Thursday, October 20, 2011

Alberta Blue Committee Launches! Six Questions For Ken Boessenkool

  A few weeks ago, the media was reporting that a group of young, engaged Alberta conservatives were forming the Alberta Blue Committee to open discussions about uniting the "right of centre" political views.  As a PCAA member with a large number of friends that have migrated to the Wildrose Party, I will admit that this concept intrigued me.  Today, the Alberta Blue Committee has officially launched.

I had the chance to ask founding member Ken Boessenkool some questions about this group, which he has answered below.

  Can you give me some background on the creation of “Blue Committee” concept?

We started thinking about it earlier this year when a number of concerned conservatives with friends on both sides of the PC – Wildrose divide wondered how to continue to contribute to the debate. Many of us had felt that the province had been drifting for some time, and what was needed, beyond new leadership (which was underway for the PCs and was the desire of the Wildrose)was someone to have a conversation about uniting the right in Alberta.

The other motivation for me was that I was part of the Reform Party in the early1990s when we pushed Humpty Dumpty off the wall, and was also part of the Harper team that put him back together and ultimately won a majority government in 2011. While the Reform Party played a critical role in Canada, in my view it took much too long to pull things back together.

Alberta is potentially at the early stages of this long journey. And I thought if we set up something early promoting unity, it might not take quite so long to pull things back together if they start to fall apart.

I also wanted to create a home for folks who had a deep respect for both the PCs and the Wildrose. As I like to say, I really don’t want to chose between my good friend Rob Anderson and my good friend Doug Griffiths.

  Is there any precedence for a similar concept/group in Canada?

There was a federal Blue Committee in the late 1990s that operated within the federal PC party. As a group they merged with the Reform Party (along with many Harris and Klein Progressive Conservatives) to create the Canadian Alliance. Before that occurred, they existed to push the federal PC party to the right.

What does the committee membership make up look like?

We are all next generation committed conservatives.

What does the committee hope to achieve?

A single right of centre political alternative is our long run goal. Good right-of-centre policy is our immediate focus.

 What are some of the challenges that this committee will have to overcome?

Some people think we are creating another party – but we want one right-of-centre party, not three.

Some people want us to choose, to fish or cut bait. Many of the folks involved are on one side or the other, but have respect and a long term desire to be united.I think creating a “middle ground” where we can have policy discussions and talk about paths to unity will be beneficial in the long run.

How can people get involved?

People can follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or join us on the website.

I'll definitely be watching this group with interest as it is something that I am passionate about also.

 For more information, check out their website at

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

More Problems In The Wildrose Nomination Process?

  I had a good chuckle on Twitter over the past few days while watching some Wildrose supporters go bonkers over yet another riding nomination fiasco.  Over the past year, the media has reported that  some angry WRP supporters have taken issue with a few local riding association nominations, including Calgary McCall, Stettler, Little Bow and Cochrane-Banff.  The latest controversy appears to be coming from Calgary Hays Candidate, Dennis Young.

  On Tuesday, the Tweets were fast and furious from Dennis's supporters, crying foul that he was abruptly removed as a qualified candidate, prompting some Wildrose supporters to question the party's nomination process.  Mr. Young ( and campaign worker Craig Chandler) where visibly upset about this development as they felt they had no clear understanding about why this was happening.

 Here is a copy of the letter that Dennis sent to the Wildrose Executive committee, which he posted on Facebook.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mr. Shane Saskiw,
Executive Director, Wildrose Party
408, 919 Centre Street NW
Calgary, Alberta T2E 2P6

Dear Mr. Saskiw,

I was somewhat startled to receive your letter of October 3rd advising me that I was disqualified from the nomination race in Calgary-Hays.

Firstly, there was no reason for the disqualification mentioned in the letter.

Also, I was not advised that my candidacy for the nomination was in question, nor was I given an opportunity to defend myself against whatever accusations may have been brought against me.

Further, I had had my interview with the Local Candidate Nominating Committee roughly six months ago, submitted my paperwork and my nomination fee. If I was going to be disqualified, I would have expected to be informed of it at that time. Since that time I have spent over $30,000, dropped two separate pieces of literature to every home and have door knocked 25% of the constituency resulting in many members for the party that I have yet to hand in. Out of the current members in Calgary-Hays 75% of them were signed up by my campaign. In addition to the memberships sold my team has also received full information including names, address, postal codes, phone numbers and even email addresses from hundreds more who wish to keep in contact.

