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The Chip

The Calgary Herald's Ric Dolphin is doing top-notch political reporting these days and his account of the muddle on Ralph Klein's right flank gets it... well, right.

No mention of the dreaded 'S' word though. The political money Randy Thorsteinson won't take is, I suspect, seeking a credible voice of separatism, if only for the sake of establishing it as a bargaining chip. Such a threat should be established, but "credible" means "credible"--and the Randy Party, credible or not, refuses to put it in its platform.

To repeat what I've said before: it would take the coming-out of just one senior figure, whether an old-time PC MLA or someone well-known outside politics, to create the option and test the true depth of separatist sentiment. A new party wouldn't have to have a detailed plan for alternative government or a centralized structure; at least two parties (the United Farmers and Social Credit) have actually won Alberta elections without having such a plan or structure. The party just has to say "Ralph Klein isn't willing to consider threatening a referendum on separation. We are."

A lot of people hate Ted Byfield, but if Ted Byfield were to found such a party and run it in an election, it would go to at least 30% in the polls overnight. Well, I can tell you Ted Byfield's not going to do it: he's too busy. Ted Morton could do it; he's already won elected office in this province with a hundred-thousand-some votes. But he's a busy man, too, and I'm not sure he wants to butt heads with Ralph. The old-time politicians who are known and trusted, the Marv Moores and Connie Ostermans and Ray Speakers, are mostly still beholden, one way or another, to the present-day government or the social circles tied to it. Same with the well-known oilmen, I suppose. But this is the kind of person I'm thinking of; one of them would be doing us a big favour if they bit the bullet and came out.

And, in fact, Ralph would be doing us and himself a big favor if he'd quietly convince a current MLA to wander off the reservation, with tacit permission. Perhaps someone would be so kind as to pitch it to him as the Cosh Plan. All you have to do, Ralph, is take aside some half-smart, well-trained junior rural MLA and feed him the dialogue. Your plant calls a press conference and says "I will henceforth sit in the Assembly as an Independent Conservative, and I intend to run in the next election, in my riding, on a separatist platform." Hue and cry. Ralph, you make a show of opposing and denouncing him. "I'm very troubled and disappointed that Stinky has decided to leave the caucus. But of course this is the kind of thing that happens when Ottawa fails to respect the constitutional arrangements between itself and the provinces. I can only hope the separatist virus stops spreading of its own accord."

And then we see whether people flock to Stinky's banner--which is, secretly, secure in the hands of Ralph. Which is more or less fine by me. The question, Mr. Premier, is whether you want the lanyard in your hands when the trial balloon goes up.

- 2:50 am, December 21 (link)
This Tears It - Weblogging is Officially Unkewl

There, I've finally filed all my Report copy and I can start goofing off here again. For future reference, when I disappear for 36 hours at a time, you can always console yourself with Paul Martin's new weblog. Is this shit for real?--the link comes from Bourque but the "whois" lookup is singularly unenlightening. Certainly whoever's writing these entries has captured Martin's soggy position on Kyoto perfectly. "We're going to implement it, but not at the expense of any one region or sector: therefore Albertans should like the Liberal Party all the better." If you say so, Uncle Junior. Good luck tying yourself in a knot trying to figure out how you're going to impose limits on carbon emissions without hurting the damn carbon industry.

Webloggers everywhere (who may not know that Martin is all but certain to be Canada's next Prime Minister) will enjoy PM's dorky explanation of why he's starting a "blog". Wonder who the ghostwriter is...?

- 1:41 pm, December 12 (link)
The National Singularity

Floyd McWilliams says that Alberta is welcome in the American Union, on one minor condition. Oh, but why would we want to leave Confederation? Haven't you heard that Canada is morally superior to the United States?

Dear, dear Dickie Gwyn. In all the land there is no better personification of Toronto's unctuous superciliousness; if he did not exist we'd practically have to invent him. Only in the country's largest-circulation daily, the Voice of the Hub, would you find someone saying this with a presumably straight face:

But a fair number of Canadians do feel morally superior to Americans. ...for Canadians to feel this way, even if wholly unjustified, is a sign of national self-confidence. It makes us unique in the world.
Lots of others resent Americans, envy them, wish they'd get out of their faces. Some people hate Americans. Many others love them. Lots of people both love them and hate them.
Only Canadians, though, dare to feel morally superior to them.

