let the leaders speak their minds

Amid promises of civility and decorum, provincial election mudslinging has begun and the media is crying foul. While Ellen and Leno jest about Danielle Smith’s underwire-tire adventure (those hubcaps were real and they were spectacular), we Albertans have moved on and are waiting for real discussion to begin.

The push-up incident is crowded out by the push-poll concern, for instance, as Alison Redford addressed significant criticism this week for the Tories’ push-polling telephone calls with specific negative messaging for people indicating support for the Wildrose – sort of a survey scuttlebutt tactic, ringing rather reminiscent of the gossip party-line.

There are also others at the top in addition to Redford and Smith. Former Hinton mayor Glenn Taylor, who’s been the Alberta Party leader since June, perhaps has the most work ahead of him. I discovered his blog this week with a promising and optimistic title, “Doing Politics Differently.” But alas, the last post was upon his inauguration, and now his blog (doingitdifferently.blogspot.com) is abandoned “under construction.” Typically sums up politics, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, Alberta Liberal leader Raj Sherman might need to collect bottles to raise campaign funds for the election after “cutting a cheque” to pay back his portion for his work on the “do nothing committee.” It’s always been disconcerting to me when a politician impetuously cuts a cheque for tens of thousands of dollars. How much of it came from my last payroll slip?

Brian Mason is the not-quite-there-but-I’ll-promise-you-the-world-at-these-tax-rates man. I still think NDP-ers should simply promise every citizen a trip to Disneyland. Their fiscal platform won’t get them elected but in the absence of attaining office at least people will wildly love them.

All joking aside, these people are a cut above, who have achieved more than most, and risen to places of leadership that we should respect despite our political leanings. They press through intense pressure of public life because of their tenacity and faith in something larger than themselves. Want to hear about some heros?

Alison Redford, who once worked with Nelson Mandela, last fall participated in a televised PC leadership debate hours after the tragic death of her mom. Danielle Smith worked her way through university, inspired by Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher, as well as her father who taught her about some of their Ukrainian forbearers’ adversity under Stalin’s rule.

Brian Mason’s consistent messaging on behalf of seniors and affordable social programs has been a municipal and provincial constant for years. His lack of controversy is simply a testament. Raj Sherman, who learned English upon his arrival in Canada, was a victim of bullying, discrimination and beatings as a youth by our fellow countrymen. I sadly honour that experience. Glenn Taylor, member of a Canadian military family, has represented rural Alberta through esteemed involvement in multiple regulatory and governance positions.

I am interested in seeing this election run its course and I anticipate criticism. Honestly, how can leaders operate under this type of scrutiny without openly chiding opponents? Frankly, the media’s uber-sensitivity is tiresome.

“Ooooh! She said she didn’t ‘like’ us! How vicious!”

Vicious? Really? While I am opposed to outright character defamation, I am nonetheless interested in what these individuals think about each other’s positions. Blunt, unfettered statements are preferred over soft-peddled mumblings. Let them talk and let us listen, consider their views, determine ours and vote accordingly.

(Out of respect for democracy and the sacrifices made for the privilege to vote, Dee-Ann Schwanke urges all Albertans to pay attention and cast their ballot on April 23.)


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