Software for your Alberta politics B.S. detector

Ignore those who say the province is governed by a pattern of stagnation punctuated by revolution

by Colby Cosh

Some of you will be reading my column on the resignation of Ed Stelmach as Alberta premier as early as today; some of you will have to wait until next week. In the meantime, I’ll give you some principles you can use to filter the hypotheses of other observers.

First of all, don’t believe anyone who tells you that Alberta politics is governed by some mystical tidal pattern of stagnation punctuated by revolution. Anybody who’s been here for the past 20 or 30 years should have learned to tune out the “massive change is just around the corner!” refrain by now, if only because advancing age has made him half-deaf. Preston Manning alone has been guilty of a dozen or so end-times prophecies of this sort (though, in fairness, prophecy is sort of a family tradition with him). News flash: pretty much everybody who voted here in 1935 is underground, and not because a basement suite was all they could afford. The Alberta electorate of 2011 in no way resembles that even of 1981; not ethnically, not culturally, not spiritually, not ideologically.

And the political spectrum itself has changed. As much as there might be a casual longing for a revival of “Peter Lougheed Conservatism”, Lougheed’s style of state corporatism, which led to budget disaster in the 1980s after his suspiciously timely exit, would probably now put any candidate who embraced it on the left wing of the federal NDP. Don’t believe anyone who tells you there is some unexploited, powerful hidden welter of Red Toryism in Alberta, waiting to spew forth into an appropriate channel. Even the reds aren’t that Red anymore.

There is no particular reason for Alberta politics to seek the same equilibrium in which our federal government is trapped, so don’t believe anyone who argues for realignment as some kind of cosmic axiom. Yes, I’m looking at Jeffrey Simpson here. Simpson is described endearingly by his employer as “a regular visitor to Alberta”, which seems like a deliberate invitation to scorn, but the man obviously is well-informed about the place. His characterization of the Alberta Liberal Party can only have come from someone familiar with it.

Simpson, however, believes Alberta politics is reverting to a “normal” shape (one it has never had) because the province no longer has any reason for hostility and suspicion toward a federal government led by a Calgarian. (With the bonus, one presumes, of a chief justice from Pincher Creek.) I think our visitor underestimates the ease of Ottawa-bashing in a world where Alberta farmers can still be jailed for defying the Wheat Board; where Alberta still pays toll upon toll for its presence in Confederation, layering pension and employment-insurance outflows on top of explicit fiscal equalization; where, as finance minister Ted Morton recently pointed out, Albertans are being billed specifically for the provincial sales tax liabilities of Ontarians and British Columbians. Morton’s a smart guy! He can find reasons to be upset with Ottawa almost as fast as Ottawa can come up with ways to screw Alberta!

I would tell you not to believe anyone who sees no difference between Ted Morton and Danielle Smith, but then, you barely have any choice aside from me. My column anticipating a personal tilt between Morton and Smith in the Calgary exurbs has been superseded with embarrassing speed by events, but at least it was written by somebody who can distinguish between various species of “right-winger” if given a pair of field glasses and sent out into the bush. The Morton-Smith personal combat, which already started when Smith announced a candidacy smack-dab in the middle of Morton Country, is more than superficial. Morton, by trifling with property rights as resource minister, has attacked the very principles Smith built her career around. She is physically moving to the rural south because Morton painted a target on himself; his core organizers and financial backers are gone, many directly to her, and they are not coming back. The Globe‘s Josh Wingrove is all over this, and understands it better than most writers for Alberta organs do; he, at least, is no mere visitor.

But, really, is there any realistic doubt that Morton and Smith could stage a pretty interesting political battle? Forget even the intriguing stylistic contrast: one of them has been a rights advocate for her entire career and the other is the country’s leading intellectual opponent of liberal “rights” rhetoric. One of them is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage; the other made his reputation blowing raspberries at the Morgentaler and Vriend decisions. It’s literally not possible that any reasonable person could be equally comfortable with either of the two as premier.

Other myths to be wary of? Don’t believe anybody who talks up the Alberta Party, at least until it has a leader, some policies, and a history of contesting elections. The idea that an Alberta political movement can go from zero to government in 6.8 seconds, just because Social Credit did it 76 years ago, is just a variant of the “every X years Y happens” myth. (Hasn’t anybody in this province read The Poverty of Historicism?) Don’t believe anything you are told about low Alberta voter turnout unless the province’s young-skewing demographics are factored in; young people don’t vote anywhere in the Western world, and we have more of them than you do.

And don’t put too much stock in the election of Naheed Nenshi as mayor of Calgary. What he accomplished was remarkable, but it also required less than 40% of the vote in a race where the establishment favourite, Barb Higgins, turned out to have a bad case of China Syndrome. The people who got giddy over big bad Calgary electing a relatively liberal mayor apparently haven’t heard that the last time Calgary elected a non-Liberal was 1977.

Software for your Alberta politics B.S. detector

  1. One thing Alberta has never lost….it's Victim Syndrome.

    Comes from having more myths than people I guess.

    There…now the thumb-monkeys can sprain themselves. LOL

    • Hey they're predicting a labor shortage in Edmonton this year, Emily. Given your fond feelings for our wonderful province, perhaps you should consider relocating here.

      • Canada has thousands of jobs it can't begin to fill. Has had for years.

        Meanwhile we have a high jobless rate

        It's called structural unemployment.

        Maybe you could consider that.

        • Emily, I just thought you might want to help us solve our "more myths than people" problem.

          • Nah…you're not even the size of Toronto yet.

            And the 'cowboys' just make me laugh.

          • Real cowboys make you laugh…..why?

          • Because they're NOT real…most of them have never been near a horse…just like Dubya who was scared of them

            It's all Hollywood movie stuff.

