This Canadian Thinks

From Apathy To Action: A Deep Dive Into Canadian Politics

August 07, 2023 This Canadian Thinks Season 1 Episode 4
This Canadian Thinks
From Apathy To Action: A Deep Dive Into Canadian Politics
This Canadian Thinks
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ready to extinguish the misinformation and ignite your understanding of Canadian politics? Ever wondered how you can make a real impact on the political landscape around you? Strap in for an enlightening discourse with David Parker, the dynamic leader of Take Back Alberta, as we navigate the labyrinth of the Canadian political system and spark your political engagement.

This episode unravels the political thread, from the Queen of England's legal standing in Canada to the game-changing power of a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons. We also shine a spotlight on the recent political upheavals in Alberta, shedding light on the wave of discontent triggered by Jason Kenney's pandemic performance, and the rising tide of apathy in Canadian politics. We'll also navigate the recent Strathcona County land-use bylaws controversy, highlighting the urgent need for citizen involvement to curb such unilateral decisions.

Channeling his wealth of experience from over 40 election campaigns, David Parker shares his incredible journey from rural Alberta to leading Take Back Alberta. As we journey through the intricate workings of Canada's political system, we'll debunk some common misconceptions, address the need for community-building through town hall approaches, and underline the imperative of active political participation. Whether you're a seasoned political enthusiast or a novice dipping your toe into the world of politics, this episode promises to challenge your thinking and inspire your actions. Don't just voice your opinions, make them count! Tune in, engage, take responsibility and let your voice be the change you wish to see in Canadian politics.

Guest: David Parker (Take Back Alberta)

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Host:

Whether we agree or agree to disagree, everybody's got an opinion, and I'm about to give you mine. So sit back, relax, buckle up and try not to get offended. Welcome to this Canadian Thinks. Canadians really don't know how their government works. They don't know how to engage or interact with the political system correctly, and they're rather gullible. As a result, politicians can enact all sorts of legislation while the population is busy chasing their tails in distraction. It is this awareness on behalf of the government that drives the absence of political process in the education curriculums, the lack of easily obtained information regarding political involvement and the apparent shroud of secrecy in terms of parliamentary procedure. People actually still believe that previously the Queen and now the King of England are personally responsible for rubber stamping any legislation that receives royal assent. While it may have been at one time true, our matters have not been tabled in England since April 17, 1982, when Queen Elizabeth II declared Canada's independence from the British Parliament after the Canadian House of Commons approved Trudeau Sr's constitutional reform resolution.

Speaker 2:

Hear ye, hear ye, what's for breakfast? Toast. I don't understand ye Marge. Ye ol toast.

Host:

When you are uninformed, you are easily misdirected towards folly-filled fantasies of little to no consequence, allowing the government the ability to describe groups of people as radical or misinformed. Your cause, no matter how just or correct, loses weight under the slanderous contentions of government slack jaws and virtue-signaling politicians once labels like uneducated or bigoted begin to be applied. If you aren't informed and armed with knowledge on how to press the system to give a particular concern merit, then you will be ineffective in your attempt and risk ridicule as a result. Ha ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha ha ha. Are you serious? Take, for instance, during the Freedom Convoy, when memes were circulating in regards to Governor-General Mary Simon, people were encouraged to call or email Simon voicing their displeasure of Prime Minister Trudeau. If she were to receive a certain amount of complaints within a length of time, she would proceed to remove him from office under the guise of non-confidence, which would be wonderful, but it's simply not the way it works.

Host:

The Governor-General has absolutely nothing to do with the removal or appointment of elected officials. Only a vote of no confidence in the House can trigger an election or force a resignation. Those deemed to be confidence votes can be hugely consequential for all involved. However, there's no written convention or definition of what constitutes a confidence vote according to Wikipedia, and definitions vary with circumstance. Nor can the Speaker of the House be asked to rule on what is and what isn't a confidence vote. The government itself can explicitly declare matters it puts to a vote to be questions of confidence. They might do so in conjunction with their new throne speech, for example, which they may be given following prorogation. Those regarding spending are mostly always considered votes on confidence.

Speaker 3:

The opposition parties have a choice. Do they want to make parliament work and work for Canadians, or do they want to vote non-confidence and trigger an election? The choice, Mr Speaker, is theirs.

Host:

If the government loses a vote of confidence, two things can happen A new election is called, or another party or coalition is given a chance to form the government. On the federal level, it's up to the Governor-General to make this decision. On the provincial level, it's up to the Lieutenant-Governor. In 2017, that's what happened in British Columbia the provincial NDP and Green Party tabled an amendment to the throne speech that declared the legislature did not have confidence in the government. Then-premier Christy Clark asked Lieutenant-Governor Judith Gushan to dissolve the House and call an election. Instead, gushan invited John Horgan to form a government.

Speaker 4:

I am very excited about the prospects of delivering for the people of British Columbia change and we are going to be able to give that change as a result of the agreement reached between the BC Green Caucus and the BC NDP Caucus. I'm very excited about the prospect of stable government and demonstrating to British Columbians that we can do great things when we work together. We can do great things across party lines when we have a government in place that's anxious to do that. I'm very excited about the prospects.

Speaker 4:

Andrew and I have worked very closely over the past number of weeks. We brought forward the issues that bring us together and we've highlighted those issues that separate us, and we've come to a conclusion that a government run by the BC NDP, with the support on issues around supply and budgeting, can in fact deliver for British Columbians a government that's focused on people. We're not looking to have an election anytime soon. We're looking to show to British Columbians that minority governments can work. And what better way to show that proportional representation could work by showing that a minority government can and will work In the best interest of people throughout its session.