Yes, you read that right. Richard Gwyn, high-paid columnist, professional intellectual, believes that of all the world's two hundred-and-some countries, only Canada looks down its nose, morally, at the United States.

Well, it's a newspaper, and this is most certainly news to me.

- 10:05 pm, December 8 (link)
Sheesh, Did He Really Ask That?

Geitner Simmons asks idly if Canada really has its own group of people vilified as "rednecks." Boy, this is a disconcerting question, even coming from an American. Any Canadian can tell you immediately what province Canada's rednecks live in. The word may actually be more common in this country than it is in the U.S.; there is at least some kind of cultural stigma attached to hatred of the American South, but very little, in Canada, attached to hatred of the blue-eyed sheiks.

Of course, this use of the word "redneck" is really slightly inappropriate, since it's their affluence Albertans are resented for, not their poverty. Here's an entire two-part radio documentary commissioned by the national broadcaster on Canada's rednecks.

- 5:20 pm, November 29 (link)
"...If I Stay It Will Be Double"

(Link via Instapundit--you know how to get there) Extraordinary. UPI's James Bennett writes about secessionism in Western Canada and gets it almost exactly right. I think he understands us better than--well, than Eastern voters do.

There is an interesting disconnect, or discordance, which is not often commented upon by anyone (but me). Here in Alberta, there is no serious separatist movement. All the credible political and private figures who might lead one are staked to the current system. There are certain lines they won't cross for fear of ruining their ambitions in the political afterlife (the Senate, the foreign service, royal commissions and touring government panels, etc.) or the Eastern-dominated business world. Grassroots separatist parties have floundered over the presence of single-issue kooks and the difficulty of working out exactly what they want--what the bargaining position should be, what kind of separatism they wish to pursue, which provinces should be in or out of the tent, whether we should be a republic or join the Union.

Despite the lack of a serious instrument for the expression of separatist values, separatist sentiment is virtually universal amongst people born and raised in Alberta. The class of federal-government beneficiaries here is small. Most Albertans are vaguely aware that Confederation, for us, is a huge financial rip-off, with outgoing net government transfers amounting to thousands of dollars a head every year. It is a mystery to us exactly what we get for our federal taxes nowadays. Sit down and try to work it out sometime if you're an Albertan, remembering that health, welfare, and education are provincially funded and administered. What, are they spending the money on our elite, powerfully equipped armed forces?

Asked outright "Stay or go?", most Albertans (real Albertans, not people who came over from Montreal at age 16) will tell you "Go", privately. It's not just the rural loonies, either: as a rule, the more you know about trying to run a business, the more likely you are to answer "Go". I have a lot of trouble making Easterners understand this. If any well-known leader decides to step up and give a voice to Alberta separatism, they will learn. And fast.

Incidentally, yes, Alberta politicians do tend to call it "Ki-ota". I find this a bit embarrassing, but there is an old political rule governing the situation. Even Churchill, who cared very much for niceties of language, deliberately pronounced "Nazi" incorrectly ("the narzee menace") in radio broadcasts until the English people caught up to him.

- 4:34 pm, November 18 (link)

Random Notes

If you can ignore the annual six-month deep freeze, Alberta has much of paradise about it; natural disasters mostly don't happen here. No volcanoes, no hurricanes, no earthquakes. We don't even have rats. But, alas, we do have tornadoes. Everyone but me seems to have a story about the 1987 twister that killed 27 people. We were camping up north while it was busy prying the gym roof off my high school. I was reading a book in my dad's truck, waiting out the heavy rains of the storm's north edge, when I flicked on the radio and heard the reports of death and destruction. For a long time--minutes--I thought "Some sort of War of the Worlds-type exercise, surely?"

- 3:52 pm, November 11 (link)

The Altar of the Experts

More appalling news on the Kyoto front: the University of Alberta has refused to co-host a "forum on climate change" with the federal government after the Environment Minister insisted on hand-picking pro-Kyoto panelists. I was never prouder to be a U of A alumnus.

