The benefit of the doubt

Alberta’s long siege of political chronic wasting disease, 30 years of bad Progressive Conservative government that conserved nothing after Peter the Great abdicated in 1985, ended spectacularly on May 5. I’ve often said that Albertans don’t know the difference between scratching their arse and tearing it to shreds; this time a majority NDP government is the result.

“Spring time in Alberta

“Chills me to the bone”

— Ian Tyson

Alberta’s long siege of political chronic wasting disease, 30 years of bad Progressive Conservative government that conserved nothing after Peter the Great abdicated in 1985, ended spectacularly on May 5.

I’ve often said that Albertans don’t know the difference between scratching their arse and tearing it to shreds; this time a majority NDP government is the result.

But, even more amazing, we also uncharacteristically decided for democracy, by electing a numerically strong, largely right-wing opposition, with many more members experienced and qualified for their important job, than the rookie NDP caucus can claim for theirs.

The campaign moment that still haunts me from the instant I heard it was Premier Jim Prentice telling us we should look in the mirror to see the cause of the mess Alberta’s in.

A talented clinical psychologist once told me that a sure symptom of depression is not recognizing yourself in the mirror.

Suddenly, depressed Albertans were seeing PCs past, maybe even Prentice in their mirrors, and instantly recognized this: we do keep electing these clowns, and we have to stop.

Even though, as in every Alberta election of my life, I lost my vote because I tend to select the most credible candidate in terms of education, experience and accomplishments, I am delighted with change at last in my lifetime, and respect the decision of the 58.25 per cent of Alberta’s eligible voters who cast ballots, the highest since the 60.2 per cent in 1993, when the Liberals won 32 seats.

“Rachel,” favoured one of biblical patriarch Jacob’s two wives, described as “beautiful in form and countenance,” means “ewe.” Talk with them and listen, yes, but our Rachel of Edmonton Strathcona should eschew any more of the ewe-like behaviour evidenced by her early courting and soothing of the energy sector.

Our NDP leader should never forget that she did not defeat the real government of Alberta during the last three dismal decades: the head rams of Houston, of big oil and gas.

They will court her, and she must make it clear that the elected representatives of the people of Alberta are back in the business of running the place on behalf of the resource owners, yes, the people of Alberta, again.

The NDP’s environment platform is more ramshackle and rickety even than those of the other parties, which also display total ignorance of the real, immediate, on-the-ground problems: total destruction of fish and wildlife habitats, also the environment of us all, by energy and forestry having been given carte blanche to do any damn thing they please to get our resources up or down and out of here ASAP.

Whatever else this government does with energy and forestry, it must end the devastation of the last three decades and get started on repairing it.

They even think so in deepest, greenest Wild Rose Country, according to one reader out there: “… lots of people are willing to give the NDP and Rachel Notley the benefit of the doubt and see what she can do. It will probably be a good thing if she makes those oil companies spend some of their billions on cleaning up their environmental messes and keeping logging companies away from stream edges. …”

Never in my memory has the urban-rural political divide been so wide in Alberta.

That, coupled with the extreme youth, inexperience, and utter urbanity of so many of Rachel’s astonished-to-be-elected hem hangers, is going to make building a credible cabinet a challenging chore.

In particular, it is going to be difficult to find a person with the experience, knowledge and interest needed by the minister of Environment -Sustainable Resource Development, the best of whom, historically, have come from rural Alberta.

Another comment from Wild Rose Country: “So, yup, with all the crazy socialist, non-working candidates who are her MLAs, this has got all of us country folk pretty worried! … I was thinking those ‘Welfare Cowboys’ as you call them, out in Special Areas are probably a little worried about losing those lease surface disturbance payments now.”

Yes, how could I forget?

The NDP should take a long, hard look at the Welfare Cowboys out there in Wild Rose Country who so proudly believe in socialism for already rich ranchers, and free enterprise for the undeserving rest of us.

