There an economic, environmental and social disaster that has been around for a long time in rural Alberta. Part of it due to successive provincial government that have been beholden to the oil and gas industry for decades. So we get totally inadequate ...
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There an economic, environmental and social disaster that has been around for a long time in rural Alberta. Part of it due to successive provincial government that have been beholden to the oil and gas industry for decades. 

So we get totally inadequate attention paid to wellsite clean up and reclamation. That is a multi-billion (yes with a "B" dollar complex problem that gets ignored. The obligations get kicked down the road as the cost climb and the debacle turns into a disaster.

The other problem is simpler, more current and easier to resolve in the short term, if there is political will. That is the outstanding taxes and levies owed to rural municipal government by the energy sector.  It is now in the hundreds of millions of dollars. 

With record production levels, and record corporate profits, there is no excuse that any company has not paid up their arrears in full.  If they can't make these payments, why are we even allowing them to continue operating and exploiting our natural resources?

The link is to a commentary of mine on this issues and incidents around local government taxes.  It is election time so the UCP is finally paying some attention to this issue.  That's because it is causing serious tension in their rural voter base. 

This link is also to my new citizenship engagement initiative called Citizenship Matters. This is where we work towards creating a community to become more effectively engaged and assertive citizens. 

If you a moderate of progressive Albertans that wants to change politics, policy, programs, and processes about how we are governed, Citizenship Matters is for you.

If you are already involved in your community as a volunteer, a leader, or an advocate, Citizenship Matters is  for you.  

You can start getting involved by subscribing to Citizenship Matters in this link.




We are all starting to come to grips with the importance of the May Alberta election.  According to polls, it is very difficult to say now if the UCP or the NDP will get re-elected.

That result is in our hands as citizens.  The collective "WE" will decide but will the results be conclusive given the regional divisions in Alberta, and the final decision will be determined by a few Calgary constituencies.


That voting decision making is a very personal activity and fraught with complexity and confusion and it takes time and effort to do it well.

However, for others, like dedicated partisans, the voting decision is simple, stick with your Tribe because winning is power and getting power for your side is the purpose of elections.

For many of us, "we have issues." By that I mean we will be doing more analysis as we consider our ballot choices. 

Some will be considering HOW to vote which usually means a "strategic vote" where the motivation is to vote against the party or leaders perceived to be the most dangerous if given power.  Cynics call this the least worst decision process.

Others will vote based on WHO to vote for.  This is mostly determined by personal perceptions of the Leaders.  Given how centralized political power is in parties and caucuses, on the leader, that is an important consideration too.

Some other WHO voters will decide based on the local candidates and their connection to the constituency and local issues.  That is often no more than a decision based on name recognition.  Hardly a sound way to select a lawmaker, but a very common practice by so-called slacktivist citizens.


And then there are the rest of us.  We are the WHAT voters.  We are issues-based voters. Sometimes our voting motivation is focused on a single issue, or a group of related policy issues like healthcare, economy, education, or the environment.

We are the more nuanced and complex voters.  We are too difficult for political parties and election platform advisors to connect with in the typical simplistic mass-messaging campaigning methods. However some of us WHAT voters are unwittingly on party lists.  That is because we answered an online survey, gave out email and postal code in order to download something of interest, or were part of some other email harvesting techniques. 

As a result, there are political parties that have information on you and a sense of what is important to us.  Modern technology enables the parties to micro-target us with relevant, and they hope, resonant key messages from their election platforms.  If that is you, expect emails and requests for donations.


There is not much point, in a four week election campaign, for political parties to try and get the undecided and indifferent citizens keen on doing the duty and showing up to voter. The election No-Shows are usually the largest group of citizens at election time. A sad indictment of the robustness of our democracy and our personal failings as citizens.

Then there are the WHAT voters who are motivated to cast their votes based on specific issue concerns. They too are largely overlooked and ignored by the political parties at election time. And that is because the are seen mostly as a time-sucking, complicating, nuisance, especially by local candidates.


Issues-based WHAT voters usually want to deal with matters fraught with complexities. There is some wisdom in the observations made many years ago by former Prime Minister Kim Campbell when she observed that elections are not the time to deal with complex issues.

