Edmonton’s own worst enemy

Colby Cosh on the city’s failings, strengths, and an overlooked blind spot

by Colby Cosh

Edmonton’s own worst enemy

Photograph by Jason Franson

You’ve probably already heard about the contretemps between Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and the National Post, but in case you haven’t, I’ll recap. June 24’s edition of the Post contained an instalment of Chris Selley’s long-running “Full Pundit” feature, in which he summarizes the work of other columnists and editorialists and occasionally notes where their command of language or logic has abandoned them. Selley had run across a justifiably self-congratulatory, unsigned editorial in the June 22 Calgary Herald about that city’s recovery from flooding. Sometimes “disasters can bring out the worst in people,” the nameless collective voice of the Herald intoned. “But that’s not southern Alberta’s way and never has been.”

Close reading is the modus operandi of Full Pundit, and the word “southern” leapt out at Selley. So he sarcastically endorsed the Herald’s odious distinction, agreeing that, without doubt, northerly “Edmonton . . . would be a smoking hole in the ground at this point, infested with twitchy-eyed, machete-wielding savages.” Four days later, some enterprising reporter finally brought Selley’s joke to the attention of short-tempered Mayor Mandel, who did not disappoint.

“I don’t think I can express how mad I am in language that I can have over any kind of media,” Mandel ranted to radio station iNews 880. “The only thing they can do is a front page recanting that they’re ignorant and they should not even be allowed to produce newspapers anymore.” He went on to suggest that perhaps the municipal government of Edmonton should pull advertising from properties belong to Postmedia, the chain that owns the Post and the Edmonton Journal. “If that’s what they think of the city of Edmonton, we shouldn’t be advertising in it; we shouldn’t be doing anything with them.”

There followed a brief national debate over whether his worship’s reaction was somehow “understandable,” even admirable and justified, or whether he had made himself look like a humourless, illiterate boob. The latter is the right answer, but what was interesting about the discussion was that it never, here or elsewhere, rose to the next logical level. What if Selley had, intentionally, just written a blistering critique of Edmonton?

He must be tempted to try, and it is not as though material is lacking. Unlike either Chris Selley or Stephen Mandel, I was born in Edmonton. I imagine I am expected to dissemble about such things, but the city has shortcomings. Lots of them. Much of Edmonton’s architecture is despair-inducingly ugly, a fact Mayor Mandel has explicitly campaigned on (with a “no more crap” promise) without being told to beat it back to his native Windsor, Ont. Although it was made an official seat of higher learning at the birth of the province, Edmonton’s citizenry is markedly less educated than Calgary’s: Proportionately, according to 2006 census figures, it has one-third fewer degree-holders and one-quarter more high school dropouts.

A fine-dining competition between Edmonton and Calgary, if it extended beyond a few top eateries, would amount to McLovin vs. Muhammad Ali. Edmonton’s football and hockey teams, which were once among its greatest claims to general notice, have become literal laughingstocks. The city is only now attempting to bring its public transit above the level of acknowledged semi-disgrace. It enjoys a routine level of violent crime that would unleash panic in Toronto or Ottawa. I could go on, and at times I have.

It should go without saying, at least by a loyal native, that Edmonton also has great strengths and charms. It has actually recovered with dignity and alacrity from a major natural disaster, the 1987 tornado, that killed and injured many people. And it reserves the edge of its river for public recreation, keeping homes and businesses well clear. (There’s a difference between education and wisdom.) But any writer who sincerely doesn’t like Edmonton’s drinking water or its potholes or its ludicrous sprawl should be allowed to say so in print without having some political bully hold an entire media empire responsible. That’s what bylines are for.

If the city of Edmonton does advertising business with Postmedia, presumably that is, or ought to have been, a consequence of some professional bureaucrat’s objective assessment that Postmedia delivers value for money. (My money.) The really shocking thing about Mandel’s meltdown is that it reveals the opposite: The city’s ad purchases turn out to be convenient hostages, existing to be threatened when the mayor senses some political enmity. No pudding for journalists Daddy doesn’t like.

