Alberta Speaker Nathan Cooper’s Happy Dominion Day ad in the pages of yesterday’s edition of the Olds Albertan (Image: Screenshot).

Happy Canada Day!

Alberta is the only place in Canada, I’d wager, where someone who was barely out of diapers when our country’s national holiday was renamed Canada Day would make the point they really think it oughtta still be Dominion Day.

But these are strange times and Wild Rose Country is a strange place, so it’s not a complete surprise there’s at least one Albertan young enough not to remember when Canadians still celebrated Dominion Day on July 1 who’s annoyed about it just the same.

The Queen signs the Canadian Constitution on April 17, 1982, as Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau looks on smiling (Photo: National Archives of Canada).

I give you Nathan Cooper, United Conservative Party MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills and Speaker of the Alberta Legislature, a young man who obviously spent too much time in old folks’ homes trolling for votes back in the days before COVID-19 when you could still do that kind of thing.

Mr. Cooper was born in Toronto in 1980 — his online biography is not specific about the day, so we’ll just have to guess if he’s 40 yet. So he was about two years old when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the Queen sat down at that little desk in Ottawa to sign Canada’s first homegrown Constitution. That is, the moment when our Constitution became more than just a colonial relic passed at Westminster in 1867.

And I doubt there are very many Albertans Mr. Cooper’s age who even know, let alone care, that before 1982 Canada Day was known as Dominion Day — a colonialist relic if ever there was one!

Just the same, yesterday Mr. Cooper purchased an advertisement in the Olds Albertan, and presumably elsewhere in the rural riding just south of Red Deer, wishing his constituents a happy Dominion Day.

The ads also contain a ritualistic shot at Canada’s regional equalization formula, in which, as University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe feels he has to remind us from time to time, “it’s not that Alberta pays more: high-income individuals do, regardless of where they live.” A lot of them still happen to be in Alberta, but let’s never mind that happy fact today.

Most of Mr. Cooper’s constituents, not to mention folks living in other parts of Alberta, will never see this ad, since they’re unlikely ever to lay hands on an actual newspaper. Most of those who do notice it will fleetingly think … Dominion Day? WTF?

Mr. Cooper in his Speaker duds (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Nevertheless, Mr. Cooper is making a point to a certain part of his electorate, and that’s that he and his party think Canada was a better place when Canada Day was called Dominion Day.

That is to say, he and the UCP think Canada was a better place when it was less bilingual, less multicultural, less socially open, more socially conservative, and more colonial and colonialist in mentality.

So it’s not really the 1980s Mr. Cooper and his cohorts young and old in the UCP are pining for, but more like the 1950s, which some of us are old enough to remember and, truth be told, weren’t that great.

Some of us have also been around long enough to have survived getting used to a new name for the national holiday plus a couple of new versions of the national anthem without suffering from the psychological difficulties that seem to afflict conservative Albertans whenever something like that takes place.

Not that it really matters, but you’d think the UCP would want to consider how out of touch yammering on about Dominion Day makes them look. What’s next? The Red Ensign?

Like I said, Happy Canada Day. Get used to it.

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  1. Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe the answer to Cooper’s question about equalization is incorrect – it should be Ontario, not Alberta, by virtue of the number of taxpayers living and contributing there. I’m guess that Cooper is actually using the net amount of money the Government of Canada contributes to Alberta – a very different thing than the amount of equalization money coming from Alberta and an effect of many things, mostly the young Alberta population that does not use as much health care or draw as much of a demand on pensions (see Tombe’s article and similar articles he’s written on the subject). But of course in Alberta, don’t let the truth about equalization get in the way of a good tantrum.

  2. Well, as the historians in my family recall, the family was more than happy to join Confederation, because Ile Saint-Jean was nothing more than a continuation of the tenant farming and indentured servitude they had left behind in the old country. Fortunately, they no longer had to pay Lady Hamilton (an absentee landlord who lived in New York) for farming her land once Prince Edward Island joined Confederation, and they were allowed to own property. This was a condition for joining.

    So for all those wistful for the days when the people of this great land were not allowed to own property, I tell you right here, right now, that I stand with those proud 1800ers who had vision, and worked to bring Canada and Canadians into the next (20th) century with fairness and equality. These newfound privileges of land ownership came with a right to vote, and that point was not lost on them. If you value your rights and privileges, it is your responsibility to vote at election time for the party most likely to uphold those hard-earned rights and privileges.

    Freedom isn’t free. Thank you for the timely reminder of how quickly some in this country would dash it asunder. It is up to each and every one of us to stand up, be counted and say “no” to those who would have us return to being serfs without land, and accordingly without a vote. We live in dangerous times.