The previously linked Calgary Herald story mentions:

[A] group of more than 60 scientists who wrote a letter to Alberta Premier Ralph Klein recently, attacking the provincial government for questioning the science linking greenhouse gas emissions to global warming, and espousing a view that Kyoto targets can be reached.

Lorne Gunter already broke down this group of "more than 60" scientists in the Edmonton Journal. Actually, the figure he gave was 56, but never mind that. He noted:

Nearly half the letter's signatories are biologists, not climate scientists at all. Three are federal government forest scientists, seven are geographers, one a mathematician and three are renewable resource experts, whose discipline may be just a tad biased against fossil fuels. Only 10 are earth scientists. Of the total, at least nine also have strong links to environmental lobbies such as Ecotrust, Friends of the Environment, Global Forest Watch and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

Of course, belonging to an environmental lobby doesn't invalidate what you have to say about public policy. OK, OK, I know--it does, basically, but for the purposes of the argument let's concede that it doesn't. The real point is that these same lobbies are the ones who want to exclude from the debate (a) the petroleum industry, (b) scientists or economists who have taken money from the petroleum industry, and (c) anyone who is vaguely sympathetic to the petroleum industry. By the tough standard they routinely uphold, they should exclude themselves as well.

Not going to happen. Their expertise is the real expertise, you see, and the expertise of someone like Bjorn Lomborg just doesn't rise to the necessary standard. I find it amusing that the green crowd would add a mathematician to a list like that, in a clear effort to build up the numbers ("Ooooh, more than 60"), then turn around and say that a statistician like Lomborg has no right to critique the use of statistics in populist environmental literature.

Take a look again at the original Herald story. The federal government wants Mike Percy, an economist who opposes Kyoto, off the panel, at least by implication. It is happy to put David Schindler, an environmental scientist who favors Kyoto, on the panel.

I've interviewed Mike Percy and David Schindler in the past, been friends with their students, followed their work. Percy, to be perfectly candid, doesn't have the international profile and prestige of a David Schindler. Schindler is probably the most distinguished living scientist in the province of Alberta. I believe this reputation is probably quite justified. The opinion that he is an amazing human being is practically universal, and my own brief interaction with him did absolutely nothing to dispel it. (But you know how journalists judge this stuff: on the Barry Bonds principle. "He was courteous, friendly, fast in responding, explained things clearly. Obviously a saint.")

You remember in the late '80s how everyone was worried about the increasing levels of phosphates in lakes, and how a bunch of policy changes were introduced, and all the detergent brands started switching around? That was, basically, Schindler--our knowledge of what phosphates were doing was founded on his work and his publicity activities. When he talks about eutrophication, you listen, because he is basically The Eutrophication Guy. When he talks about organophosphates, you sit up straight in your chair. The guy knows his lakes as well as anyone alive.

And when he talks about global climate... well, you listen then too, because you know he's not somebody who believes in circumscribing his intellectual activity. He's got a wide range of interests--and biases too, being human. He keeps up with the climate research (publishing papers about the potential effects of climate change on boreal forests), and he has an understanding of scientific method. But in the end, he's a lake guy and a tree guy, one whose great work has been done out in the woods, a long way from a computer lab. You'd be crazy if you didn't assess his credibility at a slightly lower level when he stops talking about lakes.

And so why isn't Mike Percy entitled to participate in the discussion with David Schindler? Yeah, fine, he's no Schindler, but he sat on the editorial board of Forest Science. He's far enough from being a provincial government stooge that he sat in the Legislative Assembly across from it, with the Liberal bloc. And, what, like economics have nothing to do with this public-policy question? Like there are no international trade issues arising from the fact that the U.S. isn't going to ratify the accord? Like economic development isn't relevant here? Are we going to make this decision based solely on limnologic thermoclines?

