Notley Government navigates a profound crisis with grace and empathy, as even some conservatives begin to recognize

Posted on May 07, 2016, 1:25 pm
10 mins

PHOTOS: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who has risen to the challenge of a difficult moment in Alberta’s history. Below: Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee, a scene from the Fort McMurray fire catastrophe, which continues to burn, and the Globe’s Gary Mason. The latter two photos are from the CBC and Globe and Mail.

It must be deeply disturbing to many Alberta conservatives to realize just how capable and in control Premier Rachel Notley and her New Democratic Party Government have appeared these past few crisis-filled days.

Dealing with a tragic catastrophe like the Fort McMurray forest fire would not be easy for any leader or government. To do so in the midst of a profound economic crisis to which there are no obvious quick fixes and about which there is a vast rift between prevailing political philosophies on how best to proceed, and when the disaster is taking place in the symbolic heart of the province’s troubled economy, complicates the task enormously.

LariveeWhen, as many observers have noted, the premier, her MLAs and closest political advisors are new to power – the crisis struck during the week the government expected to celebrate its first anniversary in power – the potential for fumbles in high-risk political circumstances is huge.

And yet Ms. Notley and her ministers have steered through these first few difficult days of the fire with real grace under pressure, hitting a reassuring note that appropriately recognizes the gravity of the crisis, the seriousness of the challenge ahead and the determination and confidence of this government to keep a cool head and a steady hand on the tiller.

I was struck yesterday how Ms. Notley and her municipal affairs minister, Danielle Larivee, exuded the sense that while things may be bad, the grownups are in charge and they know what to do to make things better.

Now, some will argue it is natural for a supporter of Ms. Notley’s government, as I certainly am, to see things this way. Moreover, no plan will ever be good enough for determined opponents of the NDP – and there are many – especially when the only opposition alternative is to slash and pretend that will change nothing.

But it’s not just me, as two remarkable stories in the past few hours in the pages of the Globe and Mail – the journalistic bastion of conservative Canada and Canada’s Conservatives – illustrate with particular clarity.

Early yesterday morning, Gary Mason, the Globe’s Western Canadian correspondent described this sense of effective leadership in strong words: “Leaders are often defined by how they perform in a time of crisis. If that is the case, Ms. Notley should receive high marks for the way in which she has conducted herself amid one of the most troubling 12 months Alberta has ever known,” he wrote. “In recent history, I can’t recall a rookie political leader, certainly one with so little previous governing experience, who has inherited a more brutal set of circumstances and yet performed with so much poise and natural authority.”

CBCFire-JPG“There was a disdainful, almost patronizing tone emitted from the province’s conservative old guard when the NDP took over,” Mr. Mason recalled later in his piece. “It went something like: Now you’ll see what happens when you elect ideological lefty do-gooders who have little experience running anything. And yet it is difficult to imagine any of the Progressive Conservative leaders in recent years handling things any better than Rachel Notley has. In fact, it’s easy to imagine a couple of them handling things a whole lot worse.”

On the afternoon of the same day, in the same Globe – the one that not so long ago reflexively endorsed Conservative austerians like Stephen Harper in Ottawa and Jim Prentice in Alberta – published an editorial that not only contained strong praise for what Ms. Notley has done up to now, but pointed critically at previous conservative governments as the authors of many of the province’s most serious problems.

This editorial too is worth quoting at length. It began: “Premier Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party was elected one year ago this week. It’s mostly been a solid, serious first year, particularly given that her party had never before been anywhere near the levers of power. She took steps to tackle climate change, introducing some of Canada’s toughest carbon-pricing rules. She pushed hard for the rest of the country to accept new pipelines, which are necessary for the oil industry to operate efficiently. She brought in a promised, badly needed reform of Alberta’s political fundraising rules. She wisely reconsidered raising oil royalty rates, faced with evidence that it would be counterproductive. She’s faced the Fort McMurray disaster with intelligence and empathy.”