If Rob Ford even fidgeted with a trial balloon like this, the entire country would not hear the end of it for weeks. The Toronto Star would be sponsoring drive-by eggings of Ford’s house. But in Edmonton, even harsh critics of Mandel overlooked this unsubtle abuse of power, and his many faux-patriotic supporters implicitly endorsed it. So, thanks, Chris Selley: You’ve inadvertently discovered a blind spot we didn’t know about.

For more Colby Cosh, visit his blog at macleans.ca/colbycosh




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Edmonton’s own worst enemy

  1. Although I agree with the conclusion of this article, I’m just a bit disappointed that you did not mention the great fun Edmontonians had with #machetesomethingyeg and that, while Mandel may be humour-challenged, most Edmontonians weren’t. I think that spontaneous humour (and cultural creativity) can be counted among the city’s strengths, even if Mandel – on his way out and perhaps not worth so much consideration anymore – doesn’t share it.

    • Er, it wasn’t just Mandel. I know Edmontonians were frantically patting themselves on the back for a hashtag, but a good many of them seemed to have an exceedingly difficult time with the concept of sarcasm.

      • Selley did get a lot of support from within the city, and a suspicious number of the superpatriots who attacked him appeared to have addresses in Sherwood Park or Tofield or some such place.

      • Are you being sarcastic right now? Because I totally can’t tell.

  2. Colby Cosh! You are crazy writing this. Mandel will be kicking in your door any minute now!

  3. For a man that obviously enjoys allowing the camera to catch him in odd facial grimaces, Mandel seems to be totally lacking in any hint of humour—-probably a liberal imported from Ontario.

  4. Mandel has been a really good mayor for the City and he ranted briefly about a column he misinterpreted. It’s a non-story despite ‘journalist’ after ‘journalist’ trying to make it one.

    It’s clear that you are seeking a little backlash of your own here. It’s kind of sad really.

    Edmonton, like all cities, has it’s weaknesses, but it also has it’s charms. I think its fine to discuss them openly and intelligently, but that doesn’t happen on twitter, nor does it happen in forums like this unfortunately.

    • I’m with you. The whole business with Selley, including Mayor Mandel owning up to his overreaction, was over within about two days. And now, two weeks later, this? Come on.
      Besides, “Edmonton’s Own Worst Enemy”? He’s nowhere near that, and he can’t even be considered for a move up the list until Bill Smith dies.

      • “Ridiculous! Cosh should never have written that headline, which I’ve decided to take literally!”

        • “And craigola13 should never have have commented, because this ‘taking things literally’ thing is contagious, apparently! So on and on we must go!”

          • I figured you’d at least admit to knowing that columnists don’t write their headlines, and that seizing on one as if it were actual content is sort of silly.

          • Okay. I admit it. Are you happy with the very strong point you’ve made?

  5. The reason we Albertans keep the government in Edmonton is because most of the other places were just too nice for that kind of thing.

  6. Shorter Cosh:

    Imagine the apoplexy if Harper threatened to pull Action Plan ads from the G&M or Maclean’s for an editorial.

    So why does nobody care if it’s a municipal office-holder that does this?

    • Are you serious – if Harper threatened to pull EAP ads anywhere people would be cheering.

  7. Mandel is hardly “Edmonton’s own worst enemy.” Despite the egg-on-the-face moment this misinterpreted joke produces – of which I believe had poor delivery and poor timing given the help Edmonton gave flooded Southern Alberta – Mandel has been an amazing champion for the city. After many years of uninspired and uniformed mayors lethargically running the city, Mandel has done a very impressive job to bring Edmonton back to some glory with a refreshing no-nonsense style of governing. Clearly a large amount of the city agrees, by looking at the voting percentages in the past couple of civic elections. Having lived in Edmonton for 23 years before moving south for the past 10, It’s amazing to see the amount of growth, development and investment in the city when I come to visit. Mandel has a lot to do with that.

    craigola13 hit the nail on the head with the media’s desire to pick apart this incident and not bothering to mention anything about the good Mandel has brought to Edmonton.

