It’s not just Alberta’s premiers who get their portraits hung in the dingy halls of the provincial Legislature Building in Edmonton, but the Assembly’s Speakers too.
Let it be said here first that the portrait of Bob Wanner, the most recent Speaker to depart that role, unveiled at the Legislature yesterday, outshines any of the recent efforts on behalf of the parade of recent premiers who have stepped lightly through those halls these past few years.
Mr. Wanner, the former NDP MLA for Medicine Hat, accomplished this unexpected achievement by turning to a “sports artist” of all things — one Joe Versikaitis of Calgary. This just goes to show one ought not to be snooty about such matters.
Mr. Versikaitis, a native of Venezuela, is nevertheless a former Hatter himself — as residents of the sunny southeastern Alberta city are known. For its part, the Hat is best known for imperial literary icon Rudyard Kipling’s famous observation that the place has “all hell for a basement,” a reference to the natural gas beneath the place that presumably fetched not that much less in 1907 than it does today.
But I digress. Whether Mr. Wanner turned to Mr. Versikaitis because of his artistic skill or because he was a former Hatter matters not. We Albertans have done well from his effort.