Sunday, October 30, 2011

What my day looked like when Premier Alison Redford came to my hometown.

I received a excited phone call prior to the Premier coming to Wood Buffalo.  She had agreed to have lunch with the Health Advisory Council (HAC) and would I come?  Are you serious?  Of course I am coming. So I cancel out going to the Chamber of Commerce luncheon where our Mayor Melissa Blake is giving her State of the Region Address.  Have to admit I was disappointed to miss that.  I always like to listen to our Mayor talk.  She has such passion for this community.  I also knew she would understand.  So I begin to plan for the discussions surrounding health in our region that I would like to discuss with the Premier.  I look over the agenda and find that I have much to say about all the items on that list.  Imagine that.....I have an opinion!?  I have opinions about most things as I am sure that anyone who knows me can attest to. I am most impressed as our Premier walks into the room.  She comes in without airs, walks with relaxed purpose and ready smile.  She has won me over long before she walked into that room, but it was nice to see that my beliefs are well-founded. I love how she starts the conversation...`` In three short weeks a lot has been accomplished.  The doors of the legislature have been blown off and now it is time to get to work.``  Straight shooter if there ever has been one. We had a great discussion with honest straight forward questions and answers.  No one seemed shy and were willing talk honestly and sincerely with the Premier and Minister of Health about Wood Buffalo.  I will say that your HAC team did Wood Buffalo proud that day.
I also had the great honour of helping out on the executive planning team for the Premier`s Dinner that happened that same night. As many of you who work events know there is alot of behind the scenes planning that takes place.  You only need to ask my son, who had to sing O`Canada numerous times while I worked out the timing on the PowerPoint. I would edit out pictures as he sat beside me telling me which ones he thought were the coolest ones of the bunch and I needed to keep.  Then I would cue it back up and say, ``OK.  Once again from the top.``  He is an amazing young man.  I arrived at the assigned time to work the registration desk...4 pm.  The busy workers from the PC party had already done all the work and the name tags were there in alphabetical order.  I quickly find mine, put it my pocket for later use, and find that there is more than  enough volunteers for the registration table and I am reassigned to the Edge Students who have come to open doors and work the coat check for the evening.  I know I will be missing quite alot of the event in the beginning but I am good with that.  I talk to the students who have come and explain what I expect them to do with the doors, check and see who has jackets on ( only kids with jackets on can work the doors that lead outside...the Mom in me has kicked is cold out there and I don`t want them to catch colds).  To my surprise the two students who are working the coat check are both named Tyler.  I explain how to hang coats, which part of the ticket to give the patron, when things should quiet down for them, when I will be getting them supper, how to find me if they need anything and that I will be back to check on them periodically.  One of the times I check on them I notice that there is one more student in there who is older so I ask his name.  Tyler he says.  I am blown away.  Three Tyler`s in one room....all in the Edge program....and none of them knew each other before that night.  Too funny. 
Now that things are rolling along with the students I can focus on the room for the first time. There are wall to wall people.  There are MLAs, the movers and shakers of Wood Buffalo, and of course the Premier.  I personally belong to three different Ministries...Health, Education and Child and Family Services Authority.  I have already had a chance to talk to the Health Minister so I move out into the room to see if I can find the other two.  It did not take long.....they were standing side by side talking.  It is interesting because my new old Minister of Human Services was my Minister of Education not that long ago.  It is great to talk to both of them. I like both of them and know they will be good in their new portfolios. In a room like that everyone knows it is a matter of time before someone else is crowding behind you to get there chance to speak to them so it is not a long conversation but still a good chance to connect again.  Satisfied that I have covered all three of my Ministries I look for my friends in the room.  I know they are there...I have seen them earlier, however being vertically challenged in a crowded room has some serious disadvantages.  It takes me more than 15 minutes to find the person that I am looking for  in a room that takes normally takes one minute to walk across  as I am constantly stopping to talk to people I know in the room and various Ministers I have come to know over the years. It is nice to see so many MLAs in the room that have come out to support our Premier and Wood Buffalo. I finally find the person I am looking for and we look for a quieter less crowded place to take a breather.  I have been on the go since early that morning and I need to regroup.  Thank goodness for friends.  They help keep your head screwed on right. 
Soon it is time for everyone to go in for dinner. As we try to move 400 people into the next room....a saying pops into my mind that a colleague of mine says in situations like this.... It is like herding cats.  Eventually everyone is in the dining room, except me.  It is time for me to get supper for the amazing Tylers of the coat check. They are excited that they may get a glimpse of the Premier so I wait with them in case they need a picture, but alas she is going a different way to enter the room.  I give them the menu and tell them they can have any sandwich or burger they want and I will deliver it to them. Bless their hearts, they ask if I am missing dinner.  I tell them in my world kids come first...always.  So armed with the order and my wallet off I go to get these boys some much needed food. 
Once delivered I let them know where I am sitting and  walk into the room.  The Premier has already started and I have missed the opening, but I am there for the meat and potatoes of the speech. As it would be most rude to walk through the room to find my seat I wait quietly standing in the back of the room.  Our Premier talks about health, education, infrastructure, twinning of the highway, and the future of our community as she sees it.  She makes no grandiose promises, but is solid in her words.  From where I am standing I can see the whole room.  I begin to watch the crowd while listening to see the reaction in the faces and body language around the room.  People are leaning in towards her, nodding their heads in agreement and at times smiling. You can almost physically feel the change that is reverberating in the air as people begin to believe again. The Premier is the genuine article. I have hope for Albertans and I believe she will deliver on her word.  From the reaction in the room so do the people who attended the dinner that night.
After she is finished I quickly check on my coat check experts and run into one of the Premier`s security detail.  I have had a chance to see him more than once during the course of the day.  I explain to him that the boys were disappointed not to have seen the Premier and if he could possibly bring her to meet them it would be great.  He smiles and says no worries and he is off.  I once again check on them and move back into the dinner.  I am hungry. Even though I said I had lunch with the Premier I never did eat much  and totally missed breakfast.  It is moving on past 7 pm and I am on empty.
I get to my table after salad has been served and notice we are without an MLA.  We didn`t have enough to go around and it would seem my table has been one of those.  I quip to my colleague sitting beside me that it looks like we are missing an MLA to which he responses... don`t need one...we have you!  I giggle and we tie into the food and great conversation. It is time to unwind and relax.  Things are almost done for the night.
I did check back one more time with the students at the coat check and am very happy that both the Premier and Mayor have stopped by to talk to these young men.  It speaks volumes for me that both of these outstanding and powerful women have taken time out of their schedules to enter into a conversation with them.  The boys tell me all about how the Premier knew what they had for dinner and could name it!  They were excited about that for some reason. I get it though as I have is all about the food.  It was an amazing night all round for everyone it would seem.

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