Rarely have I felt so belittled and disrespected. After volunteering hundreds upon hundreds of hours defending our families and our freedoms against government overreach, Mr. Jean had the audacity to tell me to my face that “you need to do more” – suggesting he still won’t take a stand for our children!
Those were the words I sent to a friend, shortly after an hour-long meeting with Brian Jean, MLA Leela Aheer and three Wildrose staffers on January 27th, 2017.
I never wrote anything publicly about that meeting. There didn’t seem to be a point in sharing about such an unproductive hour.
That is, until now.
On October 28th members of the United Conservative Party (UCP) will vote for a new leader, a person who could potentially become the next premier of this province.
And it is essential that people are as informed as possible when they make that vote.
Even after such a disappointing meeting, I still wanted to give Brian Jean the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he mis-spoke. Perhaps I misunderstood.
I stayed awake most of that cold January night, typing a letter to Brian Jean to explain my concerns and ask specific questions. The letter would offer him the opportunity to clarify.
His staffers assured me I would receive a reply in a couple of weeks. But even after a follow-up email and a phone call to their office, I still received nothing.
It’s been nine months. The letter remains unanswered.
More concerns have piled up in the meantime, but those can wait for another day.
For now, I invite you to read the letter for yourself.
Use it to inform your vote as to who is best suited for the leadership of the UCP.
And if you haven’t already done so, invest in a $10 UCP membership before September 29th so you can have a vote in this important decision.
Now, more than ever, we need a leader who will consistently prioritize the education of our next generation without faltering or wavering in his commitment to ensure the highest standard of care for our children.
January 31st, 2017
Dear Mr. Jean:
First, I commend xxxx for his prompt scheduling of the meeting on Friday, as well as the warm welcome and respectful attention of Leela, xxxx and xxxx during our meeting in Calgary to discuss concerns related to our education system. I am deeply grateful to each of them.
However, while I am very appreciative that you could join us for part of the meeting, your comments and tone left me feeling far more frustrated and disheartened.
Allow me to explain.
#1: “Accelerated change”
You commented that the pace of change to our education system has “accelerated” under the NDP. I agree. Yet part of that successful acceleration has been the lack of resistance they have faced in the Legislature.
It seems the NDP know that as long as they frame this issue as “LGBTQ rights” that the Wildrose won’t touch it. After all, who wants to be burned by the “lake of fire” twice? The NDP must be thrilled with how effectively their messaging efforts have incapacitated the Wildrose Opposition. This paralysis has allowed the NDP to grant their allies a free pass to our education system when it comes to the imposition of Gender Unicorn ideology and advocacy onto every school, child and family in Alberta.
It is essential the Wildrose demonstrates the strength to reframe and confront the real issues at stake, namely that the NDP government is eroding individual freedoms, imposing blatant government over-reach into the sphere of the family and violating Alberta Education’s own standards.
xxxx and I represent tens of thousands of frustrated Albertans who are your base of conservative grassroots support. These Albertans feel alienated and exasperated by the lack of representation in the Legislature on this issue. How can you presume that you will personally be entrusted with leadership of any future conservative government when the Wildrose under your leadership does not seem to have the fortitude to publicly and consistently represent foundational conservative principles?
Question: Will you reframe and confront the NDP’s false messaging and represent principled conservative leadership by defending individual freedom and limited government in the context of these critical education issues?
#2: “You need to do more”
During our meeting you claimed we “need to do more”.
Let me be clear: We have written thousands of letters, mobilized 4,500+ people to show up at simultaneous rallies in Edmonton and Calgary and collected tens of thousands of petition signatures. We had a thousand brave souls who took to Twitter for our #protectABkids campaign. I have been on the front lines, taking a very public role in the media spotlight to vocally criticize the massive changes to legislation, policies and teaching resources.
Question: As someone who has personally sacrificed thousands of volunteer hours to this issue, I insist that you define and quantify exactly what you mean by needing to “do more”. What standard must we meet in order to finally gain public representation by our elected conservative politicians in this province? Please be specific.
#3: “Only 22 MLAs”
You explained that you have a “limited budget” and “only 22 MLAs”.
First, I have a $0 budget and 0 MLAs and have personally managed to make plenty of noise on this issue. Yet as a citizen I remain relatively limited with how much influence I can have. How much stronger we would be at raising public awareness and ensuring the NDP are held accountable for their brazen actions if we had our citizen efforts combined with the efforts of 22 MLAs who actually represented those same concerns inside the Legislature?
