I Am Albertan

June 17th, 2015 | by Larry Clausen

This article was originally published on Calgary Herald Online.

When the unexpected occurred – the expected happened! Namely, the Alberta government changed and the people reacted.

Street talk ranged from a sense that the change is good and will reinvigorate the province while others felt the worst possible scenario for Alberta had unfolded. Shock likely describes how party members felt. Those that had not thought they would form the government to those that felt their party would rule once again. Even the official opposition felt surprised that despite all of its upheaval they accomplished much.

It is now interesting to observe how people are trying to align to the new government. Some worry their voice will not be heard while others are fearful of potential decisions that will impact them. Influencers of the previous government feel a loss of power while insiders of the current government feel entitlement. Some businesses are even going as far as hiring “NDP” known people to change how their business is viewed.

In my youth, everyone knew me as a very engaged Tory. But, as time went by my interests changed and being a party insider became less appealing. It was funny to hear my Liberal friends say I sound just like a Conservative while the PCs would ask me if I had become a Liberal. Even more amusing, my NDP friends say that I was leaning more their way than ever before.

The fact of the matter was that no one party’s ideology really matched the life I expected and was living in the province. As a business person, it quickly became evident that my clients were seeking solutions that were balanced and met their objectives. Often this was not aligned to the values of the government of the day and strategies to motivate different thinking by government were required.

As a result of my early political involvement, I learnt very quickly that the belief of party members was not necessarily the policy of government. The gap between party and government is much debated but once a party is elected it is their responsibility to manage the affairs and assets of the people in a balanced fashion. Yes, they are influenced by values of their party but good decisions may not always accommodate these.

Perhaps we need to sit back and listen to what is on the horizon for our province with a new government. Give the politicians a chance to table their plans. Then we can interact with the government and help them advance their actions or be helpful by providing advice for alternative approaches.

Regardless, the future engagement of government and the people should be to ensure we take steps to keep Alberta the strong province it has become. Every action should be taken to advance the province and its people.

To that end, I Am Albertan first!

Larry E. Clausen is executive vice president, Western Canada, Cohn & Wolfe.