She was ridiculed for this comment but time has proven her to be insightful as well as inciteful.  So if we want our issues dealt with in the campaign, we WHAT voters must do the outreach and bring our issues and concerns to the attention of the parties in the campaign. 

Don’t be discouraged by the candidates quick handshake as they stare past you at someone more important to them, or at a staffer that they want to come over and rescue them from you. Stand your ground, make your point, and follow up with an email to reinforce your message.

Quite frankly, do not expect to have much impact in changing anything during an election campaign. The platforms are set and the party discipline will not allow any candidate to get off message. You will get a canned campaign response, if you get anything at all. 

But that inadequate response doesn't mean you should not still be putting your issues and concerns in front of your local candidates. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME CONNECTING WITH THE PARTY OR THE LEADERS.  CONCENTRATE ON LOCAL CANDIDATES. One of them will be elected and that is when you can reach out again.  you can be more effective in getting attention on your issues after the election. Best use the election time to figure out and focus on your issues and concerns.


Citizenship Matters is a citizenship based initiative that is more about the post-election outreach not the election the campaigning time. That is when the WHAT voters really need to get to go to work and set out to have impact and influence on the newly elected government.

As a friend of mine has sardonically observed “no matter who you vote for the government always gets in.”  The point is, in a democracy, it is still a government by the people, unless of course the people fail or neglect to keep it that way through effectively engaged activated citizenship.



Are you tired of the overheated right versus left, political rhetoric?  Are you weary of the partisan blame game?  Are you concerned about the rise of misinformation and disinformation spreading throughout our society? 

Are you worried about political polarisation that is dividing us and leaving a trail of debris in our economy, our environment, ourselves and many of our fellow citizens? 

Do you have a nagging, or even gut-wrenching, feeling that there are people and groups who are committed to separating Alberta from Canada and intent on replacing our democracy with an autocracy?  As a citizen of Alberta, are you unsatisfied with the direction of our province?  

If so, we must ask ourselves, IF NOT THIS, THEN WHAT? This is the  core political question for Albertans in these volatile, uncertain, complex times.  This question is especially significant given the fundamental and consequential choices we will be making as voters in this election. 


An election is a serious time for Albertans to take up our roles and responsibilities by becoming engaged and participating citizens. It is time for those of us with the capacity, skills, and talents to apply ourselves, to show up, speak up, stand up and even act up with a renewed sense of civic purpose.  It is time to use our energy, capabilities, skills and many talents to exert the power of our citizenship and press for the changes we want to see.

While this core question provides a framework to uncover and consider the problems, it does little  to provide us with any doable solutions.  That takes a personal commitment to the work of participatory citizenship. 

The work is the go-forward mission for those of us ready, willing and able to move into the next stage of Reboot Alberta. We, those of us who are able, will assist the majority of like-minded individuals to become more engaged in purposeful and political activities.  

The stakes are high.  Our democracy is in danger. We must become effectively engaged politically if we are to protect, promote, preserve and improve our democracy.  We must use the power of citizenship to defeat ideological extremists, at both ends of the political spectrum.  We must expose and depose the authoritarian tyrants in our midst who are trying to take control of our province and weaken our democratic institutions.


It is time for some of us in the Reboot Alberta Group, to take our political participation to a different level.  It’s time to transition from passive Likes and Retweet levels of involvement.  We must move into an engaged, active, and purposeful community approach that is committed to conceiving and co-creating a better Alberta.

That better Alberta is more economically viable, socially just, environmentally responsible, and politically representative.


The Reboot Alberta Facebook Group has been a place for politically moderate and conscientious citizens.  We are citizens who want to help raise awareness, share ideas and information on public policy issues, government programs, policy and even politics.  As a result, we have been able to get more clarity about where we are these days as a province where volatility, uncertainty and ambiguity is “normal.”

There is broad consensus amongst us, given our answer to what is wrong with the direction Alberta is heading. We are well aware of the current deficiencies in so much of being in Alberta.  When we ask ourselves,  If not THIS, then WHAT?We can all make a list of the “THIS” things in present day Alberta that we need to change.


This focus on what needs to be changed is not new. Albertans have, as pluralist people, been focused for a number of years  on the “IF NOT” aspect of the question.  Ever since the Klein days many of us, as citizens not partisans, have been actively seeking better political leadership.  We did this by rejecting various ideologically insufficient alternatives we were offered by the long reigning, now defunct, Progressive Conservative Party.

