Monday, September 10, 2012

Wildrose; I'm Calling Your Bluff

Those who know my husband Cory from his online presence of his Ranting and Raving blog, Twitter and the occasional appearance on Sun News Network; often are surprised or remark to me,  "You're married to that guy?"

Our real life friends of course get to see our relationship up close and witness how much we can disagree on things from politics to poker. Without a doubt, it can be challenging at times when we are on different sides of an issue. However it's never boring and that is one thing he promised me; life with him would never be boring.

So a few weeks ago, when he decided he was going to speak out and take the Wildrose Party to task on a few things; I had one of those "oh crap" moments.  Both of us have been closely tied to the Party, even before it became the Wildrose. In fact this past summer was the first summer since 2005 that neither of us were sitting on the Provincial Executive Board.

We have both dedicated countless hours; held our tongues (and noses) through a lot of goings-on within the party. The Party and its' success mean a LOT to us and we truly believe it's founding principles can guide Alberta to a better future. So why would either of us be critical or call into question our own party - - simple, you need to speak up for what you believe in. You need to call people out when they have gone too far and are going the wrong direction.

In July Cory started to shed light on some of the concerns. Concerns that likely others shared, but were either unwilling or had no way of vocalizing. Concerns like; the Party building trust,  or confronting the confusion over the date for the Party AGM, and digging up the fact that the current Executive barely met since being elected in June 2011 and during an election year. Others started to question his motives and he addressed that.

By the end of August he called them out once again on the date of the AGM, cobbling together information garnered from random Twitter messages, because nothing had been released officially on the Party website. Low and behold the next day (and after 5 weeks of prodding) the Party sent out an email and dialed all the members regarding the upcoming AGM. When we returned from an extra long, long-weekend Cory broke the bad news part of the AGM details.  Here is an excerpt, to save you some reading and save me typing.


On the party website is a link to an application form for executive positions.  This is a very deep and intensive application form and it demands right in the beginning that it be filled out completely. Sorry folks, the party is in no place to make such demands. As per the constitution the applicant only needs to demonstrate that they are a member in good standing of the party.
Now at the bottom of the form it demands that applicants sign off their party rights to the nominating committee (whoever they are) who may refuse the application for any reason that they may see fit. Sorry folks but that is simply horseshit on many levels.
“1. Acknowledge and agree that the AGM Nominating Committee has the authority to disallow my candidacy on any grounds it sees fit, and whose decision shall be final and binding and not further appealed or challenged.”
So candidates are expected to sign off authority to an un-named and appointed committee who may reject their application for any reason that fits their fancy. Think about that.
If this application is to be believed, authority within the party rests with an appointed committee as opposed to the membership as the constitution states.


Around this same time I decided to get involved. Something neither of us normally do, we tend to let each other go off and do their own thing.

I prefer going to the source for information and thoroughly enjoy research and fitting pieces of a puzzle together. This is one area where Cory and I differ; he can be seen as browbeating at times, I like a more methodical approach.

First I emailed Jeff Trynchy at Party head office (he is always very helpful) and asked him who was on the Nominating Committee. Keep in mind that in 2011 this committee had their names published on the party website well before the deadline to apply to be a candidate.

The timing of appointing this committee is crucial. It must be done at least 90 days prior to the AGM (as per our constitution). This means they had to have been appointed by August 23rd. However earlier is by far more preferable given they are tasked with ensuring there are candidates to run for all 16 positions. At 65 days prior to the AGM they must report to the Executive Committee all the names of nominees. As you can see if they leave appointing of the committee until 90 days, that only gives the committee 25 days to find people, to communicate to the constituencies and the members at large.

More than a week past I hadn't received a reply from Jeff (this is unusual). I then forwarded the same email to Paul Collins (President) and Jonathon Wescott (our new Executive Director) and re-asked who was on the committee and added a question about the crazy clause. I pointed out that our Leader, Danielle Smith had publicly stated that this concern should be addressed by the Executive.

When I didn't get a reply from either of them, I then sent an email to the entire board. I also sent it to a group email address for all of the Constituency Association Presidents. To my surprise I got this automated reply: "Your email is being held until the list moderator can review it for approval."  I understand it's meant to deter spam and frivolous emails, but it didn't deter my inner-bulldog (lol), as I set about sending it to every public CA address.

