Telling the story of my life in my home - Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Community Crisis is Not Your Political Opportunity

This last week has been a crisis in our community. A local MLA, well known and well regarded, was charged in a prostitution sting while in Minnesota on government business. This incident was deeply troubling, no doubt, and deeply painful to many in a community that despite what others may think is tightly knit. The shock waves travelled deep and far, and it has been a painful time. And what has not made it any better is the political opportunism it seems to have inspired.

Just two days after the news broke the official opposition began a series of automated phone calls to determine community reaction to the incident. Never mind that a good number of the public polled hadn't even had the chance to learn about the matter yet, or give it any serious thought. Never mind that many who did know were still in the early stages of sorting through the fallout, and trying to formulate their thoughts. That was all immaterial in this political game, one that sought to capitalize on a deeply troubling incident. I am not sure if anyone in opposition gave any serious thought to these tactics, as all it did was deepen a very fresh wound. Those who did know about the charges were still reeling from the shock, and hadn't even moved on to thoughts of what should or must happen. But opportunism waits for no man - or constituent - and on it rolled, with a Twitter campaign.

The Twitter campaign was designed as another poll of sorts, but one in which all could participate, whether they reside in Mike Allen's constituency or not. And so they did, retweeting the request that he resign as MLA immediately, ignoring the fact that this is between him and his constituents, not between him and every voter in the province. This is a local matter, and one where we, the people of this region, should decide if we wish to have him resign or stay on as our now-independent MLA.

To be very honest I am of very mixed thoughts about all of this, seeing validity on both sides of the argument of whether to resign or stay on, but one thing I am very clear on is this: a crisis in my community is not a political opportunity for others, and it should not be viewed that way. Those who wish to capitalize on a painful and difficult time are no better than the others who have abused this community through slanted media reports. This is a time when those who are members of this community must come to a decision, and one made without the "helpful" influence of outsiders who offer their opinions on what we "must" or "should" do. Call me belligerent, but one way to get my back up is to tell me what to do - and I suspect a whole lot of Fort McMurray is a lot like me in this one respect.

So, to those who think this is a time to push or pull us in one direction or another - stop. This is a time for those within the community to arrive at a decision, whether you like it or not. This is between us, and each other, and our MLA, and not part of a little political game. I do not like seeing my community used as a pawn, and it makes me seethe with anger to see others think they can infringe on our rights as residents and constituents as we make this decision. The decision as to what happens now does not rest with the opposition, or the government, or anyone BUT the people of Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, and our MLA. I respectfully ask that you allow us to exercise our rights in this regard, and allow us to determine our own future. My community crisis is not your political opportunity - and I suggest you take note of this for future reference, whomever you happen to be, and whatever angle you happen to want to pursue. This is a community, proud and united and, right now, hurting a bit, and I think we would appreciate being allowed the time to come to grips with the past - and our future.

18 comments:

  1. But to make that decision he needs to resign and run in a byelection. That is the best opportunity for his constituents to have their democratic say. Not some straw pole conducted among a few. But you arr right it is fort mcmurrays decision and wild roses behaviour is deplorable. Nothing new with them

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    1. Pamela, I have had the same thoughts about a by-election. My only point is as you have stated - this is a decision for, and about, Fort McMurray. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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  2. I must admit that this poll coming so soon after Allen's troubles does smack of political opportunism. I do think however, that the Opposition (of whatever political flavour) is merely doing what Oppositions are supposed to do in holding the government to account, however tasteless and frustrating that might sometimes seem.

    In my own personal opinion Allen needs to go as the longer this drags on the worse it will be for the city. I just don't think Fort McMurray is well-served by having one of its MLA's sitting as an Independent. I also feel (and I'm sure someone will jump on me for this) that as unpalatable as it seems, these recent developments affect all Albertans as ultimately, Allen went to MN representing not just his constituents here, but the province as a whole. Therefore, all Albertans have a right to speak their peace and (depending on their political views) demand he stay or demand he go.

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    1. I think it doesn't just "smack" of opportunism - it clearly is. And it isn't just taking advantage of Allen but of all of us during a difficult time. The government did hold Allen to account - he has resigned from PC caucus and now sits as independent. So who is the opposition holding to account? Perhaps Allen, although they are pressuring us to put pressure on him - using us as pawns when we may not have even decided what we want. And while he was representing the province whether he resigns or not clearly impacts us the most and as such while others may have their opinions they cannot and should not have any real influence on an outcome that affects them little and affects us greatly. (and I am with you in that I don't know how effective an independent MLA is, either, so that is clearly a consideration).
      Thanks for the comment as always! :)

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  3. Actually, Fort McMurray residents have as much say in this issue as the rest of us: that is, zero. There is no mechanism locally or provincially to force Allen out.

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    1. Public pressure from your friends, neighbours, and constituents is a powerful force that should not be underestimated, Peter. There may be no official mechanism - but that does not mean no functional one exists.