For example, over the years, many non-partisan citizens bought Progressive Conservative party memberships to participate in the selection of the party leaders.  That’s an example of the activated and engaged individual citizenship action we are speaking about as Rebooters.

What emerged was an act of engaged citizenship because individuals realised that the change of leadership of a party in power, was also selecting the next Premier of Alberta. More recently, many independent citizens realised that the UCP leadership outcome was too serious a matter to leave to the party members alone.  So they purchased UCP memberships, if only to have a say in who would become the next Premier of Alberta.


 The “What” is the uncertainty in our core question.  This part of the question is especially important at this election time given our divided and polarised political reality.  The What part of the question is personal to We the Citizens as voters.  It is where your choices, based on your concerns, will have consequences for all of us.  What issues, policy, perceptions will drive and determine the choices of Albertans as we collectively decide how to mark our ballot?  Such choices must be made soon because we have  a deadline. Election day is May 29th.  This is now IMPORTANT AND URGENT.


The What part of the question, in the emerging more engaged Reboot Community, will not be focused very much on helping you decide how to mark your ballot.  We will be citizens who are preparing for a more effective engaged active personal citizenship in the post-election period. We will be organising for taking more direct action approaches to more effective personal and collectively engaged citizens pressing for change through political, but not just partisan, means.

We will consider the choices, changes, and alternatives for Alberta and Albertans, that we can influence that are actually within our control.  We will focus on solutions that we can design and deploy through democratic processes.  After the election will take a longer term future-forward view of issues and seek solutions that go beyond the ballot box focus of the current election cycle.  

We will also consider the external pressures we will have imposed on us, by geopolitical and other forces.  We will accept  that we can’t control those external forces but we will press for changes where we can and must move to mitigate and learn to adapt to the external consequences and impacts.


The next phase of Reboot Alberta will not be for everyone.  The Reboot Alberta Facebook Group will continue to raise awareness and share reliable and relatable information.  But there will be another community based platform for those Reboot-minded citizens who want to expand their role and responsibility as a citizen into more direct political action.  

We are not talking about marching and waving placards, or running around with our collective hair on fire as much as that is often fun. Nor are we about signing meaningless petitions or feeding rage machines by spreading  misinformation.

This Citizenship Matter initiative will not be  for everyone. We will be looking for people with a passion for Alberta, experienced in service to others, and the capacity to contribute time, talent and other resources.  It will be for those citizens who want to be involved and who aspire to exert personal positive impact on those areas of concern and purpose towards co-creating a better next Alberta.

We are now searching out venues and will be convening gatherings around issues, policies, and programs. Specific working groups will design and deploy the work. Yes, there will be work. Democracy  takes work.  I promise it will be frustrating at times, but also satisfying when we see that we are making constructive and positive changes in how we are governed.

We will  be looking at how to be effectively engaged and how to take direct action on those citizenship matters that drive the desires of the various community members.  We are in fact calling this parallel community- inspired platform Citizenship Matters.  Citizenship Matters because citizenship participation in political processes and decisions are the only way we have, as a society, to move  away from the adversarial, divisive and polarised political culture we Albertans have fallen into.  

Citizenship Matters are all those things about being Albertan that really matter to the majority of independent, critical-thinking citizens, who are not politically aligned but also not politically disengaged. They are curious and concerned about things that matter, considering what do we need and what do we want as Albertans for Albertans 

The Citizenship Matters mindset will be to clearly understand a citizen’s chosen focus area and the problems they face, personally, in their community or provincially. We will be committed to solution finding through community leadership, acting as citizenship trustees of our democracy.  We will not wait for the political establishment to act and then merely respond complacently or complicitly where and when it matters to our Citizenship.

We will use the power of our citizenship to look for solutions that work within the power levers of our democracy and our system of government.  We will apply 21st century tools that include but go beyond the ballot box. 

In the beginning we will be starting small, but that does not mean we will be going slowly nor without a defined purpose.  We will look to  some focus area we know something about, where we are in the issue, and where there is some clarity about what constitutes a preferred future.   


