Alberta Provincial Elections 2012

English: Fireworks over Reykjavik on New Year'...

Fireworks over Reykjavik on New Year’s Eve (Wikipedia)


Last New Year’s Eve, I stole a meme from my husband’s blog that proved to be quite an enjoyable retrospective in an end of the year sort of way. I was reminded of it as I browsed stats today and noted that the post had generated a bit of traffic. So because I don’t make resolutions or really do anything to commemorate the change over from one year to the next, I decided to haul this Q and A out and see how it applies to the year nearly past.


1.  What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?


I didn’t really write. I thought about it. Plotted. Vaguely outlined. Mused. But in the end, I didn’t write a single piece of fiction. A first in the entirety of my life really because I have always been a storyteller. Even when I was too wee to write them down – I told stories.


2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


Again, I don’t make them and I wonder at people who do as they don’t seem to follow through on their self-promises much or at all. If you can’t even keep a promise to yourself, why bother?


3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


No. Rob’s niece by marriage and more marriage is expecting in the new year, but no one we know in person gave birth. Though a Facebook friend had a little boy on my birthday, I don’t think that counts. There are no flesh and blood babies in my life.


4. Did anyone close to you die?


No. Edie’s cat died not long ago. His name was Nike. 18 years old and with a personality and stories that have the potential to be a best-seller … in America anyway. They just love their feisty pets with personality plus adventures down there.


5. What countries did you visit?

Went to the States as we do at least once every year. Last time we will pull the holiday trailer however. Longest to and from ever. While we were there we did the tourist thing. Saw sites I hadn’t visited since I was a teen. House on the Rock for instances, which is a highly overrated hoarder’s heaven and Galena, which is little more than an arts and crafts sale masquerading as a hip artist enclave.



6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

I don’t lack. it would be awesome if we could finish the renovations we started in 2010, so we could think about selling and moving closer to, if not actually in, civilization, but it’s not the most pressing matter.

If I wanted at all, the want was a tablet and after much assessing and comparing – Rob’s boss gave him an iPad as a “thank you” for a job well done. Want granted.

Oh, I would like a new bike. My husband has an awesome bike. I ‘d like one like it. But again, not a burning in my soul desire.



7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Um …. can’t think of one. Nothing really happened. Okay, things happened, but not events that impacted me in a way that would etch a date on my brain matter.



8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I have cemented myself as a local teacher of yoga. I am surprised by how many people know of me or what I teach and when/where. I consider that an achievement.



9. What was your biggest failure?


Hmmmmmm. Failure? I would have said chocolate angel food cake because I haven’t been able to make one successfully from scratch, but I pulled that one off on Christmas Eve. So, no big failures this year.


10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Well, if you want to think of perimenapause as an illness (which it is and isn’t depending) than that.

You know how some people are always laying blame for this or that malady on hormones being out of balance or something? Turns out mine actually are. Working on that.



11. What was the best thing you bought?


A pair of 1969 Curvy jeans from the Gap. Awesome. Also, a down filled winter jacket from Mark’s. Money well spent.


12. Whose behavior merited celebration?


Well, my husband, Rob, continues to be fabulous. He re-roofed our house this summer, single-handedly, in spite of tornadic weather and gout in both of his ankles. Seriously impressive considering the rook is a 12/12 pitch that even had professional roofers bowing to him in homage.


13. Whose behavior appalled you?

The whole POTUS campaign in the US and pretty much everyone associated with it. The level of willful ignorance and appalling amount of disinformation on both sides decided me on whether or not to hang on to my US citizenship once I have become a Canadian citizenship, which will hopefully be in the coming year. I am just not like homelanders and I think that I never really did fit in down there.



14. Where did most of your money go?

Necessities and home improvement.15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I let myself care too much about the outcome of the US POTUS race. Not that there was much of a choice between the resident evil or the evil wanna be. One of my Facebook “friends”, a blogger of some renown who doesn’t know as much about politics, or reality, as she thinks she does, replied to a comment I left about “lesser evils” to the effect that I was morally bankrupt for not realizing that Obama was clearly not the evil one. He’s a “nice” guy. After all, his wife and kids love him.

But that just prompted me to recall Sondheim’s use of the word “nice” in Into the Woods. Nice is a catch-all word that means nothing of the kind. It’s the word we apply to things when we don’t want to really say what we think for fear of what others will think about us.

