The Top 10 reasons to worry about the Wildrose Alliance Party – the Top 11, actually

How Wildrose Alliance policies get explained in Alberta.

So, what do the Wildrose Alliance Party and its leader Danielle Smith actually stand for?

This is a good question that nobody seems to be asking – much to Ms. Smith’s delight, it is reasonable to surmise.

Blogger Dave Cournoyer was bang on when he stated Monday that the Alberta media have given Ms. Smith a free ride. “Little of the incredible media attention received by Ms. Smith has focused on her party’s policy or even her political stances,” Cournoyer accurately observed in a post Jan. 18 on his blog.

The few softball questions she has been tossed, he noted, she has easily deflected “by telling the media to wait until her party’s upcoming policy conference or hiding behind the label of libertarianism.”

This inattention by the Alberta media really is inexcusable, disgraceful even. Alberta’s media seem prepared to cover this important story only as a breathless celebrity rave and the political equivalent of a car chase.

The darkest details of Wildrose Alliance policy, of course, are an occult matter, known only to the oil industry bagmen who finance the organization. But it is not that hard to get an inkling of where the party stands on a number of key issues simply by reading the “Wildrose Alliance Policies” page on the party’s Website.

The policies listed on that page range from intriguing to ridiculous, naïve and impractical to outright frightening. Many are buried in the coded language of the extreme right – designed to mean one thing to casual readers and another to insiders, who know what the phrasing really implies.

So, for example, on education policy, the party’s platform is a mixture of ideas that are sensible, intriguing, meaningless, ideological, potentially unconstitutional, dangerously ideological and disguised by coded language:

  • Sensible – full funding for arts and music education
  • Intriguing – providing financial incentives to health and education students willing to work in remote areas
  • Meaningless – “work to reduce absenteeism and truancy”
  • Ideological – “encourage entrepreneurial courses”
  • Potentially unconstitutional – a blanket ban on strikes by teachers and school workers
  • Dangerously ideological – holding teachers’ responsible for students’ performance, well known as recipe for such perverse incentives as pushing weak students to drop out to keep school scores high
  • Coded – “support ‘School Choice’ Legislation”

This last point, of course, is a message to the Wildrose party’s base that Ms. Smith and the party brass support school voucher programs, a system that blossomed in the United States as a mechanism for continuing racial segregation, conveniently justified on “market” grounds.

It is beloved by the market fundamentalists of the far right as a way to weaken public education – and, of course, reduce the power of the teachers’ unions they hate – and to direct public money into the pockets of people who can afford the most expensive private schools.

The school voucher scheme is a particular bee in Ms. Smith’s bonnet, so it is no surprise to find it in the Wildrose platform. It is bound, upon examination, to be rejected by the majority of Alberta taxpayers, so it is no surprise to find it referred to in a code that disguises the intent of the policy referred to.

Here are 10 other dangerous Wildrose policies that should be of concern to Albertans and that, for heaven’s sake, should be the topic of questions by anyone who claims to be a “journalist”:

10) “Implement a timely and effective Social Assistance to work program.” Does this mean “work for welfare”? Until informed otherwise, we’d better assume it does.

9) “Expand the role of sheriffs to handle Provincial justice issues.” Does this mean getting rid of the RCMP and creating a provincial police force? Sure sounds like it.

8) “Provide health care funding that will follow the service to the health care provider and approved facility of choice” – this is code for privatization of services, a guaranteed precursor to add-on fees and a two-tier health care system.

7) “Provide less expensive and more patient-friendly alternatives to hospital care” – the streets? Your kids have to take care of you?

6) “Deliver an annual individual statement of benefits to each resident of Alberta” – this would cost money, tie up health care staff and do no good. It’s goal? Who knows? Maybe to explain to Albertans “how much their health care costs”? Sounds like another precursor to privatization.

5) “Implement legislation protecting the ‘conscience rights’ of healthcare professionals” – is this code for restricting the right of women to abortions?

4) “Oppose unfair and industry specific taxation from the federal government” – in other words, fight for more tax breaks for the oil industry, which is, after all, the chief funder of the Wildrose Alliance.

3) “Allow competition to the Workers Compensation Board” – code for handing over the functions of Workers Compensation to private insurance companies. If you think WCB is bad now, just wait for this idea to become reality!

2) “Allow individual workers the choice to determine their membership in labour organizations” – this is code for so-called “right to work” legislation, which, as Martin Luther King observed, “provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works.’ Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining…” ’Nuf said.

And the No. 1 reason to worry about a Wildrose government in Alberta, straight from the policy pages of their Website?

1)Withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan…” There’s a qualifier, but don’t believe it. If you want to know what it is, go read it yourself!

Indeed, reading it yourself would be a good idea for any Albertan, since you’re unlikely to get much help from the media.

There’s plenty more to worry about in this packet of policies – and those are just the public ones. There are more to puzzle over too. There is even the occasional good idea.

But one thing’s for sure. No Albertan should consider voting for this party without knowing what it is they really stand for.

14 Comments on "The Top 10 reasons to worry about the Wildrose Alliance Party – the Top 11, actually"

  1. Princess says:

    "without knowing what it is they really stand for."

    Include yourself in this category Dave, your explanations of policy are laughable; those that you give anyway, some just sound more ominous unexplained.

    Hopefully I will have some time later to come back and explain in more detail, but in the mean time, happy fear mongering!


  2. Anonymous says:

    Dave sounds like top 10 / 11 reasons to suport the WAP to me!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you very much for this post Dave. Please keep up with your independent thoughts.

  4. Ian says:

    "5) “Implement legislation protecting the ‘conscience rights’ of healthcare professionals” – is this code for restricting the right of women to abortions?"

    can also mean restricting access to birth control. I think they though about a similar provision in Ontario and either decided against it or were beaten in the courts.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Good post!

