The medium is the message. And in March and April 2019, the medium and the message will be Rachel Notley.

Rachel Notley, premier of Alberta, personally popular but leading a New Democratic Party that has trailed its conservative rival in recent polls, called an election this morning. Albertans will go to the polls on April 16, in accordance with the province’s fixed-election-period law bequeathed by the now departed Progressive Conservative Party.

Edmonton born media philosopher Marshall McLuhan in 1945 (Photo: Josephine Smith, Public Domain).

A day after her government’s Throne Speech in the Legislature, Premier Notley chose to make her election announcement in Calgary, which most political observers agree will be the key battleground in the election contest to come.

Premier Notley’s message was one of hope and optimism, but also of stark contrast with the United Conservative Party and its leader, former Harper Government Cabinet minister Jason Kenney, at this moment mired in a string of controversies including the way he secured his 2017 victory as the leader of the UCP, his living expenses as a federal MP, and the kinds of candidates his party attracts, one of whom quit the race last night after being exposed as holding white supremacist views.

Standing before a cheering crowd, diverse in every way, in the National Music Centre in Calgary, streamed on social media throughout the province, Ms. Notley was at her best – charismatic, warm and yet coolly focused.

She asked the crowd, and the province: “Are you ready to fight for an Alberta where we bring people together, not keep them apart?”

She is the story now, the medium through which the hopes of progressive, honest government in Alberta flow.

I don’t know if anyone still quotes Marshall McLuhan, the Edmonton-born philosopher of media who coined the phrase at the top of this story, but to me this was a truly McLuhanesque moment in Canadian politics. If Alberta’s progressive moment survives and prospers, and all of us with it, it will be because the medium is the message.

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5 Comments

  1. Hopefully, Albertans will be reminded of the reasons why they voted for the NDP in 2015. It appears that the those reasons would remain as equally valid in 2019, if now not more so given Kenney’s blatant lying and backroom cronyism. Albertans need to be reminded at every step of this election period. We didn’t want this culture in 2015, and we certainly don’t need it in 2019!

  2. I really hope the NDP can pull it off again. I work in the oil field and I’m a part of two gun clubs. Most of the people I talk with support her.

  3. I was thinking it would be a May election, but mid April is probably better for many people, including students and farmers. It will also hopefully be warm enough for the candidates going door to door. If there should be any law about elections in Alberta, November to March dates should probably be excluded – trying to pound or place those signs into the very frozen snow covered ground seems a bit much. In any event, I expect it will be an exciting campaign and will go quickly – 28 days flies when you are involved with it.

    I don’t think people quote McLuhan as much as they used to, but he was very insightful for his time and had a good point. As Albertans we can sort of claim him as our own, proof that thoughtful and forward thinking people can and do come from here. I would suggest in this case the location is also the message. Maybe Kenney was trying to replicate Scheer’s success(?) with the yellow jacket truckers by picking Nisku, or maybe it was convenience to be close to airport to fly off somewhere else, probably to some smaller place where the media can not easily follow him to ask him more pesky questions about illegal campaign donations and all that. He does tend to try disappear at times of controversy, which could make for an interesting approach to campaigning.

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