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    2. Any functional one has no guarantee of success, as the only person with any power is Mike Allen. He could have 100% of the electorate against him and he can still choose to not resign and you can only turf him when his term is up by voting for someone else.

      I am actually for the legalization and regulation of brothels in Canada (An Issue the Supreme Court of Canada is currently writing an opinion piece on this year). I have never personally used a prostitute nor do I intend to. My interest in this has nothing to do with the fact that he was charged (he hasn't been convicted). If he wants to pay for sex, and it doesn't affect his ability to carry out representing his constituents I say all the power to him. If he was my MLA and he was doing his job, I say "don't bother resigning".

      I am libertarian, and do not vote along traditional party lines (I didn't even vote WRP!). My interest in this as a Calgarian is:

      1) Alberta needs to follow BC's lead in providing a recall mechanism for constituents to force a byelection. Mike Allen has only brought this issue to the forefront.
      2) Alberta should consider legalizing brothels (And yes, I believe in safe injection sites too).

      Political parties and individuals in this province have the freedom to make their views known. As long as political parties are working within the rules set out by law, I have no issue with them (or any other group/individual) contacting/polling Wood Buffalo constituents over the issue.

      Going the extra mile to inform Wood Buffalo voters of the issues is probably more meaningful given that your region has among the most apathetic voters in the province. What harm is there to inform the people and maybe force Mike Allen's hand to actually resign, and put the decision in Wood Buffalo constituents hands? Sure WRP is politically motivated, but they are also trying to get Mike Allen to actually resign. Politics is a messy business.

      If I were in Wood Buffalo I'd have no issue with other Albertans (Or Canadians for that matter) expressing an interest in ensuring the integrity of the Alberta Provincial Legislature.

      I feel that some people in Wood Buffalo are overly sensitive to the issue of other Albertans taking an interest.

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    3. Michael, there is a distinct difference between taking an interest and trying to dictate outcome. In the final analysis the people impacted most by the decision as to whether our MLA resigns or stays on are not "other Albertans" but the ones who elected him and who he represents - the constituents in his riding. I do not believe the intent of the opposition is to inform the public but rather to exert political pressure towards a particular outcome, and as an individual who will be most affected I resent those from outside trying to dictate an outcome that will have little effect on them but potentially tremendous effect on me.

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  4. Many Albertans feel betrayed by what happened in your community. You don't have a monopoly on shame and resentment.

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    1. You are right - except that we do have a monopoly on the future of this MLA, as we elected him and he ultimately answers to us.

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  5. Mr. Allen should stay in his office and serve his constituents until next election. If Clinton, Rob Ford, Duffy and half the politicsl arena get away with their shananigans then Mr. Allen deserves the voters patience and shouldn't be tarred and feathered for this.

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  6. I voted for Mike but certainly do not condone the actions he did while on government business. If there is a bye election, I would not vote for him again as he crossed the line and committed a crime.

    To be honest, I have given up on the PC party entirely due to corruption. I thought Mike and Don would be vocal but they are 'yes' boys only. Sitting as an independent in the House will be of no use whatsoever for us in Ft Mac.

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  7. I have no respect for the WRP after the past week. I want to wait for an election and make a decision based upon the candidates who run. If Mike runs again I don't see myself even putting this incident into the consideration. In my opinion I don't see what happened as such a terrible offense. That is MY OPINION, which I have a right to. I would like to see us all just drop the issue for now and the WRP is just being a pain in the buttt.

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    1. You should put it into consideration as Allen went there as a representative of not just our community but our province. The simple fact whether you agree with it or not, is that he broke the law. Personally I think we get enough bad publicity as it is without this kerfuffle adding to the mix.

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  8. In the end it doesn't matter if someone is homeless, middle class, a celebrity, or a politician; no man is above mistakes. Every human on the planet has the right to make a mistake and has the right to be forgiven for those mistakes. Be it a lapse in judgement, honest mistake, unknown addiction, or personal preference we have no more right to burn this person at the proverbial stake and the witch hunts of our predecesors. Mike Allen is a good MLA and a good person who made a mistake, tell me you've never made a mistake in your life?

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    1. It matters because he is an elected representative of our community and province. What's the point of having laws or a legal system at all if we just make the arguement that everyone makes mistakes?

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    2. I understand it must be hard to see things like the rest of us when one is way way up, but down here in the real world things work a little differently. The idea of a politician not doing something stupid is as outlandish as the idea of a successful celebrity marraige. Your desire to hold on to the idea of incorruptable politicians is admirable but naive. Clinton got a blowjob, whats his nuts tweeted his knob, and Mike Allen wanted a low dollar threesome. It does not affect their ability to be a leader or a representive anymore than a sports star caught juicing or a singer lip syncing affects their ability to do their craft. Its time for you and the WRP to take your crusade elsewhere and focus on real problems not a YMM MLAs international horniness.

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