Gary_Mason_headshot_999aIt went on: “Her predecessors squandered the boom times, and handed her the keys to the car just as it was running out of gas. The NDP inherited a massive hole in the province’s finances, which has since grown. Its cause is what used to be the province’s advantage: Oil. Thanks to oil, previous Alberta governments delivered the impossible, year after year: low taxes and high spending. And then the bottom dropped out on oil prices. Without its annual lottery winnings, Alberta was revealed as a budgetary basket case.”

Remember, this is the Globe and Mail talking. A few similar notes have even been struck in local media, notably by political columnists Don Braid and Graham Thomson, both real journalists who trace their roots to the era in which Alberta’s quality newspapers were owned by Southam Inc. An openly partisan anti-NDP tone prevails in the opinion pages of the former Sun newspapers, now also owned by Postmedia.

Alberta’s conservatives, of course, include many thoughtful and sensible people with whom we can respectfully disagree and, as in the past week, find common ground. But it is fair to say that the province’s conservative movement skews further to the Tea Party edge of the spectrum than do conservatives in most other Canadian provinces.

This is, arguably, a big part of what led to the election of the untried NDP in the provincial general election on May 5, 2015, largely on the strength of Ms. Notley’s pitch-perfect performance in the last days of the campaign. Fed up with the PCs, Albertans just couldn’t see their way to electing the extremist rural-based Wildrose Party.

So to see Ms. Notley’s government now getting recognition and praise from some of the country’s traditionally most conservative quarters really ought to shake centrist conservatives and the infuriated extremist right alike, who have been telling themselves as if it were a mantra that they only have to wait three more years and they will be automatically restored to power.

Their social media broadsides at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the fires continued to burn in the north seemed to stick at times, but never to Ms. Notley or her ministers.

Of course, it’s a long haul until the next election and plenty can go wrong for the NDP between now and then, just as there were fumbles in the government’s rocky first months.

Moreover, dealing with close to 90,000 refugees from Fort Mac and shuttered oilsands plants will bring new opportunities for pitfalls, anger, economic worries and frustrated voters, especially as time goes on.

Still, the Notley Government seems to have found its feet at last, and in a dark, difficult moment. The challenge for the province’s conservatives is not getting any easier.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

77 Comments to: Notley Government navigates a profound crisis with grace and empathy, as even some conservatives begin to recognize

    • Athabascan

      May 7th, 2016

      What the hell is that supposed to mean? Leave religion out of this.

      The Fort Mac tragedy is bad enough without compounding it with religious nonsense. What’s needed now is calm resolve and compassion for our neighbours. Oh, and a focused government that cares – Like Notley.

      Reply
      • Hurtin' Albertan

        May 9th, 2016

        As a Christian I believe in providence. The reference is from the account of Esther in the bible, who despite the possible threat to her life, stood up as Queen to protect her people and did what was right. Likewise, we are benefitting from a leader, who some would even say was miraculously brought to power, and who is uniquely gifted to lead us with wisdom, calm, resolve, and compassion, as well as many other gifts, through some very challenging times. As Mr. Climenhaga has ably pointed out, this will surely drive traditional close-minded conservatives mad. My post was directed more towards bible-touting conservatives. Sorry, I should not have assumed readers would know or take the time to investigate the context of my reference.

        Reply
        • Hurtin' Albertan

          May 9th, 2016

          Maybe a better reference would have been “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”
          Romans 13:1 NKJV
          http://bible.com/114/rom.13.1.NKJV

          Written by the apostle Paul, who as a leader of the early Christian church, and as both a Jew and Roman citizen, could have certainly had reason to criticize the governments of his day. He was eventually martyred for his faith by the Romans, but did not recant this teaching or his faith.

          Reply
          • zalm

            May 18th, 2016

            I’d stick with the Esther. God – assuming he really does what Paul says he dos – has appointed some wingnuts to power that have really done some damage to his world and his people.

            Best of all to leave Paul in the closet and stick with what Jesus said.

  1. TENET

    May 7th, 2016

    Premier Notley, and her father before her, earned my respect and admiration many times over many decades.