            'Cowboys' also known as ranch hands, manual labour…..in Alberta, played polo

          • I can see you have not spent any time near any real ranch but there are real ranchers and real cowboys, Emily. Whether some of them play polo or not is immaterial. How do you think they got their horse-riding skills. How do you think they can afford the polo ponies? They aren't ranch hands – they are the owners of the ranch. They still use horses to round up cattle and use the same methods of branding calves as they did in the old days. They are real cowboys. Southern Alberta has many.

          • Emily, have you heard of the Mannix brothers – two Calgary multi-millionaires. They started the Calgary Polo Club. Many ranchers play. You need at least 4 horses so you have to have some money to buy horses and then you need to board them if you don't have land near the city – a very expensive sport. Some very wealthy people actually hire professional polo players from South America, etc. to come and work and play for them. Teams from Alberta travel to California and other places to play.

            Any other information I can assist you with?

          • Like I said, don't start making stuff up.

            That's Fred and Ron…who decidedly don't herd cows. LOL

            They're just carrying on an old sport your 'cowboys' used to play.

          • I did not say that the Mannix brothers were ranchers. I said that many ranchers play polo……now…in modern day at the Calgary Polo Club that Fred and Ron Mannix started.

          • Cow-herders are no different than sheep-herders or goat-herders, and why you've built an entire mythology on that is anybody's guess. Too many movies I'd say.

            PS…and you aren't the Klondike either.

          • Alberta has built a mythology around raising cattle? That is news to me. I am sure you would say that the Scots have built a mythology around the highlanders (sheep-herders). Maybe the Austrians have built a mythology around their mountain people (goat-herders ie: Heidi).
            Klondike Days was just a theme for a party. They have changed the name to the Edmonton Exhibition.

          • Actually, the Scots were cattle drovers who would build up herds by buying from their neighbours, then drive them to Crieff in Scotland, where the English buyers would buy herds to take south, often hiring the Scots drovers to help. Crieff was Scotland's wild west town: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crieff

            In the early ranching days in Alberta, polo was less of a wealthy man's sport because horses were easier to get so anyone could play. Nowadays it probably is back to an upper class sport.

            There are still ranchers and cowboys; but it's been romanticised as well. When my grandfather bought his farm in 1908, he called it a ranch at first and raised work horses, but it wasn't a real ranch; the real ranching era had already ended.

          • Well Holly, you just have to tell all those ranchers that the real ranching era has already ended.

          • …and if I am not mistaken the Highlands of Scotland were more suited to sheep….

          • You are mistaken about the Highlands, which produced Highland cattle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_cattle

            Of course they had sheep as well,but the reason there are more sheep than people now (the human population is lower than in the past) has a lot to do with the Highland Clearances, where many people were thrown off the land to starve while landowners brought in big herds of sheep:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_Clearances

          • "…The Highland Clearances and the end of the township system followed changes in land ownership and tenancy and the replacement of cattle by sheep…"
            Third paragraph: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Highlands#H

    • I wish Macleans.ca had a feature that would allow readers to block commenters like Emily. I can block spam from my Inbox, but I can't avoid reading Emily's idiocy, which clutters and pollutes this entire website.

      • Well if that happened, everyone would block out anyone that ever disagreed with them…..and there'd be no blogsite at all.

        What…you were an only child?

        • Hmmm… I am one to think there is a difference between those who post their opinions and those who troll forums.

          • Very true. Which one are you?

  2. One thing Alberta has never lost….it's Victim Syndrome.

    Comes from having more myths than people I guess.

    There…now the thumb-monkeys can sprain themselves. LOL

  3. So, is Feb 3 today, or next week?

  4. So, is Feb 3 today, or next week?

  5. There's no doubt Alberta is a cash cow for the rest of Canada. And Simpson is wrong, Harper and the Cons are only causing a temporary pause in the long history of Alberta-bashing coming from Ottawa that will continue once another party wins power in Ottawa.
    Simpson's realignment fantasy is truly bizarre. It's nothing more than what Simpson would like to see, and really has no relation to actual reality.

    • Well….Alberta has cows….

      • Surely Emily you do not deny that Alberta provides more than its share to the coffers of the have not provinces.

        • Try not to pull the 'per capita' gimmick again eh?

          Nobody buys that.

          • Excuse me? You are the one who mocked the size of our population. Everything is based on population…our representation in parliament…

            It is a known fact that we have always paid more to Ottawa than we have ever gotten back in transfer payments.

          • Yup, and you pay more per capita because there's so few of you. Possibly because you believe myths like you pay more than you've ever gotten back.

            Course you were carried during the Depression….and there was that unfortunate incident with the fake money you tried….

          • No Emily, we pay more per capita because we make more money…and since 1961 we have been a net contributor. In 2010 we paid 35.6 billion and got back just under 22 billion – we contributed 14 billion.

            There was no income tax during the Great Depression so how were we carried?

          • No, actually you don't. That's just another myth.

            Kids here even collected pennies to send to Alberta….it was food money.

            Ontario has carried the country since it was founded….and all we've ever gotten is a slight rebate of about 200K just this last couple of years….and a whole lot of whining.

          • It is no myth. Look it up!!!!!!

          • Albertans choose to believe no end of odd things

          • Healthcare Insider, you're wasting your time trying to reason with a professional troll. It doesn't matter what you say–you're not going to get anywhere.

          • Ahhh disagree with the sacredness of Alberta, and suddenly ordinary posters are 'trolls'. 'Professional trolls' at that ! LOL

          • Anon is right, you wouldn't believe some of the absurd things Emily says, she'll say anything, most of it senseless.

          • Yawn…except I've always sourced what I say

            You just don't LIKE it

            Big difference

          • Well Emily, since you like sources. Look up the article about Alberta and transfer payments in the Calgary Herald from Jan 5, 2011. It explains how your so called 'myths" are actually truths.