THANKFULLY, a board member did reply early Sunday and gave me the names of individuals that they believed to be on the committee. Specifically; Rob Ladoucer (VP of Policy), Doug Main and David Chatters. Since then I've received three more confirmations of these names, though one was an anonymous email.

I asked Rob on Twitter to confirm, so far I haven't heard from him. He would have also received my email.

I've previously corresponded with Doug Main, so I emailed him. The exchange went as follows:


On 9/9/2012 8:52 AM, Jane Morgan wrote:

Hi Doug,

I understand that you may be on the Wildrose Nominating Committee for the upcoming AGM.

Can you verify this? If so, I have a couple of questions for you.

Thanks,
JaneMorgan

From: Doug Main [personal email address removed]
Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2012 10:05 AM



Yes.




On 9/9/2012 10:26 AM, Jane Morgan wrote:

Thank you for the quick response Doug. Last year the party had released the names on the committee well before the AGM, this year it seems a bit challenging to find this information.

I will preface my questions with the fact that I’m not personally seeking a position.

Who else is on the committee and when were you appointed?

I noticed (and others have as well) that there are some stipulations added to the application form. Specifically:

   1.) Acknowledge and agree that the AGM Nominating Committee has the authority to disallow my candidacy on any grounds it sees fit, and whose decision shall be final and binding and not further appealed or challenged.

Did the committee or the Provincial Board come up with this clause? Isn’t this counter to our grassroots?
What was the intent in having applicants agree to this?

And lastly, are there other ways to get your name on the ballot without going through the application process?

Thanks,
Jane

From: Doug Main [personal email address removed]
Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2012 10:45 AM
Hi Jane...

I'm sorry I can't answer any of your questions since I was only recently asked if my name could be put forward for this committee and we haven't had any meetings or discussions yet. Perhaps see Jeff Trynchy for your answers.

D



On 9/9/2012 12:32 PM, Jane Morgan wrote:

Actually I asked Jeff already a couple of weeks ago, he didn’t have any answers.

That was Aug 29th, so maybe you hadn’t been approached yet.

So you don’t know who else is on the committee or who might call a meeting?

Thanks,

Jane


From: Doug Main [mailto:doug.main@wildrose.ca]
Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2012 12:40 PM
Sorry. I was approached around the same time, but have no other info


I didn't have David Chatters email, but I was able to find his phone number and I called him Sunday evening.

I confirmed he is on the committee. I asked him if he could verify the clause  "...committee has the authority to disallow my candidacy on any grounds it sees fit".

Me: Can you tell me why the committee put that stipulation in there?

Mr Chatters:  No. I don’t, actually….. because I was asked to sit on the committee and I said I would. And the committee hasn't even met to go over the rules or anything. So I really don’t know who drafted that. Or why they would.

Me: It's very disconcerting to me because it does go on to say the decision would be final and binding. And that you wouldn't be able to appeal or challenge it. As I understand it the committee is made up of three people, is that correct? 

Mr. Chatters: Yeah, that's what I understand as well. I don't ... I assume that the current board and the Executive Director put in place those rules. I don't know, it sounds kind of high-handed me. I don't know why they would have to put something like that in. It doesn't make any sense to me and everything should be appeal-able. 

Me: Right. And our constitution when it speaks to running for an Executive position it says you need to be a member in good standing. And it doesn't really say much more than that. But this makes is sound like this committee, these three people have the ability to prevent someone from potentially running. And really, in my eyes, I mean it should be up to the members to decide.

Mr. Chatters: Yeah, I would think so......I, I don't know ..... I know that Collins the former, or the current President ........ he's not running again so he is sitting on it and I'm sitting on it. And I think the other one is Rob Ladouceur; who is policy director and is not running again. I think if you have questions like that you should perhaps talk to the Executive Director. At least until the committee has a meeting and has a chance to discuss these things. 

Mr. Chatters went on to say that he was appointed about a month and a half ago and only communication he has had  since is an email he got about three weeks ago. In it he was advised he would be receiving applications by mail to review. So far he hasn't gotten anything. He said at this point even if he did get them, he's not sure how he would review them without knowing the rules. 

Mr. Chatters: So I'm pretty much in the dark, like you.

Me:  I have sent an email to the Executive Director, but I haven't gotten a reply as yet. 

Mr. Chatters: I'm expecting to get something and I'm expecting the committee will have at least a conference call meeting to go over the rules and what the criteria are and why would we object to someone running. You know all of those things we should go over it as a committee. 

