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

Posted on October 21, 2015, 1:02 am
8 mins

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.

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

    • ronmac

      October 21st, 2015

      She could single-handedly cure the world of Irish depression.

  1. October 21st, 2015

    They eased their way to Harper-Lite. Doesn’t anyone look at parliamentary voting records anymore?

  2. Maria

    October 21st, 2015

    An excellent video: to many Albertans did not stand up to the bullies. I was dumbfounded that so many Albertans voted Conservatives given the horrible track record of Stephen Harper and the Conservative campaign. The National Energy Program was many years ago, so many people voting Conservative in 2015 did not experience the ‘Western Alienation’ of that period. The only sad conclusion I can reach is that there must be a lot of young Earl Cowans in Alberta, old stock Canadians, gullible, inflexible, brainwashed. I have every confidence that Alberta will be included and respected in the new Liberal Government, much of this will be thanks to the good work of the Notley Government, and the people who think that we are hard done by should ‘look in the mirror’.

    • Linda Marshall

      October 22nd, 2015

      A lot of the NEP bleating I’m seeing on Facebook etc is from those who were not even alive then, or were small children.

  3. David

    October 21st, 2015

    Understandably, many conservative supporters were disappointed in the election outcome. However, after they have a chance to have a rest and catch their breath after the hard fought and busy election campaign I hope they take some time to reflect and resist the urge to stomp their feet and threaten to leave.

    Some of the fears of older conservative voters revolve around the name Trudeau and I think they should consider that the son is not the father. Justin Trudeau has actually lived and worked in western Canada. His grandfather, who he appears to admire greatly, was a very proud life long BC resident. I think Justin Trudeau will work hard to think of and include western Canada in decision making. However, this process works both ways. In hindsight it does not appear wise for Alberta and Saskatchewan voters to keep putting most of our eggs in the Conservative basket. Governments do change from time to time in a democracy and if you always vote the same way, you should not be surprised if you sometimes feel like you are somewhat on the outside looking in.

    The good news is that there were 5 MP’s elected in the new federal government from Alberta and Saskatchewan, so both provinces will have some representation in the new government. It would also probably also be wise if some of the many conservative MP’s elected in Alberta and Saskatchewan resist the urge to be completely partisan and focus more on being effective advocates for their constituents. Now that they are free from being controlled by the Prime Ministers Harpers office, they actually finally have this golden opportunity.

    The long election campaign is finally over and a lot of people are very tired. However, this is not the time for stomping feet for those who were disappointed. This is a time for reflection, a time to bring the temperature down a bit and for everyone to try to work together.

  4. Tom in Ontario

    October 21st, 2015

    This Eastern Canadian applauds the rational and common sense approach taken by David. We are One Canada. Despite the fearmongering and hatred spewed by Harper and his minions, hopefully, now, we can become a better nation, more tolerant and more respectful of each other regardless of where we live or what party we voted for.

    Let’s give the young PM a chance.

  5. PJP

    October 21st, 2015

    Right on, David!

    This posting makes 5 or 6 of your pieces in a row which very nearly ought to be mandatory reading by any Canadian that cares about politics.


  6. John

    October 22nd, 2015

    It was noticeably colder today than it was in July when Glorious Leader was still safely ensconced at 24 Sussex.

    Also the days are shorter and a darkness is upon the land.

    I blame Trudeau. It is simply too much to be coincidence.

  7. pogo

    October 22nd, 2015

    Intergovernmental Affairs is crucial now. I think Notley would get on well with it but, she has a province to run and the time demands might get a bit stiff. Time to add to cabinet.

  8. Bobbie Saga

    October 24th, 2015

    Good call Dave.

    And, “never mind any responsibility to point out to listeners and readers when widely held opinions are not factual.” During the past 78 days plus, I thought I was listening to Canada’s own version of a state media barking out Koch Bros. talking points.

    I’m cautiously optimistic we might see some improvement at the CBC, but I won’t hold my breath for the rest of the MSM.


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