Host:

This could not have happened had the amendment not been tabled. The Lieutenant Governor cannot just unilaterally decide of their own accord to displace an elected leader, nor can the Governor-General, regardless how many people contact them to complain. When people do, however, they'll complain to most anyone about the current state of Canadian politics, except for those to which it might actually be of benefit. They'll throw their hands up in apathetic inequity and complain about how the system is rigged or broken. The system isn't broken. It's functioning exactly as it was designed. The only way to enable real change is to know how it works, to effectively engage with it, and then to do so. Join the local constituency association, for example, and add your voice to the dialogue. There is so much you might actually accomplish if only you were to educate yourself on how the system actually operates.

Speaker 5:

And you said recently quote when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do. You better believe it. So what specifically did they do? If I ask them, if I need them you know most of the people on this stage I've given to, just so you understand a lot of money I will tell you that our system is broken. I give to many people. Before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what, when I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. So what did you get? And that's a broken system. So what did you get from Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi? Well, I'll tell you what. With Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding. And she came to my wedding. You know why? She had no choice because I gave.

Host:

It can be a bit of a double-edged sword occasionally. Sometimes, when people do get actively involved in the political process so they can have their concerns addressed, they are often met with resistance, not from their fellow constituents, but from their elected officials instead. Take, for example, what happened in the Elkwater district not too long ago, when the local municipal council held up a building permit for a community center despite the very vocal opposition of the local residents. In the end, the elected officials decided to allow the project to go ahead, because they couldn't allow people to just cause a ruckus and make a bunch of noise in order to have their voices heard above others, because that would set a bad precedent.

Speaker 2:

You can't be serious man, you cannot be serious.

Host:

A bad precedent. Are you kidding me? Seriously, the bad precedent is in allowing the local elected municipality to go against the will of the local constituents, which is a direct result of their tendency to close the council doors and proceed to have a discussion in what is known as in-camera. This is because certain information is deemed to be confidential in nature, meaning they simply don't want you to hear it. There is entirely too much that can go wrong in terms of transparency when you take away public accountability. Who knows what kind of incentives or kickbacks were offered to the local politicians on behalf of the developer? We'll never know, because they locked the doors and redacted the transcripts you have to get rid of this ignorant and meddlesome majority.

Speaker 6:

Control them, make sure they do the right things.

Speaker 7:

Offer their own good, incidentally Good journalism today has the state in its crosshairs and you never want to punch down, you always want to punch up.

Speaker 8:

I'm amused at people who claim that the governments don't like. Really, you know human beings that never lie.

Speaker 7:

Of course they lie.

Host:

A similar situation happened to take back Alberta. They were highly successful in teaching people how to get involved in their local constituency associations and support candidates aligned with their views. Political pundits were aghast. How dare they get actively engaged in their democracy? Many of them even clamored for legislation to prevent groups from doing such things in the future, as though they were subverting democracy instead of engaging with it, as is their right.

Speaker 9:

Take back. Alberta is a little bit hard to define. I describe it as a vibe. It's not necessarily like a club, like you're a member of a club. It's more of like an association. It's a network. It's people who believe in an individualistic understanding of rights and freedoms. Its roots are definitely in being upset over COVID rules, restrictions, mandates, all of that. A lot of its messages are communicated over values and winks. It definitely is on the right side of the conservative movement. Some people even go as far to say it's the far right side, but it definitely represents the social conservative side with religious undertones.

Host:

Groups like Take Back Alberta are a threat to the status quo. The government would far prefer that you're not only disorganized but also incompetent. When groups begin to align like-minded people together in an organized fashion and teach them how the political process works, the governing class gets its dander up. When you are ignorant of things, you are more easily persuaded to believe or accept that there isn't really anything of consequence that you can do to change it.

Speaker 2:

You've been saying two different messages. Down east, you've been telling people that you want to kill the single biggest employer in our province. You're in Alberta right now, sir. You're not in Ottawa Yet when you come to Calgary, you tell people you're sorry. Well, I'm sorry. I'm a little confused. There is one of two things, mr Prime Minister you are either a liar or you're confused, and I'm beginning to think it's both I have said repeatedly in many situations Okay, the truth is, though, you can change it, and you should.

Host:

Apathy will get us nowhere. To say there is nothing you can do is to profess your lack of understanding of the core fundamentals of democracy. There is plenty you can do once you learn how the system actually works, which is what makes organizations like Take Back Alberta important in terms of capacity for understanding the system as it is. To say Take Back Alberta has been successful is an understatement at best. Many of the candidates that they supported have been elected, while many others that they did not support weren't so lucky or they're in the process of resigning. Now, entire constituency association boards have been staffed with Take Back Alberta members displacing those who's happy for them organized, knowledgeable and thus effective.

Speaker 6:

Take Back. Alberta is a third party group, a political action committee as it were, that is heavily involved in conservative politics in Alberta. They were involved in organizing the anti-Kennie vote in his leadership review. They then mobilized in support of Daniel Smith during her leadership race. They now occupy half of the UCP board. They took that over at the AGM. Half the seats go in every year and they put a slate together and they won every seat. They have taken over riding association boards and their endorsed candidates are now winning nomination races right across the province. This is a very significant political force.