Me: That's right.

Mr. Chatters:  I don't know where these rules came from. They sound a little dictatorial to me for a grassroots, democratic, party.



At this point I do want to be very clear; Doug Main and David Chatters are both very well respected in political circles and beyond. They have both served on committees with the Wildrose Party previously and Doug in other capacities as well.  I have never had any concerns with respect to either of them.

Clearly neither of them had anything to do with writing the clauses on the application form. I also doubt they were provided with much information as to what is entailed on this committee. Things such as the timelines. By my calculations 65 days prior to the AGM lands on September 18 or 19 depending if you count the Friday of the AGM; not September 21 as stated on the Wildrose application form. That gives them a mere ten days. Then the countdown starts to get notice to members of who is running, which needs to be post-marked by September 24  (60 day mark).

However there are bigger questions than logistics surrounding this issue.

Who wrote that clause? Was it the Executive Director, the board, a staff member?

If it was staff or the ED, did the board agree to it?

If they didn't approve it, how did it get as far as it has?

It's in writing and posted on the website, so clearly appears to be a party sanctioned document that is in direct violation of our constitution. 

Another aspect of this that doesn't sit well with me is current board members being on the nomination committee. We are a party of 25 K + members and we can't find three members completely removed from the executive??!!!

Some will say it's not that big of a deal if neither Rob Ladouceur or Paul Collins are running again. Do we know that for sure?  Rob very recently started a brand new blog with a subtitle "Wildrose VP Policy's Blog"  Why would someone do that 15 months after they were elected to the role and they know they only have less than 90 days left?

I had heard Paul Collins actually did step down in the summer and they had even found a replacement, but someone in caucus didn't like the replacement and convinced Paul to stay on.  I believe this rumor is supported by the fact that when David Chatters was contacted a month and a half ago he was told Paul had stepped down. Thus him thinking the three committee members are Collins, Ladouceur and himself. Whereas we have Doug Main who, in his words, "was only recently asked" to be on the committee.

I think the committee was in place sometime in July with Collins, Ladouceur and Chatters. Then Collins is convinced to stay on has a change of heart (when, we don't know), his spot is then filled (recently) by Doug Main.

Normally I wouldn't purposely draw negative attention to the Wildrose. However the Party we joined, the Party we helped build, the Party we believe in; wouldn't normally so publicly and blatantly, violate our member endorsed constitution.

Wildrose; I'm calling your bluff. Pull that application in its' entirety. It's a disgrace to what we stand for, what we built and what we dream of for our province.

Update Monday, Sept 10, 1:15 PM

I have now heard back from both Paul Collins and Jonathon Wescott. Unfortunately their answers were incomplete and generated further questions on my part. Both promised to get back to me later today with additional information.

I've also had an email exchange with Rob Ladouceur, confirming he is on the committee. He also confirmed the EC passed a motion regarding the nominating committee and related clauses. 

Quote from Rob: 
"This year's application uses strong language partly because the motion from the EC is also stronger in language."

He goes on to say; 
"The motion was specific in saying that disqualification can only happen if someone could damage the party's reputation."


"if someone "could" damage the party's reputation".   Could.   May.    Might.   Perhaps.

Really? How does one determine that? Is it someone with a criminal record? Is it a member who is openly critical of the party? Is it someone who wears different colored socks?

Is this committee expected to be able to predict the future? To predict the future, specific actions of a person from a review of a written application?

We already have mechanisms in place to deal with individuals when they "actually" damage the party's reputation. 

If you ask me the party's reputation has already been damaged by a board that is violating our constitution.

No committee "could" have seen that coming 15 months ago !!!


Update Monday, Sept 10, 5:15 PM

As mentioned previously, both Jonathon and Paul agreed to get back to me later today. I have received an email from Jonathon and given the contents, I suspect I won't hear any further from Paul today.

Quote Jonathon Wescott: 

Ms. Morgan,


By way of short update, I have a meeting scheduled to receive instructions and discuss your email, but it is later this evening, therefore, if I am not back to you this evening, it will be tomorrow am.

Yours truly,

I am of course very hopeful that common sense (IE: follow our constitution) will prevail at this meeting. And that the offensive clause on the application will be removed.  Or better yet, the entire document; all they need to know is if the person is a member in good standing. 

