Yesterday, Albertans learned that Dunvegan-Central Peace MLA and former cabinet minister Hector Goudreau wrote a threatening letter to Betty Turpin, superintendent of the Holy Family Catholic Regional School Division. Folks who watch the news might remember that school division was advocating pretty hard for a new school in Grimshaw, since their current school is pretty much falling apart. They weren't getting any traction from government, so they shot a video showing the poor condition of the school and sent it to the media, which annoyed the government.
Goudreau (who as an MLA should be sticking up for his constituents, including Turpin and the students she serves) reacted incredibly poorly, writing "In order for your community to have the opportunity to receive a new school, you and your school board will have to be very diplomatic from here on out." He also writes "I advise you to be cautious as to how you approach future communications as your comments could be upsetting to some individuals. This could delay the decision on a new school."
Since starting work for the Official Opposition a little over six years ago, Alberta Liberal MLAs have told me many stories about the level of fear felt by school trustees, municipal elected officials and other public servants. People don't want to speak out against the PC government because doing so puts their jobs, and their funding for community projects, at risk.
While I believed what my bosses were telling me, I don't think it ever felt truly real until I saw Goudreau's letter, in stark black and white. This attitude of entitlement is absolutely unacceptable, and I am deeply offended that any government member would so blatantly threaten a citizen. Even if I were a Progressive Conservative partisan, this would deeply embarrass me - not because a PC MLA was caught doing something bad, but because my government had grown so entitled and sure of itself that its representatives see no problem with bullying citizens.
In today's Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald, Graham Thomson and Don Braid capture the importance of the story better than I ever could. I hope you read both columns and keep them in mind when you cast your vote later this spring.