Alberta Minister of Licence Plates Doug Griffiths poses with some of the versions of Alberta’s plates considered by provincial officials before they settled on the three finalists unveiled yesterday. Below: Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Mike Allen, centre, examines a licence-plate-making facility on a recent government trip to Minnesota. (Whoops: forgot to mention … actual Alberta political figures may not appear exactly as illustrated!) Below that: The real Doug Griffiths and his sidekick Jonathan “Dep’uty Jono” Denis, the chief lawman of the territory.

So here’s my question: If it were the Alberta Party instead of the Wildrose Party breathing down the necks of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives, would they change the name of the province?

Yesterday, elected provincial officials dressed as cowboys made a huge deal of a plan to replace the province’s venerable red, blue and white automotive licence tags – replete with the slogan “Wild Rose Country” – with a plate that redundantly promotes Alberta’s official website,

Uh, does anyone – other than the typical Tory minister, I guess – not know what appears at the top of the list when you Google the word “Alberta”? Do they even know that Google’s a verb? Just asking.

Well, it’s said here the Wildrose Party, even if they do spell their version of the provincial flower as just one word, can take yesterday’s announcement as a sort of backhanded compliment.

Ooooh! I almost forgot. You’ll get to vote on which plate you like best, Albertans! That’s only fair, since you’ll be paying five bucks extra for your next plate to cover the cost of excising the words Wild Rose. And just like before, you’ll only get one.

The timing of the announcement in Calgary – by Minister of Licence Plates Doug Griffiths, accompanied by Solicitor General Jonathan Denis, both dressed up as cowpokes, a painful annual tradition in the few days each year in the former Cowtown that it’s actually too hot to wear cowboy boots – was convenient.

Leastways, it ought to keep folks from talking too much about the embarrassing stuff that’s been in the news lately, like dilapidated hospitals springing leaks every time it rains, an underfunded legal aid system reduced to chaos, schools bursting at the seams and the embarrassing “happy ending” to the sorry tale of  Fort Mac MLA Mike Allen, sent to Coventry for a year after trying to hire a hooker while on government business in Minnesota.

Well, for sure under those unhappy circumstances they could hardly merely switch out the provincial flower for the provincial bird (the great horned owl), the provincial animal (the big horned sheep) or the provincial fungus (the red cap mushroom), could they? And I’m not making up a word of that!

About all that’s left that’s is the provincial fish – but, I don’t know why, for some reason Welcome to Bull Trout Country seems not to have made the grade.

And those are just the stories that are already in the news.

The licence plate announcement was also conveniently timed to coincide with the release of provincial Auditor General Merwan Saher’s report, which went on at great and inconvenient length about the province’s pathetic climate change program, which has been doing nothing and achieving less since it was set up six years ago, Finance Minister Doug Horner’s slightly iffy and highly unpopular accounting practices, and the lack of oversight by Alberta Health Services of surgeries contracted out to the high-cost private sector.

Could’ve been embarrassing if everyone wasn’t thinking about something more interesting, like which garish licence plate to vote on, huh?

Getting back to the original question, if it were the Alberta Party that was forcing changes, what would the options be for renaming the province?

Texas North? Alabamberta? Tarsylvania?

Readers’ are invited to submit their suggestions.

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  1. .. how’s about ..?
    Or ‘Carpetbagger Country’ ?

    Sadly, just as Canada and the Canadian identity are taking monstrous hits
    courtesy of the value challenged Harper Party Monstrosity Government..
    so too is Alberta.. courtesy of the wigged carpetbagger from Leaside in Toronto
    and of course reckless attacks upon environment in the name of oil & gas ‘profits’

    Canada does not deserve a federal government intent on sucker punching
    the land, the people, the ideals.. for some twisted rapture dream ekonomy..
    nor does Alberta need to be led by the nose.. by a faux westerner cowboy
    with a completely fake ‘Conservative’ Brand masking a monarchist
    and evangelical ideology and dogma

  2. It’s just too easy . . . but I can’t enjoy being snarky because I actually do love this place.
    I’m hearing a lot about “Strong and Free,” but we all know what that really means is “I got mine. Go get your own.”
    The powers that be have so long got away with murder, following the “No data? No problem!” philosophy.
    But what I really would like see is a slogan that is more of a rallying cry: How about “Drive out the rats!”

  3. Not being an Albertan, I wouldn’t dare suggest an alternative to “Alberta”.

    The official bird, animal, fungus etc. sent me looking to see what else could be on the plates, though. I found that the official tree is the lodgepole pine (very majestic), the official mineral is petrified wood (some Albertans must be feeling like that with the antics of some of their MLA’s and MP’s) and the official grass is rough fescue. Sounds like a remark to me, along the lines of “Tough bananas!” when someone is griping about something.

    In Ontario we have the white trillium, the common loon, no official animal, the eastern white pine and the amethyst.

    For the record, we have both white and red trillium growing wild around here (no discrimination), along with eastern white pines which are actually pretty green, both growing wild and planted on purpose, several common loons out on the lake every year who like to sing at night, and a few common loons of the human variety, some of whom also like to sing at night but mostly only heard during long weekend celebrations. I haven’t found any amethysts yet, worse luck. Better get out my rock hammer and get going.

  4. How about we use an accurate all encompassing slogan that reflects an enduring and indisputable, commonality. The obvious shared heritage?

    “First Nations Country”

  5. Well, given that Alberta apparently now speaks for BC, Saskatchewan, and (sometimes) Manitoba, I’ve assumed that the has been renamed “the West” for quite some time (as in “The West wants in”, “The West is carrying the rest of the sorry-ass provinces in confederation”, etc.). But don’t worry you pretty little heads, other western provinces, The West will protect you…

  6. In the AB Tory party…education Minister Johnson vilifies teachers and has been silent on the curious case of Mr. Allen. Other MLA’ like the good Dr. Sherman was punished and vilified far worse for a principled stand on healthcare and seniors care, two very social issues that most ND’s are even close to. If there was a silent vote on Mr. Allen, it should be made clear who voted what. In Alberta it seems good is bad and bad is good. Our backroom tory political machinery has become so self serving now, that even MLA’s are silent on the curious case of taking Mr. Allen back into cabinet, given the seriousness of the charges. None of the three stooge candidates have taken a moral or ethical stand, unless a huge puffy softball is being made to articificially manufacture a very fake new heroic leader image for Mr. Prentice before the next election. Just when you think AB politics can’t go lower. We have reached the shallowest and most financially unprincipled, immoral and unethical levels of governance anywhere ever in history. It every sad, but Albertan voters especially those in office have absolutely zero wholesome qualities.

  7. On a historical note, the province could have been given an indigenous name — Athabasca — but was instead named after a royal princess. So, since you’re asking, I’d vote for Athabasca.

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