I also got really jazzed up about the provincial election here in Alberta and was frustrated by my inability as a landed immigrant to vote. I am so glad that when the next federal election rolls around, I will be a Canadian proper and able to participate in the electoral process. Though I twisted my husband’s arm on voting the PC’s back in – because Wildrose was simply unacceptable – if Trudeau ends up leading the Liberals, I might have to change allegiance even though the Alberta Lib leader, Raj Sherman, is an utter nob.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Goyte’s Someone that I Used to Know or anything by Fun.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?  I continue to be remarkably happy.
b) thinner or fatter?  I am thinner and probably in better shape than I have been in years.
c) richer or poorer?  Personally, I am poorer because I have cut back on my self-employment, but on the whole, status remains quo.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Gotten away for short holidays. Especially over the summer. We were far too home bound this year.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?.

Wasted my time on US politics.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With family. Children and Rob’s mom. Probably a bit more of the latter than we needed. There is a reason why after we’ve grown and moved out of our parents’ homes and on with our lives that we keep visits short and try to always stay in hotels when we do visit.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?

I remained in love and blissfully so. I know that sounds unreal that approaching six years of marriage, I am still very much into it, but I am.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Don’t watch actual broadcast tv. Don’t even have cable. We do have Netflix and I have tried to acquire a taste for tv shows ala carte, but tv is so boring. The acting is “meh” and the writing is generally atrocious.

If you like tv, nothing personal, but I have to wonder why and if something might be wrong with you.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No, I still have a general distaste for the same few. No outright hate but I wouldn’t shed tears if any of these people were to meet with an untimely demise.

24. What was the best book you read?

Hilary Mantel’s follow-up to Wolf Hall called Bring Up the Bodies was excellent, and Susanna Kearsley’s The Rose Garden was brilliant.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Discovered nothing.

26. What did you want and get?

I wanted a tablet and lo, one appeared.

27. What did you want and not get?

I kinda hoped that Obama wouldn’t get re-elected simply because a new POTUS takes time to get up and running. Anything that would slow the evil that emanates from down there would have been a good thing.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?


Didn’t see a single film in the theatre. Can’t stand going to movies.


29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?


We went to this great Indian buffet in Sherwood Park called A Taste of India. Excellent food. And I turned 49. It really feels about the same as the last two or three-ish years.


30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?


If I had gotten my letter from Canadian immigration telling me when and where to come to take my citizenship test.


31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Still very yoga.



32. What kept you sane?


Rob, as always. Though I don’t know if I keep him sane, but that wasn’t the question, was it.


33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?


I don’t really do that.


34. What political issue stirred you the most?


The issues surrounding the extra-territoral taxation that the United States is attempting to foist upon Canada in contradiction of our Charter Rights. It’s clear over-reach and it threatens our sovereignty.


35. Who did you miss?


Not really sure what this question is asking, so I am going to ignore it again.


36. Who was the best new person you met?

Did I meet anyone new?


37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

If you can’t disagree without getting personal, foot-stomping or name-calling, you are probably not old enough to be allowed in a serious discussion.



38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck.
Some nights, I call it a draw.
Some nights, I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights, I wish they’d just fall off

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don’t know anymore…




Alberta Legislature

Alberta Legislature (Photo credit: Jeff_Werner)

… but I did anyway. Fretted through the day yesterday as I waited impatiently for the election results. Unlike the elections in the United States, which are parsed and predicted throughout election day via exit polling and punditry, here in Alberta, they don’t start all that until the polls actually close.

A 28 day election cycle AND no exit polling or newscasting hysteria. Seriously, America really needs to look into this. It’s civilized and it feels quite grown up.

When I talked to Rob in the afternoon, he related that the lunch time crowd at his polling station was light, but it apparently had been quite heavy in the morning.

“I filled in my ballot, folded it and dropped it in the bucket,” he said.

“You dropped a piece of paper in a bucket?”

“Yes,” he said. “How did you think I would do it?”

“A bucket?”

“Yes,” he said again. “How did you do it back in Iowa?”

“I would fill in the ballot and place it in the electronic counter.”

“Ah, I see. Well, here we don’t take chances with fraud like that.”

“Folded paper in a bucket is safer?” I am clearly confused now.

“There can be tampering with machines,” he replied and it sounds a bit smug.

“Yeah, well, there’s been a lot more tampering with paper and buckets in the U.S,.” I said. “JFK owed his presidency to a lot of paper chicanery in Chicago.”

“Hanging chads,” he countered.

Check and mate.

The actual reveal of the winner was rather anti-climatic. They called it a bit more than an hour after the results started coming in.

It’s a winner take all in the ridings and as soon as a candidate had a certain percentage of the vote … it was his/hers. As soon as the PC’s hit the magic majority number of 44, they win the government.

Despite the optimism of the Wildrose and to the chagrin of pundits, the PC’s pulled off a comfortable majority. Probably no one was more stunned than the Wildrose than the rest of the provinces, who have Albertans pegged as redneck racists without class or common sense.