If we want to talk about climate change, let's get some climate scientists in here! I find it suspicious--given the large number of climate scientists I've interviewed and read who are not in favor of Kyoto--that the federal government has to sell this policy using people who aren't climate scientists. The dead-cert attendees, the guys who are sure to be on the panel, are Schindler and Mark Jaccard. Schindler's not a climate scientist, and Jaccard's an economist (but, y'know, one of the good ones). Will the climate guys be attending? (The makeup of the panel was supposed to be announced on the 6th, and was not.) Can we get someone in here whose full-time job is to keep up with the research and work with the models? If not... well, OK then: Mike Byfield from the Report has written three long, research-intensive cover stories in the last three months on Kyoto and climate change. Where's his invitation? Is a Ph.D. in a tangentially related field the specific passport to participation in this process?

If it comes down to asking us to treat certain professors as though they were priests and judges, Alberta's going to keep saying "Get stuffed" to this bullshit.

- 12:56 am, November 7 (link)
Good Work, Boys, Now Finish the Job

Parliament today offered the stunning spectacle of Liberal backbenchers growing a collective spine and forcing the government to allow a free vote on secret ballots for committee chairs. It passed 174-87. The result will be to take considerable power away from the Prime Minister's Office and to allow for the growth of non-partisan interest blocs within the Commons. And that's good for Canada, which has suffered from an unnaturally centralized form of the Westminster parliamentary model--one very often called, by critics of all stripes, an "elected dictatorship". Perhaps Chretien will be Canada's last elected dictator.

Thirty years ago Trudeau called the Liberal backbenchers "nobodies". They've finally done something to show they aren't, and they deserve enormous credit for it, even if they did wait for what is, practically speaking, an interregnum. (During Chretien's second term the Liberals had a majority of seven or thereabouts; it would have been easy to force a change like this--easy, but apparently not safe enough.) Now if they can just stop this Kyoto Protocol nonsense...

I had an interesting conversation with the cab driver who drove me home from work last night--interesting because he is one of perhaps a few dozen people in Alberta who thinks ratifying the Kyoto Protocol is possibly a good idea. He wasn't an idiot: clearly he was a smart, well-informed guy who had the one overwhelmingly idiotic idea. I had twenty minutes to try and make the anti-Kyoto case in a way he could accept. This was a challenging exercise, because you can't take the "junk science" tack with a person like that: if you haven't done the reading, you can't be convinced that the scientific consensus which is often claimed to exist really doesn't. That's something you have to go discover on your own.

First I tried to convince him of the extreme length of the logical chain he proposes to tie himself up with. As I see it, to believe that it makes sense for Canada to ratify Kyoto, you have to accept all of the following propositions:

1. The earth is getting warmer.

2. This warming is significant and will continue, all things remaining more or less equal.

3. The warming is, for the world, more bad than it is good. (Or, as a possible alternative, the warming is good for the world, but bad for Canada, and therefore we should act in our own interests. Or: the warming is bad for the world but good for Canada, so we have some kind of responsibility to take steps to harm ourselves and benefit the rest of the world.)

4. There is a significant human element in the causes of this warming.

5. Greenhouse gases constitute the most important part of this human element.

6. The modest greenhouse-emissions reductions proposed in the Protocol will have a noticeable positive effect on climate change.

7. There will be no unexpected effects from, say, economic changes which will counteract the aforementioned positive effect. (If the economic harm from Kyoto somehow delays the eventual adoption of cleaner technologies, passing it would be stupid.)

8. Assuming that ratifying Kyoto is a good idea for all these reasons, it is ethically proper for our federal government to implement, on our behalf, an economically damaging plan which has been rejected by Australia, Japan, and the United States and which hasn't been imposed at all upon India and China.

9. Assuming that ratifying Kyoto is a good idea for all these reasons, imposing the plan on the parts of Canada which have high greenhouse emissions (because they are the economically productive parts of Confederation) (a) is ethically acceptable, (b) is being done in a politically appropriate way, and (c) will not harm the economy of the country, as a whole, too badly for the plan to be tenable.

10. Assuming that these reasons are all good and that it is proper to take on the proposed degree of economic self-harm, there is no alternative way of spending the same (or less) money which would yield more benefit in reducing emissions.

