Editorial – Our reliable countryside

Jeff Burgar

Are you being taken for granted?

Easy to answer. If you are a voting age rural citizen in Alberta, chances are, you are a true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool, mostly hard-core UPC voter provincially, and anti-Trudeau Conservative voter federally. So, of course, you are taken for granted.

Premier Jason Kenney has your number provincially. Peter MacKay whiffed it in the federal Conservative leadership race just over. So it’s Erin O’Toole federally. Erin who? No matter. You are just along for the Conservative ride anyway.

There’s a story about big business. It’s called “Too Big To Fail.” As if, somehow, it would be a crime of some kind to let a big bank or a global manufacturing company go out of business, putting thousands or more out of work. So we taxpayers bail them out. Actually, liquidation auctions, like a Ritchie Bros or any of the smaller farmstead auctions held around the Peace country for retiring farmers, was how it was done in the good old days for really big companies. A big business finds itself on the ropes. It tries to set up “partnerships” with other big companies that might be interested. Those other companies instead, wisely pick over the assets, sort of like so many vultures.

Offers would be made. Deals struck. The bones picked clean. Sometimes people moved to new places. Sometimes new managers came in, modernizing and streamlining and laying people off. That’s how it was done. And that’s what happened to the company that used to make Jeeps. It used to be called Willys. Then it became American Motors. Then it was sort of Renault. Then Lee Iaccoca, the fellow who revived Chrysler, announced “Jeep is back in America.” He had picked the pieces of American Motors clean. And scored a great bargain getting, at the time, the most modern auto plant in the world at the same time as getting a great brand name in Jeep.

These days, our former Alberta premier Rachel Notley, says pretty well the same thing about Kenney. Her recent tour of these parts of Alberta brought the message: Kenney doesn’t care about you losing your doctors. Kenney doesn’t care about your counties and municipal districts losing energy company tax money. Your bones are in the vote bag, as far as Kenney is concerned. And that is that. End of story. Game over.

Right now, there are too few people who disagree with Jason. Seriously, among supporters are many local leaders in all walks comfortable in their positions. Despite noises about “tough times and cutbacks” there are only a few fair-minded politicians any place who have actually rolled back their own honarariums, per diems and benefits.

Alberta Health Services? The most dysfunctional department in government. In its entirety, a boondoggle that Notley actually helped perpetuate. Instead of fixing this entire disaster, Kenney has elected to attack doctors. Thereby actually attacking the voting people who, day in and day out, will support Kenney almost no matter what.

Rural Alberta could be booming as cities hollow out from COVID. Instead, rural people are just taken for granted. Yes, indeed we are.

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