          • Ohhhh from the CALGARY HERALD….my, that will be nice and unbiased!

            No wonder you believe all this stuff….your media is all self-referential!

            Get real

          • Emily, you are just making an excuse for not reading the article……

          • I've heard all the Alberta myths I care to, thanks.

            I lived there for 6 years.

          • Just in case either of you two anyone is interested, I believe that this is the story that HCI was thinking about (Jan 15, not Jan 5).

            To summarize, wealthy Canadians contribute more in taxes than they receive in direct benefits.

          • Sounds interesting, but the link doesn't work

          • Yeah, I noticed (I usually test my links after posting)…pretty sure I have the syntax correct, so I'm not sure if macleans doesn't want me link to the Calgary Herald site? I'll try one more time.

          • Yeah it came up this time. Same old myth though…sounds just like Quebec.

            Somebody stepped on it I see. LOL

          • Ummm sure, the myth is that the feds 1) calculate an amount that Alberta owes, 2) the feds send an invoice to Alberta, and 3) Alberta's finance minister writes a cheque payable to the Government of Canada, which then contributes to Alberta's provincial deficit and/or debt.

            But it is true that – for at least the last few years – Albertans, who as a group tend to be some of the most well off citizens of Canada, do contribute more in federal taxes than they directly receive back in the form of payments or services.

            Of course, residents of these Canadian neighbourhoods could make similar complaints:

            1.Rosedale – Toronto
            2.The Bridal Path – Toronto
            3.Westmount – Montreal
            4.Forest Hill – Toronto
            5.Rockliffe Park – Ottawa
            6.Shaughnessy – Vancouver
            7.West Vancouver – Vancouver
            8. The Uplands – Vancouver

            Thanks Answers.com

          • Mmmm progressive taxation

          • Yes, progressive taxation – for significant numbers of citizens the world would be a harsher place without it.

            If Albertans are against a progressive taxation system, then they should make the case for a single rate tax, or even a flat tax.

            OTOH, those who benefit from such a tax system might want to say a silent "Thank you!".

          • Actually, we've implemented flat tax over here. Alberta tax returns are pretty simple — put in your net taxable income from your federal tax return, take out the few deductions allowed (tuition being one of these.. so we're not *all* stupid) and then take 10% of the remainder.

            Of course, the case they'd make would tend to be along the simplistic lines of "It's fair that I only pay as much as that poor person" without ever thinking about the economies of scale that make $100 so much more painful for a person on the edge of solvency than $1000 for a person who's well off.

          • You are of course correct about Alberta's move some years ago to a single rate tax.

            To be quibbly about definitons, I'm of the opinion that a true flat tax is a tax where everyone, regardless of income,pays the same amount – a head tax is what it used to be called, I believe. For reference, assuming that there are roughly 25 million adults in Canada and that we still want to collect about $100 billion from income tax the head tax would be $4000. Technically, Alberta has a single rate tax.

          • Ah! Okay, I'd never heard it defined that way before but that makes a bit of sense.

            Although personally, I'd refer to such a thing as a fee rather than a tax. Dunno why, tax to me just has connotations of percentage.

          • FYI, here is a recent article that "struggles" to clarify the same question: "Tax or fee?".

            I'd agree that it is very common to stop using the word "tax" and switch to the word "fee" when the amount becomes a fixed number, but I'm inclined to agree more with the article, which hints that fees go to pay for very specific goods or services while with taxes there is somewhat or a lot less linkage between collection source and eventual expenditure point.

            Liquor taxes are probably a reasonable example of a fixed tax per 26er or per case of beer…

          • Uplands are in Victoria. But typical Ontario ignorance

          • I thought that might be the case…I've driven through Uplands a few times…very swank, very swank indeed.

          • Ah thanks, I note even the article refers to the provinces whining.

          • That link is a winner…btw, on the Herald banner you will note a 'cowboy'. Not sure if Ian Tyson has actually ever done any ropin'…gonna head on over to wiki to find out…

          • From Wiki…

            A rodeo rider in his late teens and early twenties, he took up the guitar while recovering from an injury he sustained in a fall.

          • I believe Tyson has a ranch and raises cattle.

          • I'd like to say how much I appreciate your humouring Emily. I'd really like to say that.

            We are all grateful for Alberta's contribution to our great Nation. Now, much like Alberta's gratitude to Ontario, the roc finds it doesn't want to begin and end every single sentence that way. Emily notwishstanding, most of the rest of us really do value it, but did Ontario really go on and on this way? As an Ontarian, maybe I just didn't see it, or maybe such talk was blocked in Ontario by the very sound system used.

          • Yeah.. always.. except before natural energy resources were included. From 1957 – 1962, Alberta was a "have-not" province, and received equalization payments greater than it paid.

  6. There's no doubt Alberta is a cash cow for the rest of Canada. And Simpson is wrong, Harper and the Cons are only causing a temporary pause in the long history of Alberta-bashing coming from Ottawa that will continue once another party wins power in Ottawa.
    Simpson's realignment fantasy is truly bizarre. It's nothing more than what Simpson would like to see, and really has no relation to actual reality.

  7. Hey they're predicting a labor shortage in Edmonton this year, Emily. Given your fond feelings for our wonderful province, perhaps you should consider relocating here.

  8. Canada has thousands of jobs it can't begin to fill. Has had for years.

    Meanwhile we have a high jobless rate

    It's called structural unemployment.

    Maybe you could consider that.

  9. Well….Alberta has cows….

  10. I wish Macleans.ca had a feature that would allow readers to block commenters like Emily. I can block spam from my Inbox, but I can't avoid reading Emily's idiocy, which clutters and pollutes this entire website.

  11. Well if that happened, everyone would block out anyone that ever disagreed with them…..and there'd be no blogsite at all.

    What…you were an only child?