Update Tuesday, Sept 11, 12:15 PM

It's now just past noon and no word from Jonathon Wescott; however it has been brought to my attention that the clause on the application form has been changed. Also there is a memo from the Nomination Committee as a result of their first meeting of last evening.

It's excellent that there has finally been action on this. I am particularly pleased that they have outlined the second way to nominated and provided a form for convenience. 

It would appear there is still some confusion over the cutoff date. As I previously mentioned, 65 days prior to AGM falls on September 19, not the 21st. as indicated on the Wildrose website. 

I am looking forward to getting a response from Paul Collins, current President of the Wildrose Party; to clarify his comment left on this blog earlier today. (See below).



.

20 comments:

  1. Jane why on earth would you think that the people surrounding Danielle would do the right thing at all. This party is slowly moving away from any real grass roots democracy with Danielle making decisions on party policy without members consent. Soon the party will end any real social con policy and then we will be just like the PCs

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  2. I don't think the people "surrounding" Danielle and the board are the same people.

    On the policy front I certainly give a lot more leeway. It would be impossible for any party to have a policy on absolutely everything. I do believe the Leader and Caucus bear the responsibility to develop positions based our cornerstone principles and that they be in the spirit of what our members would 'likely' pass.

    The Board on the other hand is governed by the members and bound to the constitution. They cannot change it without member input; nor can they write 'rules' that are contradictory to it.

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  3. Jane, this is great work. This kind of story would never get picked up on by the MSM. This just shows the value of blogging.

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  4. http://youtu.be/DQ7pwM55S_A

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  5. Jane, you called it the way it really is in the Party. The admin arm of the party does not understand the term "accountability" nor does it have a patent on knowledge as it appears to convey to members who try to provide constructive suggestions to the Executive. In the latter situation anyone who provides that type of input is branded as some form of "rebel" !!

    I am pleased to join the "rebels" Jane- Keep up the good work - and oh, by the way I am not so "anonymous" - My name is Wilf !!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Wilf,

    I agree, there appears to be some blurring of the lines between "operational" (EC & staff) and "political" (Caucus).

    I don't consider myself a "rebel"; I guess, as you say others may brand individuals with that label. I'm really just an ordinary member who has spoken out. All of our members can and should do just that.

    Cheers

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  7. I find it quite amusing that the social media today affords people to express views with partial truth and a ton of misinformation. What happened to the days when people ,who wanted to know the truth, would make a call to one who had an answer. I guess this practice of going to the source before going to the public would be too practical or ethical. What I have experienced on Facebook blogs in the last few days is the heights of immature behavior and I must remember to keep my sense of humor and smile at the clowns that spend their time producing such comedic content.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment Paul.

      Please clarify this "ton" of misinformation.

      Are all members who speak out clowns? Or is just members with blogs?

      Cheers,
      Jane

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    2. Paul, you ask the question: "What happened to the days when people ...would make a call to the one who had the answer."

      The answer, according is Jane's blog, is found in your refusal to reply to the question she asked of you. In short, "what happened to the days when those who had answers, actually responded politely and honestly to those the people who asked questions of them?"

      It looks like you're the clown, and now is the time to sent OUT the clowns!

      Delete
  8. Note to my readers:

    Initially I doubted the above comment was from Wildrose Party President Paul Collins and almost didn't publish it.

    However, I followed the link and this comment also appears on his Facebook page.

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  9. In my opinion it's wonderful that we in the Wildrose can even have this kind of debate. We all know the PC party long ago stifled any dissension in their ranks. They simply would not tolerate this kind of open dialogue among members and likely learned 40 years ago to discourage such public discourse.

    Although it may seem cliché to say so, I don't agree with what you're saying but I defend your right to say it. I agreed with the initial direction of your comments, but it seems the conversation is devolving from its original intent. The finger pointing and blame game do not look good on anyone nor do they accomplish anything.

    All the executive members are dedicated volunteers who give selflessly of their own time for our cause. I still believe our cause is to create open, honest and transparent governance over the legislative affairs of Alberta. Along with our primary focus, comes fiscal and social responsibility, remembering these two ideals are not mutually exclusive.

    Danielle is likely the best thing that has happened to our young and growing party. She is responsible for securing our position as the official opposition. What we don't need now is an official opposition within our own ranks. Let's all focus on moving the party forward and broadening the scope of our "tent", welcoming ever increasing numbers of disillusioned and disenfranchised Albertans into the only party that has a chance of surviving an increasingly malevolent government. What I'm witnessing herein is unlikely to entice others into joining our party, embracing our cause and strengthening our ranks in preparation for the next stages of our party's development.