To favor the ratification of the protocol, you have to accept all ten of these propositions as a group. Any significant level of doubt on even one of them makes a nonsense of the Protocol. And, as it happens, some of the propositions are extremely vulnerable. Concerning (2), I have yet to hear a convincing claim that the warming we are supposedly faced with (if you trust a bunch of computer models which can't yet be made to fit recent empirical climate data) is significant when measured against geological-scale climate fluctuations. Proposition (5) has already been abandoned outright by some important climate scientists: James Hansen at the Goddard Institute, who had a big role in convincing American politicians that global warming was a serious issue, has taken the focus completely off greenhouse gases in his own work and is now worried about airborne particulates. Proposition (6) is pretty much just plain wrong, and everybody knows it: the idea seems to be that we'll go ahead with Kyoto anyway and pre-socialize the economy in order to introduce more rigorous emissions limits later. Proposition (7) is something you must believe as an article of religious faith: no one can say with certainty that it is true.

And then there's proposition (10): there's nothing more sensible we can do, for the same amount of self-imposed harm, to combat climate change or limit greenhouse emissions. The Alberta government has looked at this chain of Kyoto Truths and decided to fight a rearguard action almost entirely on the ground of number 10. We have, they say, a better plan for saving the world.

I, personally, am not convinced the world much needs saving. But, as I told the cabbie, even conceding propositions one through nine, I think the Alberta government is unarguably, absolutely right about #10. Science minister Lorne Taylor wants to make a heavy financial investment in research on areas where qualified scientists suspect it may be possible to attack emissions: given five or ten years' work, we can find ways to make coal burn cleaner, or trap CO2 emissions from oilfield activity. If we succeed in this research project, the techniques created can be distributed to the whole world gratis. We, in Canada, can help everybody limit their emissions by spending a little bit of money, by freely accepting a little bit of economic harm. Instead, the federal government prefers to inflict that harm in an openly phony show of global goodwill. It would rather put people out of work than put people to work reconciling human industrial activity with the putative needs of the Earth's climate.

For heaven's sake, why? The only answer I can come up with is, because it makes the federal government more powerful--at the expense of a region it doesn't give a crap about--and because it will make the Liberal lice in the foreign service and at the UN look good among their drinking buddies. They're taking the most destructive, dumb, statist approach to this problem--assuming it's a problem--that you could possibly choose.

And environmentalists are behind them almost uniformly, with the exception of their personal anti-Christ, Bjorn Lomborg. This doesn't exactly dispel my conviction that most of the people who "care about the environment" are just commies in new clothing.

- 3:11 pm, November 5 (link)
I'd Rather Be Outrighted

I joked yesterday that Minnesota was just part of Canada that somehow broke loose and drifted south. Steven Ehrbar's response:

We'll return Minnesota to Canada when Canada gives back Alberta, and not a moment sooner.

It's a deal! Ze prisoners to be exchanged vill meet at ze center of ze bridge...

- 4:18 pm, October 7 (link)

Time to Let Smarter People Talk

Lyndon Epp, one of the many Saskatchewan transplants to Alberta, offers an explanation for the schism between socialist Saskatchewan and conservative Alberta:

Alberta got more Americans, particularly in the southern part of the province, while Saskatchewan got more Europeans (especially British) who had a much more positive outlook for the glorious promises of socialism. I'm not sure how far into the future you want to extend this, but even today I think the prevailing attitude of Saskatchewan is one that is much more collective in nature.

I don't know the exact figures, anyway, but there was certainly no shortage of Eastern Europeans or potentially Fabian Brits here. This theory still suffers from the nexus problem: at the exact moment Saskatchewan was adopting socialism, Alberta was adopting a monetary heresy, Social Credit, that was practically indistinguishable from socialism. It seems to me that at that moment either province could have gone either way, whatever the preexisting immigration patterns. The real mystery, perhaps, is the journey of E.C. Manning, who steered Social Credit away from the left, purging the party of the true believers. To what degree did he ever actually believe in Social Credit? And just to add confusion to the issue, guess where Manning was actually from? Right--Saskatchewan.

David Janes proposes an attractive theory: Alberta is simply better (well duh)!

The problem with Saskatchewan may be simply that it's boring. Alberta has mountains, which means there is a means for young people to actually entertain themselves, making it a much more attractive place to go or to stay.

