Twitter has proved to be a pretty powerful tool for democratic engagement. The Bill 44 debate cemented that belief because MLAs were having conversations on Twitter with constituents well into the night as the live debate in the Legislature continued.
I think the argument put forward by Ian Bushfield over on his blog “Terahertz” regarding the seemingly futile nature of the debate – his post is titled “Get over it: Social Media is not going to change the world” – is a good one. Twitter and social media are just tools; you still have to have a strong message that is convincing. Same as always.
But I don’t want to debate the pros and cons of social media here. Instead I just wanted to create a list of Alberta politicians on Twitter. Step one in creating a strong message – for whatever your issue or political sway is – is to listen. So I invite you to listen and then converse with the following folks. Hopefully this will create even greater understanding among us all moving forward.
This kind of direct access to politicians is something new that we should all take advantage of. I know I’ve had some great conversations with these individuals and I hope you do too.
Most of these accounts are updated regularly and are operated by the politician themselves, although the odd one is manned by a staffer. Which certainly lessens it’s impact and usefulness. No Twitter user is looking for regurgitated press releases. This is something the politicians will learn over time if they REALLY do want to be engaged with constituents. (Basically if they care. Or rather, have the time to care.)
I’ll update this post as more Alberta politicians join Twitter, but if you know of someone I missed please DM me on my Twitter or add it to the comments of the post, and I’ll update the list. Thanks in advance!
As you no doubt know, today is election day in Alberta. So if there is one thing you plan on doing today it should be getting out to your local polling place and marking an X next to the candidate/party of your choice. You can find your polling place by visiting www.elections.ab.ca.
Have you made up you mind who you’d like to vote for yet? There are many issues that you (or I) can choose to go into the voting booth with at the top mind. Health care, education, the environment, and the royalty review will no doubt be popular ones this time around. But I’d like to draw your attention to another issue that doesn’t get the same about of “air time” in Alberta: Arts and Culture.
It’s an issue that effects us pretty much ever moment of every day. It is the building blocks of quality of life and standard of living. Without it you can’t belong and you become just some loser in your dark basement typing (which is ironic actually…).
The Calgary Professional Arts Alliance (along with their Edmonton counterparts, PACE) provide a good run down of each party’s platform when it comes to arts and culture. I present them here for your review:
Although not listed in their election platform, the PCs announced a new Cultural Policy called “The Spirit of Alberta”.
- Ensure stable and predictable funding
- $12 m in the next provincial budget including a 30% increase to the AFA
- Provide support for arts festivals, post-secondary artist-in-residence programs, community presenters,Aboriginal arts camps, traveling exhibitions, public galleries and the acquisition of art
- Encourage greater private charitable giving to non-profit organizations by increasing the tax credit for charitable donations
- Provide funding for communities to plan, build and upgrade cultural and recreational facilities
- $1.6 million for the Alberta Film Development Program
- Double Alberta Foundation for the Arts funding immediately and triple it within three years.
- Pursue Status of the Artist legislation.
- Launch an Alberta Arts Festival, equivalent to the Alberta Games.
- Create an Alberta Film and Television Tax Credit.
- Pilot an Alberta Publishers Fund.
- Develop a capital investment strategy for heritage and cultural facilities.
- Eliminate entrance fees for youth to cultural facilities.
- Create a separate Ministry of Arts and Culture to coordinate arts funding and programs, and offer stable funding to arts groups.
- Improve the living and working conditions of artists by helping artists to establish thriving markets for their art, gain easy access to information about building their careers, and support collective bargaining in those sectors where the artists want it.
- Introduce $30 million in new funding for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Ensure the independence of the Foundation’s board.
- End political patronage in board appointments.
- Allocate 1% of all large capital projects for the commission of arts projects. Increase fine arts curriculum in elementary and secondary schools.
- Expand and coordinate Alberta’s network of museums, historical sites, galleries and libraries.
- Promote Alberta arts and artists on the national and international stage.
- A Wildrose Alliance Government will ensure that the arts, music and physical education curriculums are fully funded in Alberta’s public schools.
- A Wildrose Alliance Government will encourage and support through funding for community projects and school programs such as music, art, theatre, dance, sculpture, reading-writing and other arts and cultural activities as an essential enrichment of life and integral part of Alberta’s communities and cultural diversity.
- The Alberta Greens will encourage diverse community arts programs and cultural centers by providing up to 3 years start-up money for community-initiated proposals.
- Proposals would be expected to be self-sustaining after three years.
- Stable funding would come from the general revenue, and not be dependant on lotteries.
The CPAA and PACE have a great table on their websites too which shows each parties’ stance on several key points around this issue. Please check it out if you have a moment.
If you haven’t made up your mind on who to vote for yet, hopefully this will help, and perhaps arts and culture will be your “top of mind” issue today.
Now get out there and vote before 9pm!
As we find ourselves passing the half-way point of the provincial election you have no doubt noticed I have pretty much been entirely silent during thus far. While I could blame my seemingly abandoned blog on the fact I was in Asia for the first third of the writ period, or the fact I’m still mad Premier Stelmach hasn’t apologised for calling an election while I was out of the country, or that I’m in the middle of packing for our upcoming move, I won’t. No, I won’t. Instead I blame it almost entirely on the fact there has been little if anything worth talking about. (That and I’m lazy.)
In that spirit I offer you here, my thirty second summary of what’s happened up to this point in the election:
- Ed Stelmach sounds like Woody Allen trying to make a quick decision each and every time he speaks. This is frustrating the majority of PC voters, members and candidates.
