The story thus far from Alberta: the Western Alienation narrative starts today

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PHOTOS: A couple of typical alienated Westerners discuss what to do next now that another Trudeau is about to be sworn in as prime minister of Canada. Head for the hills, I guess. Below: The elder prime minister Trudeau, Pierre, and Alberta premier Peter Lougheed toast the mutually satisfactory deal they signed in September 1981 that resolved their disagreement over the National Energy Program. Unfortunately, some big oil companies decided they didn’t like the deal, so now it never happened. Below them: The younger prime minister Trudeau, Justin, looking like he was meant to wear a cowboy hat, which, just watch, will further alienate us Westerners. 

The Western Alienation narrative starts immediately.

Yesterday morning’s print edition of the Edmonton Journal included a front-page political column wondering if Alberta has “frozen itself out of power in Ottawa?” The author’s conclusion: probably.

At least that one put some of the responsibility on the right party, as it were.

Trudeau-LougheedYesterday morning’s post-Big-Event uninformed-person-in-the-street interviews on Edmonton CBC’s morning drive program included several inarticulate speakers bemoaning Monday’s federal election results and remembering how Pierre Trudeau most certainly wrecked Alberta’s economy with the National Energy Program and therefore Justin Trudeau is bound to do the same thing.

The national broadcaster’s corporate lizard brain had apparently not registered the fact Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were swept from power Monday and it therefore no longer needs to reflexively parrot his talking points. And never mind any responsibility to point out to listeners and readers when widely held opinions are not factual, or indeed that, in this case, they are nothing but oft-repeated Conservative propaganda.

Naturally, participants on the sorts of social media sites that post death threats against provincial NDP politicians were soon working themselves into a complete swivet about how Alberta was bound to be shut out again, and Something Must Be Done.

Judging from this, the immediate post-election consensus here was that we Albertans have been unjustly shut out of power by thoughtless and self-centred Canadians in other provinces who don’t have the good sense to vote the way we do. The idea that we might contribute to this ourselves by electing so many Conservatives with metronomic regularity appears to have occurred to virtually no one.

JustinTrudeauNevertheless, count on this narrative to continue loudly here in Alberta and, with localized variations, anywhere else corporate media still manages to put out a daily newspaper, starting at once.

This is only going to get worse when the Conservative Party’s movers and shakers realize their next leader is going to have to come from somewhere other than Alberta if their party is going to avoid sinking into complete irrelevancy.

Another awkward message they are going to have to absorb is that their party will need to move back toward the big-tent Toryism of national leaders like Brian Mulroney and, horror of horrors, Joe Clark if it is to maintain any relevance to Canadian voters outside Alberta. This is going to be difficult because, basically, Mr. Harper and his market-fanatical cadres long ago purged all of those “Red Tories” from their rechristened Reform Party.

Anyway, the whole meme is basically baloney. The Liberals elected 29 MPs in Western Canada, 32 if you count the north, so Western Canadians could hardly claim to be voiceless even if Liberal MPs only spoke to supporters of their own party, which, of course, they won’t.

Even in Alberta, the soon-to-be-governing Liberals elected four MPs – two in Calgary and two in Edmonton. In a sense these low numbers give a unique advantage to Alberta in particular as at least a couple of these representatives are almost certain to find their way smoothed into important posts in Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet.

But, count on it, none of this will stop the crescendo of poor-me, woe-is-Alberta, I’m-so-alienated complaints from rising to an ear-splitting screech in the weeks and months ahead.

Oh, and those oil prices? Look for Mr. Trudeau to start being blamed for them by nightfall tomorrow. After all, it’ll have been two days and he still won’t have gotten us a pipeline!?

How this will square with the blame already immediately assigned upon election to Rachel Notley, Alberta’s NDP premier, for the same thing remains to be seen, but I’m sure the Wildrose-Conservative Axis will work it out soon enough.

Saudi Arabia? International oil prices? Never heard of ’em!

Canada ‘lurches to the left,’ The Atlantic concludes

Is a 10 per cent shift a lurch? Not around here it ain’t!

Someone was bound to write the expected “Canada lurches-to-the-left” headline in the aftermath of Monday’s Liberal majority election victory, and as it turned out it was the venerable Washington-based Atlantic magazine, formerly the Atlantic Monthly of Boston, Mass.

Well, it’s not much of a lurch, notwithstanding the entertaining zombie imagery such a description inspires, and neither was it very far to the left. Yeah, the Liberals are little to the left of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, but not all that much in the great scheme of things. And this time the NDP positioned themselves to the right of the Liberals on some key economic issues, which could very well have had an impact on their disappointing election results.

As for the popular vote, in 2011, the NDP and the Liberals combined had 49.5 per cent of the popular vote. The Conservatives won a majority government with 39.6 per cent.

On Monday, the Liberals and the NDP together got 59 per cent of the vote, with the Liberals winning a majority with almost exactly the same percentage of the popular vote the Conservatives had last time. The Conservatives slipped back to 31.9 per cent of the vote Monday.

The first-past-the-post single-member-plurality system makes the changes look a little more dramatic, but in real terms, Canada didn’t lurch to the left, it eased back toward the centre.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

Categories Canadian Politics