    Reply
    • Jane St K

      May 8th, 2016

      He is dead and she is dead to Albertans. Her father had good intentions but no support she had secret intention and she has done everything to ruin Alberta, she is doing a happy dance with her creepy spouse low Arab with this disaster. It was the people of ft Mac and the emergency response team who did everything they could to avert this disaster and she did nothing until 1600 structures destroyed. You live in a fantasy land Mister. Brian Jean is the leader who helped when he lost everything, I doubt she has even given one dollar personally to the Red Cross

      Reply
      • PIGL

        May 9th, 2016

        Have you got any concrete evidence to support your claims? Because I see nothing but frothing unreasoning hatred, sauced with lies.

        As witness your other comments, below.

        Reply
    • Paul

      May 8th, 2016

      Mine too, I voted for both of them, Premier Notley is doing her Father proud.

      Reply
  2. Jim Clarke

    May 7th, 2016

    And the unlabelled picture is of Gary Mason, I think.

    Reply
    • LMR

      May 8th, 2016

      You’re correct – that is Gary Mason.

      Reply
  3. Eric Cameron

    May 7th, 2016

    I agree wholeheartedly that the Notley government is doing an excellent job. It occurs to me to wonder if anybody has done an average age of provincial cabinet ministers calculation. I suspect the Notley cabinet is the youngest in the country. Not to mention gender-balanced.

    Reply
    • Jane St K

      May 8th, 2016

      Get off the glue

      Reply
  4. Donna

    May 7th, 2016

    I would just like to know if the people in the comments are on the same thing as the person that wrote this article. She is a joke and should hang her head in shame for what she said and has done about the disaster in Ft McMurray. If and when something like that happens to you we shall see if you are still spouting on about the glitter dust you seem to think she farts.

    Reply
    • MAGGIE

      May 8th, 2016

      Glitter dust farts, indeed!

      Al Gore (the inventor of the internets), has a lot to answer for. In the olden times, to express a written opinion, one had to: write a letter, find an envelope, put the letter in the envelope, address it correctly, find a stamp, lick it, put it on said envelope, and then walk all the way to a mailbox to post it. Shit, if one had to go to that much trouble, one would either put some thought behind one’s opinion or else say “Fuck that” and go to the bar instead. Now (thanks, Al) we have to put up with this kind of drivel in response to a literate and reasoned article.

      Be specific, Donna. What makes Premier Notley a joke? I assume she is the “she” you were referring to. What did she say and what did she do about the disaster in Ft. McMurray for which she should be ashamed. Do that for us and then your opinion will be worth something, whether we agree with it or not. Otherwise, just take it to the bar.

      Reply
      • Liz

        May 8th, 2016

        Exactly what Maggie said. I’m getting tired of the ‘for shame’ crowd speaking without backing up their vague assertions.

        Reply
    • Athabascan

      May 8th, 2016

      On the same thing? What would that be? Love, respect and empathy for fellow Albertans. Surely it isn’t the poisons you seem to be on like hate and resentment.

      What is she supposed to do about the disaster exactly? Is she supposed to jump into a time machine and make it not happen? I’m sure the political party your support would do that, or is it the “kudatah” crowd?

      She is there making sure Albertans are being reassured, and yes money even. She is not a firefighter or EMS. She is leading us -That’s what leaders do. They don’t get on TV and cry like babies.

      I applaud Rachel Notley and everything she has done so far. I’m glad I voted the correct way.

      Reply
    • Jane St K

      May 8th, 2016

      You my dear, have made the first intelligent commentary to the point I have read. Thank you for calling these brainwashed folk out. I feel sad there is not a rehab for stupidity. Bless you

      Reply
    • Northern Loon

      May 9th, 2016

      Should she be hanging her head in shame for making sure that the people and agencies who can fight the fires and move 90,000 people can do what they need to do? Should she hang her head because support is being provided to evacuees in many different communities? Or should she personally have put the fire out or evacuated the 90,000 people in her own car or been there to meet every evacuee?

      Follow the news a bit and you will see that what needed to get done got done, that the fire was a level 6 fire that is unfightable, that all resources that were needed were put into place, that evacuees have access to many different types of support.

      Or perhaps you would rather that the Premier set up tent in somebodies back yard?

