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Letter From The Editor

Dear Saskatchewan Folks,

Greetings from central Alberta! Sorry for not writing to you since I moved here but things have been very hectic.

One thing’s for sure though, these Albertans can sure be cranky types at times – especially when it involves their government, which, as you are about to find out, is incredibly ironic. But let me give you a few examples:

You probably heard around this time last year how the government here decided to give themselves whopping huge raises. Every MLA here – the vast majority of which are made up by the ruling party, each got between $32,000 and $42,000 a year raise and the premier – some guy named Ed – the Albertans call him Uncle Ed, anyway, this Ed guy grabbed a cool $54,000 raise out of the public purse, but here’s the weird part – virtually nobody batted an eye over the whole issue! And worse, when I bring it up in my editorials, most of the Albertans immediately jump on the offensive and begin vilifying myself and anyone else who dares to criticize the very same government that, for all intents and purposes, basically stole the money! Go figure.

It doesn’t end there either.

Remember back in the day when we kept hearing about that Alberta Advantage thingy? Well I can tell you first-hand that there is by no means, an Alberta Advantage. Oh wait a second, I need to clarify that a bit; Uncle Ed and his bunch have most certainly taken advantage of the Alberta Advantage and so have their corporate buddies. But again, let me explain because it’s a bit confusing and also a bit ironic.

Apparently, this Uncle Ed guy has come to the realization that, indeed, for a huge majority of people here, there is no Alberta Advantage, so he’s decided to drop the slogan altogether, and that’s fine and dandy. But here’s the insane part: he’s decided the province needs a new slogan and has budgeted…are you ready for this…$25 million for it, even though the economy here is going into the toilet and there’s been tens of thousands of jobs lost! And worse, everybody and their pet dog knows the money’s going to end up in the hands of one of Uncle Ed’s buddies at some big shot advertising firm in an office tower in Calgary or Edmonton, and still, nobody seems to care in the least bit. Can you believe that!

I see things are much different over there in the Land of Common Sense, (I like to call Saskatchewan that here because it drives the Albertans nuts!) where despite the fact that the NDP has, combined, ruled for longer than the ruling party here and actually laid the groundwork for all your prosperity, yet you still elected the Saskatchewan Party to govern the last time you went to the polls. Best of all, your election was quite close and you’ve ended up with a very strong Opposition, which is also a very good thing as it allows them to hold the government’s feet to the fire. That’s exactly what they need here too! And again, here are a few examples why.

At around the same time the government here was helping themselves to those big raises I mentioned earlier, they also came put with Bill-46. Before we get into that, I’ve gotta go back a bit in time. When I first got here in July of 2007, there was this huge battle going on between – who else – the government and a very vocal group of landowners over some huge power lines that a private utility company wanted to run through most of the landowner’s property. (Actually, from what I’ve gathered, that’s the way things work here - the government seems far more intent on doing what’s best for their corporate buddies than they’ll ever do what’s best for their citizens). As a result, the government brings in Bill-46 which basically says they can make decisions regarding stripping the landowners of virtually all their rights without giving any public notice and without even holding a hearing. And if, by chance, a hearing is held, Bill-46 prevents any of those landowners from any verbal representation at the hearing including restricting them from even being represented by a lawyer, if you can believe that one!

Oh, one other thing, the Bill is retroactive to June 1, 2003 so basically, the government gets to wipe the slate clean of all their dastardly deeds like being caught red-handed spying on the landowners as they prepared a strategy to confront the government.

Not a bad deal, huh? After all, how great would it be if you and me could wipe the slate clean of all the mistakes we’ve made over the past few years? Oh, and did I mention that the government pushed the legislation through at 3:00 o’clock in the morning? What kind of ‘accountable’ and ‘transparent’ government pumps laws like that through in the middle of the night?

Anyway, that’s not really the point. What is however, is that after working so hard and putting in so much effort to fight and ultimately stop the power lines from being erected over their land without their permission, when the last election was called, a huge majority of those very same landowners were tripping over themselves to get into the polls and vote for the very same party that just tried to strip them of their rights! I know what you’re thinking because I couldn’t believe it either! And as per all of the above, aside from a handful of people, basically no one in Alberta gave a hoot over that one either.

As bizarre as all of the previous stuff probably sounds to you folks, you better have a seat because, if you can believe it, they’ve just brought out a new bill that makes Bill-46 look like a kid’s birthday party.

Apparently, stripping the landowners – even though they voted for the very people intent on bringing them to their knees – of any sort of legal representation to fight for their rights among other things, now the government is introducing Bill-19 and once passed, it gives them the right to commandeer any landowner’s home, land and/or property, throw them in jail for up to two years and fine them up to $100,000 if they even so much as put up any stink over it! Under the guise of some sort of ‘future requirement’, which, according to many here means ‘at the direction of big oil’, any cabinet minister, at any time, can literally tear people’s lives apart. Oh, and another thing, they’ve conveniently added a bit to the legislation that says they can do it all in seven days – and yet again, with the exception of a very vocal few, virtually no one here cares!

Isn’t this what Joseph Stalin used to do?

Luckily for you folks back there, you’d never, ever see those sorts of shenanigans going on in Saskatchewan!

And as predictable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, and even with a bulldozer idling in front of their houses ready to plow right on through, those very same people will scream bloody murder in defense of the very same government that’s about to tear their house and land apart!

Oh, and let’s not forget the government’s approval of one of the earth’s greatest environmental catastrophes that we’ve got going on right in our own backyard as well as the fact that after promising senior citizens for years that they’d be taken care of, the government here has now decided they can’t or won’t and are hooping them on the costs of prescription drugs which, again, seems ironic given the fact that while crying, ‘poverty’, Uncle Ed is more than willing to hand the previously-mentioned $25 million over to one of his buddies for a silly slogan – with again, hardly a peep from anyone.

Don’t even bother trying to figure this stuff out folks. I’ve been here for a year and a half and frankly, the only thing I can see is that the Albertans must actually like living under a dictatorship seeing as how it’s been that way here for decades already. Further, how else can you explain these people putting up with a government that has less than 75 per cent of the voter’s support? In a way, when they scream and yell at those who point out the flaws in their government, they’re basically saying, “We like our dictator, so leave him alone!”

Well folks, I gotta run. There’s another irate local here in the office waiting to talk to me – probably about Bill-19 - so whatever you do, please don’t let any of them see this letter! The Albertans are already cranky enough and we certainly don’t want to make things worse.

You’re long lost son,

Jimmy Taylor

Rimbey, Alta.