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Greg Clark's speech - Centre Together

Posted on November 19, 2016 by James Teterenko

CALGARY, AB - November 19, 2016

Thank you and Greetings -

Alberta is a special place and Albertans are a special people. 

Albertans think big. Albertans act bold. 

Albertans create. We innovate, we dare, we take risks.

We are clear that all people deserve a chance. We believe in paying our bills.

We believe diversity is an asset not a liability.

We believe the land and its treasures — that Mother Nature herself — are our future and our responsibility.

We believe Ottawa never quite understands us.

We’re smart. We care. We’re responsible and we’re hard-working.

I was raised with those values at my core. My mother taught me to appreciate what we had, even though it wasn’t always as much as some others. She was a single mom who modelled for me perseverance, compassion and a sense of what’s truly important.

After my parents divorced when I was young she held down a full-time job and went to school at night. She worked long hours, sacrificing her own needs to ensure my brothers and I had what we needed. She sheltered us from tough times, and I know now that it took a toll on her.

This isn’t an unusual story; in fact it’s a common Alberta story. And growing up with a strong mother instilled in me the importance of hard work and generosity in equal measure. And the need to live those values every day.

She also taught me to listen. To pay attention to what’s going on around us.

Well, I’ve sure learned something in the last couple of weeks. I hope you have to. I think we’ve learned that the people have a voice. We’ve learned they’re not afraid to use it. We’ve watched the U.S. say they’ve had enough with the same old same old. And as much as we may reject the messenger and especially the fringe element he attracts, the message is there.

Closer to home, we’ve learned something too. We’ve learned Alberta has our own share of bullies, bigots and small-minded zealots.

It’s become apparent that there’s no place for women in leadership on one side of our political spectrum. And many don’t care how blunt, how personal, how hurtful, they are when they express it. That’s awful. Tragically, narrowness now defines the once-great PC Party of Alberta. It’s ugly. It’s sad. But this is the proof that it’s time for Albertans to move on.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say one more thing — listen to this — the wannabe ruler of the the united right is so out of touch — his message — “Well I’ve been bullied too.” Can you believe it? He just doesn’t get it. He just doesn’t get it!

Women are tired of being dismissed. Alberta’s women deserve better. Alberta’s women deserve leaders who listen, and who speak their truth.

Many Albertans thought things might change for the better when we elected Rachel Notley. Yes, we knew she was a New Democrat… but we honestly believed she had not only the desire, but the ability to fix a broken system. We thought she was a New Democrat second, and an Albertan first.

But alas.

Earlier this month we had another in the long list of examples of the NDP letting down Albertans. AISH. Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped. Can you believe it? AISH is as bad as it always was…maybe worse.

While the Premier pursues an ideological lawsuit that will cost millions and further erode investor confidence, severely handicapped Albertans suffer ….even die….without basic human needs. That’s beyond disappointing. That’s tragic.

It’s tragic that the ND leader, a person who championed Alberta’s vulnerable and marginalized peoples with such vigour, is not the same person who steers Alberta today.

It’s sad that  despite what I assume are good intentions, the Premier and her team do not have the wherewithal or the influence to fix what’s broken in Alberta’s core systems. They are distracted by ideology and are unable, or unwilling, to get on with the job at hand.

The Premier has stopped listening. Her government isn’t listening.

That’s why we’re here today. That’s why we’ve talked and planned and dreamed and argued.

Too many Albertans don’t feel heard. Too many political leaders want to tell Albertans what to think and what’s best for them.

Well, that’s not me - I hear you. That’s not the Alberta Party. We’re not a tired top-down political machine, we’re a spunky, people-centred, movement of ordinary Albertans. We’re called the Alberta Party because we’re a party of Albertans, for Alberta.

Our duty is to give voice to the majority of Albertans who haven’t had one for too long. It’s critical that we do it well. It’s necessary that we do it now. Alberta’s future can’t take much more division.

Balance. Balance. Balance. That’s what I hear from Fort McMurray to Fort McLeod. Take care of people. Take care of the budget. Take care of the environment. Take care of our jobs.

You tell me we deserve better.

We deserve a government that reads agreements before they arbitrarily amend them or toss them out. This Power Purchase Agreement stuff is beyond sad.

The Premier jumped in without asking the questions, without understanding the ramifications. And then, when confronted with her own ideological recklessness and inattention to detail, she tried to pin the tail on the former donkey.

No. It doesn’t work that way.

Leadership means taking responsibility. Owning your mistakes and taking reasonable steps to make it right. The Premier could have fixed this but decided to double-down on dumb by suing herself and threatening retroactive legislation. They’ve hit rock bottom and have started to dig!