Speaker 6:

I think the novel feature of what they're doing is Alberta has a tendency of creating new parties, particularly on the right. They get unhappy with the left-board drift of every party and they go inform their own party. This time they haven't done that. Instead they've decided to take over an existing party, which I think is a really interesting strategy. I don't think the average Albertan understands what is going on here. They have a very radical agenda but they're very good at organizing. It doesn't take a lot of people in a particular constituency association to control their board or to control the nomination or to have a candidate win. It's much tougher in a general election, which is why third parties or new parties have real challenges. They figured that out and I think Albertans need to know who this party has become.

Host:

As support for Jason Kinney was waning after he so poorly acted in reflection of the interests of the majority of Albertans during the pandemic, take back. Alberta applied adequate pressure to displace him, despite his efforts to prevent them from doing so. He knew that, even though he said prior to the leadership review that he considered 51% sufficient to remain leader, that it would be too tight of a margin to actually stay on in a leadership role. An unprecedented number of Albertans had shown an interest in his dismissal just by showing up, which is the part most people fail to realize.

Speaker 7:

With a vote coming soon on his own leadership. Kinney says the UCP is under siege by extremist elements seeking a hostile takeover. Jason Kinney says the last few months have led to some personal reflection. After a turbulent stretch, the Premier even considered stepping down, but ultimately, he says he made a choice. We need to maintain unity and responsible mainstream leadership.

Speaker 7:

But it's not yet guaranteed Kinney will even be part of the next election. Some within his party have called for his resignation, and a new leaked recording may divide the caucus even further. In the audio file, kinney reportedly goes after factions within the UCP, saying the lunatics are trying to take over the asylum.

Speaker 8:

These marginal voices do not represent Albertans. They certainly do not represent the United Conservative Party.

Speaker 9:

Far right or far left, everybody can agree that they hate Kinney.

Speaker 10:

He's been trying to buy us recently with some handouts, but I think most people will realize that it's just not worth it.

Host:

It's complete apathy that is the underlying current in Canadian politics. While it's true that the people making the decisions comprise a small group of people, it isn't the way you might actually think. It's made up of a small group of people, because no one else shows up to have their voices heard. It's easier to stay home and wax poetic about the system being rigged. Now, in many people's defense, the actual constituency associations themselves aren't that easily discovered, which is done on purpose, likely.

Speaker 2:

That point in fingers say you ain't where you want to be because of him or her or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that.

Host:

In my local riding last year, progressive Conservative Member of Parliament, damien Curric, was hosting a town hall at the Town Council Chambers. Given that the pandemic was still a concern to the political class, and given the confined nature of the chamber, it was decided that the presentation would be done without access to the general public. As incensed as everyone was to have restrictions and mandates ended post-freedom convoy, there was much ado regarding this decision, so much so that Curric was forced to move the town hall to the grandstand at the rodeo grounds. Despite technical difficulties, cold weather and falling snow, curric spoke of the current goings on and answered questions from those in attendance. Now there is far less interest. The momentum has petered out to the extent that this year's town hall meeting will once again be hosted in council chambers.

Host:

While it was fashionable to be politically active, many were. Now that time is worn on and the issues brought forth by the pandemic are increasingly behind us, it's not so fashionable anymore. Life is beginning to take center stage for many. The apathy is beginning to creep in again. It's easier, and we've been programmed to prefer its comfort and irresponsible nature.

David Parker:

I just don't think I can continue to live in a place that embraces and nurtures apathy as if it was a virtue. You know different. You know better. I didn't say I was different or better. I'm not Hell. I sympathize. I sympathize completely. Apathy is a solution. I mean it's easier to lose yourself in drugs than it is to cope with life. It's easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it. It's easier to beat a child than it is to raise it Healthy. Love costs.

Host:

It takes effort and work Outside of major events that affect large swaths of the population. It's difficult to keep people actively involved in the political process. If it doesn't affect them directly, they prefer not to get involved at all. Once their individual concern has been placated, they're content to move on and leave others to attend the board meetings and local municipal functions. They stop showing up entirely.

Speaker 3:

How come I called you a couple of times? You know we got back to that I was busy.

Speaker 12:

You know, I got busy you got busy.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you got busy.

Speaker 10:

What do you do? I'm so busy.

Host:

Governments know this. They're more than happy to see an upswing and involvement, but they already understand that it will very likely be short-lived at best. The outrage or anger will eventually pass and things will once again go back to the way they were before. After all, meetings are boring and being involved takes time out of your otherwise busy life. At some point, most people will find their way clear of their involvement eventually. The more confusing it is, the less you understand it, the easier it is to become disinterested, which is why they no longer teach anything regarding civics in high school anymore. C. D F F.

Speaker 4:

F. Three weeks we've been talking about the Platt Amendment. What are you people on dope?

Host:

It's increasingly important to remain active in our local writings, constituencies and municipalities in order to ensure transparency regarding the action of our elected representatives. Given this, any help we can get to make the process easier should be welcomed. The increased capacity and understanding that is created by organizations like Take Back Alberta, alberta Prosperity and many others provide an educational background on matters that would seem to be closely guarded secrets of the political class, even though they should be common knowledge. By exposing them to be the simple truths that they are, we can begin to have a hand in shaping the political discourse and direction in a more palatable way. We can take control of the path our country is on and guide legislation in a matter more fitting to our shared values and with a reasonable expectation of our governments to represent their constituents more effectively.

