Sunday, February 04, 2007

Old Time Alberta Cons Still Angst over NEP and Threaten Separation

Lorne Gunter’s tirade in the Edmonton Journal today is so far out of whack with the current realities Alberta is facing. We are working to design ways to balance growth with enhanced environmental protection and provide the social infrastructure needed to ensure a quality of life for our citizens. We have to do this all at the same time with an accelerating sense of urgency on all fronts and in appreciation of the serious consequences if we fail.

The old Reform/Alliance angst of an oppressed Alberta still causes them to trot out the NEP mantra that “Ottawa is out to get us” every time they sense a slight. It is a tired and inaccurate rant. Give it up Lorne. Alberta has grown up, matured politically - and has moved on. The old-time religion types who see an Alberta being oppressed by Ottawa at every turn, have clearly not yet moved on with the rest of the province. There are as many people revisiting the NEP in Alberta today as there are Elvis sightings in the province…and they are usually the same people.

Todd Babiak’s blog posting today, in the same newspaper, has a more realistic take on the sense and sentiment of the challenges Alberta is facing today. They are being addressed and revolve around concerns for balancing sustainable economic growth in the face of mitigating climate change and other serious ecological concerns. The short shrift that the social side of Alberta life has experienced as of late is just now coming on the political radar screen. We have insufficient resources invested in public infrastructure and the resulting decline in capacity that has befallen providers in our social services sector adds to the challenges of Alberta's growth.

There is an emerging alternative Alberta reaction to the “Ottawa is out to get us” mentality. That is the extortion mentality of Alberta separation. There is a latent 10% voter support for Albertans to "hold our breath" until we get our way - or we will taking our energy football “home” and leave Canada…so there!

Neil Waugh in the Edmonton Sun today pays homage to that sentiment in a nod to the fact there is always the Clarity Act after all. Alberta could use it if we don’t like how the world (meaning Ottawa) is bowing to our interests. None of this helping much to sustain Alberta political support for the suddenly Quebec friendly and Green Conversion of Prime Minister Harper. He signed the infamous Alberta Firewall letter, so I guess he deserves some heat from that front too.

In the mean time we have some genuine efforts and initiatives being pursued by the Alberta government and in our industrial sectors trying to catch up and get ahead of the curve on all of this. Our monthly LaPresse column outlines some of the positive efforts being made in that regard in Alberta that need recognition and encouragement.

I will post the LaPresse piece in this Blog on Monday to show what I mean.