Andrew Kooman: What drew you into politics and what motivated you to offer your name as a candidate?
Michael Dawe: I first became involved in local politics in 1983. I was four years into my career and thought it was time to start becoming more involved in community affairs.
The issue at the time was two tiered health care and user fees for health services.
I ran on a platform of “Equal Access To Quality Health Care”.
To many people’s surprise (and to be honest, to mine as well), I won.
I became very active in a number of different health areas – particularly patient care and seniors health. I served on the Home Care Management Committee and the Alberta Health Care Association’s Long Term Care Committee.
Eventually I became chair of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Board.
I was also one of the founders of the Red Deer Regional Hospital (now David Thompson Healthcare) Foundation.
In 1995, the locally elected boards were replaced by appointed regional health authorities. I was not one of the appointees.
However, in 2001, the Provincial Government briefly allowed partial elections to the health authority boards and I was acclaimed to the David Thompson Health Region Board.
In 2008, the regional health authority boards were suddenly abolished and replaced with an appointed province wide Super Board.
I have found that subsequently, Alberta Health Services have become over-centralized and very detached from the communities they serve and the front lines of health care providers.
Health Care across the province has since deteriorated.
I became a candidate to see if I could help reverse this trend and make Health Care in Alberta more community, patient and front line staff orientated.
There also needs to be an open and frank acknowledgement of what is wrong in Health Care so we can start a proper fixing of the system.
AK: Why did you choose the party you belong to and what does it have to uniquely offer to Red Deerians?
MD: Dr. Raj Sherman, the new Alberta Liberal Party leader, was an emergency room physician and an M.L.A. who became alarmed by the crisis in our province’s hospitals. He decided to speak out. For opening talking about the problems he witnessed, he was thrown out of Government. Attempts were made to try and punish him for what he had done.
Fortunately, he stuck to his guns as he believed it was more important to stand up for what was right, than to quietly acquiesce and appear “a team player”.
I am proud to stand in this election with such a principled, open and honest leader, who is more interested in doing what is right, than what is expedient.
AK: How do you plan to serve the people in your riding if elected their representative?
MD: When I was making my final decision about running, I asked Dr. Sherman what would happen if I disagreed with him. He said he would sit down with me and see if we could work the disagreement out. I then asked what would happen if we still disagreed and I felt I had to vote differently as an M.L.A. than he did.
He said he would be a hypocrite if he punished me for sticking to what I truly thought was right.
He told me that I would be free to vote for what I thought was right and what was best for my constituents.
On that promise, I made my final decision to run, to be the best representative for the community that I can and to do what is right, rather than what might be politically expedient, ethically and/or morally wrong.
AK: Why are you suited, at this time, to represent Red Deer in the legislature?
MD: I have very deep roots in our community. I have been involved extensively for 30 years in all kinds of volunteer and community organizations, projects and charitable causes.
I will carry that commitment for positive change for the community to Edmonton, if I should be fortunate enough to be selected as the M.L.A., for Red Deer North.
My resume and list of community involvements can be found on my website www.dawe4rdnorth.com
AK: What do you think are the greatest challenges Albertans face at this point in history?
MD: Political cynicism and public disengagement have become endemic. Turn out at the polls in the last provincial election was a record breaking low.
We need to start building trust and integrity in public affairs, not by making promises at election time, but by walking the talk, living up to our commitments, apologizing and fixing our mistakes, and being truly accountable.
That way we can start turning around the profound malaise in our provincial democracy and create a much better and healthier society.
AK: What is your connection to the city? How did you end up in Red Deer?
MD: Red Deer is my home. It is the home of my family, friends, neighbours, colleagues etc.
Through my work as an historian and my various community involvements, I feel I have gotten to know my community extremely well, both past and present.
Nevertheless, there is so much more to learn and if I should fortunate enough to earn a spot as a provincial representative for our community, I will work even harder to know and understand the community – its viewpoints, issues, concerns, progress and problems.
AK: What do you do for fun?
MD: I love to garden, as there is a lot of joy in nurturing living things. I am particularly proud of my orchard which includes two dozen apple and fruit trees and shrubs. I also enjoy growing roses each summer.
For relaxation, I enjoy time at the family cabin at Sylvan Lake, reading a good book or just watching the world go by.
AK: What clubs, groups, or organizations are you a member of (or connected to) and why are you engaged with them?
MD: I am involved in many different community organizations and projects.
I am a village councilor for the Summer Village of Norglenwold.
I am a library trustee.
I am a member of the regional water commission.
I am an executive member of the Central Alberta Historical Society.
I am a member of the Volunteer and Membership Committee of the Westerner Exposition Association.
I am a member of the Festival of Lights Committee, which plans the opening nights festivities for the annual Festival of Trees charitable fund raiser.
I am an active member of the Red Deer East Rotary Club.
I am a new member of the Twilight Homes Foundation which does excellent work in the community for seniors, hospice and such charitable projects as Ronald MacDonald House.
AK: Who inspires you and who would you like to emulate?
MD: I am very proud of my father, G. Harold Dawe. He lived in Red Deer all of his life, except for the time spent in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. He was a man of great integrity, who worked hard to make our community a better place to live. I hope to live up to his example.
AK: What idea are you excited about that you think should compel Red Deerians to get out and vote on April 23?
MD: This election offers Albertans a unique opportunity to commence fundamental positive change, for the first time in a great many years. In order to channel that change in the directions with which we wish to take, we need to become full participants in the debates on the issues and in the presentations of positive alternatives and choices.
This is an election when each and every vote will count.
For more interviews and the how and why of this series, go here.