Singer Celine Dion performs during her first World Tour show called Courage at the Videotron Centre on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Quebec City. The Alberta government has launched a social media campaign called "My Parks Will Go On" in its ongoing debate with the Opposition NDP about the fate of some of the province's parks and recreation areas. The campaign name is a play on the 1997 power-pop ballad by Dion that became a superhit when the movie "Titanic" was released. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Alberta politicians use duelling tunes to make parks arguments

Alberta politicians use duelling tunes to make parks arguments

EDMONTON — Alberta politicians are reaching deep into pop music’s memory bank in the hope their messages about the province’s parks stick in people’s ears.

On Monday, the United Conservative government released a social media campaign called “My Parks Will Go On,” a play on the name of the 1997 power-pop ballad by Celine Dion that became the theme song for the movie “Titanic.”

The campaign says it wants to address what it calls the lies spread by the Opposition New Democrats in their earlier campaign called “Don’t Go Breaking My Parks” — a reference to a lively 1976 dance track by Elton John and Kiki Dee.

It’s all over a plan the government announced last February to strike 164 parks and recreation areas off the provincial list and have them revert to Crown land or managed through third-party “partnerships.”

The New Democrats have said the move will reduce Albertans’ access to the province’s backcountry. They also fear it’s a prelude to some parks being sold or leased. The NDP points to policy changes that open up parts of the Rocky Mountains to coal mining as evidence.

The government has consistently denied any parks are being sold.

The UCP social media response that apes the tone and approach of the NDP’s messaging suggests the New Democrats scored a hit, said political scientist Duane Bratt of Calgary’s Mount Royal University.

“It’s clear that the New Democrats have hit a nerve here,” he said. “Previous premiers ignored the Opposition.”

Bratt calls it part of a pattern that sees a government with a healthy majority continually trying to swat away an Opposition that keeps buzzing around.

“They won the election. They’re the government, but they remain fixated on the NDP Opposition.”

The UCP campaign was paid for with public dollars through funds granted to the party’s caucus. The NDP campaign was paid for by money the party raised privately.

NDP environment critic Marlin Schmidt said his party’s campaign has been successful. It has collected 23,284 signatures on a petition and has mailed out more than 8,000 stickers.

“We had to go back and order a second printing of the stickers,” he said.

“The fact they’re responding at all clearly shows they’re feeling the heat on this issue. It’s disappointing they continue to try and spin their way out of this.”

Jeremy Nixon, spokesman for the UCP caucus on the parks topic, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The NDP isn’t the only group fighting the proposed parks changes. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society has distributed more than 15,000 lawn signs that say Defend Alberta Parks.

“You see those lawn signs everywhere,” said Bratt. “It’s remarkable to see signs outside an election campaign.”

It’s not the first time the government has responded on social media to criticism of its parks plans.

An Oct. 10 Twitter video quoted Premier Jason Kenney as saying, “No parks have been sold. No parks will be sold.

“If you’re getting that, you’re probably seeing NDP Facebook ads or ads by foreign-funded interest groups like, um, green left organizations that are lying to people to raise money.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2020.

— Follow @row1960 on Twitter

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

parks

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Man killed in two-vehicle collision near Penhold, says Blackfalds RCMP

A 46-year-old man is dead following a two-vehicle collision on Highway 42… Continue reading

(Photo by Paul Cowley/ Advocate Staff)
Mask bylaws not popular in rural areas

Red Deer and Blackfalds bylaws requiring masks in public places kick in on Monday

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Innisfail RCMP arrest man following ‘lengthy pursuit’

Innisfail RCMP say a “lengthy pursuit” through a rural area ended with… Continue reading

hay
Hay’s Daze: Giraffe knows filling wishes can sometimes be a tall order

Last weekend, I had a lovely breakfast. “So what?” you may say.… Continue reading

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says tonight's public video gaming session with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is about reaching young people where they hang. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP leader stoked over ‘epic crossover’ in video gaming sesh with AOC

Singh and AOC discussed importance of universal pharmacare, political civility, a living wage

A south view of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf breaking apart is seen from Ward Hunt Island, Nunavut, in an Aug. 20, 2011, handout photo. The remote area in the northern reach of the Nunavut Territory, has seen ice cover shrink from over 4 metres thick in the 1950s to complete loss, according to scientists, during recent years of record warming. Scientists are urging the federal government to permanently protect a vast stretch of Canada's remotest High Arctic called the Last Ice Area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CEN/Laval University, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Scientists urge permanent protection of Last Ice Area in Canada’s High Arctic

Tuvaijuittuq has the thickest and oldest ice in the Arctic

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s $55 million Lotto Max jackpot

No winning ticket was sold for the $55 million jackpot in Friday… Continue reading

In this Friday, March 13, 2020, photo, Nic Talbott looks up from his computer at his home in Lisbon, Ohio. Talbott was participating in an Army ROTC program after an Obama administration policy permitted transgender people already serving in the military to be allowed to do so openly. As vice president in 2012, Joe Biden endeared himself to many LGBTQ Americans by endorsing same-sex marriage even before Obama. Now, as president-elect, Biden is making sweeping promises to LGBTQ activists, proposing to carry out virtually every major proposal on their wish lists. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Biden plans swift moves to protect and advance LGBTQ rights

As vice-president in 2012, Joe Biden endeared himself to many LGBTQ Americans… Continue reading

Canadian Olympic gymnast and National Sport School alumni Kyle Shewfelt announces his retirement in Calgary, Thursday, May 21, 2009. Calgary's board of education will close the National Sport School that has produced Olympic and Paralympic champions for 26 years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Canada's Erica Wiebe, left, celebrates after defeating Nigeria's Blessing Onyebuchi, right on the ground, to win Gold medal in women's FS 76Kg wrestling at the Commonwealth Games on Gold Coast, Australia, Thursday, April 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Most Read