Speaker 12:

We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws. For moral reasons, we waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases. We cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men. We aspired to intelligence. We didn't belittle it. It didn't make us feel inferior, we didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn't scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.

Host:

It's not enough to rely on the people involved in the aforementioned groups to see to it that you're effectively governed either. However, Without the effect of involvement of the citizenry, democracy grinds to a halt when the decisions for the population entire begin to be made without regard for the true interests of the population itself. We are in dangerously progressive territory, indeed, which is what we must always endeavor to avoid if we want to see democracy continue to thrive in the future.

Speaker 8:

Once you begin a great movement, there's no telling where it'll end. We, the people, tell the government what to do. It doesn't tell us.

Host:

Just as a mechanic might receive additional training as technology changes in the workplace, it is incumbent that the population of a place continue to learn how their political system works, how they can effectively promote change and engage with it in a matter which helps to better reflect their concerns within the system on matters which are personally relevant. While it may seem daunting at first, once you know more and begin to be comfortable with the procedures and principles of it all, it isn't really that difficult, despite their efforts to make it appear otherwise. So before you set about complaining about the current political situation, ask yourself have you done everything you can to engage in the process? Have you actually tried to engage with the system, or is it simply that it's easier to complain than it is to actually do anything about it? Likely you'll find it's the latter, the very example of apathy. The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care.

Host:

Listen, watch, learn, gain understanding, then motivate yourself to get actively involved and maybe, even more importantly, locally interested. You don't necessarily need to be hyper-vigilant on every miniscule matter at a national level, but if you pay attention to the things that are happening at the council level of your own local municipality, you'll find plenty to keep you busy. When good local decisions are made, those decisions work their way up to the top, and when bad decisions are contemplated and there is effective opposition against them, that too also rises. After all, plenty of times, smaller jurisdictions are the testing ground for larger legislation. First look at Strathcona County, where they first implemented the new era land-use bylaws that are slowly edging their way into more and more municipalities here in Alberta. There was enough support in Strathcona that other jurisdictions have jumped on board, even though the local population are against it. The issue being, even though the citizens were against the proposed changes, they were ineffective to stop it because they don't have the faintest idea how to do so.

Speaker 2:

From 18th Precinct. The Marlborough Sacking House is 27th Street and 7th Avenue. We have no force to send. All the stores are closing on 8th Avenue from fear of the mob.

Speaker 10:

In 17th Street, from 4th the rioters are attacking colored boarding houses, robbing them and setting them on fire From 21st.

Speaker 2:

the mob have just broken open gun store on 3rd Avenue and are arming.

Host:

We are programmed to believe that only protests and letters will change political outcomes, that outside of that we have no power. Power doesn't come from protest. Power comes from action and active participation in the system which grants it. The way to ensure your voice is heard is not screaming in the streets. After all, that may be liberating, exciting and fun. No, it's having a role in the process. It's boring meetings and votes on ideas and people. It's the sacrifice of time and energy, the perseverance of simply showing up every time when others would rather not.

Speaker 3:

Mr Poiliovre might choose to undermine our democracy by amplifying conspiracy theories. He might decide to run away from journalists when they ask him tough questions. That's how he brands himself. That's his choice. But when he says that Canada is broken, that's where we draw the line.

Host:

Stop complaining and get involved. Take action and have your voice heard by engaging in the process. The system isn't broken, it's simply missing one of its most integral parts. Thank you. This episode we're going to be speaking with David Parker, the leader of Take Back Alberta.

Host:

I've known David for a couple of years now and, to be honest, the first time I saw him speak we didn't exactly see eye to eye. However, once we got past the rallying pitch for Take Back Alberta, much of what he was proposing started to make a lot of sense. For example, did you know that in one riding the constituency association was comprised of two people? They couldn't get anyone else in the riding interest than them being involved? The CAs are responsible for deciding who the candidate you will vote for will be. If you don't like the candidate being offered and you aren't willing to join the CAA to pick a better candidate, then you can't really get upset that you don't like the one they picked. David expressed the importance of educating people how the system works so they could actively engage with it more effectively. One of my favorite mantras is education, not legislation. I firmly believe that it's more important to educate people than it is to make laws forbidding certain actions. Without the understanding of the reasoning behind why it may be inappropriate to do something, even the most staunch law will remain ineffective. So when David began speaking about teaching people how to be better constituents in order to hold our elected officials accountable, I have to admit he was preaching to the choir. Nothing is quite so apathetic as the apathy of Canadian voters, after all, which is something both David and I can agree on. That and the requirement that we overcome that apathy. We're going to ensure the best possible outcome for the future of our province and the nation beyond.

Host:

Parker is our first ever calling guest and I'll admit that I was a bit more prepared for this guest than when our first guest appeared. However, in my defense with Lee Bates, I wanted to offer a glimpse into the cadence of our regular casual conversations and, given the nature of our friendship, in terms of my conversation with David Parker, I knew he'd not only be incredibly busy, but he was making time for us, so there needed to be a bit of prior direction to keep things within a workable time frame. As it was, Parker was speaking to us while on the road between scheduled engagements. Check it out. Welcome to the This Canadian Thinks, David, it's a pleasure to speak with you again and I want to thank you for taking time out of your schedule to be here. I know you're very busy and I sincerely appreciate you making time for us today.

Speaker 10:

No worries, glad to be here.