At our meeting on Friday you seemed to portray your role in opposition as a position of weakness. Yet you have incredible power – power that has been entrusted to you by those who elected you to represent them!
Why do you have some misguided notion that standing up to the lobby groups and media will be easier if/when you form government? Ask Rachel Notley. Being in opposition is easy compared to being government – in government everyone attacks you and you have more power to lose.
If you feel that 22 MLAs cannot influence any change then why bother showing up at work at all? It certainly hasn’t stopped you from raising a ruckus on the carbon tax. In fact, I applaud you for successfully holding the NDP’s feet to the fire on that front – even with “only 22 MLAs”.
Question: Aren’t our children, our freedoms and the integrity of our education system as important to you as our economy? Why can’t the efforts of your 22 MLAs be equally invested into holding the NDP accountable on all education concerns as well?
#4. “Why aren’t you going to court?”
If only it were that simple.
Going to court is not the only way to change poorly-written legislation. Strong democracies elect representatives to their Legislature who are supposed to understand it is their responsibility to write and amend legislation to best reflect the needs of the people. Strong democracies ensure transparency, accountability and oversight and prevent too much power being vested into the hands of a relatively few appointed court judges.
An unwillingness of legislators to actually do their job leads to an over-reliance on the courts which will ultimately undermine our democratic freedoms. It is unprincipled conservative parties and lazy democracies who forfeit rights and freedoms into the hands of a few unelected individuals within the court system.
Also, as xxxx has explained, court action may not produce favourable results. The Alberta bench is increasingly occupied by “progressive” judges that lack the fortitude to accurately apply the law and arrive at an unpopular decision. The risk of bad precedents is very real. If no reasonable judge is found at the Queen’s Bench of Court of Appeal, then a case must be brought before the Supreme Court, where there is no guarantee the case will even be accepted. Even if it is, 4 years will have passed in the meantime – by which time lazy legislators will have allowed who knows what else to infiltrate our education system.
Amending s. 16.1 of the School Act and revising policies is a faster and more certain way to achieve freedom and justice in the area of education. Many conservatives are aware of the ideological bias on the bench and understand that court action is full of risk. They should and do look to their elected representatives more than to unelected judges with zero public accountability who may not respect their values or freedoms.
Going to court will also not solve the foundational problems. It may put some reasonable limits on poorly written legislation but it will not change the resources and policies which are currently being imposed on our education system which, as I shared during our meeting, replace critical thinking and respect for multiple perspectives with political activism/advocacy, coercion and intimidation. Going to court is not a reason for legislators – who are supposed to be accountable to the electorate – to abdicate their responsibility.
During our meeting I was taken aback at your tone – which felt more condescending/dismissive than constructive/respectful – and how little you responded to any of the concerns I raised. Frankly all I heard were a series of excuses for not standing up for our freedoms and the integrity of our education system.
Be assured that I take my role very seriously in representing the tens of thousands of Albertans who are still waiting for an elected representative to defend their freedoms and families when it comes to these education concerns.
I also care deeply about the integrity of our education system and will continue to vocally and publicly speak out until necessary changes are made.
A strong party with strong leadership will not be ashamed to represent its own principles.
Why can’t you pursue a stance on education with the same fervour that you pursue the oil sands and pipelines?
When you demonstrate that you are only occasionally willing to defend your principles then your principles become no more than deceptive and hollow rhetoric.
If you actually expect people to take you seriously then you need to believe that you can inflict serious change on every portfolio no matter whether you form government or the opposition. We, the people of Alberta, rely on you to publicly and vocally call out the government anytime it attempts to over-reach. Make it loud!
I applaud your recent announcement of being willing to unify into a single conservative party and agree it is essential in order to ensure the defeat of the NDP in 2019. But if you do head into any potential leadership race, you need to understand that your response to these education issues and concerns, as well as your track record of addressing them, will become extremely important to grassroots conservatives who are your voting base.
That said, I hope you will take the time to respond meaningfully to the questions which were left unresolved from our meeting and which I have raised throughout this letter, as well as the attached overview document I have provided.
I look forward to working together to resolve these questions and concerns in order to ensure our freedoms, and the standards of our education system, are upheld in our great province.