The former Federal Building, now the Queen Elizabeth II Building, in Edmonton (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Yesterday, the provincially owned Federal Building adjacent to the Alberta Legislature in downtown Edmonton was officially renamed the Queen Elizabeth II Building. 

The notorious Sky Palace on the day in June 2021 when Jason Kenney and senior cabinet members were busted by an unknown photographer in a nearby office tower during a boozy mid-pandemic patio party (Photo: Creator Unknown).

“Queen Elizabeth II served Albertans as our head of state for seven decades,” said Premier Jason Kenney, after whom for a variety of reasons an Alberta Government building is unlikely ever to be named, stating the obvious. 

“Renaming the Federal Building is a fitting tribute to this remarkable lady, whose name will inspire generations to come,” said Mr. Kenney, who will only be the premier of Alberta for a few more days, in an unusually anodyne press release for his United Conservative Party Government. 

That may or may not be the case, but the new name will certainly end considerable confusion about a provincial building known as a federal building, and for that reason alone the change will probably be painlessly adopted by Albertans without the controversy normal in such situations. 

Naming it after the late Queen also solves a problem for a government that has spent most of its term in office angry at almost everybody, which would have made it difficult to find someone closer to home, dead or alive, after whom it could be named.

“Rooms in the building’s 10th floor were named to honour the Royal Family, including the Windsor Room,” the press release continued, failing for some reason to mention that the notorious Sky Palace perches atop the QE2B.

A shifty eyed Premier Bill Bennett, son of W.A.C. Bennet, circa 1970 (Photo: The Martlet, probably).

The Sky Palace, as it is popularly known, was originally intended to serve as an Edmonton residence for Premier Alison Redford and more recently has been used as an entertainment and dining venue for Mr. Kenney, senior United Conservative Party cabinet members, and their political aides. 

Speaking of changing names, much fun was had yesterday at the expense of the B.C. Liberals, now that they have decided they are Liberal no more. 

In reality, of course, the Opposition party in the province to the west of us never was liberal in anything but name. 

They have now opted to call themselves B.C. United – which, as many people here in Alberta observed, sounds like a soccer club in a country where that game is called football.

B.C.’s Liberals are, in fact, the 1990s version of what we used to call the Social Credit coalition, which as any good Socred would tell you, and several of them did tell me over the years, was not social credit at all.

W.A.C. Bennett, Prime Minister of British Columbia, as he insisted on calling himself (Photo: Duncan Cameron, Public Domain).

That is to say, unlike their Alberta contemporaries, B.C. Social Credit under the Bennetts, William and Bill, pere et fils, were just conservatives, not kooky monetary reformers.

The B.C. Liberals, who took over for them in much the same coalition role, were neoliberals – although it may not have occurred to them to have rebranded themselves as either the B.C. Neoliberal Party or the B.C. Not-the-Liberals when they decided to put some rhetorical distance between themselves and the Liberals in Ottawa, who are apparently not neoliberal enough to suit the neoliberals of the west.

They could also hardly call themselves the Not The B.C. NDP Party, never mind the apparent redundancies, which is the actual purpose of their coalition, without reminding voters in that province who has been running the place since 2017, with a little temporary assistance from  the B.C. Greens. 

Or maybe they did consider all those names. Who knows? The CBC said only that the party considered more than 2,000 names, which may explain why it took them so long, since there’s been nothing particularly liberal about them since Gordon Campbell took over the party in 1993.

Jason Kenney, soon to be former premier of Alberta (Photo: Alberta Newsroom Flickr).

However, the B.C. Liberals-no-longer seem not to have considered the dangers of protesting too much by calling their party united, as is certainly the case with our ironically disunited United Conservative Party in Alberta. 

“Are they giving up politics and becoming a soccer franchise?” wondered journalist Max Fawcett, one of the great wits of the 21st Century. 

This prompted me to recall that the previous united party to rule this province – the United Farmers of Alberta – did give up politics when they were defeated in 1935 by William Aberhart’s Social Credit, which was considerably closer to the real thing than William Andrew Cecil Bennett’s faux Socreds ever were. 

