An open letter to Dave Hancock, Deputy Premier: Why you should quit … Now … Really!

Illegal organizations like this continue to operate in Alberta behind closed doors, despite the fact someone may yell … St**ke! … in violation of the Act to Protect Albertans from Inaccurate and Uninformative Bloggers. Actual members of collective bargaining organizations may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Alberta Deputy Premier Dave Hancock, at right, with the author of this well-intentioned letter, also named Dave.

Dave Hancock
Deputy Premier of Alberta
Minister of Human Services
Government House Leader
MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud

Dear Dave,

I’m writing you today because I think you should resign.

Certainly you should quit Premier Alison Redford’s cabinet, and maybe her Progressive Conservative caucus too. And, no, this isn’t because of those kids who died in government care, the ones whose deaths your government didn’t see the need to tell anyone about, but got found out anyway on your watch. I am quite confident we both agree that was an outrage and a tragedy.

So I believe you really meant it when you said you think the government should be held to a higher standard. I think you’re serious about wanting to make things safer for children in care, even if I don’t think you really believed the bit about how keeping a lot of the deaths secret was about privacy. Actually, I sort of trust you to try to do something about it, and probably to do a better job than most of your so-called colleagues in Ms. Redford’s cabinet.

And I certainly don’t think you should quit because of that ministerial responsibility thing. No, I figure that’s one Parliamentary convention that’s pretty well finished in Canada. I don’t even blame the Harper Cons down in Ottawa for starting it down the slippery slope, although they sure put the nail in the old ministerial responsibility coffin with that Senate thing, didn’t they? Well, whatever. It’s deader now than the proverbial mackerel, and I don’t think we’ll ever see another cabinet minister from any party resign in this country for anything that happened on his or her watch. Those days are gone.

But here’s thing, Dave, I think you should quit because you’re just better than this.

You’ve always struck me as an honourable guy – smart, pretty decent, well spoken. In fact, I think you’re the kind of guy who would never be a Conservative of any stripe in almost any other province in Canada. You could certainly be a Liberal, or a cautious New Democrat, in most places. I thought you were a pretty good candidate back in the day, when you ran for the premier’s job. And you were probably a great lawyer, too, the kind who could be counted on to give good advice, even if there was no money in it for you. Advice like this: sometimes it’s better to quit while you still have your reputation intact.

So that’s why I’m writing you this letter. By the way, I’m writing it as a sort-of open letter, because I figure if I just threw it in the mail like I do my usual complaints to Finance Minister Doug Horner, who’s the MLA for the riding I live in, it would likely never get past your watchers from the Public Affairs Bureau and the premier’s office. So I wouldn’t even get the smarmy and hypocritical replies I’m used to. Instead, I thought I’d just write it up in my blog, like, so you’d be more likely to see it.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, you’re better than this, Dave! I heard you argued pretty hard in cabinet about those dumb labour laws one of Tom Lukaszuk’s pals scratched out on a napkin one night in a bar or wherever – you know, the ones that make it illegal for a union to strike in Alberta if it has any chance of winning, and that throw due process, collective bargaining, any appearance of fairness and freedom of speech to the four winds.

I’m sure that’s because you’re the kind of guy that thinks it’s just not right for a government to pass a law it knows is unconstitutional, just because it can. And I’m sure you didn’t approve of giving taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars away to lawyers to defend a law that you know can’t stand a court challenge here in Alberta. And you’re, like, a QC. Plus, I’ll bet it was also because you know that, never mind what the courts say, the collective bargaining system works pretty well, and that messing with it can have serious unintended consequences down the pike, even if Mr. Lukaszuk, the premier’s wrecking ball, is too arrogant to figure that out.

