people who have seen this whole exchange, and it has shaken their faith in the party. I know, because I've had conversations with many of them in the past 24 hours. I'm sorry your faith is shaken, but I understand. There may still be hope for the party, but many of you are absolutely right, they must get back to their grassroots in order for that hope to be realized. I encourage you to keep on fighting for prosperity, fiscal and social responsibility, sustainability, democracy and quality of life, and if you think the Alberta Party can make that happen, stick with it.
What I've seen this week has shown me the party hasn't the capacity in its current form to do it. But I'll still be fighting for those principles. So for those who live in Highwood, I have a message for you.
I'm not going anywhere. I'm here for you. And I'll be stronger than ever.
The Alberta Party is no longer my political home. This is a very disappointing revelation for me, however it's not a decision I made.
The Alberta Party did.
It did when it stopped taking a stand as a party. It did when it's prominent members stopped walking the walk and talking the talk. But most disappointingly, it did when it minimized sex crimes committed on youth.
Two former members and candidates have now been charged recently with crimes of a sexual predatory nature with youth. With Troy Millington, the Alberta Party and Leader immediately distanced themselves from him, condemned such crimes (properly, without prematurely passing judgement on Troy), and put their faith in the rule of law. With Terrence Lo, there was no distancing, no condemnation, and they barely made a statement in support of the law.
How can a party with multiple such allegations not immediately and dramatically distance themselves from it and condemn the bejeezus out of it? When it becomes a party that is not willing to stand up for itself, how can it possibly be counted on to stand up for Albertans?
EDIT: When I made my courtesy phone call to inform the party of my departure, I was told that I should trust the media managers with the party who are privy to additional sensitive information. Under no circumstances should sensitive information ever be so sensitive as to trump the condemnation of sex crimes committed on youth.
If I were the father of a child that was victimized, reading that release would have left me bewildered. Does the Alberta Party not care? Do they even believe my child was victimized? How can two people in their midst get charged, and they be so deliberately indifferent? Heck, why would they even bother sending a release if they weren't going to say anything at all?
DIG (Do It Green) sent out a release distancing themselves from him, condemning sexual crimes, and even offering support to victims. That's how you do a release following this type of heinous crime.
Now I know perfectly well that the Alberta Party could never have predicted that Troy nor Terry could have been inclined to such alleged activities. I have worked with them both, and it's not like they wore a tattoo on their foreheads indicating such proclivities; they were friendly amicable fellows like the vast majority of people I work with. I also know that the Alberta Party can't presume they're guilty, because that would not be respecting the rule of law. But their response amounts to what some of my students would say: "meh, whatever".
For me it was the last straw. I've become the squeaky wheel within the Alberta Party of late. I've sent a couple of strongly worded messages indicating how I dislike how the party has become a "party of one", how prominent members in the party have left their collaborative mindset and started using "gotcha" moments that are the main tool in the Wildrose toolbox, and how poorly organized and potentially undemocratic some of their activities behind the scenes have been. After meeting with some Board members, I had high hopes that the new Board would get their poop in a group, and I would finally start seeing some messaging coming from the party itself. I had high hopes that I would hear about a plan for presenting and adopting the proposed policies many people including myself worked on that have been collecting dust for 9 months. I had high hopes that the party would return to it's roots of "doing politics differently". I was wrong.
For the guy who has been driving across Alberta with the Alberta Party magnets on his car for the past couple of years, this is a pretty big blow. In my last blog I told you that "The Alberta Party is different. Let me prove it to you." I'm sorry I let you down.
But I can assure you I didn't waste my time.
I helped write the amendments to Bill 5 last year that protected the privacy of those who work in education and in municipal governments. I helped write countless policies that balanced fiscal with social responsibility. I blogged and wrote reams of press releases that tried to bring civility back to political discourse. I got people in Highwood thinking that perhaps there really was a better way, that balance could actually be achieved, and that common sense could make its way into the legislature. And in many cases, it worked.
But as a teacher who works with youth on a daily basis, being indifferent to sex crimes regarding youth is the last straw. I'm done. I'm politically homeless once more.
How deeply, deeply disappointing.