Dear Ms O’Neill:
Congratulations to you and the rest of your committee on finalizing the rules governing the 2017 Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta leadership race. We commend the committee for its commitment to financial disclosure (above and beyond the disclosure requirements of Elections Alberta) and the commitment to youth representation amongst the delegates. There are, however, a number of rules that we find troubling and are looking to see clarified or rectified.
First and foremost, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding the rule forbidding candidates from doing harm to the party or its brand. A number of people within your party have said this precludes any candidate who explicitly campaigns on a promise to unify the Wildrose Party and the PCAA. Others clearly have come to a different conclusion.
In the media, you have stated that because the race does not officially begin until October 1, the rule cannot be clarified until that time. Given that any candidate who declares his or her intention to run before October 1 must comply with the financial disclosure rules established by the committee, should those candidates not also have clarity on the rules governing the unity question?
Our second concern was raised by the PCAA’s interim leader, Ric McIver. He stated to the Calgary Sun that these rules give too much say to “insiders”. We tend to agree with your party leader - the extraordinarily high number of delegates to this convention restricted to current Constituency Association board members, CA presidents, and former MLAs, suggests there will be little opportunity to engage new members and everyday Albertans.
Given the PC party’s longstanding tradition of wide open leadership contests with candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs, it is unfortunate that the party has now chosen to so tightly restrict who can be elected a delegate to choose our next Premier.
As Albertans and Canadians, there is nothing more fundamental than our great democratic inheritance. The PCAA’s electoral record indicates it has been by far and away the political party most apt at hearing the concerns and reflecting the beliefs of everyday Albertans. Restricting the influence of ordinary Albertans in this race would not seem to favour a return to that proud legacy of electoral strength.
We hope that you will consider our concerns and suggestions, and thank you for your commitment and service to our great democratic system.
Prem Singh and John Fitzsimmons
Co-founders, Alberta Can’t Wait