Friday, September 02, 2011

Doug Griffiths: The Average Award-winning Teacher

When I first found his site, oddly the second link rather than the first on google, I had to double check that it was not the home shopping channel, since the top right said "6 easy steps to help" and included the number 1-855-GO-GRIFF. Then I noticed he had only three policy sections and I decided I didn't care if it was his site or not, I was using it anyway.

He presents his theories in three short videos, and includes this gem at the top,  
"If you have heard him speak at one of his hundreds of community building events, you will likely understand his values and principles clearly"
It places the burden of finding and understanding his policies on the reader, rather than on him, the onus to present them.

Community Development Policy
I'm not sure I agree with his opening sally that success globally doesn't matter if each of our communities is not successful, sometimes it can be the other way around. He wants to focus on four pillars to build strong communities; Education, healthcare, economic development, and quality of life. he talks about balancing our weaknesses amongst each other, but that's not a plan for a community; humans can't care about an entire huge community in the same way they care for their close family. There's a really pandering moment where he pauses in his speech, delivered while sitting on a back porch, to tousle the hair of a chubby cheeked little boy drinking a glass of juice. I had to stop for a minute to check for my insulin shot. I was going to base this post simply on the strengths of his video, but since the only information I could glean was, "strong communities are good, mmkay?" I simply have to crack open his policy document and have a gander.

All right so, he wants to clearly define each government's responsibilities, give healthcare and education power to the municipalities, encourage communities to work together, and find a way to stop paying municipalities. I'm not sure why this man wants to be elected to the provincial council if he is going to dissolve it all. At least he points out his criteria for success; too bad it's 'bigger communities'.

Fiscal Responsibilities
While nonchalantly checking his mail, he lets us know that provinces need to know where money is coming from, and where it's going. Dude, it's coming from the people, and going to ... the people. That wasn't so hard.
He tells us that we take in 12 Billion in taxes, but spend 39 billion elsewhere (healthcare taking 15 billion of that). He makes it seem like this is a dire situation, then says we rely on things like property taxes and fuel taxes and, since we take money from the federal government, we rely on other people. The two options he feels we have, then, are to 'blow up' the programs or to leave things the way they are (I must confess, I favor this option). He calls the other payment options (property taxes etc.) are 'good fortune', but I don't understand why he feels this is different from personal and corporate taxes. This is, though, the first time a candidate has focused on how much money we get from the federal government, rather than banging the table about how much we give them.

So the policy manual breaks this down into: refilling the heritage savings fund, fund non-essential services with service fees and donations, talking to Albertans about the province's money, not making drastic changes with the spending vs. revenue dynamic, reforming the corporate tax structure to keep it the same, reducing welfare programs, and getting Albertans to solve their own problems. That last one is my favorite; we are such a bunch of big babies about not doing our own healthcare. One further thing I want to point out is that he advocates spending money on infrastructure during recessions, which I fully support but tends to be unpopular since it looks bad (see. Obama's stimulus package).

Education Policy
I love being in the homestretch after only three sections.
He points out that during his tenure as a teacher no-one ever said that Alberta spends too much on education; shame he never learned about sampling bias. The whole education = good video is topped off with some off-putting finger shaking at the end. It's really unsettling.

The same old tune, not even brushed up; Support teachers, meet educational needs, stable funding.
He does suggest rewarding good behaviour for teachers, and opening community schools, to encourage a bit of spice. His ideas about revamping the CALM (career and life management) course, establishing mobile shops, and fostering other curriculum delivery methods seem to suggest he might be better suited as minister for education, rather than premier. 

Anyway, that's all for Mr. Doug Griffiths, which is pretty concise. To be honest, since everyone is saying the same thing with only minor variations, the vote should be pretty tame and will likely come down to who has the most friends. I can't wait.

Oh my goodness. Hold the phone. I just found his section titled, "Why Doug?" which, if you insert a comma, sounds like a heart-filled plea. In this section he includes all the reasons we should vote for him, entwined with compelling pictures of himself in rolled up sleeves and clip-on microphones. "No sales pitches or hype" he says, "100% Volunteer" (yes, but is it from concentrate?), and "Father of two young kids". I have to go apologize to Mr. Canadian Pun'd it because I think I was just suckered into reading some guy's dating profile.
See you all next week! Don't forget; September 17th!

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