Friday, 9 May 2014

For every Albertan, in every community, an excellent MLA.

TASK FORCE FOR
MLA EXCELLENCE

On behalf of the Task Force for MLA Excellence, I am pleased to submit my Report to Albertans. This report makes recommendations on MLA excellence to ensure that for every Albertan, in every community, there is an excellent MLA.

In our deliberations, the interest of the citizen was paramount – the citizen came first. The well-being of the citizen is job one. Not profits for the shareholder, hubris for the politician, or “getting product to market.” The Task Force believes its recommendations will help to transform the province and achieve the vision of Inspiring Democracy.

The Task Force undertook a rigorous consultation process. For this the Task Force would like to thank its 68 Twitter followers, 256 Facebook friends, and 97 blog readers who participated in its one day of consultation.

Why were no politicians or corporations invited to sit on the Task Force for MLA Excellence? 

Clearly, MLAs themselves have far too much at stake in matters that concern them and their constituents to sit on a panel making recommendations in this matter. Corporations also have a vested interest in the democratic process. While Albertans of all colors and stripes were invited to contribute to the Task Force, no MLA or corporation chose to do so.  By embargoing the process, they told Albertans they were not interested in pursuing MLA Excellence and have no one to blame but themselves if their voices were not heard.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Alberta has a very strong political system. With a 42 year long unbroken reign by one political party, it has served Albertans well. So why establish a Task Force on MLA Excellence? The largest part of the answer rests in Inspiring Democracy – Alberta’s long-term vision for democracy centered on Albertans. The aspirations set out in Inspiring Democracy can only be achieved by aligning governance with its vision. We must determine what is working well and what can be improved. Because governance is at the core of a successful democracy, we must do all we can to achieve MLA excellence.

Does the current system protect Albertans from poor MLAs?

We acknowledge that Alberta has the highest per capita income, the highest median hourly wage, the highest rate of economic growth, and the lowest unemployment rate in Canada.  That being said, we can do better. The Task Force notes that in the past 42 years there has been no case in which an MLA has been removed from office due to incompetence. Given the province has 87 MLAs, the Task Force found this statistic almost inconceivable.  We acknowledge that some struggling MLAs and their leaders may leave on their own accord but the current model does not assure competence. Albertans agreed, with only 23 per cent of Albertans expressing confidence in the ruling party.

RECOMMENDATIONS

1.    What is excellent governance? Everyone has an MLA, and everyone has an opinion of MLA excellence. Central to achieving MLA excellence is a definition of excellence and clear expectations for practice. We have not developed such a definition, nor do we intend to.
2.    How to enable MLAs to be excellent. The Task Force recommends better MLA education, a mandatory one-year internship, a province-wide mentorship framework, and expanded opportunities for further learning. The Task Force makes no recommendations on how to fund or operationalize these recommendations.
3.    Leadership The Premier has the greatest impact on MLA excellence. The right Premier can propel a province forward, creating an environment in which MLA excellence flourishes. A definition for leadership excellence should align with the definition for MLA Excellence. See item 1.
4.    Conduct The existing system requires greater openness, transparency, timeliness, fairness and efficiency. Issues of misconduct, including convictions for actions that are unbecoming to the honour and dignity of the office, must be open and transparent. Public shaming of those who commit these egregious misdemeanors is suggested.
5.    Competence The Task Force recommends a very different system than the one currently in place. Rather than the long standing practice of elections every 4-5 years, we recommend the introduction of a system of certification including a review of performance at the end of the MLA’s first year office and further continuous repeated evaluations until such time as the MLA leaves office. Failure to achieve MLA excellence will result in the MLA having his/her governance certificate revoked, thereby being banned from any further governing.

The Task Force recommends the current model of shared responsibility between voters and the government be retained, with appropriate modifications to implement the recommendations of this report. If those modifications cannot be made under the existing model, the Task Force recommends that the entire system be thrown out and replaced with a disciplinary and certification process of its own design, preferably one in which key stakeholders have no involvement. The Task Force believes adoption of its recommendations will help Albertans to achieve the vision of Inspiring Democracy and to position Albertans for success in the world. These recommendations will ensure that:

For every Albertan, in every community, there is an excellent MLA.