PHOTOS: Bernard the (now-ex) Roughneck enjoys the company of his friends in high places here in Wild Rose Country. Photo grabbed from Facebook. Below: Neal Hancock as Bernard during his Parliamentary Press conference two months ago. Below that: A screenshot of Interim Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose at her Edmonton news conference on Thursday. Ms. Ambrose is, for the moment, ex officio, the nation’s chief Donald Trump Mini-Me. As a historical bonus, James Buchanan.

Neal Bernard Hancock, better known as Bernard the Roughneck, is now Bernard the Ex-Roughneck.

Mr. Hancock is the young man who appeared at a news conference on Parliament Hill two months ago dressed in blue coveralls and red hardhat, streaks of what appeared to be grease visible on his face, to declare he was “just an average roughneck.”

“I’m not a guy from Calgary in a suit. I’m not a guy who’s knowledgeable about public policy or the processes that go on in buildings like this,” Mr. Hancock proclaimed at the event, which was organized by the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors. “I’m a roughneck…”

Mainstream media swooned. Reporters took in the star turn hook, line and sinker. Parliament Hill’s hard-nosed correspondents missed entirely, apparently, the fact that while Mr. Hancock truly had been working as an Alberta roughneck, he also studied politics at university and even had some experience as an actor.

Since then, Mr. Hancock has been showing up at Wildrose Party functions in Alberta to soak up his accolades. “Come see special guest speakers at the Wildrose AGM,” said a recent party Facebook post. “There will be … an address from rig worker and energy advocate Bernard the Roughneck!” Indeed, he appears to be so busy, he’s been able to move on from roughnecking.

Mr. Hancock wasn’t happy to hear from your blogger seeking to confirm rumours about his current employment status on Tuesday while, he said, he was celebrating Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election. He accused me of Bernard-trutherism. This is an excellent line and, if you ask me, demonstrates the value of a liberal arts degree from a high-quality institution like Bishop’s University.

Mr. Hancock did offer this, however, to be passed on to readers: “You can tell people that I resigned my position on my rig at the end of October.”

The real lesson for Canada from Donald Trump’s victory is about electoral reform

I could have sworn I heard Rona Ambrose, interim federal Conservative leader, bloviating about Donald Trump’s decisive victory over Hillary Clinton or words to that effect during CBC Edmonton’s drive-home program Thursday evening.

Those words aren’t on the 56 seconds of tape the national broadcaster bothered to post on its website after Ms. Ambrose’s flying visit to the Edmonton area that day, but you could hear her say the results of the U.S. presidential election offered “a message for left-of-centre politicians who focus on large policies that are out of touch with regular working people.” You know, like doing something about global climate change.

Actually, as Ms. Ambrose said, the U.S. election results do, rather, send a message, seeing as it is virtually certain Mrs. Clinton will emerge as winner of the popular vote, and some reports say Mr. Trump’s vote is expected to be as much as two million votes behind Mrs. Clinton’s tally when all the ballots have been counted. It’s just not the message Ms. Ambrose wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take from last Tuesday night’s developments.

As Canada’s chief Donald Trump Mini-Me for the moment, ex officio, Ms. Ambrose thinks the governing Liberals should adopt the climate-change-denial policy advocated by her party and by President Elect Trump during his campaign.

But the message Mr. Trudeau needs to pay attention to is that it’s time to get on with electoral reform of our undemocratic first-past-the-post voting system as he promised during the 2015 Canadian election campaign.

The U.S. Electoral College, after all, operates much like first-past-the-post. That’s why, twice in as many decades the loser of a U.S. presidential election has been the winner. The previous time, the legal winner was the second-worst president in U.S. history. (James Buchanan is generally thought by historians to have been the worst … so far.) The second time was on Tuesday.

This happens much more often, although thankfully usually less dramatically, in Canada.

Our American cousins can’t easily fix this. We can.

Mr. Trudeau needs to get on with the electoral reform job he promised to do.

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  1. excerpt: Mainstream media swooned. Reporters took in the star turn hook, line and sinker.

    It seems to me that the RW corporate ownership of AB and Cdn media has led to the many swooners for RW spokespeople and political leaders.

    Sadly, even publicly funded CBC has caved to the RW.

  2. “You can tell people that I resigned my position on my rig at the end of October.”

