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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bad Boy Guy Boutilier

There is mounting evidence that Albertans are getting tired of suffering the insufferable Guy Boutilier? He is clearly becoming one of the least effectual politicians in the minds of Albertans today.

His recent misadventure is to engage in the mock battle over the meaning and implication of the Harper “mis-muse” about the Quebec “nation” and to assure Albertans that we can and should be the "bad boys of Confederation" to be sure we get our fair share. Nobody better try to mess with Guy Boutilier's Alberta. We can be tough and no body better try and us push around or short change us, least of all the government of Canada.

Boutilier in his new role as our “chief diplomat,” has stepped right into this "Quebec nation" business. It is a political cow pie if there ever was one. He does it with the classic and tired grumpy old Reform/Alliance framing mantra of panting over an implied or perceived pandering to Quebec that must be costing Alberta something somehow. He reverts to putting the proverbial political chip on the proverbial Alberta shoulder and dares anyone in Ottawa to knock it off.

Today Albertans are looking for politicians that will move forward to find ways to design and define a new positive leadership role for Alberta within Canada. We are not interested in trying to perfect the past based on perpetuating the angst of "the west wants in." Lets face it, Alberta is in.

Not since the Mulroney days have Albertans had so much power and influence in the federal government. The Prime Minister and his man for all reasons, Jim Prentice a de facto Deputy PM both come from Calgary. The key nation building national agenda setting Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio is also an Albertan. The Minister of Human Resources and Social Development is Albertan and Stockwell Day the Minister of Public Safety was recently Albertan and is still very Alberta sensitive. Calgary’s Jason Kenney, the former Parliamentary Secretary to the PM and now Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity around out the "Alberta In Team."

Newspaper reports, editorials, along with letters to the editor of newspapers and the blogosphere are all now commenting at length on the Boutilier shortcoming and limited capabilities including his most recent posturing making Alberta appear as a reactionary about the Quebec nation issue.

I particularly liked the comments of the more reflective thinker like Paul Boothe of the U of A put it best about Alberta’s role in Confederation when he said, "Confederation is working well for Alberta," and went on to say "I'm not interested in Alberta being a bad boy. I'm interested in Alberta being a leader."

Boothe gets the mood of Alberta today. Boutilier is trying to hold on to a past Alberta that has long since been the past. Albertans have moved on and we want politicians ready to move on with us not just try to hang on to the past.

Yes a strong Alberta does make for a strong Canada. But to most of us Alberta more of a notion than a nation. The notion of Alberta is that we are adaptive and innovative. We are energetic and engaging. We are inclusive and curious. I think being a notion, an idea, a work in progress is a better description of the dynamics of Alberta today than any artifical mimicry of a Quebec nation concept.