  12. Emily, I just thought you might want to help us solve our "more myths than people" problem.

  13. Surely Emily you do not deny that Alberta provides more than its share to the coffers of the have not provinces.

  14. Nah…you're not even the size of Toronto yet.

    And the 'cowboys' just make me laugh.

  15. Try not to pull the 'per capita' gimmick again eh?

    Nobody buys that.

  16. I wish they had a policy that would exclude anonymous posters.

    • What possible difference would that make?

      • For one thing, it would get rid of unemployable mentally ill people who have nothing better to do than to sh*t out hundreds of ignorant, trollish comments every single day, on every single blog post.

        • Really?

          Well I'm none of those things, so you must mean Doral

          He's 80, thinks women should wear skirts all the time, and likes Farmville.

        • Says one of the people using 'Anon' to rage against anyone who dares to not worship one of his sacred cows.

    • Thumbed up for ironic content.

  17. I wish they had a policy that would exclude anonymous posters.

  18. What possible difference would that make?

  19. Real cowboys make you laugh…..why?

  20. Excuse me? You are the one who mocked the size of our population. Everything is based on population…our representation in parliament…

    It is a known fact that we have always paid more to Ottawa than we have ever gotten back in transfer payments.

  21. I always thought Albertans retired in B.C. because of the climate, but after reading this, I'm thinking it's the boredom.

    • No, it is because they have soooo much money from all of their years working in oil and gas that they can afford a swanky pad on Vancouver Island. Someone once told me that Calgary has more millionaires per capita than any city except Palm Beach, Florida. Do you think that is true, Jan? Gee, I wonder if people in Calgary are really that bored?

      • The subject is Alberta politics and if keeping the same party in through thick and thin for decades isn't boring I don't know what is. I don't understand what hold they have over the population.

        • The province was prosperous for much of their reign and when it wasn't…..who better to dig you out of debt than a fiscally conservative govt. Albertans are a very loyal bunch. The telephone companies who have tried to do business here found that out. They could not make inroads against Telus (a private company which was born out of a merger between the old Alberta govt telephones, edmonton telephones & BC tel).

          • Alberta was 'have-not' for years.

          • Loyalty to telecom who has basically a monopoly? You see this is what we're talking about. I hope your not sending them donations.

        • Because the only meaningful opposition was the Liberal Party, and a good part of this province seems to think that federal Liberal = provincial Liberal.

        • The NEP is the hold they have.

          You see, back before this current oil boom, there was a previous one. And during that time, it was easy for government to let our geologic lottery winnings pay for everything. They didn't have to think much toward the future because.. hey.. lottery winnings! It was a real party time. Massive economic boom all over the place.

          Then the drop in oil prices hit. People would be forced to realize that maybe acting the grasshopper all those years hadn't been the best plan.. fortunately, Mr. Trudeau came along with his NEP program. This was a convenient scape-goat for the Alberta Conservatives.. "hey, don't blame your hard times on us not preparing.. on you not preparing.. we know you're all good, hard-working folk. Blame them federal Ottawa liberals for the NEP.. that's what's killing our industries and economy!" (Never mind that the crash had started a year or so before)

          Since then, the provincial conservatives have essentially lived off of that. That the NEP was a "lefty" idea designed to take away the money from all the good, hard-working folks in Alberta who ain't never done nothin' wrong. Our premier even brought out the NEP boogey-man during the last provincial election. And the problem comes in that the citizenry has taken that message to heart because to do otherwise would be to admit that maybe we weren't so all-fired smart in the first place focusing our economy around only a couple of natural resources that can undergo severe price adjustments.

          Plus, it's also easier for the politicians, because to help other industries would mean giving them money to get them started.. a charge on the books. Helping the oil industry simply means charging them less money to take as much of our non-renewable resources as they can, but that doesn't show up as money the government spends, so nobody can blame them for it.

          This is why I say that until the NEP generation literally dies off, the penance we're going to have to pay for them not being willing to face their mistakes is a succession of conservative governments who have no clue how to actually help our economy grow, and so who just sit there and pray that oil prices don't crash too far for too long.

          • Thwim, your history is off a bit. The Lougheed government did think of the future, starting the Heritage Savings fund, etc., which the drunken Klein government mostly pissed away. And the Lougheed and Trudeau governments reached an agreement on revising the NEP after all sorts of fireworks; but the NEP probably benefited Central Canada and harmed Alberta in the context of the recession. And the fight was partly over who owns the resources which is a touchy area since the prairie provinces did not get control over their own lands and resources until 1930. So the NEP whining is not completely baseless, though rightwingers truly do whine too much about politics in general. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Energy_Prog

  22. I always thought Albertans retired in B.C. because of the climate, but after reading this, I'm thinking it's the boredom.

  23. Because they're NOT real…most of them have never been near a horse…just like Dubya who was scared of them

    It's all Hollywood movie stuff.

    'Cowboys' also known as ranch hands, manual labour…..in Alberta, played polo

  24. Yup, and you pay more per capita because there's so few of you. Possibly because you believe myths like you pay more than you've ever gotten back.

    Course you were carried during the Depression….and there was that unfortunate incident with the fake money you tried….

  25. Canadian Gothic. Looks like the pitchfork is stuck in their backs.

  26. No Emily, we pay more per capita because we make more money…and since 1961 we have been a net contributor. In 2010 we paid 35.6 billion and got back just under 22 billion – we contributed 14 billion.

    There was no income tax during the Great Depression so how were we carried?

  27. No, actually you don't. That's just another myth.

    Kids here even collected pennies to send to Alberta….it was food money.

    Ontario has carried the country since it was founded….and all we've ever gotten is a slight rebate of about 200K just this last couple of years….and a whole lot of whining.