Host:

First off, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you first get involved in politics and what led you to where you are today?

Speaker 10:

Well, basically I was a 14 year old kid from rural Alberta and I just showed up at the meeting and they were so excited to see a kid there that they voted me on to the board of the local electoral district association.

Speaker 10:

It's a name for a federal local constituency, so, like an MP all represents a geographic area called a constituency and there's a little board.

Speaker 10:

There's boards for all those constituents, for every party that's out there, and so I joined the local one for the Conservative Party of Canada and I kind of began my journey and I've worked for a lot of politicians Stephen Harper, Shelley Glover, Ed Fast, even Shannon Stubbs.

Speaker 10:

I've worked on over 40 election campaigns. It kind of became my passion and the thing that I did and over the years I feel like I've kind of figured out how politics works, at least on the technical level of how constituency associations work, how parties work, how leadership races work, and I became what a lot of people refer to as an organizer, just someone who goes out and does campaigns, and I did that for a living for a while. Then, when COVID happened, I started a group called Take Back Alberta and the purpose of that group was to hold Jason Kenny accountable for what had happened over COVID, and we were successful at that and since then I've been running this kind of educational society called Take Back Alberta, teaching people how their system works and how they can get involved and become active, engaged citizens in their democracy.

Host:

For a while, post pandemic and, even more specifically, post freedom convoy there were quite a few different groups traveling around the province with a vision for the future of Alberta. Still are, for that matter, and not just in Alberta either. I saw you speak a couple of times personally and while I wasn't necessarily sold on the Take Back Alberta idea initially, the more we spoke the more I felt that you were onto something. Talk to me a little bit about your town hall approach to growing awareness about Take Back Alberta and how you were able to cut through the din of all the different groups that seemed to proliferate at that time to get people to hear your message.

Speaker 10:

Well, I actually really do think it was more the message than the messenger, because you know, I've got all kinds of enemies and flaws and people have a lot of opinions about me. But really the message was pretty simple. It was actually you know, our democracy isn't broken. I think a lot of people thought that it was, but now they're beginning to see, at least here in Alberta, we can get involved and make a difference, and we have with Take Back Alberta. A lot of people have gotten involved and made a difference and they're starting to get you know, they're starting to take on roles, they're starting to sit on boards and they're starting to realize how the system actually works and that they can have an impact on it. Like that's what democracy is all about. So I'm pretty excited to have seen that happen.

Speaker 10:

But the town hall method is just simply because I'm a big believer in people and the reality of people and people in person, communities, human, social, animal stuff. Like I believe that we are fundamentally social creatures and it's not good for us to just be staring at a screen or reading even even reading a book Like I love reading and we need one another, we need community and I think COVID showed a lot of people that it was pretty lonely for a lot of people. Yeah, I think I believe the town halls are a way of combating that loneliness and building community, human community.

Host:

How would you reply to people who say that the political system is broken, and what would you say to people who contend that we're powerless to do anything about the current state of affairs?

Speaker 10:

Well, I would say that they haven't tried, because I think everyone that I know who's tried has begun to see that really there is a lot that can be done still and we're not completely broken, and there's a lot of good people in this country that want to make the country better, and it takes us all getting together and doing something about it instead of these lunatics take over the asylum, as Jason Kennelly funnily enough said about me. But if you look at the way our society is going, it's going mad and I think we need some common sense people to step out of your ship to put it back on course, just so that we have freedom of ideas again. The censorship has to end. It's anti-Western, it's anti everything that has made these countries great and made people want to come to them.

Host:

The large part. I think the problem is that Canadians don't know how their government actually functions. One of the things I found refreshing about Take Back Alberta is the approach to building capacity in that regard. For example, most people don't know what a constituency association is or the role they play in selecting the candidate that you vote for in your area, much less how to join one. Can you speak to? How Take Back Alberta builds capacity and understanding of the political process and what successes Take Back Alberta may have seen as a result?

Speaker 10:

Well, I think ultimately, what it comes down to is just saying hey, people, how do you learn how to do something? People are often like, oh, and I just say you do it. If you want to know how your government works, you have to get involved in your government. One of the easiest ways to do that is to join your local party constituency association. Most people have never even sat on a board before of anything and they just have not been engaged in their society. I'm just encouraging them to get started, even if you're in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s. I know guys who are just stepping up in their late 70s are starting to re-engage. They have never been involved in politics before at all. It's never too late to be a good civic citizen, because it doesn't take the same toll to say some people are like, oh well, you can't really become a professional football player when you're in their 40s, whatever, but you can become a professional volunteer. You can learn to shape your society, build your community. You can give back. Those are things that people can do, and we're seeing people do that all over the place.

Speaker 10:

It's not always perfect. Some people they don't exactly know how to play well with others, but they learn. And always what we end up seeing is these people realize they can make a difference. I'll give an example, even of some people who maybe felt a little bit discouraged. What I was very encouraged by was the people in Rimby, rocky Mountain House, sundry. One of them said well, we wanted to reopen our nomination because we felt that Tim Hoven was unjustly disqualified and we were unable to do that and we failed. And I say I don't think it was a failure at all. It brought to light something that was happening that was wrong in the party. I think it will bring about change in the future. But even more than that, look at all the people across the province that it inspired to get involved and go sit on their local CAs hundreds, maybe even thousands. It's inspired people to get involved and I think that is going to have a greater impact on society that people can possibly comprehend.