    I can almost hear the "alt-PrtScn" keys being pressed as the PC hacks take screen shots of every word posted by every Wildrose supporter and critic alike. These will all be trotted out at election time to maximize the fear, uncertainty and doubt in the voter's minds.

    After all, this game has been played with the same general rules for 2100 years...give or take a year. Rule number one is gaining and keeping the support of your friends. Quintus Tullius Cicero helped his brother Markus get elected using the same strategies employed so effectively by our adversaries. http://www.amazon.ca/How-Win-Election-Ancient-Politicians/dp/0691154082. Let's play this game to win.

    Regards,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rick,

      I know firsthand the amount of volunteer hours the EC put in. I agree with your comments regarding Danielle. She has different qualities and characteristics than our past leaders. And she certainly is the right leader, at the right time.

      We aren't going to grow or be welcoming if we have people in ELECTED positions, who blatantly and publicly defy our constitution. We won't attract more people if our members sit by and let it happen.

      The only way we will "strengthen our ranks" is if we are all following the same rules. We can't have rules for some and ignore those same rules for others. This is the
      very basis of having principles and ethics.

      I don't fear the PC's pointing to my blog now or any other time. Most people will be nodding their heads in agreement and appreciate that I indeed had the FREEDOM to speak my mind. And will be pleased to see that the party DID listen and respond.

      Going forward I see this as a healthy lesson. Since I posted on this issue many people have sent me copies of emails they sent to the party BEFORE I went public. They were all very thankful of my effort and some of them finally got responses.

      Lastly I think you might be confusing "finger pointing and blame game" with "responsibility and transparency.

      Cheers,
      Jane

      Delete
    2. If you read objectively, I don't feel I've confused the issues. I see both issues occurring in this blog.

      Delete
    3. Please cite the specific examples Rick.

      Delete
  10. Well done Jane, well done.... were I running I would simply submit the Nomination Form versus the Application...

    Bob

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  11. What a bullshit post Paul. If the the people "who have the answers"
    were to get off their butts and get the information to party members in a timely manner there would be little or no partial truths and misinformation. It is supposed to be a "Grass Roots Party". I could be wrong but doesn't grass roots mean including everyone on important information or are we just here as peons to supply funding. I think you owe Jane an apology

    Rob Connon
    Calgary.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Rob,

      It does seem to have a drive-by smear feel to it 'eh.

      Says there is a "ton of misinformation"... then never comes back to say what it is exactly.

      I suspect if this were truly the case I would have received a more formal request to either remove or correct any misinformation.

      Cheers,
      Jane

      Delete
    2. What volunteer work are you doing for the party these days Rob?

      Aside from a little hyperbole, Paul's comments are just as valid as Jane's. Those involved could have spoken on the phone before any real need for this accusatory blog post was created and shared with the world.

      Why the big rush to criticize and condemn our party's hardest working volunteers?

      Delete
    3. What does it matter if Rob C. volunteers? Or if he is even a member for that matter. He's a commenter calling out another for a post he felt was out of line.

      Now it has a little hyperbole? That's quite a different than what you said yesterday on Facebook in response to Paul Collins on the very same comment, you replied; "Well said!"

      I think if you were truly being "objective" as you previously stated, you would agree it was Paul who came here and devolved the conversation to using unprofessional terms like "clowns". His comments carry less validity than others and less than my original post; as he provided zero facts to support his attack.

      How exactly were those involved to speak over the phone? When was the last time you called the office and had the phone answered? How long does it take for calls to be returned after you leave a message? Besides no one from the executive board is available at the office.

      We've been repeated told to contact the board via email. As I mentioned in my prior comment others were doing this BEFORE I wrote this blog and they weren't getting any response. Cory has been exposing these issues for 6 weeks now, surely if someone wanted to talk over the phone they would have called him. After all the party has all of our contact information; we don't have theirs.

      Yes there was a sense of urgency. No one was getting answers and the deadline for nominees is now less than a week away. And let's not forget it was the Executive who passed this silly clause and made it very PUBLIC to be begin with

      Delete
    4. Thanks Jane, as one who has been involved with the party from its inception with Randy Thorstrinson I am thankful for members such as you and Cory who are defending the very reason we are involved.
      Keep up the good work!
      Howard

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