      Reply
  5. Lorraine Julyan

    May 7th, 2016

    This is a joke! Telling the opposition leader that he was “fear-mongering” while his own home was burning, was neither graceful or a display of empathy!

    Reply
    • Jim Williamson

      May 8th, 2016

      That’s what he was doing. Trying to misrepresent the state of the fire fighting budget is fear-mongering. Brian Jean is trying to panic people for political gain. I think he needs to give his head shake and maybe take some personal time.

      Reply
    • Northern Loon

      May 9th, 2016

      Brian Jean claimed that ‘the hospital my children were born is burning, all my family businesses are burning, the entire business district is burning’.

      I call that fear mongering.

      Reply
  6. Dianna K. Goneau Inkster

    May 7th, 2016

    What is EI going to do with so many people no longer able to live and work in Fort McMurray, I wonder. The situation screams out for EI reform, doesn’t it? I’m not worried about Notley’s reaction to this crisis. I’m wondering about Trudeau’s.

    Reply
    • Mitch

      May 8th, 2016

      Trudeau announced a special program for exactly this problem today or yesterday. Proof of job in Fort Mac gets you fast tracked to benefits. They are doing everything as fast as they reasonably can. I am very impressed with the response by all levels of government.

      Reply
  7. Cory

    May 7th, 2016

    Its nice to see some satire type posts every once and awhile during these troubling times. 3 more years and that horrible “leader” will never step foot in this great province again.

    Reply
    • Craig

      May 8th, 2016

      Where would she go? She lives here, has all her life. Do you think about what you say before you say it?

      Reply
    • Jane St K

      May 8th, 2016

      ✨☄????☄✨I totally agree

      Reply
  8. Jole

    May 8th, 2016

    Wasn’t it Notley that told the wildrose leader that he was fear-mongering when he question why a state of emergency wasn’t being call, 2 hours later his house burnt down. You see pictures of the opposition helping and working. Where’s Notley? Notley to be found. She hasn’t done anything. Grace? Not a title Notley deserves

    Reply
    • Craig

      May 8th, 2016

      I propose that anyone who says Premier Notley has been invisible during/unresponsive to this crisis doesn’t have a very clear idea of what leadership is or what leaders do.

      Reply
      • Jane St K

        May 8th, 2016

        She wasn’t there when it counted and the fire was only threatening, she did nothing but attack in legislature people begging for action and she came back with accusations of “fear mongering”. She didn’t show any interest until 1600 structures were in the process of being destroyed. You really have to get off the glue or whatever it is that is warping your interpretation of the events as they unfolded. Sad. And Shame on her.

        Reply
    • Keith

      May 9th, 2016

      Yah, if she had called a state of emergency it would have saved Jean’s house. In two hours. How does that work, exactly?

      Reply
  9. Bob

    May 8th, 2016

    Quickly gaining on Wynne as the worst premier in the history of Canada…

    I’d call her a moron, but that is an insult to all the other moron, except the author.

    Reply
    • John

      May 9th, 2016

      Look in the mirror, Bobbo.

      Your stupidity is showing.

      Reply
  10. Diane Brown

    May 8th, 2016

    Well written and truthful article. Brian Jean was in the area because he is MLA and because his home is in Fort McMurray. The fear mongering comment was in response to holding the budget at the level the conservatives had proposed in their planned budget. Emergency money had been set aside as well. Elected officials have a job to do and it is not on the handle end of a shovel or holding a hose. Elected officials have much to consider in administering policies and legislation. Rachel Notley as well as her cabinet ministers and MLA are doing their jobs very well.

    Reply
    • Morag Mackenzie

      May 8th, 2016

      Well said Diane.

      Reply
    • Jane St K

      May 8th, 2016

      Brian Jean was ” not in the area” as you say. He rushed out of legislature with a message his house and family was threatened by the fast approaching fire. It had consumed his home within an hour if leaving. He lost his home, all the mementos he had of his son who died 2 years ago and he is HOMELESS now! What is with you people. He was the only person showing leadership for nearly 24 hours . Then when it looked awful , and when constantly questioned by reporters why she was doing nothing, only then did she do a thing. You have a twisted sense of facts and reality. Stop drinking that koolaid even like Tom Moffatt, you saw what happened to him.

