Editorial – Time for new rules

Jeff Burgar

It’s a familiar story in politics: When all else fails, bash somebody.

These days, in Alberta, we never really passed the milepost at “When all else fails”. We went right to “Let’s fire up the big red anger machine and bash somebody. Who cares if we don’t have a credible plan or good ideas, let’s just go after a bunch of boogeymen. That will get voters fired up for sure!”

So much for rational and well-thought out plans.

After 42 years of Progressive Conservative rule in Alberta, and despite all kinds of promises, studies and expert opinion, the provincial economy is mostly oil and gas, agriculture, forestry and government. Manufacturing mostly revolves around servicing those industries.

There are indeed big facilities serving a wide array of industry, from aviation and construction, to software and frozen foods. Yet nothing as diverse as California, Ontario, or even a country like Israel, which has only twice the population of Alberta.

Statistically, America’s tech sector is 24 per cent of the economy. Canada’s is four per cent. Alberta even less. Alberta money is in energy. Despite bold talk about diversification, even when Alberta does that, it never follows through. Alberta always reverts to energy.

Alberta has the brainpower to be a world-class player in anything. Or even Canada-class. But it’s way, way easier to blame someone else than work around, over, and above the challenges. They are forgotten when energy prices are up.

Israel is surrounded by nations and dictators sworn to destroy the tiny country. The United Nations, a mishmash of idiocy [Saudi Arabia sits on the human rights tribunal!] regularly denounces Israel. Critics of Israeli policies and activities can be found around the planet.

Yet, does Israel whine and cry? Sure. But also hunkers down and goes to work.

The whining and crying, Alberta has developed nicely. Not so much the hunkering down and working. The province is good at finding reasons why ideas won’t work. Too small. Too spread out. Too much interference from Ottawa. Too much money spent in Quebec. Yah, let’s bash them all those horrible, horrible people.

This week, Alberta elects a government for the next four years. No party has described, in any detail or even just by sketching out some thoughts, how Alberta is going to get off the energy roller coaster. How is Alberta going to build out a new economy? How is Alberta going to create new industries and expand the old ones? How is Alberta going to hunker down and get to work, even while yes, fighting the foes within our own nation?

Make no mistake, there are forces out there determined to keep this great province in “its place”.

Canadians are often accused of being too polite. Nowhere is this more obvious when it comes to municipal politics. No matter the beating any town or county or city or municipal district might take, all too often in public it’s, “We have to work with our neighbours. Let’s not make waves.”

Sounds good in theory. Then another year, or more, goes by. The theory didn’t work provincially.

Let’s see what happens the next four years.


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