But there is potential redemption in the UFA story for both the UCP and B.C. United, which I suppose will inevitably come to be known as BCU, which sounds like a university.

As the always helpful Wikipedia explains: “Following the dissolution of its political wing, UFA focused on its commercial operations. UFA entered into a partnership with Maple Leaf Fuels, a subsidiary of Imperial Oil in 1935 to distribute fuel to its members.”

To this day, UFA distributes gasoline and diesel throughout Alberta. 

What better future could one imagine for B.C.’s united neoliberals or their similarly united Alberta counterparts than to continue onward, honourably, as a chain of automotive electrical charging stations?

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19 Comments

  1. Pretend conservatives and Reformers have nothing of benefit to help the population, so they do things like this. Hopefully, in 2023, Albertans will turf the UCP, because the UCP are the exact opposite of the true conservative government we had under Peter Lougheed. The UCP are closer to Ralph Klein, who did very great damage to Alberta. Anyone with even a fraction of common sense, would not support that.

  2. Another interesting tidbit about the UFA: they got into the business of selling guns. A number of guns were stolen and ended up in the hands of non-law-abiding citizens. UFA then got out of the business altogether.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/sports-store-employee-charged-in-gun-thefts-1.828986

    https://www.ckom.com/2016/01/13/9-out-of-52-guns-stolen-from-regina-wholesale-sports-in-2011-have-been-found/

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/ufa-wholesale-sports-closing-calgary-1.4290641

  3. Picking a good name is often tricky, which is probably one reason the old Federal building confusingly remained that for so long after it was taken over by the province. I suppose the choice of the new name was one of Kenney’s better decisions, although that also says something about the quality of his other decisions.

    At least it is a respectable name that can be used in government press releases and official documents. However, I suspect the press will stick with the Sky Palace nickname. It rolls of the tongue so easily, has a certain impertinent zip to it and has become so familiar to Albertans due to the misadventures of various Conservatives, including Kenney, connected to the building.

    As for the BC Liberals, first this reminds me of when the Alberta Liberals went through their agonizing renaming process. It seemed to be the moment it became clear to everyone that they lost it. However in fairness Liberalalberta was a party that sort of still wanted to be liberal, but just not called that. Secondly, putting the name united in a party name is tempting fate like the hubristically named UCP that is not so united.

    Lastly, the abruptly truncated name prompts the question – united what? It is interesting how BC politics follows Alberta’s in naming things, but the substance is somehow lost or confused. I thought in Saskatchewan they actually were smarter, in simply naming their united conservative party after their province. Interestingly it seems to be more united and politically successful so far than its struggling Alberta and BC provincial cousins.

  4. I’ve never doubted that the Calgary Cabal has a lot of influence over the other western Canadian provinces. I have a feeling that Saskatchewan and Manitoba don’t mind the influence of Calgary’s oil money, because they need it. BC on the other hand is enormously wealthy on its own, so Calgary’s would be considerably less. The BC Liberals changing their name to BC United smacks of UCP-ism in the worst way. What Calgary wants, Calgary gets, it would seem.

    This was the choice among 2000 options, my eye.

  5. How about “BC Ignited”?

    As bad as the BC NDP has been on climate policy, the rebranded BC Libs will outdo them in ensuring that there won’t be a stick of uncharred wood left in our forests.

    1. Don’t these folks insist that clear-cutting “simulates” the effects of forest fire. Seems they figure on solving two concern at once.

  6. Enjoyable read. Somehow the BC “Liberals” never seemed to get called out on the fact that they were a solidly right wing party. Always was super strange to me that the federal Liberal party never saw a problem with having their brand associated with the BC Liberal party. BC United a)sounds like a footie club, b)I’m hoping for some fun football-style crowd songs about them, and c)the name reeks of desperation. You know how when someone calls themselves a “very stable genius,” it means they are anything but? Maybe if they actually were “united” they wouldn’t need to put it in their freaking name! I suppose their symbol will be the fasces?

    1. Yes, it does sound like a footie club to me too. The other thing that sprang to my mind was BC United (Church). But that’s ironic considering how liberal lefty the United Church of Canada is. Any way cheers to the B-CUP. Just waiting for Keith Baldry to say that with a straight face.

