You can always trust a farmer.
My family has been in Alberta for five generations–and a core thing that has been shown to me by my family is that the people of rural Alberta, the farmers and the ranchers, is that they can be trusted.
Mind you, “trust” isn’t in the same vein as being able to trust them with a secret or some other simple thing. It’s bigger than that, and with having a wider definition. Much wider.
My family still engages in honoring verbal agreements. No legalese, lawyers, or anything of the sort is done when we promise something. That promise gets fulfilled. It gets done. The relationship between people is prized and the trust gained from it sacrosanct. It’s this kind of trust, of not only being true to one’s word but also keeping firm in the way one acts.
My family in the city of Calgary still operates under the small-town mentality where you’re friendly to everyone and expect friendliness in return. They expect a level of respect from one another.
There’s also a hardiness in Old Albertans. Those multi-generation families that have been here for a while have a whole different outlook on Alberta and on life. It’s a type of personality that can withstand the floods that wash out half of their seed like a week ago, that can team up with one another during drought or famine as per the dirty thirties, and that can be tough, yet kind when things are tough. It’s the kind of attitude of knowing that, in the end, there’s a silent burden that nobody in the cities or towns know—of being the backbone of the Canadian state and the root of what built Canada into what it is today.
It’s also a quiet hardiness. There’s an expectation of hard work that’s just done and without the blathering of those who enjoy the sound of their own voices until the cows come home. There’s a philosophical outlook of staring things down the road from a few years out—and working towards that goal… which is completely alien to the business and political world of today with quarterly reports and a constant, barraging, war-like tribalism of modern politics. Old Alberta has this slower pace coupled with a long term view of the province.
Personally, the thirty to forty year reigns of parties in Edmonton; First Liberal, then Farmers, then Social Credit, and now the Progressive Conservatives, are built on this quiet hardiness, and this long term view of Old Alberta.
This has changed, though. Although I have nothing other than personal anecdotes and my experiences, I think the long term vision of Old Alberta has been maliciously swapped for instant gains and spoils from these prairies of ours. Rather than caring for your neighbor we’ve been blindsided by a ravaging intensity to pursue private gain at any cost. And that’s bad. The merciless charge toward profit and to exploit runs counter to the long term needs of Alberta.
The usage of the oil sands needs to be tempered and slowed, with a firm handle on it by regulations and by industry to generate a sustainable (both in terms of the environment and long term existence) industry. My great-grandfather wrote about the oil sands (then called the tar sands). He wrote on how it was important to safeguard the environment, albeit he termed it in protecting water and in human lives rather than the fixation most have now with climate change, and the need to have a guiding hand with business so as to encourage but not overheat the economy. It was a call for balance from a gentleman farmer.
A long time ago Ralph Klein said he wanted to create an Alberta Advantage. Recently, the Wildrose Alliance and Ms. Smith spoke about ‘bringing it back’. I don’t think either had it right. The Alberta Advantage was never a set of financial reforms or rampant cutting of expense or jumping into debt or relying on some ideological principles. The Alberta Advantage has always, always been its people, old and new Albertans, contributing to a better life for all in Alberta.
The Alberta Advantage isn’t in letting the economy overheat or in changing fiscal measures in Edmonton. It’s allowing the gentleman farmer, the cool headed rancher, and Old Alberta have a seat at the table again.
- Graham Thomson of the Edmonton Journal paints a harsh picture of the Wildrose AGM.
- Rick Bell is, well, Rick Bell.
- The Calgary Herald tries to give a positive spin on the Wildrose ditching their values for electoral success. There is now an open revolt in the comment area of the page reacting the the Wildrose’s about-face.
- Daveberta pays lip service to the event, with his regular anti-Liberal inflective while, at the same time, heralding the Wildrose’s activities akin to big Liberal Lawrence Decore.
- I wrote a piece on Friday about how neither here nor there the Wildrose policy book was. Two months ago I wrote quite a negative post on the Wildrose (which, by the way, is the fourth link on a google search when you look for “wildrose blog”).
