Friday, August 22, 2008

Encouraging involvement by local politicians

It’s one thing for politicians to be meaningfully involved in their communities before getting political, it’s quite another for them to maintain that involvement after “ascending to power.”

There are three of the Alberta MLAs in Calgary who I had worked with on social change projects before they got elected: Harry Chase with Friends of Medicare and the Council of Canadians, David Swann with various peace activism and Sudan issues, and Kent Hehr with the Calgary Housing Action Initiative. What’s encouraging for me is that I still see them out at community and activist events — they didn’t leave that behind with their move into political office (although they obviously aren’t able to attend quite as often as they did before).

What prompts me to be thinking about this today is that I was in a small meeting this morning, discussing advocacy for provincial action on AISH and living wage policies, with all three in attendance. It stood out for me that Swann, now in the midst of a leadership campaign, is still showing real commitment to this work.

This should not be taken as an endorsement of their political party (my role as past president and candidate for the Alberta Greens should make clear my leanings), but I do appreciate and respect the work these individuals are doing to push for positive social change.

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