Media releases | February 14, 2008

EDMONTON—A new civic engagement campaign was launched today that calls on citizens to actively speak out on public interest issues during the provincial election.Democracy is a Dialogue: Your Voice – Our Future is being coordinated by Public Interest Alberta (PIA) in partnership with a wide range of organizations representing teachers, nurses, health science professionals, faculty associations, students’ unions, churches, social workers, seniors, environmental organizations and community service providers. The campaign includes an interactive website that features a detailed questionnaire for all political parties, and election forums on key public interest issues. The Edmonton forum will take place on Tuesday, February 26th at 7:00 PM at the Royal Alberta Museum.Bill Moore-Kilgannon, PIA’s Executive Director, stated, “This is a critical time in our history when there needs to be serious dialogue about how we build a better Alberta for all. Living in a democracy means that we can not just sit by passively listening to politicians roll out the platitudes and platforms – citizens need to join that dialogue and demand real action on the critical issues of building a quality society for everyone.”The great advantage of elections is that we have the chance to shine a spotlight on crucial issues and actually generate an important dialogue on what will really matter in all our futures,” said Larry Booi, Chairperson of Public Interest Alberta. “In this election, PIA will be shining a light on ten key public interest issues, and our forums will give citizens the chance to engage in a more informed dialogue about things that should matter most in our province.”“This province is at a crossroads,” said Alberta Teachers’ Association President Frank Bruseker. “Teachers understand that the decisions we make today about public education and other critical issues will have implications for decades to come. This election, and the dialogue surrounding it, is about the future and about the Alberta we want to create for ourselves and our children. The Association representing over 34,000 teachers is proud to be a sponsor of this PIA initiative.”“We are working with our diverse partners in this campaign to make young people aware that they can have a real voice and make a genuine difference to their future by speaking out during the election,” said Lisi Monro, Acting President of the NAIT Student Association. “Alberta students and faculty associations are working with these partners to push for more support for post-secondary education (Imagine Alberta Campaign), and at the same time want students to speak out on all the other critical issues that have an impact on them and their families.”"Seniors are concerned about the future availability, quality and affordability of seniors care, and are actively looking forward to hearing what all the parties are saying about their plans for seniors," said Bernice Cassady, Chair, Edmonton Chapter, CARP, Canada's Association for the 50 Plus. "We are happy to be working with this broad coalition of organizations to make sure that seniors are an integral part of the democratic dialogue."Suzanne Marshall, the Executive Director of Friends of Medicare said, “Healthcare has been shown to be one of the most important issues for Albertans, yet we still have not seen much debate in this election about where the parties stand on these issues. We urge citizens to use the Democracy is a Dialogue website and election forums to raise their concerns and questions about the future of our public healthcare system.”"The Alberta College of Social Workers strongly supports PIA's Democracy is a Dialogue - our members want to stop the growing disparity between Alberta's haves and have nots,” said Rod Adachi, Executive Director of the Alberta College of Social Workers. “The province needs to create and support social policies that consider the needs of all Albertans, and we need to do so now. These crucial social issues simply must be an important part of the debate in this election, and we are trying to help make that happen."“Kairos Edmonton affirms the principle that the importance of the Earth's resources to the common good takes priority over any possible commercial value and we are using Democracy is a Dialogue to encourage our members to raise these concerns during the election,” said Tim Hartnagel, member of the Edmonton chapter of Kairos; the ecumenical justice coalition supported by eleven churches and church agencies.Please visit the website, for further information about this initiative, the election forums and the election efforts of the various partner organizations.- 30 -