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is an excellent, illuminating post.

    Please tweet it, post in on FB and share it with friends!

  7. Alberta Altruist says:

    Well Mr. C,
    Your "CODE" breaking is not all that correct. Here is my rebuttal to your "CODE". I welcome your comments.

  8. Bleatmop says:

    It's amazing how many of these policies are straight from GWB's political handbook. I would imagine the same people wrote them for Dubya as they did for the WAP.

  9. Darren says:

    I hope you're still not a journalism teacher. The last thing the industry needs is more reporters who can't seem to differentiate between opinion and fact.

    I had to laugh when you suggested that the oil industry is the chief funder of the WRA like it's some kind of a demonic arrangement. You seem to forget the oil industry is also the chief funder of the group your profile says you work for – the AUPE. There is no such thing as government money, it's money from royalties, fees and taxes.

    Your last line states no one should consider voting for this party until they know what they stand for. Sorry to be blunt but "well, duh." No one should vote for any party without knowing what they really stand for.

  10. R. G. Harvie says:

    I'm no fan of the WRA, and I blogged with Daveberta about the free ride Danielle Smith is getting.

    And I would agree that educational vouchers are a bad idea – there are better ways of securing better performance in our schools, which includes assuring that our teachers are amongs the highest paid teaching professionals in Canada.

    And, I agree that the so-called "right to work" legislation is inappropriate – from both the standpoint of the employer and the employee.

    Collective bargaining, fairly regulated, is an excellent process, and really, is inherent in the idea of the right of free association. For a group of workers to be entitled to organize and bargain collectively as opposed to being asked to bargain individually is inherent in a free and democratic society.

    And, I'm opposed to givin special treatment to the oil industry, and am in support of royalty rates that are inline with going world markets.

    As for "freedom of conscience" legislation – I don't see a great need for that at the moment. I'm in favor of choice regarding the abortion issue – and believe that there is more than ample ability for health care providers to organize their practice in a manner that allows for protection of their conscience without specific legislation.

    And I don't see the utility or the wisdom of opting out of CPP.. which I think is a thinly coded effort, along with the Sheriff's plan, of preparing a "firewall" preparatory to separation.

    And all of these positions I hold, are held as well by our current government.

    Just sayin'

  11. Anonymous says:

    You missed the best part: Bill 44 isn't strong enough – they want to remove the qualifier (section 3) of the "Notice to parent or guardian" (parental rights) clause which reads:

    (3) This section does not apply to incidental or indirect references to religion, religious themes, human sexuality or sexual orientation in a course of study, educational program, instruction or exercises or in the use of instructional materials.

    Teachers beware!

  12. David J. Climenhaga says:

    Objections to criticism of Wildrose Alliance policy fall into two broad categories. The first is the default position of everyone’s you-know-what brother-in-law: “Ban unions? What’s wrong with that? This is often accompanied by outright abuse, such as the suggestion the questioner must be running a grow op because he wonders if the Alliance wants to get rid of the RCMP. A slightly subtler version of this approach is to argue, “You are right about what we meant, but let me explain why that’s reasonable.” An example of this tactic is taken by Altruist, who in his 2,000-plus word rebuttal concedes that, yes, the Alliance wants to get out of the Canada Pension Plan, but offers a windy and unpersuasive argument why that would be A Good Thing. The second general approach is more effective as a rhetorical tool. To wit: “You simply got it wrong. That’s not what we mean.” Indeed, it may be possible the Alliance doesn’t have a work-for-welfare scheme in mind when it uses the phrase “Social Assistance to work.” But if so, what does it mean? It’s incumbent upon the Alliance to explain. But much of the Wildrose policy statement is vague or missing necessary details. What does “support the diversification of Alberta’s energy supply” mean, if anything, beyond motherhood and apple pie? Nuclear power? What is the motivation behind “strike section 3 of the Human Rights and Multiculturalism Act”? (Section 3 prohibits publication or display “of a representation that indicates discrimination or an intention to discriminate, or that is likely to expose a person or class of persons to hatred or contempt based on the following protected grounds: race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religious beliefs, gender [including pregnancy, sexual harassment, and gender identity], age, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, family status, source of income and sexual orientation.” Anti-Semitic graffiti on a synagogue would be an example. Most of us think Section 3 is sound policy. Let the Wildrose Alliance explain to us why they do not. The Alliance has some good ideas – if they mean what they say. “Follow any downloading of services from the province to municipalities with the appropriate amount of funding.” The problem with this is that right-wing governments usually download on municipalities as a way to kill programs of which they disapprove. In other words, a Wildrose government will do the same as any other right-wing government in these circumstances, and claim they are not downloading, merely “eliminating needless bureaucracy.”

  13. Darren says:

    Paying teachers more will ensure better quality teachers? No, it just esures higher paid teachers who shouldn't be teaching in the first place. You want better teachers, you need to incorporate some kind of professional accountability system. Any parent I've talked to has some kind of horror story about a teacher who for some reason or another, they felt shouldn't be teaching but couldn't be fired.

    While the aims of Section 3 might be admirable, the language ("likely expose") is far too open ended for legislation and potentially unconstitutional, as we saw in the AHRC case against that Red Deer pastor. It would make more sense to eliminate legislation that may not be constitutional and determine if such matters would better be dealt with in the civil court system first.
    I found it interesting "source of income" was one of the aspects you included in the list. I was not aware that was on the list. Does that mean someone working for the oil and gas industry can bring a case against people who criticize the industry, as such comments would likely expose those people to hatred or contempt?

  14. Robert Vollman says:

    Wow. Looks like they essentially want to turn us into Quebec.


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