    • Well said. The first defence against nonsense is a sense of perspective. Mandel, alias “Edmonton’s own worst enemy” could have had the Edmonton mayor job once again pretty much for the asking. Mandel’s egg-on-the-face moments vs Rob Ford’s egg-on-the-face moments? No comparison.

  8. Well, if there was anything more lame or requiring less resources/initiative than commenting on other pundit’s opinions (hey wasn’t Selley @Macleans with superpundit before megapundit @NatPost?) it would be someone who comments on the megapundits comments, without, seemingly leaving the city of his birth for four decades (ok, I know you went off for a few years).

    This is twitter /punditry/super punditry/megapunditry/super megapunditry gone amiss.

    Oh, and my qualifications to add my insight? I think all individuals who wear bow ties are kooky. Hence outgoing mayor kooks. Why respond?

    • What specifically is the “insight” you added?

      • None. My point.

        Where do I send my resume?

  9. Funny because Bill also had quite the reaction when a British reporter called the city Deadmonton in 2001.

    • You’re STILL missing the part where the mayor uses the ad budget as a threat.

      • True, just bringing up that overly sensitive mayors is nothing new to Edmonton.

  10. God, those potholes. How can you LIVE like that?

    - Concerned Calgarian

    • Having just done my semi-annual visit, I must thumb-up this comment. The craters near my mother’s and brother’s homes made bronco-riding at the Calgary Stampede look like a kiddie’s ride!

      I do love the river valley trails in Edmonton. For having such amazeballs trails, Edmonton is forgiven the more moonscapish roads.

    • Don’t worry about our potholes. Worry about cleaning up your flood.
      - Concerned Edmontonian.

      • There’s that famous Edmonton humour!

        I’m super pissed at our mayor, the National Post and Colby Cosh for causing the flood.

        • Don’t blame your mayor. Blame your highly educated citizens for building in the middle of a river. Calgarians…all hat and no brains.

          • I forgot to communicate that sentiment to my loved ones and complete strangers as I was in their basements hauling out their ruined belongings.

            But since I agree that the issue of building on floodplains needs to be closely examined and the policy revised, I think I won’t freak out on the Internet and attack people with whom I disagree from behind an alias.

          • You’re funny. You thought you were just going to make a funny crack and that everyone would just recognize how funny you were and it would all be so…funny.
            But instead, someone answers back and suddenly you’re serious? That’s funny.

          • Comparing a tragedy to potholes did sort of change the mood of the conversation, didn’t it?

          • It really did. I’ll make sure to communicate to all the Edmontonians who immediately jumped to help southern Alberta with their tragedy that when you took that time out of your busy bailing schedule, all you wanted to do was cheer everyone up a little.

    • Having spent a couple of days in Calgary just prior to the flood, I can only comment:
      God, those traffic jams! How can you LIVE like that?

      • True, traffic is excessive.

  11. This, and National Post’s article, is laughable!!!
    Where do they find these two-bit “journalists” like Selley and Colby Cosh from?

    And I do agree with Mandel – Edmonton should pull its advertising from Post Media. It’s a good thing hardly no one reads the National Post, and Macleans.

    Hey folks, maybe we can all pitch in and buy a ticket for Colby Cosh to move out of Edmonton.

    • You want to bet the price of that ticket on Mandel still being here after I’m gone?

      • Who cares.

        If you were a real man, instead of some little boy writing whiny blogs about Edmonton and its mayor, you’d run for mayor of Edmonton and help fix the city up.

        All talk, no action.

        • So where do I donate to your mayoral campaign?

          • Who said I’m running?

            As I said earlier, if you were more than an internet blogger, you would run for Edmonton city council, and help improve the city.

            You are weak and running out of steam.

          • Well, let me explain some stuff before the steam runs out entirely.
            1. An anonymous internet commentator is not even a blogger, so he can hardly use that as an imprecation without looking stupid, not that I see how it is one.
            2. The article you are commenting on is a print column. So, “more than bloggy bloggerism”, presumably by definition.
            3. The practically nonexistent readership of the Maclean’s print edition is about the size of metro Edmonton.
            4. …if you also throw in metro Calgary.
            5. It’s sure easy to call someone who puts his opinions under his real name “a little boy”. You must be super tough and cool and expert with the ladies.
            6. I’m not little.
            7. I’m still waiting for my ticket.
            8. People who don’t like how I treat anonymous commenters should look at you, since they’re mostly not too good at looking at themselves, and have a think.
            9. Helping to improve the city could potentially include criticism of and reporting on it. (Even in a blog!) Not so sure the same can be said of unthinkingly kissing Stephen Mandel’s ass and doing it twice as hard when he’s in the wrong.