Make no mistake, Albertans are hurting. It’s tough out there. People stop me on the street to ask what I can do to turn around the economy, what I can do to help them get a job. That’s a pretty powerful request.

Well, no one of us can change the province’s direction single-handedly. For that we’ll need to work together. And we can’t wait. We need to start now…no matter who’s in power.

Me? I’m all in.

I’ve committed to do what I can to help people get back on their feet. Just last month I hosted a career fair in my constituency. I did what I think every MLA should do no matter what party they represent. I did it because my #1 job is to make Alberta a better place, by helping people. We had nearly 200 people sign up and I heard countless stories of how difficult it is for people to find work, how they’ve done everything right but it still isn’t working out. They went to school, worked hard, earned a career in their field, worked harder still, started a family, contributed to their community. But they find themselves out of work with few jobs available. As one person said to me; “this wasn’t the plan”.

I know I can’t solve every problem, but I try to help any way I can….and I know you do too.

I can’t tell you how much it frustrates me that with all of the tools at their disposal, this government is doing so little to help.

We see our taxes go up but services stagnate, we see ill-defined energy plans and still no pipeline.

We have some of the highest per-capita government expenses in the country but the NDs offer no plan to bring costs down AND improve services at the same time. And make no mistake, not only is that possible, as the world changes around us it’s imperative that we do both.

And this government, like the government before, puts all its faith in energy royalties, which shows bringing the budget into balance is nowhere on this Premier’s agenda. Not in this term OR the next one. Or even the one after that!

Albertans are saying “No” to this. But who’s listening?

Here’s the challenge. It’s not just how do we change government in three years, it’s how do we change government thinking today?

‘Influence’ not just ‘authority’.

Let’s all of us, each of us, stand up and say something.

Let’s express our disappointment when something isn’t working.

Let’s support things that make sense.

Let’s post and repost. Let’s share and re-tweet.

Let’s get the word out in person, in our communities with real people Let’s keep the words moving.

Let’s show the voice we have.

Let’s not let them get away with initiatives that jeopardize our future.

Here’s an idea. Start by posting this speech, which is on the Alberta Party website right now. Share it with your friends, family, colleagues. Tell them what it means to you and why you think they should get involved.

Let’s build the momentum that builds Alberta’s future.

Albertans are looking for leadership. Albertans want leaders who speak their language, understand their struggles, and share their optimism.

Albertans want leaders who know that we can’t have a discussion about the economy without also talking about the environment.

Albertans want leaders who are proud of our energy industry, as it is today, and will fiercely defend our environmental and social track record to the rest of the country and to the world.

Albertans want leaders who will create a business and investment climate that will allow Alberta companies, Alberta entrepreneurs and Alberta technologies to be on the forefront of the fight against climate change; diversifying our economy and at the same time enabling the continued success of our oil and gas industry. 

Albertans want leaders who channel our collective compassion into effective, efficient programs that help, REALLY help give people a hand up without breaking the bank.

But most of all, Albertans want leaders to tell them the truth, even the tough truth.

There are solutions to the challenges facing Alberta, but it won’t be easy.

I want to thank each and every one of you for the thoughtful discussions over this weekend. Yes. Sure. We disagreed but we weren’t disagreeable. That’s the Alberta Spirit, the Alberta Party spirit.  We tackled tough issues and didn’t back down from any elephants in the room. Now we’ll go forward with the engagement process. Thousands of Albertans will have their say as this becomes Alberta Party policy.

In conclusion, let’s remind ourselves what matters. Let’s affirm who we are.

Albertans shouldn’t have to choose between two polarizing, bad options; an intolerant right or an irresponsible left.

Alberta is not right wing or left wing.

We’re humble and we’re remarkable.

We’re proud. We’re smart. Resourceful and compassionate.

We’re thrifty but we’re not cheap.

We’re strong but we’re not bullies.

We’re responsible, we’re open, we’re practical and bold. 

We get things done; Albertans make tomorrow happen.

We admit our mistakes and move beyond them.

We don’t make excuses, we make plans.

Albertans don’t obsess about who’s to blame, we put our energies to what’s to come.

And Alberta has a big, big heart.

We believe that to be great, our province must be great for each and every citizen.

At the same time, Albertans hate waste.

Our people want a government as smart as we are.

We want common sense.

We want structures that respond to people, we want supports that support, we want health care that’s healthy. 

We want to pay our taxes knowing that each dollar has a purpose because each program has a plan.

That’s our Alberta. That’s my Alberta.

As Alberta’s party, we must say it loud, we must say it strong.

That’s our Alberta, let’s build it together. Starting today.

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