  3. My memories of the 1950’s would probably make the youngsters of today shake a bit with disbelief and bewilderment. I recall the ice wagon that would bring blocks to our house, and most others, to be put into the top of the “refridgerator”. We were quite afraid of the horse which pulled that wagon!!! Getting milk delivered in squarish glass bottles quite often, and again, not going anywhere near the horse at one end while ‘stealing’ ice chips from the back of the wagon. Or how about listening to the breathing of other people on the “phone” – party lines were not that ‘private’ and we learned about the neighbourhood ‘busy bodies’ quickly? H ow about wooden slat sidewalks? Push, non-motorized lawn mowers? Gardens in every back yard (something that desperately needs a come back)? Or maybe having to pay out of pocket for the doctor (even to come for a home visit -can you imagine that!!!), which thus very rarely ever happened? How about the gravel streets – dust, mud, and ruts?
    These youngsters who are so inclined to want to ‘return’ to some ‘glorious’ past really need to learn what was real in that past rather than “dream” of what could be now based on historically and culturally blinkered idealizations that suit their fantasies.

    1. Bruce, you have cracked the mystery! The chips behind the ice wagon weren’t ice, and the UCP have been spreading those chips ever since!

  4. I think the root of this usage, as well as the recent reference by some KenneyCon fellow traveller to the “British North America Act”, is fundamentally about a seething, irrational hatred in much of Oilbertastan for Pierre Elliott Trudeau & all his works; a hatred formed ca. 1980 during the era of the much-maligned National Energy Programme (NEP), and seemingly passed on to Alberta’s children & their children’s children with their mothers’ milk — a hatred which has now been bestowed on the head of our current Prime Minister, who was also PET’s eldest son.

    In any other reasonable country on Earth, open threats of violence against their national leader, such as those we see on front lawns and pickup trucks all across Alberta, and open advocacy of secession on such frivolous grounds as “they didn’t vote for the party we supported”, would prompt prosecution on charges of treason or sedition … hey, Jay Hill, I’m talking to you … But, no, here in Canada we don’t do that sort of thing.

    *sigh* Happy Canada Day, I guess … but [to your commenters] if you’re a Wexiteer, I don’t want to hear that from your pie hole.

  5. For the deceitful antiques roadshow revivalist political opportunist, convenient populist fables, selling populist snake oil, and big populist lies are always more useful than inconvenient historical fact. That is, “it’s ironic that Jason Kenney, a former Conservative cabinet minister, is going to Ottawa to try to overturn changes to an equalization deal that was amended by former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government.”

    1. “Third, the West has had considerable input in the refinement of the current equalization formula. Indeed, that formula was largely based on the recommendations of an expert panel chaired by Al O’Brien, a former Deputy Treasurer of Alberta, which was set up by Stephen Harper’s government. As we know, Jason Kenney, now a frequent critic of the current equalization formula, was an influential cabinet minister in the Harper government. If Kenney hates the current formula so much, why didn’t he do something about it when he had the chance?”

    2. [Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the national equalization program falls under Ottawa’s jurisdiction and none of the provinces can dictate how the money collected from taxpayers gets divvied up among poorer regions.

    His comments yesterday were made a day after Alberta Premier Ralph Klein threatened to pull the province out of the program if its vast natural-resources wealth is included in the equalization formula.]

    3. The current iteration in the bizarre world of the Canadian political theater of the absurd, as the faithful rubes line up to be bamboozled by the latest PR kayfabe, i.e., the conservative political reactionary vs the conservative political voice of reason.

    [But despite taking over as interim leader of the separatist Wexit Canada party, there are some connections to Parliament Hill he is not yet ready to sever — such as his MP pension plan.

    “I don’t think I’ll do it immediately — I don’t have another country to belong to, yet,” Hill told CBC Calgary News at 6. “I think most Canadians would recognize I put in my time there, represented the people.

    “I’ve earned that pension many times over.”

    Hill was responding to comments made by Kenney on Wednesday, when the premier was asked his reaction to his former colleague taking over as Wexit Canada leader.

    “All I can say is, that I assume he’s going to give up his MP pension plan that’s paid by Ottawa if he’s going to advocate for separation,” Kenney said.]

  6. Pining for the 1950s is Mr. Cooper? He would have hated cooperative Alberta then. It was primarily an agricultural province where 90% of the grain elevators were owned cooperatively and the four giant international grain companies that are now sucking the life out of rural Alberta had been kicked out on their bellies by prairie farmers in the 1930s. Except for Hollywood movies, cattle and cowboys were virtually extinct in Alberta since the US had passed the Fordney Emergency tariff in 1923. The Alberta cow herd did not recover to very modest 1920 levels until 1952.

