PHOTOS: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley at yesterday afternoon’s press conference in the Legislature media room. Below: U.S. President Elect Donald Trump and his unsuccessful Democratic Party challenger, Hillary Clinton (Photo by Gage Skidmore, Flickr).
When a few journalists showed up in the Legislature’s media room yesterday afternoon for Rachel Notley’s news conference, called to offer coolly neutral congratulations to the victor in the U.S. presidential election the night before, Item 1 on their agenda seemed to be to try to get the Alberta Premier to say she thought Americans were dummies for electing Donald Trump.
Like any reasonable person concerned about the role of women in society, Ms. Notley must be shocked and appalled at the election of a misogynist and serial groper like Mr. Trump. What’s more, as premier of a province that does consider business with the United States, she must be equally horrified to know the U.S. Government will soon be led by an economic ignoramus. But she is far too much of a professional to fall for an obvious lure from a journalist.
Ms. Notley ran rings around any reporter who tried. “When people are worried about their jobs, they look around to a whole lot of different places,” she responded mildly, a sympathetic smile playing across her face as she skated past one reporter’s effort to get her to condemn Mr. Trump’s election. “That’s democracy.”
But what else, really, can the premier of a Canadian province say about the decisions made by voters in another country that’s apparently lost possession of its collective mind, especially when it happens to be the superpower right next door?
“It’s very important to respect the rule of law, and the rule of law is founded in democratic institutions,” Ms. Notley observed. “Now that Americans have elected a new president, we need to respect that.”
She did express some disappointment she didn’t get to see a woman elected president of the United States last night, but also her confidence that the progress of women in politics on both sides of the border will continue.
That made for a natural segue, though, to serious questions about the fate of women in politics right here in Alberta where, also Tuesday, the only two women in the race to lead the once-governing Progressive Conservative Party both dropped out, one of them complaining she has been the victim of harassment and intimidation.
Since most everyone – certainly Ms. Notley, who has experienced many of the same things on social media – knows how certain actors on the political right in this province behave toward women, Sandra Jansen’s press release yesterday describing her reasons for quitting is quite credible.
On that, Ms. Notley did not disappoint the gathered media, offering a sharp observation about this state of affairs within the ranks of Alberta’s former governing party.
Leaders of the PC party surely want to ensure women are treated fairly and with respect, Ms. Notley said with a completely straight face. However, she added: “If a party or a campaign cannot conduct itself in a way to ensure the most basic of rules around inclusivity, for instance, anti-harassment, then quite frankly that party or that campaign is not equipped to govern the province.”
There were also questions about the politics surrounding Mr. Trump’s campaign promise to proceed with the controversial Keystone XL pipeline through the United States to the Gulf Coast, with some mildly tendentious suggestions Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might as a result slow down expected approval for the Kinder Morgan Pipeline through B.C.
Conservatives are doubtless praying for just such a development, as it would help them make their case the Notley Government’s climate policies ought not to be out of sync with those of the United States, where Mr. Trump has dismissed man-made climate change as a “hoax.”
Ms. Notley responded that Alberta needs to expand its market, and that means selling its resources to more places than the United States.
A diversity of access to markets is good for both the Canadian and Alberta economies, she explained, and no country is wise to “lose agency over decision-making,” as would happen if the only access to tidewater from Alberta ran through the United States.
This post also appears on Rabble.ca.