Explaining Alberta to Ontario is as hard as explaining Ontario to Alberta


ThinkTHUNDER BAY – Editorial – The polls are up and down, but it still appears change is afoot in Alberta. Having lived in the Wild Rose province, explaining it to people in Ontario is sometimes difficult. There are very distinct differences one can see in all Canadian provinces. In Quebec, there is a definate distinction in terms of language, culture and style. Fashion on the streets of Montreal is usually years ahead of the rest of Canada. In Newfoundland, the culture is again different from other parts of Canada. British Columbia has a more laid-back feel. The West Coast lifestyle is different.

In Alberta there is a more western flair to the culture, but it isn’t all cowboy hats, boots and Wrangler© jeans. While Edmonton might hold the political capital in Alberta, it is Calgary where the business and economic heart beats strongest. From Calgary comes some of the brash confidence that seems to come out in the view many hold of Alberta.

In many parts of Canada, if you call someone a ‘redneck’ they see it as an insult. In Calgary the term takes on a different tone, it is seen more as a person who works hard, pays their bills, and leaves others alone. Calgary confidence isn’t all that brash when you consider it, that confidence has come about after years of trying new things and seeing successes. It is often demeaned in other parts of Canada as too ‘American’. If success isn’t Canadian then maybe we have to start re-visiting our version of what it means.

One of the ways forward in Alberta has been in the province’s political stability. It often appears that voters elect governments and then stick with them for decades. It takes a lot for the voters in Alberta to dump a political party. That may now be happening for the Alberta Progressive Conservatives as the Wildrose offers new ideas, fresh innovation and a change.

No one will know for sure until the votes are counted if Albertans are voting for change. However when they do it is with a speed and a depth no where else in Canada ever does. This happens at the provincial and federal level. Often Albertan get branded as solid conservatives, however there is a very Liberal Mayor in Edmonton, and another equally Liberal Mayor in Calgary.

The province was a bastion for the federal Progressive Conservatives, who it seems took the province for granted. That led to the then ‘upstart’ Reform Party, which in a few tries at bat hammered the federal PCs down to what Albertans often called ‘one breeding pair’ in 1993. Elsie Wayne and Jean Charest worked to re-build the federal PCs, and then Joe Clark came back to waggle his chin at reviving the party, but its traditional base in Alberta was long gone.

Explaining Ontario to Alberta is equally difficult.

Albertans, who have voted en mass for conservative political parties do not seem to be able to understand Ontario voting en mass for liberal political parties. Alberta and Ontario are actually not all that different in more ways than one might first see. Both provinces hold a view that they are important key players in Confederation. Reality says both are.

Explaining Alberta to Ontario is as hard as explaining Ontario to Alberta.

James Murray

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