Danielle Smith has decided to rant where she could reason.
She’s decided to draw a line in the sand, suggesting that anyone who doesn’t think the way she does is not truly an Albertan.
On one level, it’s just the nonsense that politicians spout in the heat of the battle. But it also smacks of the kind of intolerant and blinkered approach to political discourse that you are more likely to see south of the border. It’s mean-spirited scare-mongering.
Smith’s diatribe about Alison Redford, suggesting the premier isn’t fit to call herself an Albertan, is both offensive and more than a little disturbing, regardless of which party you support or where you fall on the political spectrum.
This isn’t about the premier, it’s about your perspective on progress and your willingness to compromise for the greater good.
“I think Ms. Redford doesn’t like Alberta all that much,” Smith said on Wednesday. “She doesn’t like who we are. She doesn’t like our character. She wants to change it.
“That is what people are going to have to ask in the next election: Do we need to be changed? Do we need Ms. Redford to change us? Do we have anything to be embarrassed about?”
It’s not about politics. It’s personal, and her words are damning enough to swipe across generations, socio-economic strata and sexes.
If you believe that change in Alberta is good and necessary, if you believe that evolution is part of the political and social process, then you apparently don’t belong in Smith’s Alberta.
She may not even like you much.
So much for progress. So much for honest debate. So much for inclusion.
No wonder so many people in other parts of the nation look at Alberta like we are a pouty, spoiled little rich kid, always wanting our own way.
Smith’s outburst taints us all, whether we like it or not.
So much for the notion that Alberta is no longer hellbent on alienating itself from the rest of Canada.
So much for the notion that politics isn’t just about polarization.
Just how dysfunctional would a minority government be, in the wake of the April 23 election, if Smith marched in with these particular spurs on?
For the record, I am an Albertan. I was born here, educated here, have roots in the agriculture and oil industries, lived in the province’s three largest cities. My parents were born here. My grandparents homesteaded here. My wife was born here. Her parents, too. My children were born here.
We are Albertans, and we aren’t interested in affecting the Alberta strut as fashioned by Smith. We are interested in progress, fueled by constant and honest evaluation of our province, both in its social and economic workings.
We aren’t interested in jamming our heads in the sand.
And we aren’t embarrassed about it.
What Alberta the Good is Smith shooting for? The uninspired, sluggish Socred rule of Harry Strom? That would not be helpful.
Surely the era of Peter Lougheed, in which aggressive change was seen as both good and necessary, doesn’t appeal to her either.
If she’s focusing in on the Ralph Klein era and his apparent mandate of de-evolution, Albertans should be shying away from her message in droves.
The latest polls show that Smith and the Wildrose Party have between 34 and 41 per cent of the popular support. If those numbers are anywhere near accurate, that still means that the overwhelming majority of Albertans aren’t interested in a stand-pat Alberta.
Let’s hope that an even greater number of Albertans are in favour of an election campaign that examines issues and solutions in a fulsome, fair and progressive fashion.
John Stewart is the Advocate’s managing editor.