I don't know that many people come specifically to get away from Saskatchewan's landscape, although I could hardly blame them. I think a part of the primordial schism is in fact related to this: the first colonized parts of Alberta were ranchland, while Saskatchewan attracted ordinary homesteaders. Cattlemen, as you'll know if you've met them, are a ferociously independent bunch. They don't learn to rely on neighbors they hardly ever see, and since their wealth is portable they are hyper-aware of property rights.

- 1:04 pm, October 1 (link)

Go Now

Some months ago, I was talking to a friend of mine, an Alberta expatriate now living in Toronto, and he told me something along these lines: "People here in T.O. support the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol because they are massively ignorant. They actually think it's got something to do with the abominable air pollution here. So they figure 'Kyoto? Great idea, clean things up a little. It's about time those bastards did something.'"

I fear I did not entirely believe him, even after I saw the infamous CROP poll. Because if you were stupid enough to believe that Kyoto had anything to do with air pollution, could you simultaneously be cynical enough to believe that the answer was to crush the economy of Alberta--a place where there is no air pollution issue?

Alas. In today's Globe and Mail (link will be good for seven days) Hugh Winsor endorses the theory without even blinking.

Like it or not, the global warming issue is linked in the minds of most Canadians to clean air and pollution. Technically, they may not be the same phenomenon, but it is all pollution.

Incredibly, this isn't even the most cynical theory on offer. Lawrence Garvin at Fresh Hell has found at least one public figure who openly supports Kyoto because what hurts Alberta has to be good, by definition, for Ontario cities. The speaker is John Barber [of the Globe, not the Federation of Canadian Municipalities--thanks to my colleague Rick Hiebert for the correction]:

Once again the hewers of wheat and drawers of oil are coming to town to tell us what's good for us.
Previously, they've come during elections, urging us to support political parties founded on the promise to repress our interests in favor of theirs.
This time they want us to rise up against ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that couldn't be more attractive if it were written specifically to boost the competitive advantage of Southern Ontario.
Do they think we're stupid?

No, actually I think Albertans are stupid: why else are we still in Confederation? In Liberal Canada there are all of two provinces which are net contributors to the union: one of them, Ontario, gets permanent political dominance in exchange for its acquiescence. Our own reward can be seen above: we're the hewers of wheat (hewers??) and drawers of oil who should know their place. Like the literal scapegoat of old we're a "source of pollution."

We should have gone a long time ago. The Constitution allows for it, and Albertans in fact favor it. If our chickenshit domestic political leaders didn't think it would limit their career opportunities, they'd be doing the right thing and saying "Screw you forever" to a country that tolerates us because it needs somebody to steal from.

- 9:04 am, September 23 (link)

Casual Cruelty

Jim gives me a very nice review but inadvertently says something quite cruel:

Colby Cosh is funny, Canadian and about as libertarian as can be expected up there.

Yes, you know, I'd love to push my political philosophy that last mile, but--I'm Canadian! There are some things they won't let me think. In truth, Jim knows perfectly well, or should know, that I'm not really "Canadian", but Albertan. Which is a very different thing.

- 2:42 pm, September 21 (link)
Fuck Me If I Can't Take a Joke

Ha bloody ha. A lot of people, as it happens, have been playing up the purported link between driving your car and financing global terror. You may have believed the propaganda: you may feel queasy taking your SUV to the golf course, knowing that somewhere Osama is cackling over your decadent, dirty American consumerism. You may have thought "Will the money I spend at the pump today fund a jihad against my grandchildren?"

Well, my American friends, the truth is far far worse. In actual fact, the money you spend at the pump funds this website.

Don't believe me? Have a look at the numbers. Pop quiz: what country is the largest single supplier of crude oil and petroleum products to the United States? Saudi Arabia? Iraq? Nay: the correct answer is "Canada." We may be the retarded giant on your doorstep, in the words of National Lampoon, but we shit pure Texas tea.