Since I was not informed in your letter for the reason of my disqualification we contacted former leadership candidate Mark Dyrholm for advice. Mr. Dyrholm contacted Danielle Smith in regards to the situation. After some phone calls, she told us that the problem related to my military career: Specifically when I was a private soldier. I was once put into the stockade for fighting. This, however, stretches credulity: I was not charged under the Criminal Code and do not have a criminal record. In my nomination form I went above and beyond to tell you my entire life story, I guess I should not have been so detailed.

Such incidents amongst soldiers (who truly are fighting men) are foreseen in the National Defence Act, and are specifically not criminal matters. I went on to an exemplary career as a military policeman, which is not permitted in cases of serious mis-behaviour. If this is truly the reason for disqualification as Danielle Smith informed Mr. Dyrholm, I cannot help but wonder if I am not suffering discrimination because of my military background.

I therefore wish to appeal the disqualification, on the grounds I have listed above. I look forward to being able to defend myself to the Committee.

Looking forward to your prompt response.

Dennis Young

Committee To Elect Dennis Young – 87012, #160 – 11520, 24th Street SE, Calgary, Alberta

Earlier this week, Dennis had a tweet confirming that he had sold over 500 Wildrose memberships, which is an amazing figure if true.  I live in Calgary Hays and I am shocked that his team has been able to sell this many memberships in the riding.  In the above letter, he also states that he has dropped two pieces of lit to every house ( I have not received one....) which is amazingly expensive.  I also found it funny to see that the literature is the standard carbon copy wording that the Chandler team fact, they even missed removing Mark Dryholm's name from the copy/paste campaign materials! ( h/t @waptopstory)

While I believe that there are two sides to every story, I have a hard time imagining that any party would remove a candidate without a justifiable cause.  It just seems to point out the growing pains that the Wildrose is having in attracting quality candidates in their fledgling party.  I will keep watching to see how this one plays out with interest.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Goodbye Old Friend....RIP Jason Hatton

  I know that I am usually ranting on here about civic or political issues, but I got some bad news yesterday that really shook me for a loop.  I was devastated to hear that an old friend of mine had passed away on the weekend after losing a battle with alcoholism at the age of 34. 

 I first met Jason in grade 9 at Woodman Jr. High in 1992 and I remember it like it was yesterday.  Jason had recently moved from Toronto and was instantly became a good friend.  He had a quiet charisma back then and I recall everyone being drawn to his personality.  We were pretty close for the next 10 years, literally talking or hanging out every day. Sadly as my life circumstances changed, we grew apart. 

  Jason always had a quirky personality and you either "got him" or you didn't.  We shared the same interests and had hours of laughs doing our favorite SCTV bits.  I had the good fortune to reconnect with him over the past few months on facebook & chatted a bit on the phone, and we picked right up where we left off....laughing about the old Woodbine days. 

  Sadly, Jason's could not shake his inner deamons and alcohol eventually took his life.  I know he had fallen on some really hard times over the past few years, but Jason was always keen at keeping his emotions to himself.  While I know that his family supported him and did everything that they could for him, I cant help help but feel sorry for this man.  I know its likely a classic case of "survivor's guilt", but I just hate myself for not taking the time over the past few months to go see him in person. It is sad to think that he was suffering in silence and while I know that there is nothing any of his friends could have done, I just wish I had known how bad his personal situation was. 

 I know in this busy world its easy to just focus on your own life, but this tragedy really makes me think about what's important.  I'm so sorry that Jason had to suffer in silence and I would urge everyone in memory of Jason, to take some extra time with your family or make that call to an old friend.

 I had a good laugh ( and cry) listening to the chorus of this song thinking about Jason last night...  ( Warning... this song will likely make you cry.) 

 My heart goes out to Jason's two daughters and his family, especially his wonderful mother Irene.

  I hope Jason is practicing his best SCTV "Five Neat Guys" songs right now....see you when I see you man.  RIP Jason. 

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