    2. Neil, my sister who has lived in BC all her life and followed politics, I’ve just been back for 10 yrs, so “missed out ” on some of the, what’s the word??controversies,..anyway she figured the perfect theme song should be AC/DC’S — Dirty deeds done dirt cheap ” and having looked up the lyrics, imho , I concur….tongue in cheek for the “cheap”…

  7. I thought about changing my surname, once, to its primordial Gaelic form—which I think translates something like “best-of-the-all-blacks”—but friends cooled my enthusiasm by reminding me it sounded stupid. Now I can’t even remember how it’s spelled.

    Anyhow, name-changes always seem so goofy, suspicious, or presumptuous. Nevertheless, I thought UCP was superficially fair—at least before it became so disunited. I would have suggested a slight improvement: “Re-United Conservative Party”—since the two halves were estrangements of a whole —plus a few free wooly radicals that always seem to tie knots in the fringy political nap of the Wild Rose province—just like Sasquatch did, not so long ago (and, yes, a bear does, but the Big Foot didn’t step in it).

    Naming has been cagey from the beginning: the Book of Genesis (2:18-20) says God brought all the animals to Adam to see what he would name them, leaving the reader suspecting something must’ve been left unnamed since, after all that supposed “naming,” no suitable mate was found for Adam. (The reader also wonders if God didn’t quite get the significance when chi earlier observed, one fine G-Day, that plants and animals reproduce with their own kind).

    What’s in a name, then?

    Somewhere over the Rockies, east of paradise, the partisan animal Jason Kenney named was a chimera of reattached body parts which had already gone their separate ways sometime before the nominal ProgCon party’s demise: once a traditional Tory party, it became so small-c in decline that the letter vanished completely, leaving something quite unservative. And the rock-ribbed libertarian faction abandoned Tory mores like communitarianism and national patriotism whilst the old party slumbered in a deep trance on the eve of its fall. K-Boy might have re-united two former co-partisans, but neither faction was really conservative anymore. Maybe it should have been called the Reunited Un-conservative Maverick Party instead. Woulda at least been better ‘n’ CRAP.

    British Columbia’s partisan right has been less chimeric and more shibbolethic than Alberta’s. WAC Bennett was indeed a Conservative before adopting the name but not the inverted pyramid-scheme policies of Social Credit. I recall the last, lonely Liberal of that long BC Socred era: Alzheimer’s expert Dr Pat McGeer who joined Bennett Jr’s Socred 2.0, served as cabinet minister until 1986, thence remaining almost forgotten until his passing just a few months ago at 95 years of age (RIP). The notion that the BC right is a Liberal-Conservative coalition is actually quite light on the Liberal side of the proffered equation: the BC Socreds were nothing if not conservatives, fiscal and, for a time, social, but any of its names have always been code for the diametric opposite of the “Socialist Hordes.”

    The BC Socreds, first elected in 1952, were wiped out by the NDP in 1991 and, for a moment, it looked like centre-left NDP Premier Mike Harcourt was well-matched with centre-right Liberal leader Gordon Wilson. However, as if not to abandon the shibbolethic use of the name “Liberal,” Gordon Campbell usurped the new loyal opposition (when Wilson was caught in extramarital relationship with one of his caucus) and turned the party sharply rightward while keeping the name, now a complete misnomer which British Columbians soon acknowledged by prefixing “BC” to “Liberal” to distinguish it from real, centrist liberals.

    As proof that BC voters are as easily fooled by a name as they are in Alberta, the myth that a balanced, sensible centre-right coalition was essential for saving BC from allegedly extremist lefties persisted for nearly two decades. Even with popular adjustment, that name had hypnotic effect because the BC Liberals were not really centre-right, nor was the NDP far-left.

    When the popular (and soon to retire) NDP Premier John Horgan took over in 2017 and the BC Liberal record of perfidy was finally revealed for all to see, the good ole “BC Liberal” password-to-power became so disreputable that the party’s next two leaders—looking as liberal as possible—could not beat what voters now realize is a moderate, social-democratic party.