What’s more, I bet you’ve been getting the same kind of calls from public employees that your caucus mates from the countryside have been getting visits from – you know, the PC MLAs who edged out the Wildrose candidate by a hundred or so votes, who are hearing from a lot of “progressive” voters they’ll vote Wildrose just to get rid of Ms. Redford and the rest of you. And it’s not just the union members who are in an uproar, I hear – it’s their bosses too, and their bosses, and their bosses’ bosses…

And, you’ve been around politics, like, pretty much forever, so you probably have a good sense of when the wind is shifting. It’s a wonder the premier can’t figure that out. She’s a smart person and a good lawyer too. Maybe it’s because she hasn’t been around as long as you – or almost anyone else in the Legislature. Or maybe it’s just those advisors of hers. But the thing is, when this is all over, they can all go back to Ontario and work at Queen’s Park. A lot of Alberta Tory MLAs, though? They’re just going to be screwed, blued and tattooed.

I also figure you argued with the brainiacs who were pushing for this stuff because, like me and most Albertans, you really believe in the values in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You know it’s not right to fine some guy $500 bucks every time he stands up to celebrate knocking over all the pins at the bowling alley, if you know what I mean.

And, Dave, I read those reviews you’re always writing up on TripAdvisor. They’re really good! You could write a travel blog! I know I’d read it. And that tells me that, these days, you’d really rather be anywhere but here, even in a draughty old hotel in Yorkshire. Think about the reasons.

So you should quit before you feel you have to start lying about what you do for a living when you meet the other guests in one of those cozy little B&Bs on Salt Spring Island. Half of them are from Alberta anyway, you know? My late dad told me a man’s reputation is everything. And I’m sure that matters to you. So forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but you should quit, Dave, right now, while you still have a reputation to save!

Now, look, I know you want to be a judge. And in your shoes, I’d want to be a judge too. I mean, who could blame us, eh? All rise! But sometimes people have to make sacrifices for their principles and I say this is one of those times. I mean, how are you going to feel if you hang in there till Alison recommends you to Steve Harper, and Steve follows through and makes you a judge, and an open-and-shut freedom-of-speech case comes up before you? You have to know that people are going to notice, even the ones that call you M’Lord to your face.

So, yeah, it’ll be hard to do. I know that. But it’ll be the right thing. And you will feel better, as soon as you’ve done it. I’m just saying, Dave, you’re better than this.

Respectfully, your friend,


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14 Comments on "An open letter to Dave Hancock, Deputy Premier: Why you should quit … Now … Really!"

  1. Cathy Bittman says:

    I agree whole heartedly

  2. I used to think Hancock was cut from a different cloth than most PCs. But the last few months (PDD, foster kids, Bills 45 and 46) make it clear where Hancock’s loyalties lie. They all need to go next election.

  3. John Cameron says:

    I suspect you are correct when you point out that Hancock and possibly some others on the government benches recognize that Bills 45 and 46 are wrong and unconstitutional. However I do not have the same apparent faith, belief or hope you express that any of them actually care or will raise a finger to change the situation. Like the potted plants they frequently impersonate, they are wholly reliant on someone else to water them and turn them to the light.

  4. Lou Arab says:

    “I think you’re the kind of guy who would never be a Conservative of any stripe in almost any other province in Canada. You could certainly be a Liberal, or a cautious New Democrat, in most places.”

    I will always love you Dave, but that has to be the dumbest thing you have ever written.

    What is it going to take Dave, for you and others to be abused of this notion that Hancock is progressive and reasonable??!?!?!?!

    Seriously, there may be rumours he fights the good fight in cabinet, but those rumours are likely started by the Minister himself. The public record is much, much different.

    Hancock’s been responsible for leading the defense on three of the most unprogressive pieces of legislation this government has put forward in the last generation or so. Remember Bill 44? He led the fight FOR that piece of trash in the Legislature and in front of the cameras – and he did it with great gusto. Same thing with bills 45 and 46. He did far more heavy lifting than Lukaszuk and others.

    There comes a point when you defend enough right wing laws that you are no longer a progressive working from within, but rather a defender of those very odious laws.

    Dave Hancock is not a progressive in any way, shape, or form. In any other province, he’d be right where he is here – a front bench cabinet minister of a hard right government. Everything else is a myth believed only by the most gullible.

