You may or may not remember a blog post I wrote in February of last year called Dear Me – if not, I encourage you to click the link and have a read.
I wrote this blog from the perspective of a municipal politician, and well before I made any decision to run for provincial office, though the experience did factor heavily in my eventual choice.
Today’s release of the letter from Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths is at the same time disappointing and validating. I want the “new” PCs to be different from the PCOBC (PC Old PC Boys Club) and it’s disheartening to see the same old kind of behaviour. But I guess it validates my decision to join the Alberta Party and my choice to run for MLA in Innisfail Sylvan Lake .
In case you haven’t heard, Doug Griffiths sent a letter to Linda Sloan, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association President, vigorously disagreeing with the AUMA’s criticisms of the provincial budget. The consequence of this outrageous behaviour, said Doug, is that the government will not attend the upcoming AUMA breakfast. Um… pardon?
Now, to be fair, the Premier’s Chief of Staff Stephen Carter (@carter_ab) says that Sloan “lied maliciously”. I know naught of that. If that’s so, then I’d say a stern letter from the Minister is in order. A challenge. A correction. Perhaps the issue would be best discussed, even, through a televised debate. Let’s talk about this.
But for government to feel justified in… punishing, I guess?… by refusing to attend association functions is ridiculous, in my view. The ministry of Municipal Affairs has a responsibility to look after the needs and well-being of municipalities. This is true whether or not the muni association speaks kindly of government decisions.
Government failure to engage with municipalities is an abdication of responsibility.
There is no opt out clause. The duty of government is not contingent on some requisite amount of deference or homage. Even when people disrespect government, the duty to them remains.
The reason this incident reminds me of my Dear Me blog post is because I was yelled at, in a public meeting, by a cabinet minister, for having the audacity to ask a question. I suppose he perceived it to be a challenge, but what does that matter? I’m an Albertan, a voter, and I asked a question. As a steward of the public trust, he had a responsibility to answer me, and that with civility and respect. Instead I was bullied and shut down. Today’s news reinforces my belief that the current highly politicized governance climate has left earth’s orbit for good.
Dear me indeed.