- Climenhaga gives his thoughts, projections, and advice to Danielle Smith and her fledgeling Wildrose.
- Ms. Smith’s keynote address (video) and a transcript.
There’s nothing different between the PCs and the Wildrose now. Vision-less and only vying for power for power’s sake. With this AGM out of the way this is bluntly clear. Danielle Smith has chosen, along with her party, to ditch their ideological positions (guns, nuclear energy, property rights) in favor of telling platitudes and bland blatherings on nothingness. Thomson of the Edmonton Journal said it perfectly:
Some of their resolutions, such as one encouraging “environmentally responsible” development of non-renewable resources, were so mainstream they would have been at home in a New Democrat convention.
What’s strange (and you can see this in the transcript) is that Ms. Smith declares that the Wildrose is a centrist, big tent party. Hm. The problem with this is that she says that she wants to turf the Big L Liberal-like baddies out of office in Edmonton–which are entirely imagined, seeing that those Liberals haven’t been in power for almost a century and, of course, if you’re centrist aren’t you supposed to pull in people–oh, I don’t know–that are a bit left of center?
Obviously she and the entirety of the Wildrose are just paying lip service to lull people into voting for them. No definable trait has emerged from the party–at all–from this convention.
The nuclear power resolution failed. The guns-as-property-rights resolution failed.
The “essential services”, and limiting stoppages of those, resolution was a wishy-washy affair where, as Thomson eruditely points out:
Under the old policy, teachers were declared an “essential service” and denied the power to walk off the job. The new policy says a Wildrose government would review what services should be deemed essential and “implement reforms that will ensure those employed in ‘essential services’ are treated fairly.”
It is a policy so warm and fuzzy you could wear it to bed. But it is also so vague it could yet be used a jackboot against teachers and anyone else the party deems to be working in an essential service.
The environment resolution was tossed to the wayside because it stated that, in fuzzy terms, that all steps to stem climate change should be tempered by science… And why does this toss it to the way side? Ms. Smith still thinks the science hasn’t bee settled yet She’s a self-proclaimed “realist.” By undercutting the 30 years of science pointing to the fact that global warming exists she makes her resolution sound nice and pleasant, but the truth behind her pleasant facade is quite plain. No action, nor movement, and no guts on climate change or the environment will come from the Wildrose–at least, according to the resolutions passed and their previous statements.
And the anti-gun control resolution? It was so loosely worded to begin with it didn’t matter whether or not it passed, although it did fail anyways. I suppose that’s all fine and dandy, except, err, that means that the Wildrose just dodged the topic and didn’t actually commit to anything.
In summary, the AGM seems to be a wishy-washy affair where the only thing that is clear is that the Wildrose is pissed, angry at Ed Stelmach, and are not the Progressive Conservatives. That’s not much to build the party on. That’s not much of anything.
If Danielle Smith wants her message to resound with voters in the great province of Alberta she needs to change her tune. Albertans have never reacted well to negative nancies. It’s vision. And the Wildrose and Danielle Smith have shown that they just don’t have it.
At 15% support Ms. Smith has fallen from the 42% (according to Angus Reid) she held in December and from the tie with the PCs she had only a few months ago. She and the Wildrose have dropped some thirty points and, with this AGM, is bluntly clear as to why. With no vision, no plan, no credibility the Wildrose has had its day in the sun and will be expected to quietly make its exit.
You might have noticed that I have had Mr. Kassamon my poll on the left hand side of my blog for the last two months.
And this is why.
My gut instinct said he would be jumping back in. And now he has, making the total count for mayor to eleven. He has started off with a big focus on not spending his own monies on his electoral challenge but relying on the support of the community–defeating the criticism that he tried to buy off the mayoral race five years ago with his personal investment of some $1.6m to beat out then incumbent Dave Bronconnier.
The race is heating up.