Host:

Well, it's hard to miss the influence that Take Back Alberta has had overall. In fact, just a few months ago, professor Dwayne Bratt from Mount Royal University was very vocal about Take Back Alberta. He made quite a few appearances on radio and television, including an op-ed where he decried that Take Back Alberta is being dangerous to democracy, simply because, to me at least, it would appear that Take Back Alberta was able to organize and motivate the silent majority into getting actively involved in their democratic system in order to achieve a common goal. What would you say to such individuals who claim that Take Back Alberta subverts the political process?

Speaker 10:

I would say we are literally taking part in the political process. Anybody can show up at any vote. Why don't people just get involved? What it ends up being is that not a lot of people want to make the sacrifice that it takes to be involved. I've always found that the more you sacrifice, the greater your reward. You end up actually building a community. I know a lot of people who have given a lot to to just of their time as volunteers, but those are some of the most treasured memories they have the joys of community, and it's funny. I think this narcissistic selfishness that it pervades our modern culture is it's just a lack of community. So I don't know if people really think that I'm that bad and that horrible and I'm subverting democracy. All they have to do is go and get more people and organize them and show up at meetings the thing is it's actually a lot more work and a lot of these people are quite lazy.

Host:

How is take back Alberta different from organizations like the Alberta Prosperity Project, for example? Are they aligned in any way, or at least capable of existing together without conflicting agendas, or what sets take back Alberta apart?

Speaker 10:

Well, I just I love the people at the Alberta Prosperity Project. A lot of them are members of Take Back Alberta. I think a lot of them are are committed to the idea of more sovereignty for Alberta. Well, why can't we make decisions like Quebec makes for itself or Ontario makes for itself? Ontario has a police force, quebec has a police force. I don't see why we can't even have the discussion about having our own police force. Like we're a grown-up province. Hey, we decide we don't want one, but but anyway they're.

Speaker 10:

They're very focused on those things and sovereignty, whereas take back Alberta's not very like quote-unquote partisan in this way. Right, we're. We're literally just trying to get people engaged and involved and, of course, I personally have a perspective when it comes to public policy and I and I think I feel I have every right to convey that but we don't always agree at Take Back Alberta. It's not just a monolith like this. There's lots of people that have been involved, that have gone into positions that are now making decisions, and it's not Take Back Alberta's position to tell them what they have to do. It's we just want more people to be involved.

Host:

That's what it comes down to we just came out of a provincial election not too long ago here in Alberta, as you're more than Well aware. It was a tense time where and there's a distinct possibility we could very well see Rachel, not Lee, return to the Premier's chair. Thankfully, we saw the UCP main tank power, no doubt in large part to Organizations like take back Alberta, given that we were once again managed to hold the NDP at bay for a time. What would you say is the biggest issue faced by Albertans right now, and how do you keep the pre-election momentum that take back Alberta had going forward now that there's no Perceived threat of an NDP victory, in facing that issue or issues?

Speaker 10:

Oh, I think the biggest threat that we face is Is this kind of voter apathy that has allowed our government institutions to atrophy to the point where still we have such low turnout. It's horrible. People are just not showing up, they're not engaged, they don't care. People aren't showing up at their own you know parent-teacher conferences. If people aren't engaging in their society, then then we're doomed. I were just. We are doomed, and so I think this gives us the opportunity to to teach even more people about things like school boards and library boards and Municipalities and show them that there are places we can go and make decisions, and those decisions have consequences for the future of our, of our families and our societies. And so I actually I found that we're getting more and more momentum.

Speaker 10:

I think, like a lot of people are very concerned about what's happening with their children and and the educational system. I think they want to know what they can do about it. There's lots you can do about it in a democracy, turns out, and I hope that they do do something about it. And then there's people who are concerned about what's happening on the federal government level with with vitamins and natural health products. Well, really a lot of concern around that and there's concern around just what's happening in terms of, like, the crime on our streets and the economic ruin that a lot of people are experiencing with this Inflation. I think actually there's there's more people involved to take back Alberta than ever, and I'm not worried about the momentum at all because I think, as as things get worse, people are going to realize just how important politics actually is and they're going to get more involved.

Host:

But what kind of understanding of the Canadian political system Do you think the average Canadian has, and do you think it's much different Provincially?

Speaker 10:

oh no, I think most people have no idea politics works at all. They're completely ignorant, I would say. I would say there's probably a 10 to 15 percent of the population as even an elementary understanding of our political system.

Host:

What would you identify as the most common misconception or misconceptions that Canadians have regarding the Canadian political system, and what steps are necessary to address those?

Speaker 10:

Well, the biggest one is obviously that the government can solve all your problems. I Think that everyone just seems to think, oh well, I guess the government needs to fix that. But the problem is, government is a is is a limited resource because it's taking, it's not creating a Government. Government spends money. It doesn't make money. It takes money from you and so it's naturally destructive of capital and, and it usually ends up in very, you know, bureaucratic results where lots of money is just sloshing around in the system but we're not seeing the results that we would like to see and that and that you would have to see in in a private sector company, in a competitive environment, but monopolies are being created. There's, there's, there's tons of problems, I think.

Speaker 10:

I think a lot of people think that they can't make a difference in the political system. I think that that they think that, you know, I think they think elections are where politics is decided. Politics is decided in the million decisions in between elections, right in the small boards, and the people need a longer, a longer view of time, and I think, for the biggest conception is that leaders are the most important people on teams. They're not. Leaders are avatars of the people that support them. Right, there's, there's always a huge team behind any great leader, and that's the case for for any leader you can think of.