      Reply
    • Rose Kelty

      May 8th, 2016

      Great article, and thank you Diane, for clarifying the ” fear mongering” that some appeared to have taken out of context…I had utmost respect for her father, and we can see the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I am very impressed with her caring and concern for the people of Fort McMurray ….

      Reply
  11. May 8th, 2016

    Grace and Empathy? No, the NDP likes seeing people lose their land and houses. It speeds up socialism.

    Reply
    • Liz

      May 8th, 2016

      A ridiculous statement.

      Reply
    • Jane St K

      May 8th, 2016

      Amen

      Reply
    • Carolann

      May 9th, 2016

      That’s fear mongering.

      Reply
  12. Alex

    May 8th, 2016

    I had to check this twice to make sure it wasn’t the Reverend Jim home writing this. Kill aid anyone?

    Reply
    • Jane St K

      May 8th, 2016

      Lol

      Reply
  13. Alex

    May 8th, 2016

    Me bar to say kool aid.

    Reply
    • MAGGIE

      May 8th, 2016

      Alex, I’d get a check up if I were you. It seems as if you’re having a stroke.

      Reply
  14. Ken Larsen

    May 8th, 2016

    Ah, go back under your bridges Trolls. The Premier has been giving live updates each day. Cabinet and senior staff has been making sure support and funding is there for refugees.

    During those briefings you can see the confidence of the staff that they will not be stabbed in the back by their political leaders and are giving 110% which translates down the line.

    The Premier and her Cabinet have created a positive virtuous circle in the face of a major environmental calamity. Your churlish comments do you no credit.

    Reply
  15. Jack

    May 8th, 2016

    I guess when you’re full of an ideology it doesn’t matter, you’ll see the good. We’ll, we know the author is full of something. Notley’s inaction as the fire was approaching Fort McMurray, her cutting the budget by $500m, her “fear mongering comment to Brian Jean all show a distinct lack of experience and foresight that frankly should have stopped this before it started. Yesterday (saturday) your ass clown girlfriend finally secured the services of the world’s largest water bombers. Should that have been done on Monday or Tuesday? Should they have left the firefighting budget at +500m so the folks on the ground could make instant and correct decisions? The BEST you can say about Rachel is that she fiddled while Fort Mac burned. That’s hardly praiseworthy

    Reply
    • Kang

      May 8th, 2016

      The fire went from 2 ha. to over 10,000 in less than 48 hours – beyond human control, regardless of the amount of tech applied, and the fact most of the city has been preserved speaks to the effectiveness of the response.

      The big water bombers have been coming and going out of Penhold since the start and I’m sure from other points as well.

      Reply
    • Morag Mackenzie

      May 8th, 2016

      There are fire fighting experts that advise the government about what is required. Fires can spread quickly just like the Slave Lake fire. Evacuations cannot always be prevented and the Fort McMurray fire is still not under control nor is the one burning in BC which is apparently headed for Alberta. Obviously fire budgets are estimates at best like snow budgets they are adjusted in accordance with circumstances. Lacing your comments with personalized insults and name calling fails to enhance your point of view. Brian Jean chose to remain close to Fort McMurray, others arranged for fire fighters and equipment, federal support, RCMP coverage, evacuation stations, supplies, cots, food, temporary housing, Red Cross, methods to collect donations, coordinate volunteers, set up communications and check ins and provide emotional support. Everybody has pulled together to help Brian Jean’s riding of Fort McMurray- Politicians, Fire fighters, Unions, members of all political parties, all religions. and all ages. I am proud of the way Albertans’ pull together to help their neighbors Thank you to everyone who has stepped up to help we really are Alberta strong.

      Reply
  16. GM45

    May 8th, 2016

    Conservatives wouldn’t be happy if Notley came to the scene with a hose and tried to put the fire out herself.

