A long time ago, I promised myself that any vote that I made would reflect three things: the candidate, the party and the leader. For in Canadian Politics, all three of those things are important. In terms of leaders, federally, one needs only think of Trudeau, Mulroney and Pearson to understand the importance of the views of a leader. While Chris Stockwell (MPP), Kent Hehr (MLA), Don Boudria (MP), Sheila Copps (MP), Brian Tobin (MP) and John Nunziata (MP) demonstrate the strength that comes from choosing a strong candidate. Each component of that equation is important to me.
When I joined the Liberal Party of Canada and the Ontario Liberal Party, I kept that same philosophy. If I help someone, it is because I can stand, on balance, behind the candidate, the party and the leader. For me this means a balance should happen. Yet, I find myself – paradoxically – supporting Susan Wright in this upcoming by election in Calgary Elbow.
For me the Paradox is simple: I am supporting Susan Wright alone. As most people know, I am a federal Liberal. Provincially, though, I have difficulties because I cannot stand behind any leader or party. While the Wildrose Party and NDP don’t fit my political tastes, I can easily admit that I vacillate between the PCs, the Liberals and the Alberta Party.
Sometimes, the Alberta Party, Liberals or the PCs say something that I can appreciate. Furthermore, I find myself supporting positions of various MLAs including Dr. Swann, Kent Hehr and NDPer Rachel Notley. Yet, no party or party leader in Alberta gets me to jump up and down. Consequently, I am an independent voice.
However, every so often a candidate comes around that I find myself able to support. For me, today, that is Susan Wright.
Now some might say how can I support her, she is running for the Alberta Liberals. They have not seen government for ninety years. While, this is true, they are not the only ones who have not seen government. The Alberta NDP started off as Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). They started running provincial candidates in Alberta in 1940. They have never formed a government in Alberta. Or take the Alberta Party, they were formed in 1985 and they have yet to form the third party let alone or elect MLAs under their own banner. Or put differently, given that Alberta has had four parties govern it in 20 plus year stretches, no party should ever discount another because they have not formed government recently.
In fact, if one remembers the Peter Lougheed’s story, one should not discount the Liberals. In 1965, he took over a party with no MLA. The Legislature had 60 Social Credit MLA’s, the Liberals had two and there was one Independent. Yet by 1967, the Tories achieved an electoral breakthrough. They elected 6 members and Mr. Lougheed became the Leader of the Official Opposition. In the next election, Mr. Lougheed did what was unimaginable at the time; he formed government. That time around, the Social Credit party fell to 25 seats, while the NDP gained one seat and the Liberals found themselves seatless. Or put differently, for the first 60 years the Alberta PCs were irrelevant but within two elections, they found themselves in Government. Therefore, supporting Susan Wright – a Liberal Candidate, is not crazy.
Especially since she is the right candidate for the job. It is true that Susan Wright is a first generation Calgarian who worked hard to get her education. It is true that she is an energy and regulatory lawyer with over 26 years of experience. It is true that she lives in Calgary Elbow. Bu more importantly for me is that she has been thinking about these issues for a while. She has her blog – susanonthesoapbox.com – which you can read and see. You can see that this is not her first time at or around the rodeo and that her views come with both the strength and independence that an MLA should provide. She can stand up to a caucus and a legislature and make her views known. This is the type of forethought that I require from an MLA and something I need if I support an individual. So this time alone, I am going to forget about the Party and the Leader. This time alone I am going to support the Candidate and that is why I am supporting Susan Wright for Calgary Elbow.