Many of us have all but forgotten that public participation through political engagement is some of the most meaningful and impactful ways we can create much-needed change.  Citizenship Matters will be a community approach to citizen engagement to help create change in what concerns you. 

That change may be getting your disabled child the school support they need or finding safe and affordable long-term care for a frail parent.  Do you have a community-based concern you want to see fixed like policing reform and public safety?  Perhaps energy transition and climate change issues are some of your big issues. Of course there are always enormous challenges in our healthcare systems. 

Too many of us are sitting on the political sidelines.  Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the range and complexity of the issues and challenges we are facing. Others feel powerless because they don’t understand how to leverage our democratic and civic systems.  Many avoid political participation because they see it as vile, nasty and corrupt. 

Citizenship Matters will help independent, critical-thinking, and passionate Albertans become more effective and active citizens.  Are you ready, willing, and able to  step up your efforts to seek solutions we need now and for future generations of Albertans? Join us.  Whatever your passion, if you want to press for change using the power of your citizenship to design and define the next Alberta - Join Us. 



In a previous post we challenged you to contemplate what worries you and what your public policy, government programs or democratic processes are on your mind .  We provided a 4H Framework Tool to focus and guide you through that analytical process. 

This decision making will come earlier for some and more challenging for others. What is keeping you up at night is usually more personal and family based. We don’t often see those life-challenges in political terms, but we can, and perhaps we should, depending of course on the nature of the problems.

Then there are the community-based concerns,  What is happening in your networks of friends, work, and activities from leisure to working situations that is impacting the  life of your and your family.  These are often matters of local government, institutions, or community organizational dynamics.  They could be matters of public safety, transportation, addiction, development, just to name a few.

Next we have the macro areas of concern that are at the provincial or federal government levels.  These are usually the ones in the news media coverage and tend to dominate partisan political messaging. 


According to a very recent Abacus Data survey, the top three policy issues on the minds of Albertans these days are:

#1 The Cost of Living (67%)

#2 Improving Health Care (50%)

#3 Managing the Alberta Economy (34%)

The next three top of mind issues are also interesting and cluster in the 21%-25% range of Albertans as most important.  They are:

#4 Keeping Taxes as Low as Possible (25%)

#5 Affordability of Housing (24%)

#6 Standing up for Alberta with the Federal Government (21%)


Of course these are provincial based political issues but they may be part of your personal and community-based level of concern as well.  These issues are a good place to start to drill them down into a more granular and detailed consideration for you and your more specific concerns.

What is interesting in a political context for the coming election is which of the two legacy parties, the UCP and NDP, are “most trusted" to deal with the specific issues.  This can give some insight on the power of these issues to influence the outcome of the May election.  

For example, look at the issue of “Defending those working in the oil and gas sector.” This is all about the uncertainty of the global move to alternative sources of energy away from fossil fuels.  The politics about the “Just Transition” for energy sector workers is also part of the issue. 

The UCP, at 53% trust, has overwhelming trust to deal with this compared to the NDP at 20% trusting them to deal with the issues.  Also, there are 23% of Albertans who are “Unsure” of whom to trust to manage this issue.  That is a significant portion of the population.  

However, this issue is significantly important to only 14% of those Albertans surveyed.  So while the UCP is strong on this issue, it is not likely going to be determinative of the election outcome, if there is a good turnout of voters.  


Remember the world is run by those who show up.  This is especially true at election time. What if this issue is a dominant vote driver for many who are feeling significantly impacted personally and in their communities, like oil and gas based rural Albertans.  If they organize around this issue, drive support and their fellow citizens of like minds show up, while others who could care less and are carelessly irresponsible about showing up to vote, this issue could end up being influential on the election outcome.

On the other end of the issues spectrum is the Cost of Living, critically important to 67% of the survey respondents. This shows how close this election could be, because 37% trust the UCP and 26% trust the NDP, 22% are unsure while 5% pick a Third Party to trust.  

In reality there is very little a provincial government can do about the cost of living.  They can’t control inflation in housing, food or transportation, which are some of the major contributors to the rising cost of living. They can reduce taxes and user fees and subsidize vulnerable to partially shield them from the impacts.  