  12. I am very happy that Mandel is not going to be mayor for much longer. The whole town is falling apart and he doesn’t know it. His only concern is getting taxpayers’ money for himself and his rich friends.

  13. Oh garbage.
    The sentence penned by Cosh’s pal was semi-literate at best, a poor and failed attempt to write a drive-by quip. A senior copy editor can explain the error to this Selley-Cosh tag-team, I’m not going to. The mayor’s reading was 100% justified.

    All this proves is that the writer was an internet-based bloguista with poor skills.

    • When you read the column and find out that it says the mayor’s behaviour was objectionable even if his reading was 100% justified, come back and tell us what you think. Or better yet don’t.

      • I quote the famous columnist: “There followed a brief national debate over whether his worship’s reaction was somehow “understandable,” …or
        whether he had made himself look like a humourless, illiterate boob. The
        latter is the right answer.”

        In English, the language that’s spoken outside Colby’s dormatory, the above means that the mayor made himself look like an ‘illiterate boob’. An illiterate boob is someone who is 100% un -justified and can’t read.

        If you’re in full denial, Colby, and still employed, come back and tell us why. Or better yet don’t.

        • Mired as we seem to be in a creative reading of Cosh’s first four, background paragraphs, I’m itching to know what you think Selley meant by his “drive-by quip.”

          • Who, outside the figurative Scarborough basement, cares?

          • Oh, are we moving past it? Say, to the topic that actually does matter, which is whether a mayor should be using his city’s public advertising dollars to influence the editorial content of a newspaper?

          • If the ‘editorial content’ of a ‘newspaper’ (to desribe your friend’s blog rather grandly) misreprented a city of 800,000 by way of a stupid, juvenile, and contrived non-joke, then I, as a citizen of said city would want the smear answered. Personally, I’d have ridiculed the writer, but any form, paid ad or other, is acceptable.
            By the way, the accurate phrase for the Selley comment is “trolling for clicks on a blogsite.”

          • And if, in the course of trying to ridicule the writer, you ridiculed yourself and your city instead, how long would you continue the counterattack? And would it emanate just from the mayor, or would you appoint anonymous commenters to stoke the outrage in Internet forums for weeks to come?

          • And if you knew how to compose a coherent comment yourself, one wonders what it would look like — notwithstanding the clear ad-hominem, paranoia, and innuendo you slide into the end of your post, like a bum slides a goober under a park bench.

          • You see, to launch an ad hominem attack, first I would have to know who you are.

          • Wrong again, Jeff. Ad-hominem is a fallacy of logic in which an argument is made against the category or class of the speaker to discredit the ideas the speaker has espoused. In other words, blind labelling to prejudice the discussion.
            Most often, it’s done without the slightest regard to “who” the speaker is.

            For example, if I argued against one of your (admittedly facile) arguments, I would not be allowed to call you a callow youth before I demontrated through logic that your silliness was callow and juvenile.

            Don’t even bother tilting against this, your batteries don’t go that far.

          • No, this is helpful, I’m starting to get it. So if I called Selley’s column a “blogsite” or if I wrote that Cosh is an “internet-based bloguista” writing from his “dormitory,” would I be doing right? (Hypothetical of course, because who talks like that in 2013?)

            Maybe we can cover “tautology” next.

          • Well now that at least shows effort! Wrong, but at least you get C for trying.

            Bloguista is not ad-hominem, no more than columnist or yellow-journalist. It’s like troll: it characterizes the mode in which the fellow is writing.

            “Dormitory” is sarcasm, but describes the style of the writer, juvenile. One is never well advised to use sarcasm… but it can be a common language, an agreed-upon mode of communication in a given genre… like blogging. It’s not ad-hominem.