  28. It is no myth. Look it up!!!!!!

  29. Albertans choose to believe no end of odd things

  30. Healthcare Insider, you're wasting your time trying to reason with a professional troll. It doesn't matter what you say–you're not going to get anywhere.

  31. Ahhh disagree with the sacredness of Alberta, and suddenly ordinary posters are 'trolls'. 'Professional trolls' at that ! LOL

  32. Fascinating

    Everyday people on here shred Iggy and Jack….but mention one word about Harp and 300 people show up within seconds to attack

    And it's great sport to tear Ontario to bits….especially Toronto….but Alberta is SACRED!

    • Toronto sucks

      • Not as much as Tatooine.

  33. Fascinating

    Everyday people on here shred Iggy and Jack….but mention one word about Harp and 300 people show up within seconds to attack

    And it's great sport to tear Ontario to bits….especially Toronto….but Alberta is SACRED!

  34. Anon is right, you wouldn't believe some of the absurd things Emily says, she'll say anything, most of it senseless.

  35. Yawn…except I've always sourced what I say

    You just don't LIKE it

    Big difference

  36. For one thing, it would get rid of unemployable mentally ill people who have nothing better to do than to sh*t out hundreds of ignorant, trollish comments every single day, on every single blog post.

  37. Really?

    Well I'm none of those things, so you must mean Doral

    He's 80, thinks women should wear skirts all the time, and likes Farmville.

  38. Says one of the people using 'Anon' to rage against anyone who dares to not worship one of his sacred cows.

  39. Hmmm… I am one to think there is a difference between those who post their opinions and those who troll forums.

  40. Very true. Which one are you?

  41. I apologize to Colby Cosh though…I didn't mean to hijack the thread.

    I was only going to post the one comment and leave…but rather than posters just thumbing me down….

    Anyway…. Albertans should know that the ROC is almighty tired of listening to them whining and complaining and doing the 'dying Camille' act all the time….while simultaneously telling us how rich and powerful and studly they all are.

    Except for the wimmenfolk o'course

    …"and all the children are above average" LOL

  42. "where Alberta still pays toll upon toll for its presence in Confederation"

    Really, Colby? Have a cup of tea, pass them Monsieur Duceppe's phone number, and see if there's still a stack of those "Dear Lord, give us another oil boom and we promise we won't p*ss it away this time" bumper stickers. We'll be over here, freezing with the lights off, wondering who our fathers are.

    As to Simpson? Can't say I like his reasoning here, either. Maybe send him over to the freedominion web site to get a handle on why Smith and Morton won't be dating any time soon.

  43. I apologize to Colby Cosh though…I didn't mean to hijack the thread.

    I was only going to post the one comment and leave…but rather than posters just thumbing me down….

    Anyway…. Albertans should know that the ROC is almighty tired of listening to them whining and complaining and doing the 'dying Camille' act all the time….while simultaneously telling us how rich and powerful and studly they all are.

    Except for the wimmenfolk o'course

    …"and all the children are above average" LOL

    • So far, you've shat out 17 comments out of a total of 40, and every single one of them is worthless. You're like a parasite who sucks the blood out of online discussions. No wonder Colby Cosh, Paul Wells, and Andrew Potter have all publicly criticized you for your incessant trolling.

      • Except none of that is true. Sorry. So go sulk elsewhere.

  44. "where Alberta still pays toll upon toll for its presence in Confederation"

    Really, Colby? Have a cup of tea, pass them Monsieur Duceppe's phone number, and see if there's still a stack of those "Dear Lord, give us another oil boom and we promise we won't p*ss it away this time" bumper stickers. We'll be over here, freezing with the lights off, wondering who our fathers are.

    As to Simpson? Can't say I like his reasoning here, either. Maybe send him over to the freedominion web site to get a handle on why Smith and Morton won't be dating any time soon.

    • Yeah, they're all hard done by…except when they're supporting the entire country that is.

      Can't make up their minds.

      Freedominion….lordy….

    • How is Alberta different from any other province – it trys to negotiate the best deal it can. It is no different from Newfoundland.

      • "It is no different from Newfoundland."
        …well, considering half of newfoundland works there, that's no surprise…

        • Yes and we appreciate them coming here to work. They are great people. I think none of the other provinces are delusional enough to expect the same treatment as Quebec but gee it would be nice to have just a slice of the respect shown to Ontario….

          • "it would be nice to have just a slice of the respect shown to Ontario."

            Huh? By who? Ottawa? Alberta? Quebec? Who publicly respects Ontario?

  45. Well Emily, since you like sources. Look up the article about Alberta and transfer payments in the Calgary Herald from Jan 5, 2011. It explains how your so called 'myths" are actually truths.

  46. Ohhhh from the CALGARY HERALD….my, that will be nice and unbiased!

    No wonder you believe all this stuff….your media is all self-referential!

    Get real

  47. So far, you've shat out 17 comments out of a total of 40, and every single one of them is worthless. You're like a parasite who sucks the blood out of online discussions. No wonder Colby Cosh, Paul Wells, and Andrew Potter have all publicly criticized you for your incessant trolling.

  48. I can see you have not spent any time near any real ranch but there are real ranchers and real cowboys, Emily. Whether some of them play polo or not is immaterial. How do you think they got their horse-riding skills. How do you think they can afford the polo ponies? They aren't ranch hands – they are the owners of the ranch. They still use horses to round up cattle and use the same methods of branding calves as they did in the old days. They are real cowboys. Southern Alberta has many.

  49. Except none of that is true. Sorry. So go sulk elsewhere.

  50. No, it is because they have soooo much money from all of their years working in oil and gas that they can afford a swanky pad on Vancouver Island. Someone once told me that Calgary has more millionaires per capita than any city except Palm Beach, Florida. Do you think that is true, Jan? Gee, I wonder if people in Calgary are really that bored?