But these are band-aids put on what are bullet wounds for many.  And none of this pragmatic reality will stop the two major parties from trying to sway vulnerable voters with their ideological rhetoric, political propaganda and even spreading  misinformation in the weeks now and up to the election.


The chart of the Abacus Data analysis of the most important issues shows who is perceived as the “most trusted to deal” with each issue.  This is an interesting issue prioritization, but also an indicator of the perceived  strength of each party on each issue. The clear dichotomy between the economic issue of trustworthiness of the rightwing UCP vs the social trustworthiness of the leftwing NPD is not surprising.  It shows where the fault line that divides our political culture.

There is utility in this information for the motivated majority of us who are independent,  nonpartisan, critical thinking citizens.  You likely fit into the Unsure category on some issues as you consider your personal what to vote for issues.  You could just as well be leaning to the left or the right on other concerns.  This information is not much help in deciding to vote based on party leadership or ideology, based on a for or against assessment call.

So remember, the world is run by those who show up and know what they want, and how to get it. That could be and should be you this election and afterwards.



This post is part of the series for Alberta Rebooters to consider their personal situation as we approach our voting decisions in the May general election.

I’ve posted on the importance of elections as a chance for change, and charting our way as citizens in uncharted economic, social and environmental times for Albertans.


Now I am sharing a 4-H framework tool for you to use as you consider what you will be voting for, and why, in the election. The framework starts with what is on your mind, individually, for your family, and your various communities and organizations you connect with. Do you understand why these are concerns for you?  What’s in your Head? 

Then we asked you to consider what is in your Heart about those concerns.  What are your feelings, fears, and sense of what better would look like if you could make changes? Next is to look seriously about what you are doing about pressing for the changes you see as needed.  This is the Hands on part.  What steps are you taking to be, and bring about, the change you want to see?  

The final step in making a better voting decision is about Hope.  What is your big picture view of what the next Alberta could, should and would be if we were effective, engaged, active and aspirational as citizens?  What are the core principles and values we should live by as persons and and as a people?


The top of mind issues in Canada, and I suspect in Alberta as well, are Inflation/Recession, Healthcare, and Housing, and Public Safety is also emerging. So this post will explore how to use the 4H Framework in terms of Economic perceptions and concerns from data in an series of recent national polls. Where are you in relation to the survey data?

Abacus Data finds that perceptions are that 46% of Canadians think the  economy will shrink in the next 12 months. Only 28% believe there will be growth while 26% say it will do neither.  Consumer behavior can be self- fulfilling prophecies.  But add in the fact that 20% of Canadians could only cover one week of expenses, and 43% say they would survive a month from their savings if they lost their job. 

That reality has to be a big Head and Heart driven issue for many Albertans too.  The Leger poll done in the same timeframe shows 48% of Albertans hold cynical pessimistic expectations of future declines in the economy, the most in the country, but not by much.

Leger finds the big personal economic worries are sustained value of investments (64% - Albertans 71%), safety of savings (61% - Albertans 68%), able to pay bills (53% - Albertans 60%), carrying credit card debt (46% - Albertans 53%) and ability to meet mortgage payments (40% - Albertans 42%).

As for our sense of a recession, a year ago 34% of Albertans said we were definitely in a recession, and now 30% believe that to be true.  Asked Iif we are probably already in a recession, a year ago 63% believed that, while now 74% perceive that to be the case.  Again, the highest numbers in the country.


Most of these issues are global in nature and way beyond the scope of governments to do much about,  them other than to help with adaptations and mitigation.  But we should expect some pragmatic, honest and actionable strategies from the Alberta political parties for us, as independent citizens, to evaluate, support or reject with our ballots this election.

So are these worries your worries too, on a personal and on a bigger picture level?  As individuals all we can do is adapt our discretionary spending and seek more revenue through wages and otherwise.  We may have to reduce our personal investment risk and look at other behavioral changes to meet our fiscal obligations.

Of course there are many more concerns about healthcare, education, public safety, uncertainty over climate change and energy transition impacts on Alberta jobs, to name a few.

I hope this information is helpful in your efforts to focus on your 4H process in your Citizen’s Journey. So stay tuned, stay attuned, tune up your citizenship and do not tune out!  There are Authoritarian forces organizing to take over Alberta this election. 

Our democracy is at risk.  Use it or lose it.


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