Most of the crude oil we supply to the United States comes from here, in Alberta, a fact that is an endless source of grief and envy to the other nine provinces. The US consumes, if I recall right, about 50% of our output. It would probably not be overstating matters for me to say that the livelihood of nearly every member of my extended family depends, directly or indirectly, upon the petroleum business. My father fixes cranes, for example, at the Syncrude bitumen mine near Fort McMurray, in the far north. And without a broad base of loyal Alberta readers with large disposable incomes, the magazine I work for would be up the creek. In fact, its majority owners are two Calgary oilmen who bailed it out the last time it went broke (something that's happened from time to time over its checkered 28-year history). I draw a paycheck for two reasons: oil and gas. (OK, three if you count my abundant talent.)

As time goes by, the oil sands in Alberta's north are only going to become more important to the American petro-economy, not less. The price of extracting oil from those sands gets cheaper every year. Soon enough, it won't even occur to your politicians to suck up to the Saudis: they'll be priced right out of the market. "Thank you for financing global terror" says the phunnee Situationist prefab graffito. Thank you for financing my next meal, say I, entirely in earnest.

- 3:49 pm, August 26
Why Can't We All Just Get Along

The Banana Counting Monkey, an Ontarian CA voter, has responded to my thing about CA strategy and "uniting the right." A very interesting response it is too.

I'm Ontarian, and I've voted Alliance/Reform for the last two elections. What I can comment on is the attitude of other Ontarians towards the Alliance. I've never once heard any mention of antipathy to the West as being a reason for disliking the Alliance. What seems to jar people, especially women, is the image that the Alliance has been saddled with of being the party of the Religious right and a bunch of racist, homophobic bigots. (The moment of truth for me in dating has more than once been telling a girl that yes, I support the Alliance. This has not always worked out well. One girl from Queens told me never to speak to her again after I had the temerity to ask for proof that Stockwell Day was a racist as she'd claimed.)

Silly monkey! Do you think the image of the Alliance as the party of bigotry would be credible for one minute if the party wasn't dominated by Albertans and British Columbians? Of course people don't mention regional antipathy as a factor, because they're ashamed of it or (more likely) they don't even consider it. It just is a factor.

Look, the Alliance is the overwhelmingly dominant party here--nobody who's from here doesn't vote for them. So when someone tells you that the CA is a party of Holocaust-denying gay-bashers, he (or she) is ipso facto admitting to regional hatred. What else would you call it when an entire region of the country is arraigned for voting, pretty much unanimously, for a neo-fascist conspiracy? This ugly regional prejudice may not be a sufficient cause for the "stigma" you speak of, but it's certainly a necessary one. The stigma is the antipathy. If you think this through you'll see they're logically equivalent.

To put it another way, how does one maintain that Stockwell Day is a bigot, and yet not think that Albertans, who overwhelmingly supported a government in which he was a senior minister, are themselves a bunch of bigots? The two beliefs go hand in hand, and I'm inclined to think (in the absence of evidence that poor Stock Day has a racist bone in his body) that the implicit one is actually the prior one. As an exercise, you may wish to find an Ontario resident who comes from Alberta originally and is willing to admit to it: they'll tell you quick enough whether the never-mentioned regional bias exists, and is common, and figures large in people's minds. Hell, try telling some new acquaintances you're from Alberta yourself, and check the reaction.

I really admire your courage, BCM, in sticking up for your political beliefs (and mine). It's a shame you have to feel jumpy about voting your self-evident self-interest. But there are nearly a million of you out there, as I have to remind myself every day. So you're obviously not alone. Several dozen of that million may even be chicks! Woo-hoo!

- 3:04 pm, August 20

Puck the Liberals

(Links from Bourque) The Ottawa Sun's very intelligent Greg Weston has a column today discussing Liberal quasi-corruption. One thing he forgot to mention about the tax money wasted on government advertising in hockey arenas: the Alberta NHL teams didn't get any of it. Not a dollar. That's worth remembering, for those of you who grumble about chronic Western alienation. In my experience, such people simply aren't aware how plentiful the causes are. I mean, come on--even our community-owned hockey teams have to be taxed to subsidize the deep-pocketed Leafs and Canadiens? Is this really fair payback for the several dozen moth-eaten blankets the East shipped our way during the Depression?

- 3:07 pm, August 11

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