            If I had called Colby a communist, fascist, teapartyist, Conbot, NeoCon, etc. why then, I’d have committed ad-hominem. Note that I’ve not labelled you, though your own role and motives in here (are you his mother?) lead one to ponder what makes you come in.

            By the way, was Colby named after a cheese? Perhaps, the one you were eating at the moment your water broke?

          • “Ha ha! I closed my 2985th comment with a real zinger! Take that, bloggery bloggeroos!”

          • I do not understand your point in writing this article Colby. Your silly attempts to further malign the City of Edmonton seems to tell me your time in this exceptional city were not the best years of your young life. So be it. Use your craft of writing for more productive means rather than kicking a good city while it’s down. I notice the media is sometimes no different than the bully on the playground. So easy to lambaste from a distance. So easy to follow the herd. To procure a story based on uninformed stereotypes, and outdated stigmas. Quite truthfully, there are hundreds of thousands of educated, hardworking Edmontonians that love their city and see the positive; and not the negative. This is a free country so please write what you want. But I sense you are better than this. Think about that.

            - Kristian Tait, Proud Edmontonian

          • I’m glad you sense I am better than what you think I wrote.

        • You added a period after “answer” and hid precisely the part of that sentence that demonstrates my point. I don’t take editing advice from people who use editing to lie. And here’s another tip, liar: the “still employed” jibes run out of gas 20 years into a journalism career.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • The materials that come after the word ‘answer’ are not germane to the point illustrated in the materials that come before. That’s why my quote did not include them.

            May I suggest Ryerson’s courses in Remedial English?

          • Pretty sure whatever you took was a course in Unethical Editing.

          • final advice:

            we sort of expect you to browse the comments. However, checking in, as a poster, to defend your little rant, word-for-precious-word, is a tad amateurish. There is a reason why senior writers don’t do it. Ask them about it… if they’ll agree to talk to you.

          • You really like trying on the whole “Take some advice from folks in the know, young pup” thing, don’t you? “Senior” people do this, “senior” people do that. If you’re somebody who has more print-magazine writing and editing experience than I do, and this describes as many as 200 to 500 living Canadians, you really will have to identify yourself and establish that. Otherwise, shove it. (Final advice!)

  14. Oh, please. Bigger and powerful organizations, and both provincial and federal levels of government, have drawn ire of Mayor Mandel (Expose 2017, anyone?). This is just the first time a national newspaper got flack from him. Mayor Mandel is notorious for being hot-tempered and sharp-tongued but the repercussions for his outbursts hardly amount to a pile of Lima beans. Mandel’s popularity remains strong within Edmonton and the city’s reputation overall unchanged. Why, because at the end of the day he’s a dedicated mayor who builds consensuses in council as opposed to fighting them or the departments. He certainly has a better record than the Mayors of Toronto and Montreal, cities that have genuine issues of concern over their leadership. Edmonton’s hard winters, potholes and having that lousy year of leading the nation in homicides probably did more damage than the bad temper of a public figure. If this story was about anything, it’s about bruised egos among editorial staff. And the result, frankly, was really petty.

    • I’m not primarily concerned about the harm Mandel might have done to Edmonton’s reputation. I’m concerned about using public funds to control a (frankly already quite suppliant and rah-rah) media. Your claims about his popularity are basically correct, although I am skeptical of his relationship with the administration: somebody certainly made the poor city manager march out repeatedly for a year to robotically assure journalists like me that the mystery arena funding from “another level of government” was in the bag.

      • I sincerely doubt the city manager has been a PR stooge for the mayor. From my experience, government bureaucracies, especially municipal ones, are governments behind the government, as their perceived expertise is highly valued and they work outside of elections cycles. They get first contact on projects and have a lot of persuasive pull on what eventually makes it council. And even then they they have a lot of pull simply by knowing even more than Council. The arena is as much the city manager’s baby as it is as Mandel’s (unless there was some private internal feud about the arena, or any policy that’s yet to surface). Mandel is just Edmonton’s Joe Biden, a hothead who says a lot of offensive stuff but gets forgiven a lot because the passion for the city is pretty genuine.

