Over the past many months I've been very optimistic about merging of the Wildrose Party and the Progressive Conservatives. I have many friends who were involved in or supported the PC's (sometimes through difficult times) and generally we had more in common than not.
With a taste of what an NDP government is like, it didn't take much for nearly everyone to realize we must work together - in the same direction. Thus the unity vote passed at an incredible 95% in favour.
What I had been less optimistic about was who might become the leader. It was a given that Brian Jean and Jason Kenney were going to run. Neither of these two inspire me. Even though I'm the same age as Brian and Jason is younger; they both seem "old school". Some may interpret this as "old boys club", but that isn't what I mean. They just present themselves as not being very flexible or forward thinking.
When Doug Schweitzer entered the race I admittedly didn't know a single thing about him. I was then involved with the LEC and hadn't had the time to do any research. It even took me a couple of weeks to get his name right; ironically not his surname, but his first. ;)
The first UCP debate in Calgary on September 20 would be the first time I have an opportunity to learn more about Doug. A couple of things that struck me during that debate were his love of our province and also his strong support of businesses, entrepreneurs and women. However what really stood out and set him apart from the other candidates - was his support of GSA's.
Doug is the only candidate who has spoken out directly on the fact the new UCP has to set the tone on the social issues correctly, right from the start. This isn't something we can be wishy washy on or be one thing one week and flip flop the next.
So where do the three candidates stand on this? Here is a quote from the Edmonton Sun (after the second debate)
Kenney's response was that nothing is more important than parental choice.
His declaration that Alberta doesn't need politicians standing between parents and kids drew perhaps the loudest cheer of the evening.
Schweitzer, though, rejected the notion of informing parents if their child is in a GSA.
If his two girls weren't comfortable talking to him for some reason, he said, he would hope they could have the support at a GSA at school.
Jean said afterwards he doesn't favour parental informing, either, but during the debate was keen to shift attention to improving Alberta's standard of education.
Doug used similar phrases in the Red Deer debate, which I attended on October 3rd. His words really struck me.
Ironically, not because one of my children is a member of the LGBTQ community. More because I once was that student in school, who went to a guidance counsellor with a serious personal issue - I was 17 and pregnant. My parents were the last people I wanted to talk to about it. That counsellor worked "with" me, not against.
Now this isn't the only reason I'm supporting Doug - but it's a big reason to be sure.
Personally I'm fiscally conservative and (small l) socially liberal. I don't know if Doug would also describe himself this way, but I do know Jason and Brian don't.
They are socially conservative - full stop. They make no bones about it and are actively courting the SoCon vote. And good on them, they are upfront about it and you know what you are dealing with.
Yesterday I resigned my position on the LEC so that I may speak freely on this.
In particular this following point:
I know there may be members out there who haven't bothered to registered to vote. You may think that it's a foregone conclusion that one of the perceived front runners (Kenney or Jean) are going to win and that your vote won't matter.
I don't think it is a given. I think there are enough other members who, like me, don't want to return to regressive policies of the old reformers or of the old Alberta Alliance. And we don't have to. Doug has made it clear there is a path for us, under his leadership.