    Disgraced, discredited, and dismissed, the BC Liberals probably once again eschew moderation and instead go for the name change. Yet, truly liberal-minded centrists have lost the fear the BC right cultivated against its progressive rival for so long and, admittedly, the NDP has occupied centrist territory the BC Liberals abandoned long ago, the coalition vs socialist hordes myth notwithstanding. If there’s anything to “unite” in the BC United party, it has to be factions of the far right which have festered on the fringes in BC (perhaps not quite as vocally as in Alberta). How united the BCU party can remain is yet to be seen, but it also remains that resorting to a name change, particularly this party, with its variously named chimeras, should raise healthy suspicion about its real agenda. Besides, 2000 options? That’s enough foosballing to twig the sleepiest dullard! When the name’s that important, one should wonder what policies are hiding behind it.

    Of course the UCP moniker has turned out to be wishful thinking that didn’t pan: the party is so factionalized that its future is legitimately questionable—and it’s name is a joke. One can only hope that this name-gaming crap on the right doesn’t spoil real conservatives’ opportunity to moderate themselves, federally and provincially and, of course, change their name accordingly—but this time, perhaps, to New Conservative Party. Literally.

    Nice touch on the Sky Palace, though.

    1. Scotty: Pat McGeer was too smart and snotty ever really to succeed in popular politics outside a riding like Vancouver Point Grey. I have given him credit for being the real thing, though, ever since I watched him on television demolishing the quality claims of some overly optimistic B.C. winemakers way back in the day when he took them up on their bet that he couldn’t tell the difference between their Okanagan plonk and several French vintages. As I recall, not only could he tell which was Canadian and which was French, but he could identify the appellation d’origine contrôlée of the French samples by taste alone. It seems to me one of them may have been a Pouilly-Fuissé, which had been controversially in the news at the time, mainly because no one in B.C. other than Dr. McGreer knew how to pronounce it and it had been served at a Socred do. I was impressed and still am. Alas, when I just looked on Google, there was no sign of that televised moment of truth. DJC

    1. Good point. Instead of “tar sands” I think we should say “One of the 10 richest nations on Earth can’t afford to clean up any of the pollution we have caused so let’s cause a bunch more pollution so we can afford to clean up the pollution we caused before we polluted more and the wokies will say this is recursive but I haven’t sworn once and… uh… hey look, an environmental radical, for twenty bucks I’ll sell you a rock to throw at him!”

  8. Ever find yourself wanting to roll your eyes while also facepalming? This chestnut: https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/b-c-liberals-could-become-b-c-united-party-in-rebranding-push/ar-AA12iW4m?ocid=entnewsntp&cvid=3bfb26f58c7743f090b19ac2cde0b518 has the following extremely brainy quote:

    ‘Falcon, a former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister elected party leader in February, wants to remove any perception of ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals and reflect the party’s status as a big-tent coalition of federal Liberals and Conservatives.’

    Are they high? A coalition of federal Liberals and Conservatives? Who, exactly, is going to be in that coalition? Maybe Jean Charest will lead it for them. smh

  9. Local news yesterday had an item of interest and definitely concern, Max & the PPC/ VIVA getting people to run for school councillors, which in of itself is scary, but the interesting part was Max thanking Falcon for his support, and finding out this goes back to the (?)2017 election…
    So is Falcon planning on ” uniting with the ppc…that’s enough to make the hairs stand up on the back of the neck…..???

  10. I collect changing “letter heads” and the lessened accountability within those letters of evolving marginalized accountability,
    Anything health has to be the true winner of shifting accountability

  11. It was said of Canada that God tilted the country to the left and everything loose fell into BC. For much of BC’s history, that is true, as the province has had more than its share of colourful political characters, from Amor De Cosmos to the mercurial WAC (Whacky) Bennett. Toss in some Bill Vander Zalm and you get an outrageous mix of entertainment from ugly people. (Politics is show business for ugly people, btw) Considering the milquetoast scandals wrought by the NDP’s Mike “Bingo!” Harcourt and Glen “Got a patio” Clark, it looks like things are getting pretty pedestrian in Lotus Land.

    Judging the state of scandal in Alberta, they’ve got to step up. Electing crazies into public office just isn’t enough.

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