  15. So glad this guy won’t be Mayor much longer, the city is in massive debt. Thanks buddy.

  16. If you’ve ever heard this guy speak, you know full well that he can be easily counted amongst the one quarter greater number of high school drop outs, rather than those
    one third less degree holders than Calgary!… That he would go off like this is no surprise to those who know of him

  17. Well, I have been living in Germany for 13 years and lived in Ottawa for 8 years as well. Having been born and raised in Edmonton I can say yes indeed, the buildings and zoning leave much to be desired. But,,there is a really nice soul, the smell of Poplar trees, the big sky, the easy neighborhoods,,and there are many of them that are wonderful. And Edmontonians are easy to talk to. I have been working with an Edmontonian at my workplace just north of Hamburg and it is great. Oh, I forgot the depressingly long winters. That is a downer. Ok. But I miss the city deeply and wish it well.

  18. Colby,

    It was Chris Selley’s column that missed the mark, not Mayor Mandel’s response…

    Maybe so many Edmontonian’s were so sensitive about the original column because it was so far off base. Maybe it’s one of those things that shouldn’t be condoned because condoning them perpetuates them?

    I have read the rationalizations and reread the statement a number of times since it was first published. I have gone back and reread after reading your defense and I still find it is offensive today as when I first read it.

    Change “Edmonton” to “reserves”, change it to “n-word neighborhoods”, change it to Moslem or kike town and ask if it would then be acceptable even as satire. Even if it was “just” the satirical joke or play on words it is being downplayed as after the fact, that doesn’t make it any less offensive.

    And things that are offensive deserve to be called out for it, not defended. Defending it only shows you as insensitive as the original author if not more so in that you at least had the benefit of being able to take “sober second thought” even if you didn’t properly take advantage of that.

    Ken Cantor

    • So if you change what Selley wrote to include a bunch of offensive words, it becomes offensive. Why DIDN’T I see it?

      • Colby,

        I’m not sure what you find offensive about “Moslem” or “reserves” but you’re missing my point entirely. Make the substitution with any descriptor or set of descriptors you choose – maybe even Colby or Cosh neighborhoods – and if they make Selley’s comments offensive, then clearly the comments were/are equally offensive when directed at Edmonton.

        Maybe you didn’t see that because you simply chose not to?

        I find it interesting that you’re also choosing to negate criticism of Selley’s comments – and by extension your column – by inferring things that aren’t there. Although that is certainly consistent with a defense of Selley’s comments that also relies on things that weren’t there either.

        Ken

        • Well, Ken, the problem is that Selley didn’t make a sarcastic comment about a specific racial group. He made a sarcastic comment that appeared to a bunch of dummies to be criticizing a town, WHICH IS ALLOWED. [Thinks about it "soberly" a second time.] IT’S STILL ALLOWED.

      • Colby,

        Point noted that Selley didn’t make an offensive (sarcastic or not) remark about a specific racial group. But that’s a red herring or a straw man argument at best.

        Selley did make an offensive (sarcastic or not) remark against a specific group, in this case based solely on where they live.

        And that may very well be “allowed” but that doesn’t make it any the less offensive (sarcastic or not) when it happens.

        If you want to use Newfoundland or Quebec or Canada or Greece or Spain or Liberia or Tanzania or “pick your own town” instead of Edmonton or “reserve” as your choice of descriptor to see whether it was offensive or not – irrespective of whether it is “allowed” or not – feel free. You should with reason – and perhaps with “third thought” – reach the same conclusion as I did if you are prepared to be objective and not defensive when doing so.

        There are many things done and written that are “allowed” that are still offensive, intentional or not. But the way to put an end to that is to call them on it, not defend them. And yes, there is a difference between defending a right to do or say something and attempting to defend what was said or done that is perhaps not being recognized here. Did Selley have the right to say what he did in the way that he said it? Probably, but that still doesn’t make it less offensive and at a minimum should have you questioning what it is you have elected to defend.

        Ken

        • In your case, no. I don’t think I deleted anything.

