Time to Move Forward

Many people may disagree. That’s perfectly okay.

This blog is for the optimists, the idealists, the innovators and the romantics. It is for those searching for new solutions and for those who always strive to make things better. It is for the doers, not the talkers. It is for those who want to help; rather than for those who sit and complain – the critics.

On April 23rd, 2012 the Progressive Conservatives won their 12th majority government, winning 61 of the 87 seats across the province. It was a compelling mandate towards a progressive Alberta with a renewed focus on making our two major cities – Edmonton and Calgary – into strong, vibrant metropolitan magnets for thousands of new Albertans. The internal vision centered on culture, public transit, education, and compassion while the external efforts focused on repositioning our brand amidst growing global pressure to restrict our growth.

That was the vision that we elected, and I believe it was the right vision for our province.

The 18 months that have followed have been mired in controversy and missteps. And there have been plenty of issues that have given people cause to be upset and disheartened. I have shaken my head on issues of political interference, precipitous legislation and cavalier budget cuts, and there were many things that gave reason to hold certain Ministers to account.

So on Friday, the Premier took action and shuffled the cabinet, and I compliment her on the decisions made. To many it didn’t seem like a big shuffle, but the changes were made like a precision surgery.

Dave Hancock as Deputy Premier and Minister of Advanced Education and Innovation will return leadership and vision to the foundation of our economy, while recognizing the need for policy capacity and intellect at the senior Minister position;

Doug Horner as President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance will ensure much needed continuity and accountability to the fiscal plan set forth;

Diana McQueen as the Minister of Energy will bring thoughtful determination to energy policy that is grounded in technology and sustainability;

Manmeet Bhullar as Minister of Human Services will bring discipline and caring to a portfolio of services that needs to protect those in need and of those being left behind;

Ken Hughes as Minister of Municipal Affairs will bring a consultative respect for the differences between our large and small municipalities and an urgency in addressing regional cooperation for us to truly move forward together;

Doug Griffiths as Minister of Service Alberta will accelerate the speed of rural connectivity and the speed of eGovernment such that our institutions do not become anchors to achieving our potential; and

Robin Campbell as Minister of Environment & Sustainable Resource Development will bring an acute understanding of how we need to live with the consequences of our growth.

These, along with those staying in portfolio, are a committed group of people now leading some of our most important ministries, and we all have a choice: Are we going to support them and help move our province forward, or are we going to spend the next 2.5 years buried in cynicism, apathy and resignation?

I submit that the opportunities and risks in front of us are far too significant to let the next 2.5 years pass hoping that some balanced alternative emerges. We have work that needs to start today, not in 2016, and from my perspective there is much work to be done:

• As pipelines move toward approval, we need to start planning for the massive infrastructure projects that will immediately follow;

• As our GDP continues to expand at twice the rate as the rest of the country, we need to prepare ourselves for 150,000 new Albertans, with 40,000 coming to the Edmonton region;

• As the world continues to challenge our social license to develop the oil sands, we need to liberate it as a platform for invention within a well-functioning innovation system;

• As more people, materials and goods move across traditional boundaries, we need regional cooperation that equitably shares both burdens and gains to the system;

• As a larger population becomes dependent on education, healthcare and social supports, we need a revenue model that provides stability and long-term planning;

• As our cost of healthcare balloons at an unsustainable rate, we need to embrace innovation and delivery options that allow generations to come to afford a similar level of high-quality care; and

• As our major cities become the major economic drivers of the economy, we need to redefine what is delivered centrally versus locally within a new municipal funding structure.

Time is ticking away. Everyday. And frankly, we cannot wait for 2.5 years to pass in order for some new government to emerge and suddenly solve all these “simplistic” challenges. The work needs to start today, and I encourage us all to shift our energy from critic to contribution.

I said at the beginning that many may disagree. That’s perfectly okay.

There is work to be done.

But if we want to compete globally, we cannot wait.

Our #CapRegionRocks !!

What do our borders really mean? They were drawn on the map for political purposes over 100 years ago and determine where we pay taxes and where we call home. But on a daily basis we cross them like crossing a street, without thought or hesitation. Why? Because at the end of the day, among our many we are one.

I was born in St. Albert but delivered at the University hospital. I now live in Edmonton but serve those in Sherwood Park and St. Albert. I have operated campgrounds in Strathcona County and corporate retreats in Sturdeon County. I fly out of Leduc/Nisku and I coach hockey in Parkland County. At the end of the day, among our many we are one.

Over the past decades we have spent endless effort trying to define ourselves in opposition to each other, when maybe we should have been celebrating what we have in common. Whether it was you, your parents, your grandparents or your grandparents’ parents, we all came to this region in search of opportunity … and we all choose to stay here because we are part of building something. It could be your career, your family, your education, your life … whatever your opportunity is … we are all building it here.

So as we move forward and compete in a global world, we are better together … unified, strong and full of weird, quirky communities that give us character, charm and allure. The Capital Region does rock, and I believe the years ahead will be years of celebrating together and years of competing as one.


Climbing Mountains

I can’t wait. I can’t wait to see his face as we look down from the top of the mountain and he sees the distance he traveled and the height he climbed in a single day. I can’t wait to see him gaze over the horizon and feel like he’s the only person at the top of the world. I can’t wait to hear him state how lucky we are to be surrounded with such beauty, such richness, such freedom amidst a world continuously at war for those things we have right under our feet.  I can’t wait.

The dream of reaching the summit keeps him awake for weeks before – the trail, the wildlife, the journey, the exhaustion … full of mystery and imagination. Open spaces and unbridled curiosity. Our fervent chatter at the start mellows into rich conversation about life; then occasionally into expressions of ambition … followed by a quietness that allows us both to connect with the mountain under our feet.

When we climb mountains, we leave behind those things we should never drag into the wilderness. We unload our backpacks and leave our rocks behind. We breathe in the simplicity of nature while being vulnerable to the elements.  We embark on a journey upwards, not knowing what the destination will look like … only that it will be there.

There are no little mountains … only mountains.  We climb because they call to us to be climbed, and the journey transforms us.  Through rain, wind, sun and snow … we persevere.  The journey is a humble meditation … a form of worship and a lesson in perspective. With each step he grows and by the summit he has changed. For the journey would not have happened without his desire to begin … which all started with the courage within.

Be brave. Climb high. Reach your summit.


I’m not sure whether to call this my “Official Blog” or my “Unofficial Rant” page.  Blogs seem outdated.  Rants seem more entertaining.  What I can say for sure is that there are lots of provocative topics that are key to moving Edmonton forward, and occasionally I need more than 140 characters to explore them.

My objective is to post thoughts on timely topics I believe to be important to Edmonton and Edmontonians, and hopefully get some discussion going among readers.  They are my words … uncensored and uncleansed.  In fact, I’m not even sure uncleansed is a word?  But, that is my promise and I think it will make for a meaningful dialogue.

Yes, I’m the CEO of EEDC.  I’m also a father, husband, coach, business owner, sports enthusiast, arts lover, beef-eating taxpayer that flies a big blue Alberta flag in front of his house, with the hope that somehow … in some way … I can help make our city and our province … better.

So welcome. Visit often and leave your thoughts behind. I look forward to this.