Forgive me for my name dyslexia. I have been referring to our newest Premier - by default - as Ms Danielle Steele and not as Danielle Smith. I guess this must come with lack of attention and chemo brain. (Or is it creeping senility?)
Mea culpa! How foolish of me.
But anyway - it's interesting to see this "turn" of events here in Alberta. I was down in Vancouver in early October and while there there were an intrepid group of Alberta Oyel Patch "Colleagues and contemporaries" on an annual Sturgeon fishing trip. I was to join them for the two days fishing but I caught a bad cold and so decided not to pass it on. I did however provide service as default Uber driver getting the five dear souls off out to Abbotsford airport for their flight home. One was the VP of Operations at the little Oil and Gas Company where I worked for a decade as General Dogsbody and Teaboy. Another was a former Toolpush for Ensign Drilling - and then Drilling Supervisor before retiring. Another was a good friend of my former Drilling VP who had a long career in the international offshore drilling space as Rig Toolpusher.
We had quite the long chat while waiting at the lounge in Abbotsford - and everyone of them were almost to a man completely onside with everything Ms Smith stands for. Pipelines, Churchill export shipping route, Fuck Trudeau and Quebec, Western alienation, Prairie Province Solidarity, No to Alberta Barbie (Yes to Alberta Boebert?) plus the need for a Northern Utilities Corridor. The Ring of Fire Mining Corridor (Whatever that really means?) - and of course - fuck all the greenwashing and climate change stupidity. As the only "Liberal" amongst this group - I was in my element and got straight into whacking the hornets nest. (They all know my political leanings and stance - so this was not such a dangerous thing to do as it might sound! As a geologist I am given a considerable leeway as an object of considerable curiosity. And it was the Toolpush here in this group that gave me my IV cyber handle of The Great Swami during several years working on projects together in south east Saskatchewan during the 1990s.)
But all anecdotes aside - this group of (sort of) retired Oyel Patch veterans provide a snapshot of the zeitgeist here in Alberta - a Province that like many others is undergoing a sort of schizophrenic angst as the weight of electoral voting moves inexorably from the overwhelmingly rural and Primary Producers to the newly dominant Urban and managerial plus civil service and "progressive." Calgary (plus suburban satellite communities), Edmonton (and surrounding bedroom communities), Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer - and to a lesser extent - Grande Prairie, Ft MacMurray and Lloydminster are exerting an ever stronger political influence. There is something the same in Saskatchewan where Regina and Saskatoon far outweigh the rural part of the Province - and in Manitoba there is Winnipeg and Brandon - and then everything else.
British Columbia? BC has always been heavily skewed by the the urban centres of the lower Mainland Fraser valley flatlands and the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The rest of the Province - while economically the powerhouse of the Province - is a voting and voter desert. The upcoming election in Alberta in the first half of 2023 is going to be an interesting one. There has been a growing frustration with the Conservatives here under Kenney and the election was really going to be Alberta Barbie's (Ms Notley) to lose.
Now I am not so certain. Ms Smith's message of putting Balls back on Provincial powers has a very strong broad support out West here. (It's kind of the same thing that stunned most Brits over the Brexit win. Never underestimate the willingness of folks to vote against their own best interests when their sense of pride and entitlement is under threat - real or imagined.)
I do see her message of a much more independent "West" is an emotionally powerful message - and quite a seductive one. In Britain it was easy for a formerly world dominating Island Nation to appeal to some real Golden Past - and to demonise the European Parliament for all its ills. Out west here - there has always been a strong feeling that the Prairie provinces are the life blood and true heart of the Nation - and there is a very strong resentment of how they are basically used as the ATM to pay for programs and improvements everywhere else. (Through the cynical equalisation re-distribution of income tax receipts.) There is no real enmity between the Prairies and the Maritimes - out here we all love the Maritimes and the Newfies - and we are happy to support them and we enjoy all those who come here to work too. But Quebec - Quebec is always problematic - not so much as a people - but as the silent power brokers who ensure that in all re-distributions of National wealth - the one Province is always seemingly "more equal" than others...