          • One of my missing response posts showed up after my question regarding them so I edited the inquiry you are responding to into my last question/post above…

            Thanks, Ken

  19. I recall a talk radio program many years ago where Ben Wicks made one simple statement, and then sat back laughing for a full hour as people took the bait, hook, line, and sinker. He said “Albertans can’t take criticism”. Laughed my butt off for an hour…

    Seriously Mr Cosh, you have likely made some serious life long enemies with this article, reality therapy has never been a useful tool in Alberta.

  20. I see nothing wrong with Mandel calling out those who slander my city. And maybe Mandel is right for suggesting that those who do not support the city should not be supported by the city. Edmonton is a great city and wonderful place to grow up and raise a family. Mandel is defending our city…exactly what a good mayor should do. Keep your Rob Ford and we will keep Mandel. In the end, we’ll be far better off!

  21. While I totally agree that Mayor Mandel and some (not all) media outlets and some (not all) clearly didn’t get the joke … and the fact that the National Post clearly was poking gentle fun at southern Alberta boosterism … I’d also argue that the NP probably shouldn’t have been poking gentle fun at anything flood-related at all in Alberta at the time, nor should it have done so used tired old contrasting moribund-North/can-do-South stereotypes.

    Further, the hubbub from Edmonton underscored another problem (if that’s the right word), that’s evident in the NP (and Maclean’s and other media): The complete love affair for anything to do with Calgary. Believe me, it’s there. It’s palpable. And, to this northern Albertan (I grew up and live in the Grande Prairie area), it doesn’t always come off the right way.

    And, I’ll be honest with you … until I caught on what the NP was actually doing with the “gentle poke”, I was more livid than Mandel too. See, up here, we’ve gotten used to the notion that while the oil companies and accountants are based in Calgary, the work is actually done in the north – you know, where the resources are.

    So, speaking for myself anyway, I’ve always regarded any shot at Edmonton as a shot of any of the people or communities in the north. In terms of its demographics and history, places like Fort Mac and GP have much more in common with Edmonton than Calgary. We’re Edmonton-oriented, not Calgary-oriented. We consume Edmonton media. Most of us cheer for Edmonton teams. We send our kids to the University of Alberta. We see medical specialists in Edmonton, which, despite the best efforts of the government, is still the hub for medical research in the province. And those of us who choose to stay up here do so because we like to work hard and we’re proud of what we’re building.

    Calgary, wonderful place that is, has really more in common with a Toronto than any other western city. No offense to Torontonians, but that’s not meant as a compliment to Calgary … which, thanks to its cheerleaders in the national media, has begun to see itself as a shining city on a hill – the centre of a western universe where every thing is “can do” … as long as the northern simpletons shut up and do it.

    • That’s a good explanation, except for the part in the first paragraph where someone from Toronto should darn well not be making fun of Edmonton when a flood hits Calgary, even if he isn’t.

  22. Mr. Cosh, as an Edmonton native myself, need I remind you Mr. Mandel’s behaviour is nothing new? Perhaps you’ve forgotten that Premier Ralph Klein used to drive up to work boldly displaying the Calgary Sun on the seat of his car, would only invite select media to his Legislature briefings, and even once stated that he wouldn’t consider inviting Saskatchewan into any type of western economic trade pact unless they changed their government. Or perhaps Mr. Klein’s bullying was just accepted for some reason? Edmonton’s own worst enemy, indeed. Thanks for standing up for your hometown.

  23. Colby Cosh great article. Like Colby Cosh I was also born in Edmonton and agree with him fully on his observation. When any source of media that is supposed to provide news and entertainment to the masses, it seems that with that amount of control that Mayor Stephen Mandel has over these media outlets where they writhe and twist when Mandel throws a temper tantrum and pulls the purse strings abruptly shut so that the Postmedia empire grovels at his feet for dollars to print what is approved of by Mayor Mandel only. Does that mean that we went to sleep one day and found ourselves inadvertently placed into a country where freedom of the press has been abruptly curtailed and they will now only print what is approved by Mayor Mandel himself. What a sad state of affairs when that sort of control exists in the so called free country of Canada where I have grown up in.

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