    Reply
    • Jole

      May 8th, 2016

      Actually, conservatives would have like to see Notley do something proactive for the oilsands. But live updates, WOW! She’s been so helpful making updates that are on FB before she makes her live announcements. Good Job Not-ley

      Reply
    • Athabascan

      May 8th, 2016

      You are wrong, because then they would be complaining she is holding the hose incorrectly. These are bad people trying to exploit a crisis to smear Notley.

      It’s a despicable tactic, and they will answer for it one way or another.

      Reply
      • Eric Caameron

        May 9th, 2016

        What we are learning from the Internet. It’s gloves off, folks, and time for hard core gutter politics. I do not understand the fanaticism. We live in a democracy. Voters elect our government. A year ago we elected the Notley government. I think they are doing a good job. I did not agree with many of the policies of former Conservative governments, especially under Ralph Klein, but I knew Ralph on a personal level and I never thought he was a bad person. The people we elect to govern us are trying to make Alberta a better place. Unfortunately the conservative vision of a better place involved low taxes and unregulated spending. I think the NDP vision of Alberta is far more responsible. Safety measures for agricultural workers. Yes. A higher minimum wage. Yes. An end to coal-fired electricity. Yes. Higher taxes for corporations and the very wealthy. Yes. Strong support for schools and hospitals. Yes. And above all, a huge dollop of common sense and a recognition that the government governs for all Albertans, not just the people who voted for them and raised money for them. Alberta faces a bright future under the NDP.

        Reply
  17. Bill Malcolm

    May 8th, 2016

    Well from out here on the right hand coast, considering the almost apocalyptic situation still going on, Notley certainly appears to be stalwart. Many people would be going around flapping their arms signifying nothing except loss of focus and an inability to come to grips with the disaster. I generally consider that provincial premiers are a blight on the landscape with their petty views and little fiefdoms, a divisive rather than coalescing force. Out of this group of ne’er-do-wells, Notley is the least offensive, a contained and calm person.

    Anyway, just wanted to say when I went to the local Red Cross office this past Thursday morning, there was a lineup for donations on the Fort Mac situation. It was on my way, and I thought I’d see the response in reality rather than go the online route.

    Heartening. Partisan politics has zero to do with Canadians standing together. There’s the real strength.

    Reply
  18. Ward

    May 8th, 2016

    In the Fort McMurray crisis it is professionals who make the decisions on how to fight the fire, organize the evacuation of citizens and all the other operations necessary during the crisis. Politicians role is to communicate the essential messages to ensure safety for the citizens, to give moral support to those fleeing the fire and to avoid interfering or distracting the first responders from doing their work.

    See http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/alberta-floods-keeping-up-with-calgary-mayor-nenshi-1.1303739

    To this point Premier Notley and her colleagues deserve high praise for their response to Fort McMurray crisis. It has been pitch perfect to my ear.

    Reply
  19. Sam Gunsch

    May 8th, 2016

    Climenhaga’s first point in this post: ‘It must be deeply disturbing to many Alberta conservatives to realize just how capable and in control Premier Rachel Notley and her New Democratic Party Government have appeared these past few crisis-filled days.’

    A point now confirmed by a number of comments.

    Reply
  20. Odin

    May 8th, 2016

    Notley is akin to nero fiddling while Rome burned. Full stop. No brown nosing commie supporters can convince me otherwise.

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      May 9th, 2016

      Idiot.

      So your position is that Rachel Notley caused the fire. And just as idiotic you claim she can play the violin as Nero did? Oh, and that Fort Mac is Rome. Really?

      What’s amazing is that someone wrote that note for you, because clearly you can’t be intelligent enough to write let alone think. Enjoy your reality.

      Reply
  21. Brett

    May 8th, 2016

    If the fire budget wouldn’t have been cut by NDP this fire would have been put out before it had ever gotten close to fort Mac not to mention the fact that they stages there feet declaring a state of emergency that should have been called well before it finally was

    Reply
  22. Jole

    May 8th, 2016

    It’s also great that a Union activist wrote this article and not some biased journalists instead.