  51. Emily, have you heard of the Mannix brothers – two Calgary multi-millionaires. They started the Calgary Polo Club. Many ranchers play. You need at least 4 horses so you have to have some money to buy horses and then you need to board them if you don't have land near the city – a very expensive sport. Some very wealthy people actually hire professional polo players from South America, etc. to come and work and play for them. Teams from Alberta travel to California and other places to play.

    Any other information I can assist you with?

  52. Emily, you are just making an excuse for not reading the article……

  53. Like I said, don't start making stuff up.

    That's Fred and Ron…who decidedly don't herd cows. LOL

    They're just carrying on an old sport your 'cowboys' used to play.

  54. I've heard all the Alberta myths I care to, thanks.

    I lived there for 6 years.

  55. The subject is Alberta politics and if keeping the same party in through thick and thin for decades isn't boring I don't know what is. I don't understand what hold they have over the population.

  56. Yeah, they're all hard done by…except when they're supporting the entire country that is.

    Can't make up their minds.

    Freedominion….lordy….

  57. What are these "Albertans" of which you speak?

    I wish we had a national political leader with the stones to deal with Albertanism the way Pierre Trudeau dealt with Quebec nationalism.

  58. What are these "Albertans" of which you speak?

    I wish we had a national political leader with the stones to deal with Albertanism the way Pierre Trudeau dealt with Quebec nationalism.

    • LOL send in the army?

  59. LOL send in the army?

  60. I did not say that the Mannix brothers were ranchers. I said that many ranchers play polo……now…in modern day at the Calgary Polo Club that Fred and Ron Mannix started.

  61. The province was prosperous for much of their reign and when it wasn't…..who better to dig you out of debt than a fiscally conservative govt. Albertans are a very loyal bunch. The telephone companies who have tried to do business here found that out. They could not make inroads against Telus (a private company which was born out of a merger between the old Alberta govt telephones, edmonton telephones & BC tel).

  62. Cow-herders are no different than sheep-herders or goat-herders, and why you've built an entire mythology on that is anybody's guess. Too many movies I'd say.

    PS…and you aren't the Klondike either.

  63. Alberta was 'have-not' for years.

  64. Just in case either of you two anyone is interested, I believe that this is the story that HCI was thinking about (Jan 15, not Jan 5).

    To summarize, wealthy Canadians contribute more in taxes than they receive in direct benefits.

  65. Loyalty to telecom who has basically a monopoly? You see this is what we're talking about. I hope your not sending them donations.

  66. Sounds interesting, but the link doesn't work

  67. Yeah, I noticed (I usually test my links after posting)…pretty sure I have the syntax correct, so I'm not sure if macleans doesn't want me link to the Calgary Herald site? I'll try one more time.

  68. That link is a winner…btw, on the Herald banner you will note a 'cowboy'. Not sure if Ian Tyson has actually ever done any ropin'…gonna head on over to wiki to find out…

  69. From Wiki…

    A rodeo rider in his late teens and early twenties, he took up the guitar while recovering from an injury he sustained in a fall.

  70. Yeah it came up this time. Same old myth though…sounds just like Quebec.

    Somebody stepped on it I see. LOL

  71. Ah thanks, I note even the article refers to the provinces whining.

  72. Ummm sure, the myth is that the feds 1) calculate an amount that Alberta owes, 2) the feds send an invoice to Alberta, and 3) Alberta's finance minister writes a cheque payable to the Government of Canada, which then contributes to Alberta's provincial deficit and/or debt.

    But it is true that – for at least the last few years – Albertans, who as a group tend to be some of the most well off citizens of Canada, do contribute more in federal taxes than they directly receive back in the form of payments or services.

    Of course, residents of these Canadian neighbourhoods could make similar complaints:

    1.Rosedale – Toronto
    2.The Bridal Path – Toronto
    3.Westmount – Montreal
    4.Forest Hill – Toronto
    5.Rockliffe Park – Ottawa
    6.Shaughnessy – Vancouver
    7.West Vancouver – Vancouver
    8. The Uplands – Vancouver

    Thanks Answers.com

  73. Mmmm progressive taxation

  74. Yes, progressive taxation – for significant numbers of citizens the world would be a harsher place without it.

    If Albertans are against a progressive taxation system, then they should make the case for a single rate tax, or even a flat tax.

    OTOH, those who benefit from such a tax system might want to say a silent "Thank you!".

  75. I'd like to say how much I appreciate your humouring Emily. I'd really like to say that.

    We are all grateful for Alberta's contribution to our great Nation. Now, much like Alberta's gratitude to Ontario, the roc finds it doesn't want to begin and end every single sentence that way. Emily notwishstanding, most of the rest of us really do value it, but did Ontario really go on and on this way? As an Ontarian, maybe I just didn't see it, or maybe such talk was blocked in Ontario by the very sound system used.

  76. I'm a big dummy

    • That's Alberta humour these days, is it?

      • Well.. this Albertan apologizes for whoever did that one.. we don't actually raise them stupid, we just don't work to keep the stupid ones under control very well.

        That said.. perhaps good reason to actually sign up for an ID account. That and you can delete your pings afterward.

  77. I'm a big dummy

  78. Yeah.. always.. except before natural energy resources were included. From 1957 – 1962, Alberta was a "have-not" province, and received equalization payments greater than it paid.

  79. Thumbed up for ironic content.

  80. Actually, we've implemented flat tax over here. Alberta tax returns are pretty simple — put in your net taxable income from your federal tax return, take out the few deductions allowed (tuition being one of these.. so we're not *all* stupid) and then take 10% of the remainder.

    Of course, the case they'd make would tend to be along the simplistic lines of "It's fair that I only pay as much as that poor person" without ever thinking about the economies of scale that make $100 so much more painful for a person on the edge of solvency than $1000 for a person who's well off.

