Oh gosh, here we go again! When in doubt, blame those Eastern bastards!
Alberta may be the richest, biggest, loudest kid in Confederation, but at the first sign of opposition to anything we want to do, we turn whiny and defensive, noisily blaming everyone else for all our troubles.
We’ve seen plenty examples of this in the past couple of days – ever since federal NDP Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair dared to connect the dots between the breakneck pace of Alberta’s oilsands development and the deleterious impact the resulting strong petro-Loonie is having on Central Canada’s manufacturing sector.
“Oh My Gawd!” squeaked the Western Canadian media and politicians throughout the region in virtual unison, he’s going to use our out-of-control development and our lousy environmental record as a wedge issue! Why, he’s stooping to … old-style politics!
This is a laugh and a half coming from western Conservatives of various stripes and Sun Media in particular, since together they are the absolute masters of the use and misuse of wedge issues.
Also, never mind that there’s more than a little truth to what Mr. Mulcair had to say – or that the Alberta Tory dynasty’s founder Peter Lougheed, who just days before we were hailing as the best premier of the last 40 years, says much the same thing about the pace of development out here.
The most interesting example of this kind of defensive sniveling came from former premier Ed Stelmach, free at last of the need to play nice with his fellow Progressive Conservatives or anyone else, who waxed poetic yesterday about how those rotten Easterners are all set to screw our poor Prairie hides to the wall and tan them.
This was kind of a pity, because it got all the attention and Mr. Stelmach actually had a number of things to say that made sense in his first post-political interview.
What are those Eastern politicians going to do to get votes, Mr. Stelmach asked reporters after turning up for a show of premiers’ portraits at the Legislature, why, “You beat up on Alberta! It’s going to happen!”
You’d think as the biggest kid on the petro-block, with one of ours as the prime minister and the government majority packed with other Albertans all busy tearing up the country’s environmental regulations and demanding pipelines in every direction, those Easterners wouldn’t pose much of a threat. But here we are, crying already before they’ve even taken a half-hearted swat at us. Oh, boo-hoo-hoo!
“We have to stand together,” Mr. Stelmach warned. “Anyone who wants to grab on to our resources and not put anything in terms of investment, but just want the gravy coming out of the sale of our resources, better be careful!”
Mr. Stelmach is much too nice a man to say “let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark,” as one of his predecessors is reputed to have commented, but there was a bit of that in his remarks all mixed up with the cry of the Cowardly Lion, Alberta style: “Put ’em up, put ’em up! Which one of you first? I’ll fight you both together if you want. I’ll fight you with one paw tied behind my back. I’ll fight you standing on one foot. I’ll fight you with my eyes closed…”
Just in case you were wondering, that last quote came from the Wizard of Oz. The rest are from the Edmonton Journal.
“All I’m saying is watch the East,” Mr. Stelmach went on. “The Maritimes are OK with us. Watch Ontario and Quebec. They’ve already got two leaders that are pointing fingers.” (The other finger-pointer was Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, a Liberal, which rounds out the Alberta Enemies List nicely.)
Yeah, well, it’s true, and if we keep on acting like we have been, there may be more – and some in B.C. too. But it wouldn’t be the Alberta Way to recognize that obvious fact and try to moderate our behaviour a little.
As noted, much of the rest of what Mr. Stelmach had to say was pretty sensible. Among his points, summarized here by Yours Truly:
- What really killed Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith was her own nutty denial of climate change, not some of her candidates’ bozo eruptions.
- A province ought not to balance its budget by killing infrastructure development when it’s the fastest-growing jurisdiction on the continent.
- So far, Premier Alison Redford’s Canadian energy strategy sounds pretty half-baked.
But why think about stuff like that when there are Easterners to blame for everything?
This post also appears on Rabble.ca.