    Reply
  23. alfred venison

    May 8th, 2016

    hi – thanks for your site & thanks for the soapbox. alberta really needs to stop hiring advisors from among right-wing australian healthcare administrators & start hiring australian rural bush-fire administrators for pertinent advice. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_South_Wales_Rural_Fire_Service ][ http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/ ] i say this with all respect as a man born & raised in alberta & long resident in australia. i’m sorry but respectfully you guys don’t do fires well. it shows. you were very extremely lucky with that evacuation, i shudder to think how badly that could have ended up with a bumper thumper & a spark. you need to be much better prepared for the next ones & there are going to be many more to come – people who block action by denying global warming are endangering lives, simple. and honest to god, you don’t have to tell me australians can be sickeningly boastful, but fair dinkum they have got a great many decades of experience in organising volunteer rural fire-fighters (75,000 volunteers in 2000 volunteer brigades around new south wales) in the affected fire-prone rural communities & in fire-proofing rural communities & in devising PLANS for whole communities as well as individual families which they execute as one like clockwork at the first intimation of a fire, they don’t wait until its upon them to activate the plans & evacuate their homes.. there i’ve said it. i love this site & alberta but if you hire right-wing australian dickheads to advise your government (and there are plenty of australian right-wing dickheads around believe me) then you will reap the consequences: a right-wing dickhead is a right-wing dickhead however they pronounce tomato. ok, so long for now & good luck. -regards, alfred venison (an edmontonian canuck in queen elizabeth’s australia).

    Reply
    • Keith

      May 9th, 2016

      “fire-proofing rural communities”

      I’m in Crowsnest Pass, we barely missed getting fried by the Lost Creek Fire of 2003
      http://www.cuug.ab.ca/VT/Lost_Creek_Fire_2003/
      We should be getting rid of the coniferous trees and shrubs in and around the townsites, but you can imagine the response if the NDP suggested that.
      There is a story that Ralph visited an acreage home that had been saved by bulldozing all their beloved trees. He told them how wonderful this was. The lady hauled off and belted him.

      Reply
      • David Climenhaga

        May 9th, 2016

        This matches my experience in a way. When I took the B.C. Forest Service fire fighting course in the late 1970s, the instructor was adamant you should never have trees growing anywhere close to your house. He advised green, well watered grass, with lots of sprinklers. Developers, of course, love trees, which look pretty and hide architectural flaws. And if the place burns? Not their problem.

        Reply
        • Chris

          May 12th, 2016

          Ask the folks in West Edmonton who had their roofs burn during that small bush fire last week. The fire was three blocks away and flying embers were still able to ignite their houses (cedar shingles look pretty and burn even prettier.). The Ft Mac fire jumped the Athabasca River which is up to 1km wide.

          Plant all the grass you like and cut down all the trees in your yard until your heart’s content. Unless you build a brick and stone house with a metal roof and surround it with a 2-km circle of sand you are at risk from wild fire.

          Reply
  24. TC

    May 9th, 2016

    I often tell people who are on the extremes of the political spectrum the following:

    If Stephen Harper (or whoever you hate) tells you that the sun rises in the east, and is solving world hunger, are you going to disagree with him?

    Reply
  25. Brad

    May 9th, 2016

    You get paid to make these articles? This is like a badly written term paper. You just repeat yourself, but using different words each time, saying that she’s been calm, she’s been vocal, etc. Thesaurus much? What you failed to say, is what her actions were, what the actual impact of these things have done. This is just verbal rhetoric describing your leader’s traits, but not saying how that is of any help to the situation at all, nor how it’s impacted the situation either, be it negative or positive. What you did manage, though, was to go off topic at the end, stating actual action items, which are unrelated to the post, and what many would consider her exact downfalling agendas.

    Reply
  26. Terry

    May 9th, 2016

    Notley’s response to the disaster has been abysmal at best, and only a hair better than Nenshi’s terrible response to the 2013 floods in Alberta. Notley will resign as Premier within the year, forced out by her backbench MLA’s who know that they have no chance of re-election with her as the leader. The province is screaming for true conservative leadership and an elimination of the deficit within two years – much like Klein did. We need this true conservatrive leadership now!

