The past weekend, September 30 through October 2, 2016, was another great get-together for Alberta Greens.
The Annual General Meeting was held in Calgary, starting with an informal social on Friday evening.
The official business started on Saturday morning in a new location for us, the SAIT campus.
Informational displays from Fair Vote Canada and CANGEA (Geothermal energy), as well as literature from a variety of relevant organizations were available all weekend.
Constituency Association Workshop
Two Executive Council members, Past President Susan Stratton and Member at Large Dick Willott, held a workshop for starting and maintaining a Constituency Association. This is the basic local level organization we need in every riding if we are going to run successfully in an election.
The session was well attended and several people are keen on setting up CAs right away.
At lunch on Saturday, we heard an interesting talk and had a short field trip led by David Silburn, Research Associate / General Manager, Green Building Technologies, SAIT. SAIT is advancing the technology and training workers for the growing field of green building.
The afternoon panel discussion theme was sustainability leadership and success in Alberta towns and cities. Leader Janet Keeping was joined by two guests: Kerra Chomlak, Environmental Sustainability Co-ordinator, City of Leduc, and Councillor Celina Symmonds, City of Medicine Hat.
Ms. Chomlak presented information about Leduc’s massive solar energy project, installed this past summer on the roof of the municipal recreation centre. She also talked about other environmental initiatives in Leduc, such as waste reduction.
Councillor Symmonds’ topic was how the City of Medicine Hat has approached the problem of chronic homelessness by providing homes.
Janet and some audience members asked questions about the way in which these projects came about, how they gained support at the decision-making level, and how they are working out.
In the end, everyone had new insights into some of the ways Alberta municipalities are being innovative in solving problems and finding opportunities.
Saturday evening’s dinner speaker was Susan Wright, known for her political blog Susan on the Soapbox.com. Ms. Wright’s talk was on the theme of truth and “truthiness”, a word made famous by satirist Stephen Colbert.
Our last guest was Ms. Celia Lee, an urban designer, who spoke on Sunday. She talked about innovation generally, and about some specific projects in Calgary to make neighbourhoods more inviting for walking and other activities.
The selection of guest speakers was excellent, with each contributing solid knowledge and interesting perspectives.
The President, Chief Financial Officer, and Vice President each gave a brief report. The Party is in good shape financially but there is no opportunity to rest on our laurels. As always, we need to work on growth and visibility.
Election of Executive Council
Every year, some of the two-year terms of the Executive Council members expire. The members whose terms did not expire, and who will continue in office for another year, are:
- President – Carl Svoboda
- Secretary – Coral Bliss Taylor
- Members at Large – Madeleine Oldershaw, Richard (Dick) Willott
- Non-voting Past President – Susan Stratton.
Thanks were expressed to the two retiring EC members, Larry Ashmore (Member at Large), and Jill Browne (Vice President).
The candidates for the various open positions were:
- Chief Financial Officer – Matt Burnett, elected
- Vice President – Peter la Bastide, elected
- Members at Large –
- Jerome Backmeyer, elected
- James Friesen
- Ralph McLean
- Marco Reid, elected
- Mike Worthington, elected.
Greens customarily have the option of voting “None of the above”, so even when there is only one candidate, that candidate has to be elected and is not simply acclaimed.
Many thanks to all the candidates for these executive positions.
Our Leader, Janet Keeping, has been the public voice of the Green Party of Alberta since 2012. In her speech to the Party this year, Janet said, “It’s no secret I won’t be the Leader in the next general election.” She then went on to talk about the future of the Party and the ways in which we can develop more leaders (and Leaders).
A good part of Janet’s talk was then given to introducing the beginning of the Shadow Cabinet. This is a first for our Party, and a welcome development. Janet deserves credit for many things; this is among her most significant achievements in terms of helping the Party develop.
We expect more Shadow Cabinet members to be joining the team. Those who have already said Yes are:
- Sandy Aberdeen
- Jerome Backmeyer
- Coral Bliss Taylor
- Thana Boonlert
- Roger Gagné
- Simon Irving
- Natalie Odd
- Marco Reid
- Carl Svoboda
- Mike Worthington.
Eight of the ten people listed were at the meeting and each spoke briefly about their background, interests, and the areas in which they plan to be active.
Of the 24 motions put before the meeting, 18 were considered and passed, some with amendments.
The new policies will be posted on the Party website soon.
Thanks to everyone who attended, to those who sent in their ballots ahead of time, and to the organizers.