Speaker 10:

I think most people think that the leaders are just like these exceptional human beings who and they are Exceptional, don't get me wrong they because they can bear a lot more stress and burden than most people, but they need a whole team of people to make that happen. I think people just don't know about all those people behind the scenes that that keeps over the ship running, keep keeps a magical eye, if you know what I mean. Most people think, oh, it's just a politician doing that. No, no, it's. It's a lot of people working together to make something like that happen.

Host:

Do you think Canadians confederation still offers any benefit to the individual provinces or if so, what would they be? If not, why not?

Speaker 10:

you know, I haven't really thought about that question as much as I probably should have. So that's a very good question. I would say that I think there are definitely provinces that would that greatly benefit from Confederation, like the Maritimes and Quebec, and then there are provinces that don't so much benefit from Federation, and I would put Alberta and Saskatchewan in that category. So I think it's a. The question is a is a pretty broad one and there's different answers depending on where you live. But I Think that Alberta needs to grow up as a province that established itself as At least the same level of as go back in Ontario, or a growing up province.

Speaker 10:

Now we almost have five million people were for the richest province per capita by far, and I think we need to. We need to step up to the table and say we want to have our say in the direction of this country or we're out and we want. We want to be able to keep more of what we make where we are and not be like treat like a colony. So I don't know how that, how that plays out. I hope we have leaders emerge that can really push that agenda, but I Don't know that Albertans already. I don't think Albertans want that right now, and so I. Maybe Albertans aren't ready to grow up, maybe that's the answer, but I hope they are. I hope they are one day, because it would be a lot better for us if we came to the table as adults instead of being treated like little kids.

Host:

What could the federal government do, if anything, to better the relationship between Canada and the individual provinces?

Speaker 10:

Well, I think like, but out of our stuff, like I mean, people say that the reason that Albertans loved Harper was because when he was Prime Minister, the beating stopped right. It wasn't that, it wasn't so much that he just sat there doing things for Alberta, it was that our government stopped attacking Alberta.

Speaker 10:

I think right now, the federal government is attacking Alberta a lot more, and so like the very first thing they could do is stop beating us up right, stop stop hurting us, and I think that would go a long ways. Let us develop our resources. Canada is not the problem when it comes to global warming. We're just not.

Speaker 10:

Even if climate change is real and there's lots of debate about that but even if it is, the best thing Canada can do for climate change is to produce as much natural gas as possible and get it to Japan and get them off coal and other means and other dirtier means of and that's the best thing we can do. Even if we all shut off all our lights and all our power and we went hand in hand and do extinction in the dark, canada would have no impact on climate change zero. So I think the best thing they can do is let us help use the innovations that we have of natural gas to reduce emissions around the world, if that's what they really care about. They're not doing that, even right, they're just wild.

Host:

Currently, there seems to be a distinct difference of ideologies surfacing not just in Canada but globally, between the left and right sides of the political spectrum. Personally, I feel there's hardly any conservative representation whatsoever at the federal level, that progressive conservatives and liberals seem to rush to eat each other's lunch. On a provincial level, things are a bit more even, especially here in Alberta. Regardless, the discord is evident that there's very little middle ground in terms of discussion surrounding a large number of topics. How do we bridge that gap to find the common ground necessary to bring about national unity, if that's even possible?

Speaker 10:

Well, I think we need to stop thinking about things in terms of we need to start not what we're against, but what we're for. We need to start building something. I think that's actually the biggest problem. I've said this for a long time. I don't know if anyone will listen or if it'll ever change, but if we really wanted to come back together as a nation, I think we'd need a vision of what is Canada trying to become. Also, I think this is the problem with leadership in general all over the globe, and especially, I would say, in Canada right now is we don't really know what we are. We don't have any kind of identity or thesis on what it means to be an Albertan or a Canadian or a human even. I think we need to come up with some kind of agreed upon. These are the things that are important. I think one of those things, frank with you, needs to be that we're pro-human. Some of these environmentalists are just anti-humanity itself, and that's not cool in my books.

Host:

I'm a firm advocate of Alberta independence as well as you Indeed the idea that all provinces should seek at the very least the same sort of unique autonomy that is held currently only by Quebec, a sovereign nation within Canadian Confederation, which is the original plan behind the country of Canada anyway. Would you see Alberta as leading the charge for the remaining provinces to seek to obtain the same objective, or do you think, take back Alberta as a product of its regional identity alone?

Speaker 10:

Oh no. I think the answer to the problems that we face as a society is just more autonomy for everybody. We need more local decision-making. We need more people stepping up and taking roles of leadership. There's a principle called the principle of subsidiarity. The idea is that that's the best way to build a society is to have small decision-making units that when they have conflicts, they have to elevate. They do to the next level above them, and it just keeps going up and they just keep trying to solve it until it gets to the top, and then a decision just has to be made.

Speaker 10:

The way that you could think of it is that's kind of how we set up our court systems before they kind of got captured by ideology. I think that that's what we need to do. The more independence we can even get on a local, municipal level. The more you depend on things outside of yourself, the more responsibility you take upon your shoulders, the better your life is going to be. The municipalities with the people who take the most personal responsibility are the cleanest, richest, safest.