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      May 9th, 2016

      Go home you’re drunk.

      Only an intoxicated person (ala Klein) would pine for a return to fascism.

      Rachel Notley is the best, and least corrupt premier Alberta has ever had, since Lougheed.

      She has the overwhelming support of the majority of Albertans, and that includes the people of who are from Fort Mac.

      Reply
      • C

        May 12th, 2016

        Only a true believer and kool-aid drinker can say with a straight face that getting a 39-41% vote share or 26% in an opinion poll constitutes an “overwhelming support of the majority of Albertans.”

        Same could be said for Chretien, Martin, Harper, and Trudeau Jr.

        Notley has been adequate and empathetic. Let’s not start minting the Nobel medals just yet. Giving regular press conferences used to be standard procedure for politicians. Today I guess this is considered worthy of effusive praise. Sad how our expectations have diminished.

        Reply
        • Athabascan

          May 13th, 2016

          Well, even you have to admit, it beats a leader who hides in the closet.

          Reply
    • PIGL

      May 9th, 2016

      Delusional, much?

      How exactly has Notley failed you? If you are going to call her response “abysmal at best”, you’d better have some reasons.

      Let me rephrase that: You’d better have some fucking good reasons.

      Otherwise, you’re just another witless, frothing Conservatroll, stewing in your own malice.

      Reply
  27. Doug

    May 9th, 2016

    I am glad to see that most of the words penned by journalists regarding the Fort McMurray disaster have focused on how united Albertans have been in their amazing support of the evacuees, firefighters and northern community in general. Indeed, political differences have been put aside as everyday citizens have come together, forming a remarkable bond with each other and with those who are living in utter chaos. The partisan pettiness displayed so smugly by the author of this article, even as the embers are still burning in Fort Mac, is thankfully an anomaly.

    Reply
    • anon

      May 10th, 2016

      Well this just proves medicinal pot is a powerful medication. It has cured Doug of his short-term memory! Remember, it was the Wildrose trolls that attacked the Premier. But at least Brian Genius has come to his senses and is no longer calling for government to get out of the way while disgraced Harper Conservatives have crawled out from under their rocks to grub some publicity in the forest fire’s glow.

      Reply
      • Doug

        May 10th, 2016

        Anon, I do not use medicinal pot. And you completely missed my point. I have an aversion to political pundits, regardless of political stripe, who use a tragedy like this as a platform to cheerlead for their party while mocking their opponents. The only outcome of such writing is to foster division and disrespect. Most writers are rising above such thinking and are illiminating the multiple ways that the people of Alberta have united together in bringing relief to the thousands who are suffering tremendous loss.

        Reply
        • Jim Williamson

          May 10th, 2016

          I think you missed the part where the author mentioned that the opposition gave advanced notice about the questions they would be asking. A major part the piece, IMO, is that, contrary to a lot of social media, the government handled this crisis as required, with sure and competent leadership. I can see some myths developing to the contrary. I hope they don’t take hold.

          Reply
  28. Rob

    May 10th, 2016

    Everyday citizens, private business and local governments are the only reason this wasn’t a complete catatrophe. The only people who should have articles written about them and be given credit are Albertans. The Notley government hasn’t been as castastrophically bad as some think, but hardly the cool, authoritative bastions of confidence this horribly slanted article makes them out to be. Took too long to even declare a disaster and even then the best they can muster is a local press conference and then interview spots where they mumble about “co-ordinating and delegating”.

    Like I said, the only people deserving recognition in all of this are Albertans, who have come through despite how slowly their provincial government have reacted. This article is the definition of biased.

    Reply
    • anon

      May 10th, 2016

      So what you are really saying is the bureaucracy, so hated and cut by Cons and wanted to be cut by Wildrosicarians did a good job. Well duh! Imagine how bad it would have been if the Wildrose had won the last election and cut the civil service by the 40% their fiscal plan would have produced.
      You’re completely delusional if you think declaring a state of emergency a few hours earlier would have made any difference at all. Anybody who has dealt with fire on the landscape knows your contention is based on ignorance. This was not a fire pit in your mom’s back yard.

      Reply

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