  81. That's Alberta humour these days, is it?

  82. Toronto sucks

  83. My tin foil hat is so tight it cuts off the circulation to my brain, but like most other Liberals it doesn't much matter, because I don't use it anyway.

  84. My tin foil hat is so tight it cuts off the circulation to my brain, but like most other Liberals it doesn't much matter, because I don't use it anyway.

  85. Well.. this Albertan apologizes for whoever did that one.. we don't actually raise them stupid, we just don't work to keep the stupid ones under control very well.

    That said.. perhaps good reason to actually sign up for an ID account. That and you can delete your pings afterward.

  86. You are of course correct about Alberta's move some years ago to a single rate tax.

    To be quibbly about definitons, I'm of the opinion that a true flat tax is a tax where everyone, regardless of income,pays the same amount – a head tax is what it used to be called, I believe. For reference, assuming that there are roughly 25 million adults in Canada and that we still want to collect about $100 billion from income tax the head tax would be $4000. Technically, Alberta has a single rate tax.

  87. Ah! Okay, I'd never heard it defined that way before but that makes a bit of sense.

    Although personally, I'd refer to such a thing as a fee rather than a tax. Dunno why, tax to me just has connotations of percentage.

  88. Alberta has built a mythology around raising cattle? That is news to me. I am sure you would say that the Scots have built a mythology around the highlanders (sheep-herders). Maybe the Austrians have built a mythology around their mountain people (goat-herders ie: Heidi).
    Klondike Days was just a theme for a party. They have changed the name to the Edmonton Exhibition.

  89. Because the only meaningful opposition was the Liberal Party, and a good part of this province seems to think that federal Liberal = provincial Liberal.

  90. How is Alberta different from any other province – it trys to negotiate the best deal it can. It is no different from Newfoundland.

  91. "It is no different from Newfoundland."
    …well, considering half of newfoundland works there, that's no surprise…

  92. The NEP is the hold they have.

    You see, back before this current oil boom, there was a previous one. And during that time, it was easy for government to let our geologic lottery winnings pay for everything. They didn't have to think much toward the future because.. hey.. lottery winnings! It was a real party time. Massive economic boom all over the place.

    Then the drop in oil prices hit. People would be forced to realize that maybe acting the grasshopper all those years hadn't been the best plan.. fortunately, Mr. Trudeau came along with his NEP program. This was a convenient scape-goat for the Alberta Conservatives.. "hey, don't blame your hard times on us not preparing.. on you not preparing.. we know you're all good, hard-working folk. Blame them federal Ottawa liberals for the NEP.. that's what's killing our industries and economy!" (Never mind that the crash had started a year or so before)

    Since then, the provincial conservatives have essentially lived off of that. That the NEP was a "lefty" idea designed to take away the money from all the good, hard-working folks in Alberta who ain't never done nothin' wrong. Our premier even brought out the NEP boogey-man during the last provincial election. And the problem comes in that the citizenry has taken that message to heart because to do otherwise would be to admit that maybe we weren't so all-fired smart in the first place focusing our economy around only a couple of natural resources that can undergo severe price adjustments.

    Plus, it's also easier for the politicians, because to help other industries would mean giving them money to get them started.. a charge on the books. Helping the oil industry simply means charging them less money to take as much of our non-renewable resources as they can, but that doesn't show up as money the government spends, so nobody can blame them for it.

    This is why I say that until the NEP generation literally dies off, the penance we're going to have to pay for them not being willing to face their mistakes is a succession of conservative governments who have no clue how to actually help our economy grow, and so who just sit there and pray that oil prices don't crash too far for too long.

  93. Thwim, your history is off a bit. The Lougheed government did think of the future, starting the Heritage Savings fund, etc., which the drunken Klein government mostly pissed away. And the Lougheed and Trudeau governments reached an agreement on revising the NEP after all sorts of fireworks; but the NEP probably benefited Central Canada and harmed Alberta in the context of the recession. And the fight was partly over who owns the resources which is a touchy area since the prairie provinces did not get control over their own lands and resources until 1930. So the NEP whining is not completely baseless, though rightwingers truly do whine too much about politics in general. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Energy_Prog

  94. Actually, the Scots were cattle drovers who would build up herds by buying from their neighbours, then drive them to Crieff in Scotland, where the English buyers would buy herds to take south, often hiring the Scots drovers to help. Crieff was Scotland's wild west town: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crieff

    In the early ranching days in Alberta, polo was less of a wealthy man's sport because horses were easier to get so anyone could play. Nowadays it probably is back to an upper class sport.

    There are still ranchers and cowboys; but it's been romanticised as well. When my grandfather bought his farm in 1908, he called it a ranch at first and raised work horses, but it wasn't a real ranch; the real ranching era had already ended.

  95. I believe Tyson has a ranch and raises cattle.

  96. I recall a lot of outrage a few decades ago when some Ontario premier said something like 'If it's good for Ontario, it's good for Canada.' I forget if that was about the NEP or something else.

  97. Albertan dynasticism is only a superstition if you fail to understand the mechanism that underlies it. Its about oil. stupid.

    From the 1940s to the 1960s, the Socreds were sustained by expanded oil & gas production. By the late 60s/early 70's (before 1973), however, oil prices reached a low point and the Socreds faced trouble.

    Enter Lougheed, aka. the luckiest man in the world. Coming into office in 1971, he benefitted handily from the twin oil embargoes. Albertans may believe that it was Lougheed's charm or patrician dignity, but lets face it – he captained the province in the golden age of its biggest industry.

    In the 1980s, however, oil prices took a hit. While to some extent the Alberta PCs were able to blame Trudeau, they began to take a political hit. In 1986 as Getty ran in his first election, he lost 14 seats and 10% of the vote. In his second kick at the can he lose another 7% (but only lost 2 seats). Ralph Klein performed similarly in 1993, losing another 8 seats in a come-from-behind win.

