Avoidable collapse

How to avoid a catastrophic political collapse within the conservative movement.

Family is the link to our past but it is also the bridge to our future. With talks of unification of conservatives dominating conversations across Alberta it would be wise to remember but not dwell on the past.

On a hot August day in 1907 what was supposed to be one of the greatest engineering wonders of the world turned quickly into one of the biggest disasters in history. The Quebec Bridge was a cantilever style structure that was designed to span over 1,800 feet of the St. Lawrence River connecting Sainte-Foy and Levis Quebec.

In their haste to complete the much needed infrastructure trade corridor some noted engineering design flaws were overlooked and ignored. On August 29, 1907 the bridge collapsed claiming the lives of 75 workers. The Quebec Bridge was finally completed in 1919 but not before a second disaster befell the project that saw another 13 lives lost in the attempt.

The Quebec Bridge disaster has served as a symbol to new engineering graduates to remember the past. In a ceremony called the “Calling of an Engineer,” graduates are presented with an iron ring that serves to remind them to uphold the principles of professionalism and it symbolizes the humility and fallibility of engineers. Contrary to the urban myth, the first rings were not made from iron from the collapsed bridge however it did lead to the tradition of the Iron Ring.

Being a professional is tending to the little things that can add up to a much bigger problem. Remembering our faults serves to remind us to be cognizant that we are not infallible. To move forward towards a successful unification it would serve all Albertans to have the humility to recognize the mistakes of the past.

As conservative Albertans work towards bringing back the Alberta advantage which includes smaller government, lower taxes and more personal freedoms, we would be wise to consider where things got off the rails. Losing sight of these principles ultimately caused the breakdown of capable governance in the province.

An old adage: “Those who do not recognize the mistakes that were made in the past will inevitably be doomed to repeat them.” This will help to avoid the inevitable collapse that typically precedes failures that are completely avoidable.

The engineering profession in Canada has consciously reminded all of their new graduates that they are indeed fallible and subject to error. It would be prudent for Conservatives in Alberta to take a page from the engineering community’s book so they are not subject to another situation that will ultimately end with an equally catastrophic political collapse.


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