I'm still really an outsider. I came here 44-45 years ago in 1978 - and even with that deep immersion I cannot assimilate all the historical grievances - real and imagined - that those whose roots are a generation or two deeper than mine would have grown up with? I'm kind of like a Martian looking at Earthlings and still trying to understand their idiosyncrasies.
I love my adopted and chosen country and Province - and I want a steady improvement and I want to see rational scientifically informed pragmatic Government - not perfect government - not idealism personified and not cynical corporatism historically entrenched. There are things that are broken - and things that render our Country too asymmetric and unbalanced. Ontario is too big and dominant - it needs to be divided into smaller chunks that represent its population better. There is the Urban conurbations around Toronto - and everywhere else. The same could be said for Quebec. The two problems I see with Quebec is again at nearly 25% of the Nation - it is too powerful a Province. And then there is the completely unfair grandfathered power structure that allows Quebec to enjoy perpetually cheap hydro power at the expense of Newfoundland and Labrador? That needs to be fixed in order to make Quebec Politics more pragmatic - and less cynically selfish and entrenched in historical inequalities.
The Prairies too would benefit if the triplication of Provincial Governments was to be combined into one and the region to act as a collective whole. The same should also happen with the Maritimes - at the very least the rather foolish exceptionalism of having a Province like Prince Edward Island with less population than a medium sized town acting on its own is something that should be modernised. There is no reason New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI cannot be amalgamated and perhaps even Newfoundland - but that may be a challenge too far?
I do understand how challenging Constitutional change might be - and has been - but Canada in the 2020s is not the Canada of the 1920s anymore. Times change. Realities change. Needs and Resources change. Populations shift. Of course any changes would be heroically and fiercely resisted by all the Luddites, the Traditionalists and the entrenched powers - but for the future - perhaps a more equitably populated and distributed set of "New Provinces" would make a huge amount of of pragmatic and economic good sense - and that is probably why it would never happen?
It will be an interesting coming few years and I really do not know from the perspective of now where this will go? My natural inclination would be that I would like to see Ms Notley given a second term at the helm - a term that is not marred by the poor timing of successive years of miserable oil and gas pricing that so buggered the local economy for almost 6 years. (Happily bounced back into the Horn A Plenty once more.) I think there are many things that need to see some Provincial Investment and infrastructure improvement and future looking oriented - and I think that would happen under the Provincial NDP - basically the Alberta Centrist and Moderate Liberal Party.
However - if I read the sentiment correctly - Ms Smith (not Steele the authoress...) has a growing groundswell of alienated populism behind her - and that means money and support from BIG individuals and monied corporations.
Its going to be a big political fight here in Alberta between the more Federal Pragmatists (Notley's NDP) and the more Provincial Energy at all costs Populists and anti Laurentian Elite self styled rural focused individualists.
Of course the whole equalisation thing is a challenging traditional Constitution artifact. If you are a Province with a huge net influx of tax wealth from elsewhere - where is the drive or motive to change and become a net donor? IF you are always the supplier of the Gravy that keeps the Federal Train on the tracks and running - there is always the feeling of being unfairly and cynically predated upon with no countervailing feeling of balance.
I was here during the times that Trudeau Senior did his monumental task of getting huge Constitutional Change made - a task that he succeeded at doing against monumental odds - but a change that was ultimately flawed and left imperfect - awaiting some future monumental effort to fully address and fix. Such change is exhausting, divisive and fractious - and as with everything there are winners - losers and everything in between. Ultimately when a Nation is undergoing such massive internal Constitutional change - everything else that is vitally important gets pushed aside and is left to fester - often fatally so.
Ms Smith seems determined to rock the boat - she does have massive popular support from the masses - but nothing here in Alberta is guaranteed or easily foreseeable - the Urban centres have had enough with many of the business as usual privitisation and socialisation for the wealthy policies of the past few years - and for the decades previously.
And as much as Albertans protest - the simple fact remains that according to all the federal tax receipts - Alberta is still a huge "Have Province" while many others are not - and so the Perception of reality really does depend upon the perspective of where you stand and what you actually look at and consider important?