    Dynasticism is not about inevitability, it is about probability. Declining oil prices increased the likelihood of a dynastic shift.

    Oil prices bottomed in 1997, although Klein managed to thump to a majority. This is one of the few cases that don't fit an oil price explanation. It is possible that Klein's personality carried the day. It is notable that the decline through the 90s was not as rapid as that characterizing previous eras. A weak Canadian dollar may also have helped spur oil exploration, in order to compensate for declining prices.

    From 1997-2008, oil prices continued to rise. Klein was summarily reelected to large majorities, as was his uncharismatic successor in 2006. The rise of the Wild Rose party and the decline of Stelmach all coincide with one event – the collapse of oil prices in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

    Alberta IS ripe for another dynastic shift – not because of any sort of superstition or casual resemblance between Harry Strom and Ed Stelmach, but rather because oil prices have dropped. However, as Ralph Klein shows, a dynastic shift is not inevitable. If Stelmach's successor waits, he may benefit from an upturn in oil prices as the economy recovers – and the stumbles that are sure to characterize the inexperienced Wild Rose party as it enters the spotlight.

  98. Albertan dynasticism is only a superstition if you fail to understand the mechanism that underlies it. Its about oil. stupid.

    From the 1940s to the 1960s, the Socreds were sustained by expanded oil & gas production. By the late 60s/early 70's (before 1973), however, oil prices reached a low point and the Socreds faced trouble.

    Enter Lougheed, aka. the luckiest man in the world. Coming into office in 1971, he benefitted handily from the twin oil embargoes. Albertans may believe that it was Lougheed's charm or patrician dignity, but lets face it – he captained the province in the golden age of its biggest industry.

    In the 1980s, however, oil prices took a hit. While to some extent the Alberta PCs were able to blame Trudeau, they began to take a political hit. In 1986 as Getty ran in his first election, he lost 14 seats and 10% of the vote. In his second kick at the can he lose another 7% (but only lost 2 seats). Ralph Klein performed similarly in 1993, losing another 8 seats in a come-from-behind win.

    Dynasticism is not about inevitability, it is about probability. Declining oil prices increased the likelihood of a dynastic shift.

    Oil prices bottomed in 1997, although Klein managed to thump to a majority. This is one of the few cases that don't fit an oil price explanation. It is possible that Klein's personality carried the day. It is notable that the decline through the 90s was not as rapid as that characterizing previous eras. A weak Canadian dollar may also have helped spur oil exploration, in order to compensate for declining prices.

    From 1997-2008, oil prices continued to rise. Klein was summarily reelected to large majorities, as was his uncharismatic successor in 2006. The rise of the Wild Rose party and the decline of Stelmach all coincide with one event – the collapse of oil prices in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

    Alberta IS ripe for another dynastic shift – not because of any sort of superstition or casual resemblance between Harry Strom and Ed Stelmach, but rather because oil prices have dropped. However, as Ralph Klein shows, a dynastic shift is not inevitable. If Stelmach's successor waits, he may benefit from an upturn in oil prices as the economy recovers – and the stumbles that are sure to characterize the inexperienced Wild Rose party as it enters the spotlight.

  99. Not as much as Tatooine.

  100. Uplands are in Victoria. But typical Ontario ignorance

  101. Wow–so deciding who to vote for in Alberta involves the careful parsing of subtly distinguished hard-right positions. Obviously, only well-informed insiders like Mr. Cosh truly know what they're doing when inside the voting booth.

  102. Wow–so deciding who to vote for in Alberta involves the careful parsing of subtly distinguished hard-right positions. Obviously, only well-informed insiders like Mr. Cosh truly know what they're doing when inside the voting booth.

  103. Well Holly, you just have to tell all those ranchers that the real ranching era has already ended.

  104. …and if I am not mistaken the Highlands of Scotland were more suited to sheep….

  105. Yes and we appreciate them coming here to work. They are great people. I think none of the other provinces are delusional enough to expect the same treatment as Quebec but gee it would be nice to have just a slice of the respect shown to Ontario….

  106. I thought that might be the case…I've driven through Uplands a few times…very swank, very swank indeed.

  107. FYI, here is a recent article that "struggles" to clarify the same question: "Tax or fee?".

    I'd agree that it is very common to stop using the word "tax" and switch to the word "fee" when the amount becomes a fixed number, but I'm inclined to agree more with the article, which hints that fees go to pay for very specific goods or services while with taxes there is somewhat or a lot less linkage between collection source and eventual expenditure point.

    Liquor taxes are probably a reasonable example of a fixed tax per 26er or per case of beer…

  108. "it would be nice to have just a slice of the respect shown to Ontario."

    Huh? By who? Ottawa? Alberta? Quebec? Who publicly respects Ontario?

  109. Perhaps it's finally time for all commenters to be forced to register, and then blocked or not at the discretion of Macleans. Just a thought.

  110. Perhaps it's finally time for all commenters to be forced to register, and then blocked or not at the discretion of Macleans. Just a thought.

  111. Yes, I recall reading that quote. It may be the single most guilty source for much of the anti-Ontario regional sentiment for the last several decades. If I recall correctly, it had something to do with justifying natural resource pricing and how that benefited Ontario manufacturing. That, of course, WAS a good thing at the time for Canada and Ontario, but it came at the expense of individual regions/provinces being able to use their natural wealth to potentially improve their own manufactuing capacities.

  112. Yes, I recall reading that quote. It may be the single most guilty source for much of the anti-Ontario regional sentiment for the last several decades. If I recall correctly, it had something to do with justifying natural resource pricing and how that benefited Ontario manufacturing. That, of course, WAS a good thing at the time for Canada and Ontario, but it came at the expense of individual regions/provinces being able to use their natural wealth to potentially improve their own manufactuing capacities.

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