  5. Tom Ramsay says:

    It’s sad that we have a group of clones in government, all posturing, clamouring to get the attention of their leader. They adopt the credo of “Yes Sir, No Sir, three bags full Sir”. I guess they do not aspire to be even 1% of the person Mandela was. If a book was written about Ethics in government, would it even cover one page? Doubtful. Nobody shows real leadership any more. Well written article!

  6. Janet Keeping says:

    I have to add my voice to those who believe Dave Hancock is no friend of progressive forces in Alberta. I have no idea what he actually believes — and perhaps he doesn’t actually believe in anything anymore. I have watched him closely since the Bill 44 debate (forcing teachers to get advance parental permission for any discussion of religion, human sexuality or sexual orientation) where Hancock as Minister of Education had written in his own blog that this section of the Bill (now added to the Human Rights Act) did not belong in that statute. In an early stage of the debate, he had blogged that if it belonged anywhere (and one is tempted to believe that being a lawyer he realized it belonged nowhere, but alas I think such hopes are silly and groundless) it belonged in the School Act. But his own views notwithstanding, he later argued publicly that adding that odious provision to the Human Rights Act was a good thing. When reminded of his earlier blog comment to the contrary, he thought it amusing that anyone should have noticed the contradiction. Shameless! Janet Keeping, leader, Green Party of Alberta

    • Paul Stencell Sr. says:

      This party is done. It’s amazing though how federally every one listens whenever Miss May speaks.
      Every time these tories speak I just feel dirty and violated. There is no fixing this party, they just need to take a walk in the snow.

      They were people once I guess.

  7. Oliver Twisted says:

    They’re choosing up sides and cowards like Monsieur Handcock just can’t stand the bother. In other news; major league baseball has banned umpires from using the term strike. From now on MLB is all balls. (so that’s where Dave’s went)

  8. Derek Coke-Kerr says:

    I’ve known Dave Hancock since 1976. I’ve worked on his campaigns…written his ads and brochures and all because I have had the greatest respect for him as a PROGRESSIVE Conservative. I was disappointed with his run for the leadership as I believed that with him as leader Alberta would take several steps forward. But that’s water under the bridge.
    Dave lost me, indeed the PCAA (on which I had served as VP Communications for 2 years) lost me permanently the day Horner stood in the Leg. and moved his phony budget, taking us back into debt and deficits and hiding it under a cloak of accounting bafflegab. Dave stood, with all the other sheep, applauding wildly when the Treasures had finished this charade. And the Hon. Minister I had worked beside, had the same sh*t-eating grin on his face as he had when, years earlier, he stood beside Ralph Klien as HE declared Alberta to be forever out of debt.
    I guess I missed the memo about forgetting our loyalty to the cause, the people of Alberta, the party and the principles we used to stand for.

    • Tom Ramsay says:

      Well-written post; disheartening that the content is so true. When you first got to know Mr. Hancock in 1976, I was leaving Alberta to return to Manitoba. I spent the late 60′s and up to mid-70′s in Calgary, and later, Edmonton. Those were the heady days of progress with a leader whose like we shall likely never see again, Peter Lougheed. He had some difficult energy issues to deal with, and he did meet them head-on. He managed to reach a good agreement with Pierre Trudeau, no mean feat-good for Alberta and Canada too.
      I have seen change too; I was exec asst to an MP in Manitoba and it is frustrating to see good men, and women, sometimes kowtow and asyou say, become sheep and balndly nod away, contributing little if anything to the public good.
      Keep writing informative commentary please–it’s refreshingly honest!

  9. Paul Stencell Sr. says:

    I,m not very concerned about Dave’s feelings, her reminds me of a line in a movie “The Story Lady” with Jesica Tandy when she refers to a childrens story book character as a big fat toad. It’s too late for AB torys, this province needs an enima starting with this tory party, next the infrastructure of thugs they created to force their will on people.

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