A priority for the new ESRD minister must be rebuilding a department that has cynically been gutted to make it easier for big energy to do as it pleases with Alberta public land.

One of Premier Alison Redford’s more egregious moves was to wipe out the century-old Fish and Wildlife Division.

The new ESRD minister should have a chat with Allan Warrack, youngest and also the best minister of Lands and Forests (as ESRD once was) we’ve ever had, in Lougheed’s new 1971 cabinet, then set about rebuilding the F and W Division with a mandate to stop the near extinctions of so much of our native fish, fauna, and flora.

Bob Scammell is an award-winning columnist who lives in Red Deer. He can be reached at

Just Posted

(Image from Council of Canadians)
Council of Canadians hold coal mining information rally

Event to take place at City Hall Park at 1 p.m. on Friday

Red Deer respiratory therapist Sarah MacKenzie was among the first central Alberta health professionals to receive the Pfizer vaccine in December 2020. Since then, nearly 3.4 million doses have been administered and COVID cases are falling rapidly. Photo by Alberta Health Services
Red Deer COVID cases continue to fall sharply

Red Deer cases almost into the double digits after topping more than 900 only five weeks ago

(Advocate file photo.)
Red Deer city council discusses strategies to restore integrated emergency dispatching

Red Deer city councillors discussed additional ways on Tuesday to try to… Continue reading

Local developers who are doing building upgrades or new construction will face less land servicing costs and gain some flexibility. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta (44) celebrates with defenseman Victor Hedman (77) after Rutta scored against the New York Islanders during the third period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Kucherov shines, Lightning beat Islanders 4-2 in Game 2

Lightning 4 Islanders 2 (Series tied 2-2) TAMPA, Fla. — Brayden Point… Continue reading

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) shoots as Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton (24) defends during the fourth quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Durant’s sensational performance sends Nets to 3-2 lead

Nets 114 Bucks 108 (Brooklyn leads series 3-2) NEW YORK (AP) —… Continue reading

New York Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery throws to a Toronto Blue Jays batter during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Frazier snaps tie, Yankees come back to beat Blue Jays 6-5

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Clint Frazier snapped an eighth-inning tie with a pinch-hit… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Pornhub says it has removed all content uploaded by non-verified users. The sex website faced accusations it hosted illegal content. The company, which is owned by Montreal-based Mindgeek, says it has suspended all previously uploaded content that was not created by one of its content partners or members of its Model Program. THE CANADIAN PRESS
International women’s rights advocates call on Canada to hold Pornhub to account

Jeanette Westbrook says being sexually abused as a child will haunt her… Continue reading

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2021 file photo, transporters Miguel Lopez, right, Noe Meza prepare to move a body of a COVID-19 victim to a morgue at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles. The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has topped 600,000, even as the vaccination drive has drastically slashed daily cases and deaths and allowed the country to emerge from the gloom. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
US COVID-19 deaths hit 600,000, equal to yearly cancer toll

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 topped 600,000 on Tuesday, even as… Continue reading

FILE - In this April 1, 2019 file photo, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry talks about health care legislation he's backing in the upcoming session, in Baton Rouge, La. The Biden administration’s suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water was blocked Tuesday by a federal judge in Louisiana. U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty's ruling came in a lawsuit filed in March by Louisiana’s Republican attorney general, Jeff Landry and officials in 12 other states. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File)
Federal judge blocks Biden’s pause on new oil, gas leases

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Biden administration’s suspension of new oil and… Continue reading

Israeli police officers detain a Palestinian man during clashes that erupted ahead of a planned march by Jewish ultranationalists through east Jerusalem, outside Jerusalem's Old City, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Israelis march in east Jerusalem in test for new government

JERUSALEM (AP) — Hundreds of Israeli ultranationalists, some chanting “Death to Arabs,”… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher (11) vies for the puck with Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (7) during the third period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Vets Pietrangelo, Perry contributing for Vegas, Montreal

LAS VEGAS — Alex Pietrangelo and Corey Perry had very different free… Continue reading

Most Read