Deputy Premier of Alberta
Minister of Human Services
Government House Leader
MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud
I'm writing you today because I think you should resign.
Certainly you should quit Premier Alison Redford's cabinet, and maybe her Progressive Conservative caucus too. And, no, this isn't because of those kids who died in government care, the ones whose deaths your government didn't see the need to tell anyone about, but got found out anyway on your watch. I am quite confident we both agree that was an outrage and a tragedy.
So I believe you really meant it when you said you think the government should be held to a higher standard. I think you're serious about wanting to make things safer for children in care, even if I don't think you really believed the bit about how keeping a lot of the deaths secret was about privacy. Actually, I sort of trust you to try to do something about it, and probably to do a better job than most of your so-called colleagues in Ms. Redford's cabinet.
And I certainly don't think you should quit because of that ministerial responsibility thing. No, I figure that's one Parliamentary convention that's pretty well finished in Canada. I don't even blame the Harper Cons down in Ottawa for starting it down the slippery slope, although they sure put the nail in the old ministerial responsibility coffin with that Senate thing, didn't they? Well, whatever. It's deader now than the proverbial mackerel, and I don't think we'll ever see another cabinet minister from any party resign in this country for anything that happened on his or her watch. Those days are gone.
But here's thing, Dave, I think you should quit because you're just better than this.
You've always struck me as an honourable guy -- smart, pretty decent, well spoken. In fact, I think you're the kind of guy who would never be a Conservative of any stripe in almost any other province in Canada. You could certainly be a Liberal, or a cautious New Democrat, in most places. I thought you were a pretty good candidate back in the day, when you ran for the premier's job. And you were probably a great lawyer, too, the kind who could be counted on to give good advice, even if there was no money in it for you. Advice like this: sometimes it's better to quit while you still have your reputation intact.
So that's why I’m writing you this letter. By the way, I’m writing it as a sort-of open letter, because I figure if I just threw it in the mail like I do my usual complaints to Finance Minister Doug Horner, who's the MLA for the riding I live in, it would likely never get past your watchers from the Public Affairs Bureau and the premier's office. So I wouldn’t even get the smarmy and hypocritical replies I'm used to. Instead, I thought I'd just write it up in my blog, like, so you'd be more likely to see it.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, you're better than this, Dave! I heard you argued pretty hard in cabinet about those dumb labour laws one of Tom Lukaszuk's pals scratched out on a napkin one night in a bar or wherever -- you know, the ones that makes it illegal for a union to strike in Alberta if it has any chance of winning, and that throw due process, collective bargaining, any appearance of fairness and freedom of speech to the four winds.
I'm sure that's because you're the kind of guy who thinks it's just not right for a government to pass a law it knows is unconstitutional, just because it can. And I'm sure you didn’t approve of giving taxpayers' hard-earned dollars away to lawyers to defend a law that you know can’t stand a court challenge here in Alberta. And you're, like, a QC. Plus, I'll bet it was also because you know that, never mind what the courts say, the collective bargaining system works pretty well, and that messing with it can have serious unintended consequences down the pike, even if Mr. Lukaszuk, the premier's wrecking ball, is too arrogant to figure that out.
What's more, I bet you've been getting the same kind of calls from public employees that your caucus mates from the countryside have been getting visits from -- you know, the PC MLAs who edged out the Wildrose candidate by a hundred or so votes, who are hearing from a lot of "progressive" voters they'll vote Wildrose just to get rid of Ms. Redford and the rest of you. And it's not just the union members who are in an uproar, I hear -- it's their bosses too, and their bosses, and their bosses' bosses…
And you've been around politics, like, pretty much forever, so you probably have a good sense of when the wind is shifting. It's a wonder the premier can't figure that out. She's a smart person and a good lawyer too. Maybe it's because she hasn't been around as long as you -- or almost anyone else in the Legislature. Or maybe it's just those advisors of hers. But the thing is, when this is all over, they can all go back to Ontario and work at Queen's Park. A lot of Alberta Tory MLAs, though? They're just going to be screwed, blued and tattooed.
I also figure you argued with the brainiacs who were pushing for this stuff because, like me and most Albertans, you really believe in the values in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You know it's not right to fine some guy $500 bucks every time he stands up to celebrate knocking over all the pins at the bowling alley, if you know what I mean.
And, Dave, I read those reviews you're always writing up on TripAdvisor. They're really good! You could write a travel blog! I know I'd read it. And that tells me that, these days, you'd really rather be anywhere but here, even in a draughty old hotel in Yorkshire. Think about the reasons.
So you should quit before you feel you have to start lying about what you do for a living when you meet the other guests in one of those cozy little B&Bs on Salt Spring Island. Half of them are from Alberta anyway, you know? My late dad told me a man's reputation is everything. And I'm sure that matters to you. So forgive me if I'm repeating myself, but you should quit, Dave, right now, while you still have a reputation to save!
Now, look, I know you want to be a judge. And in your shoes, I'd want to be a judge too. I mean, who could blame us, eh? All rise! But sometimes people have to make sacrifices for their principles and I say this is one of those times. I mean, how are you going to feel if you hang in there till Alison recommends you to Steve Harper, and Steve follows through and makes you a judge, and an open-and-shut freedom-of-speech case comes up before you? You have to know that people are going to notice, even the ones that call you M'Lord to your face.
So, yeah, it'll be hard to do. I know that. But it'll be the right thing. And you will feel better, as soon as you've done it. I'm just saying, Dave, you're better than this.
Respectfully, your friend,
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.
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