    So now he is a fulltime WR volunteer, sleeping on couches and subsisting on rubber chicken at WR events. I wonder if his hosts mind the oily coveralls and work boots on their couches.

  3. Absolutely agree, and it’s more urgent than ever. We can’t allow majority governments elected with less than 40% of the vote to impose major changes that only their hardcore base desires. Not a second time. Yet the Cons are slavering to do that again, only more so, now that Big Bad Pussy-grabbing Daddy has been elected down south. Somehow, that gives them courage…it would be instructive to learn why. Could it be that their loyalties and motives are not exactly as they pretend?

    1. Well, we’ll see, but the final tally will be between 400,000 and two million votes in Hillary’s favour. This defence of the Electoral College mechanism is like Canadian defences of first-past-the-post. Well, you’ve got a right to argue for anything. But the EC was put there, like the Canadian Senate, as a check against democracy. Whatever justifications there may be for it, it’s not very … democratic.

    1. Brian is right that Rutherford B. Hayes also lost the election but won in the Electoral College, in 1876 by the largest margin in American history, a full 3 per cent. So did Benjamin Harrison in 1888 and George Bush in 2000. What the post said, however, was “twice in as many decades the loser of a U.S. presidential election has been the winner.” This was a reference to Bush and Trump, but, as it happens, could also be said of Hayes and Harrison. Either way, the Electoral College is a more flawed institution than even first-past-the-post, which is plenty flawed and needs fixing, because most Americans understand and are led to understand that presidential elections are a referendum between two major candidates with a few fringe candidates thrown in from time to time. This makes an electoral college win like Trump’s seem more like theft in the popular imagination. Since Trump himself has intentionally divided to the electorate, he may well reap the whirlwind.

      1. Looked at another way, check the electoral college as it pertains to California with a population of 38.8 million and Wyoming at 584.2 thousand.

        The electoral college awards 55 electoral votes to California, or one electoral vote per 705.5 thousand people.
        Wyoming with 3 electoral votes receives one vote for every 194.7 thousand residents.

        An extreme example perhaps, but if these numbers are extrapolated across the U.S., it’s clear that a candidate can win the popular vote and lose the election.

  4. “I’m not a guy from Calgary in a suit. I’m not a guy who’s knowledgeable about public policy or the processes that go on in buildings like this,” Mr. Hancock proclaimed at the event.

    When you start your second “career” with a big fat lie like that, since he supposedly studied politics at some time in his past, great things are sure to follow. Throw in acting and a makeup kit that includes genuine fake oily streaks and the world’s your oyster – or something.

    C’mon, somebody, please tell me. Is the hair real or does it come attached to whatever headgear he happens to put on that day?

    1. Good question. What I want to know is does he get his dirty clothing sent to him from a rig before he makes an appearance, or is the ‘dirt’ as a result of some skills he learned as an actor? Or does he smell like grease or like peanut butter and cocoa?

  5. The fact university educated people, like “Bernie the roughneck” still cannot earn a family wage outside of the Alberta oil patch says everything you need to know about 40 years of Conservative failures.

    By the way, didn’t Alberta have preferential voting (Single Transferable Vote) under Social Credit for a while?

  6. I agree with David on the immediate need for Trudeau to fix our outdated and undemocratic first past the post system lest Canadians repeat the mistake Americans just made.

    I don’t know why, but it seems to me the Harperites have somehow been energized by Trump’s illegitimate election win. Don’t they realize that Canadians are different (more tolerant and better educated) that their American cousins?

  7. Interesting fact, since Obama was first elected in 2008 the number of Democrats in congress has been reduced by 70 and the number of Democrats in State legislatures has been reduced by just over 900. Maybe Democrat policies just aren’t that popular. These numbers do not include changes after the most recent election.

    1. The Democrats also seem to do well in terms of the popular vote for Congress, but the constituencies are gerrymandered (or what is the current popular term – “rigged”), which tends to favour the Republicans. Another argument for reforming the U.S. system.

      I think another problem with the Electoral College system is that candidates tend to focus on swing states and their issues and ignore other states. I don’t know if either Trump or Clinton even visited Idaho or Alaska, but they seemed to make Florida their second home (in fairness to Trump, he actually does have a second home there, but you know what I mean).

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