    In 1950s Alberta the oil industry actually paid its own way and was heavily regulated and taxed in the public interest. Never-the-less Alberta received equalization payments from Ottawa until 1963.

    As a nostalgia peddler, Mr. Cooper should really be pining for the 1970s and 80s. That was when the conventional oil basin was spinning off around 12,000 wells a year on stolen farm and ranch land and people like Mr. Cooper could get six figure jobs in the oil sector.

  7. Oh these wanna be elites coming from Upper Canada and trying to tell us in the Territories how to run things…

  8. Thank you as always DC and Happy Canada Day! Conservatives like to accuse the Left of “political correctness “ but some hidden authority is preventing them from saying “Happy Canada Day” this year. Other words they’re not allowed to say: racism, poverty, equality.

    1. Simon, you forgot the other anti-Albertan words they do not want to say: global warming, sustainable energy, environmental regulations, and anything that begins with the word public in front of it such as, education, healthcare, transportation, oh and libraries.

      Other notable mentions: Liberals, federalism, carbon pricing, foreign-owned oil and gas sector, masks, multiculturalism, bilingualism, public good, recycling, anything pertaining to LGBTQ, indigenous rights.

  9. One more Kon blob of effluent from somewhere east of Lloydminster who washed out in Alberta when the sewers backed up, and is now more Albertan than Albertans. Chandler, Day, Harpo, Fildebrandt, Cooper. Reactionary, gas-lighting duds, every one.

  10. Cooper is one of those heinous little gits who has been promoted far beyond his actual ability, simply because he has thrown on the Wildrose/UCP mantle. (The Peter Principle in action.) Having watched him while he served in Opposition, he and his tag team buddy (snarly Jason Nixon) were often a sight to behold, with their juvenile behaviour in the legislature.

    Now that Cooper dons the Speaker’s robes, he appears to have adopted an even greater (inflated) sense of his place there. His patently horrid manner of introducing members in the assembly is an affront to the dignity of the house, as he sounds more like a carnival barker, or someone calling the numbers in a bingo hall. Either way I can no longer bear to listen to a session.

    Perhaps he is being primed to take the next opportunity to the province of his birth and head to Ottawa.

  11. Code for dominionism I think. Dominionism is a very dangerous extreme right wing religious group. UCP are dominionists. They have dominion over us or “domination” over us. They are gloating or sending a coded message to the other domionists. With the UCP, every day is crazier than the day before.

  12. Another tale from the ye olde Edmonton-Strathcona PC/Reform/CA/CPC goon show…

    There were a few members who insisted on presenting a motion that Canada Day be renamed Dominion Day, because Canada (Alberta. Whatever.) IS subject to Her Regal Sovereign Elizabeth 2 Regina and ARE members of her “August Dominion”. I had to do a wait-what? at that moment, because I believed that I was about to hear the ravings of some crazed street preacher wino. As it turns out, it was a fellow who was, what the more senior members of the association called, “a yunin” or a “yoot” and he was sober. He seemed to be representing a group of the unusual malcontents, who were always engaged in some kind of intellectual mayhem against the half dozen or so rational members of the association.

    I was amused that these people didn’t know that the sun had set on the British Empire immediately at the end World War Two, so claims that there was still an August Dominion were clearly moot. Another moment of comedy came when there was a motion to return the Canadian Anthem to using God Save the Queen and end the “Liberals’ imposition for their song and their flag” upon Canadians. Well, that was surely the most bent thing I had heard in a while. But it made everything all clear: this was all about the Liberals and Trudeau.

    Only in Alberta, which is a good thing, because it can be contained and wiped out like the virus it is.

    Oh…and happy E II R’s August Dominion Day. (E II R is the royal cypher for her Most Serene Majesty Queen Elizabeth Saxe-Coburg and Gotha)

  13. Alberta is no different than any other Canadian province but everyday, people talk about, criticize and whine about it.
    Can you imagine, if like Norway, Alberta owned all its own oil, never had to fight anyone to build a pipeline and could make up its own rules?
    The screaming would be deafening.
    Alberta has contributed more to Canada, per capital than any other province. The rest of Canada does nothing but attack and find fault with anything Alberta does, even trying to make albertans out as a bunch of money hungry racists.
    Alberta will be just fine thanks. The UCP will be fine, better than the NDP who just pushed us further down.
    Take all your hatred and your insults and worry about your own province.

    1. I got news for you. Alberta does own all its own oil. It just chose, with staggering perversity — or stupidity, take your pick — to piss it all away.

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