Alberta is made up of Edmonton and Calgary, but also mid-size cities such as Red Deer.
And Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and others.
On Thursday, Alberta Senator Doug Black said Alberta is diverse and made up of cities, towns and rural communities, and all of Alberta’s voices need to reach Ottawa.
That includes Red Deer.
“Alberta is energy, but it is also agriculture and IT,” he said. “All of this needs to be looked at, and quickly.”
The senator welcomes the recent appointment of former Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan as an adviser to help the government bridge the gap between the West and Ottawa.
But he wants the federal government to remember Alberta’s diversity.
Black commended Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s outreach efforts, such as his conversation with Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark on Tuesday.
“I would encourage him to pick up the phone and call the mayor of Red Deer and ask what’s happening. Ask, ‘if you were going to give me advice, what would you tell me to do?’”
“We cannot lose sight of the points of view of communities like Red Deer.”
Asked about representation in cabinet, Black said the key is not necessarily the appointment of a western minister, but being in touch with people and communities.
Black wants to see Trudeau and his senior officials have a process in place to be regularly briefed on what’s happening in the province and the impact of federal policies.
“I’m saying find a process that you can get good information. If you think it’s the cabinet, great. If there’s another mechanism, great, but get to it.”
Talking to mayors of various cities is a good starting point, says Black, because the mayors hear the good, the bad and the ugly, and are familiar with the pulse of their communities.
“I think that we have an opportunity now. Let’s try and be smart about how we take advantage of this opportunity.”
Black says separatism is not the answer. Leaving Canada might make Albertans feel good for a little while, he conceded.
“But it does not solve our problem. Because the next morning, we’re still a landlocked entity. So we need to figure out ways we can bridge that through pipelines, and we need to continue conversations about fiscal arrangements Alberta has with the rest of Canada.”