Alberta is a province beset by apathy, but according to a new initiative aiming to "reboot" Albertans, this no longer has to be the case.
Following poor voter turnout in 2008's general election, Reboot Alberta is attempting to channel Albertans' frustrations with provincial politics. Through web-based forums, blogs and, most recently, a planned gathering in Kananaskis, project founders are determined to alter how regional politics are perceived.
"We're looking at changing people's perspectives," said Ken Chapman, an Edmonton-based lawyer and co-founder of Reboot Alberta.
Chapman and most members of the initiative have no intention of forming an alternative party; instead, they want to openly explore and articulate problems they see facing the province.
The project was started by Chapman and three others who believe that progressive voices are being stifled in Alberta.
The four organized an invitation-only meeting last November, attended by 89 people from 22 different communities, all concerned with the province's direction.
According to Chapman, people of all political stripes were at the gathering, including members of Renew Alberta, which may become Alberta's newest political party.
Self-identifying as centrists, Renew Alberta is working to gain Elections Alberta recognition, which requires a petition signed by 7,050 electors or about 0.03 per cent of eligible Alberta voters.
According to Chapman, Renew Alberta did not spawn from Reboot Alberta, but runs parallel, focusing on a grassroots political movement defined by voter input.
Chapman supports the party, but emphasizes the tendency of new parties to fall short of their promises.
"[Renew Alberta] has to be new and different," he said. "It's easy to fall back to the old ways."
The party, like Reboot Alberta, is already facing criticism for its lack of specific alternatives. The label "progressive" is used throughout the Reboot Alberta website, which had several people asking what that actually means.
"We want people to grapple with that question," said Chapman, who explained the phrase is intentionally vague as a way to encourage inquiry.
Those interested in joining Reboot's dialogue may do so online at rebootalberta.org. Reboot will also be hosting a conference in Kananaskis called Reboot Alberta 2.0 February 26-28.