- Kevin Taft can make all the policy announcements he likes but people still aren’t saying they will vote for him or his party.
- Brian Mason and the NDP are struggling to be remembered.
- People have no idea who George Read is but a small number of Albertans will vote for the Green Party anyway.
- The Wildrose Alliance have yet to earn any of my allotted 30 seconds.
There you go. What else do you need to know? Did I really need to be blogging daily to give you more details? If you want more details however, I am back and will begin weighing in again. In my absence I give kudos to the following blogs for doing a great job keeping everyone informed.
Somewhere in the middle with me: The Enlightened Savage
General coverage: Alberta Election 2008
Well here we are, however many god-forsaken China Airlines survived hours later, in Taipei. (BTW, I’m pretty sure I know what Canada’s contribution to China’s development was: they gave the old Air Canada planes to China Air.) Yeah, it wasn’t the most fun 12 hours I’ve ever spent. Especially when the flight started off sitting on the Vancouver tarmac for an hour waiting for them to de-ice the plane.
So far in Taiwan the only difference I can see is that their airport’s computers are all in Chinese (I hope I remember what buttons to click in Blogger to actually make this post). But on the bright side they are free which they weren’t in Vancouver. [On that, note if anyone needs internet access and they happen to be at the international terminal in Vancouver airport I've got 35 minutes of time saved on the internet kiosk by Gate 54. Drop me a line, I'd be happy to provide you my login.]
So, there isn’t much to report on the cultural front yet. An airport is an airport is an airport I guess. The Amazing Race should’ve taught me that. But we still have one flight more to go and then we can begin the real fun part of the trip: exploring. We’ll be in Kaohsuing in a little over two hours from now. Where I look forward to having a shower.
Until then, remember what they say on China Airlines, “Sir, please sit down.” I might have lost something in the translation, but they said it enough times to so many different people it must have more cultural meaning than I have found as of yet.
I hear the rumour from Pierre Trudeau Is My Homeboy that the Alberta election may be called tomorrow (today? what time zone am I in anyway?). This would be a little surpising as they would be jumping the gun. Not that I think it really matters. The Alberta Liberals and NDP are probably as ready as they’ll ever be and I know the Alberta PC Party is ready. (Although the Calgary-Montrose debacle could not have been handled worse after Ed Stelmach’s comments last week about selecting a candidate if he has to and it might not be Hung Pham. Pham blasted back earlier today announcing he will not run.) If the election is called while I’m away, I’ll try my best to stay updated before I get back when I’ll provide you with my two cents on each Calgary riding. Election! Whoo!
This morning the provincial government unveiled their much anticipated (at least it was anticipated a year and a half ago) cultural policy. (You can read it here.)
I was extremely impressed with the number of people that showed up to the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. Turnout was such that there were not enough chairs and about one third of the audience had to stand. It is fantastic to see that there are that many people in Calgary that believe it is about time that Alberta once again had a cultural policy guiding them. And it was good to see Peter Lougheed front and centre leading the charge. (Unless they were trotting him out as a publicity stunt.)
The big news of the day however was probably the fancy dual press conference technology – Minister Hector Goudreau in Edmonton and Premier Ed Stelmach in Calgary – that allowed both cities the honour of participating in the announcement together. (That and watch the premier befuddled by said technology: “Hopefully this works.” Yes it has been working for 10 minutes already. “I guess they are still clapping.” Yup. You have two audiences listening. That’s how it works. That’s the point of all this.)
All kidding aside there was good news for arts and culture practitioners in the content of the press conference: “Alberta’s Cultural Policy”. Which like most policies has keystone goals and guiding principles et al, but there were a couple real numbers included too. All in all, it will be a $12 million investment in arts and culture, which includes $1.6 million for the Alberta Film and Television Development Fund and a 30% increase to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
To put that last number in perspective the Calgary arts community has been advocating for about 5 years for a doubling (100%) increase to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts which before 2002 hadn’t received an increase since the early 80s. So, to the arts community this announcement is a very positive thing, but is only being seen as a first step.
On the negative side I’m not sure what to think of the announcement that the government is expanding its definition of “culture” to include sport and recreation. I agree this can – and perhaps should – fall into the province’s definition of “culture”, but I certainly hope this will not be at the expense of the inclusion of “art”. It’d be a shame to see money earmarked for one funnelled to the other.
The real good news for all in the room – myself included – was this was the first time the arts community has heard the government use the same language we’ve been using during the advocacy process. Could it be that the message is finally getting through? I hope so. Or is it just that Michelle Stanners wrote the premier’s speech? None-the-less its wonderful to hear a provincial government talking about culture once again.
Although, certainly I would have like to have seen more hard commitments during a press conference with such fancy technology.
PS – When I got home I was impressed to see the Alberta Liberal Caucus had already emailed me a copy of their Arts Policy. Comparables? A doubling of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts in their first year and a tripling by the end of their third year as the government. Tough not to give this round to the Liberals who are taking the Calgary arts community’s ask and going above and beyond it. That’s something most everyone tends to like to see in their government. (Of course they are the opposition and can promise whatever they like at this point. They are after all just trying to get elected.)
[On the arts front: I'll blog more later about British academic John Holden's lecture on "Arts and Politics" which was presented by Calgary Arts Development last night. I was lucky enough to get to sit beside Mr. Holden at dinner on Wednesday night. He certainly had lots to say and for us, arts folk and politicians, to think about.]