Speaker 10:

We need more people taking on more responsibility, and I don't know where we lost that idea. I don't know where we lost the idea that people need to be the ones that are making sure that their communities are safe. We need town, we need crime watches, we need what we should just rely on the government to fix our problems. We should be innovating and building, and Alberta is a land of entrepreneurs, and I think that's the spirit that we need. We need to export that to the rest of the country. We need more people be more entrepreneurial, more innovative and creating a better world. Now that's what we need.

Host:

Canada and the world needs more Alberta.

Speaker 10:

I believe that. Yeah, I do. It sounds cheesy, but I do.

Host:

What steps does Take Back Alberta take to educate people about how the political system works? Do you have classes or seminars, for example? And how do people get involved with Take Back Alberta if they're inclined to do so?

Speaker 10:

We do weekly meetings in every region. So monthly sorry, monthly, they're weekly for me because there's five regions but they're monthly meetings across the province where we bring in speakers to talk about what's going on in our society, and then we usually have action items because we believe, actually, what's best for Take Back Alberta is to do You've got to do things in order to learn how they work. So we have phases and we just say this is our mission for this phase and this is what we need to do. And then we go and do it and people begin to see oh, this is how politics works and they can get more involved themselves.

Host:

What are the plans for Take Back Alberta's future? Where do you see the organization and say like the next five years, and what objectives would you like to see accomplished in that timeframe, if any?

Speaker 10:

Well, I think we would like to take on the big project of educating Albertans about schoolboards and how they work and how parents need to be involved in the education of their children.

Speaker 10:

That's the most important thing is that parents need to start taking responsibility for their children and for those children's education, and a big way you could do that is be involved in your school board. So over the next two years, two and a half years, we're going to be working on that, and then, on top of that, we've got some very important work we're doing with the United Conservative Party to help strengthen it, get it ready for the next election by encouraging people to get involved. That's really all it comes down to. And then I think, finally, our biggest project of all will be trying to take on the media, trying to build voices across the province, much like your own. I love what you're doing with this podcast. Build voices all over the province of people who are speaking the truth and hopefully have enough people hear the truth and enough people get involved that we can stop, as madness, this decline. I think everyone kind of feels like, for the first time in many, many generations, things are getting worse globally.

Host:

Kind of seems like we've peaked as a species.

Speaker 10:

It feels that way and I think we need to take, we need to change that, we need to change that perspective. That's what I think.

Host:

I completely agree. I know you're really busy and I appreciate you taking the time to appear on this. Canadian thanks. Is there anything that we haven't touched on that you'd like to discuss or say directly to our listeners today?

Speaker 10:

Well, I would just encourage people to get involved. Like, at the end of the day, what does that mean? People say, get involved. And I actually kind of hate it when people say that because it's come to not mean anything. What does it mean to get involved? It means you got to get off your couch, you got to go to a meeting, you got to learn how something works. Maybe you got to do the boring work of understanding how politics works before you can understand how important politics is.

Speaker 10:

And, at the end of the day, what we're really facing is do you care about your values enough to stand up and do something? Because if you think that things are not going well, if you don't like the direction society is going, there's something you can do about it. You can get involved, and that means getting out there and doing something. I tell a lot of people you got to run for something. Even if you lose, you'll learn something. And maybe if you run for things a couple of times or a number of times over a period of time, maybe eventually you'll come to the realization that you can have a difference. But it's not going to be overnight. It's like anything. It takes work. It's a habit that you have to build.

Host:

I couldn't agree more. I want to thank you again for taking the time to be with this Canadian Thinx today. I really appreciate you being on the program and with any luck, perhaps we'll be able to find the time to be able to get you to come back in the future and we'll talk about something else, I'm sure.

Speaker 10:

Love it. Love it, okay. Thanks for having me.

Host:

No problem at all. Thank you again and keep up the good work.

Speaker 10:

Thanks, talk later, talk later.

Host:

Thanks. Hopefully you enjoyed our conversation with David Parker today. I find Parker to be well informed and have pertinent information to share. He's not wrong in many regards. Even if you don't believe everything as he does, the fundamentals are the same Show people how their system works so they can effectively make the system work for them. Right now, the direction and initiatives of our elected representatives are dictated by those who are involved that have an agenda that may very well run counter to the values and beliefs that you have, simply because they show up and actively participate. Meanwhile, the coffee shops and social houses echo with complaints about the terribly flawed design of a horribly broken system, a system that no more represents them than they actively participate in it.

Host:

I'd like to take this moment to thank you for listening to this Canadian Thinks. We appreciate your support and look forward to creating more episodes for your listening pleasure. If you're able, please subscribe. Your support helps us afford the time to make these episodes, in addition to helping us reach a wider audience. If you're listening on a platform, please hit the follow button and be sure to hit the subscription and notification bell. If you're watching on YouTube, tell your friends and neighbors about us too. If you have any topics you'd like this Canadian Thinks to cover or ideas for guests that might be interested in appearing in future episodes, be sure to let us know. We're also actively seeking sponsors and advertisers who might be a good fit with our program. If you'd like to partner with us, we'd be happy to hear from you as well. Thanks so much once again for listening to this podcast. We hope you'll be back for many more episodes to come. Until next time, keep your mind open and don't forget to think.

Speaker 7:

We'll see you next time.

Understanding Canadian Government and Political Engagement
Take Back Alberta
Get Actively Involved in Local Politics
Political Engagement and Community Building
Concerns and Misconceptions in Canadian Politics
Building a Better Society

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