And I say “HA” to both of you.

The Alberta I know is not really Texas but colder (though I may joke otherwise). The people are caring, thoughtful and not all wrapped up in themselves and their stuff.

And yes, there are those other kinds of Albertans. Read some of the comments at the Globe and Mail if you want to see what Wildrose supporters think, but in and around Edmonton and in the north and center, people really aren’t all that conservative. They feel that social issues like same-sex marriage, equality, human rights and abortion access are issues that are settled. They don’t believe that the infrastructure should be neglected. They want new schools and health care centres. They don’t think that rebates are more important than putting money into rainy day and the Heritage Fund. They aren’t reactionary enough to blame a brand new premier for the mistakes of her predecessors. And they are interested in the future and not just more of the status quo past. And they do think that Alberta should be a leader on the national stage. It’s time.

Congratulations, Alberta. You did good and deserve that leader position in Canada’s future and you are going to make a difference.

Alberta's provincial flower, the wild rose, an...

Alberta's provincial flower, the wild rose, and the rocky mountains, coloured Wildrose Party green for use in a userbox. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was too much to ask that my adopted home of Alberta not be as short-sighted, bigoted and rife with entitlement issues as the land of my birth. When it comes to playing disenfranchised populations worried that they might have to change a bit with the times or contribute a bit more for the upkeep of the towns and cities where they live, hard-right political groups will nearly always triumph.


Because of two fairly reliable truisms about people. One, they don’t like change, and they especially don’t like change that might require something from them. And two, people only really care about themselves and a small handful of others.

The Wildrose Party of Alberta is a schismatic off-shoot of the Progressive-Conservative Party, which in recent years – and now under its new Premier Allison Redford –  has threatened to be more progressive than punitive conservative. Today, they stand to win enough seats to form a new conservative majority.

To be fair, the PC’s have only themselves to blame. They’ve made mistakes in the past few years and by electing a progressive as their new leader, they’ve raised the ire of the rural, the money-hungry and senior citizens. Groups not known for their caring ways. Farmers, business types and old folk, who barely live in the province anyway because many of them snow bird it down to the cheap real estate they picked up in the U.S. south during the housing collapse, are not much interested in the young or minorities who will be most affected by the draconian budget plans of the Wildrose. Budgets that border on skinflint are not likely to impact them much at all.

I’ve lived most of my life under conservative governments. Even the Wildrose can’t hold a candle to the GOP of the United States, but I’d hoped for better from Canadians. I guess I bought into the stereotype that they really weren’t like Americans with their semi-universal health care and same-sex marriage rights.

But they are just the same. Colour me disillusioned.

“We have to move to Ontario,” I told Rob this morning.

“There’s no place to run from this,” he said with a chuckle.

He finds this more amusing than I do, but he left the U.S. before Bill Clinton sold it down river to the GOP plantation, paving the way for Dubya and the horror show which passes for governing and politics down there today. I lived it. I have little stomach for it.

“We are not homophobes or racists,” says the Wildrose.

No, they just harbour them and help them get elected. But if the United States is any example – and it should be – you can’t tolerate extremists without inadvertently becoming their jumping off point.

In our riding, most people are pretty to very well-off economically. They are near exclusively white. The poor folk are confined to a few neighborhoods in the older part of town and their kids are mostly kept to just the one elementary school. Minorities work at the Tim Horton’s, run the fast food joints and take care of lawns. They probably don’t live here but commute back to the city where “more of their kind” live.

So, no one here has much incentive to worry about them. Not fixing the health care system or shifting more of the burden for funding the public schools to property taxes won’t hurt our riding – except out on the fringes where the poorer folk live and who cares about them.

Not many of the people who are voting in my town today.

Here’s what they care about:

– lower taxes

Even though taxes pay for all the infrastructure and entitlements they would screech to the high heavens about if they fell into disrepair or ceased to exist, most people are not willing to connect taxes with the things they take for granted. Connecting them would require thought and thinking is hard and painful. Better not to think.

– punishing the PC

Anger politics is a cutting off your own nose to prove no point at all thing really, but it feels good in the moment. Feeling good right now should be the mantra of the Boomer generation whose fault it is that things have gotten to the point they have for so many reasons that it’s a wonder the younger generation tolerates anyone over 55 at all.

– refunds and rebates

The Wildrose pulled out on of the most tired vote-buying scams there is. They promised every citizen a $300 rebate for the next couple of years. A great thing if you are married or married with kids, but doesn’t mean much to childless single young people. But who cares about young people? Not their grandparents who live in Arizona half the year and will be dead long before the note on their entitlements come due.

– bullying the rest of Canada

Albertans have a real stick up their bums about the other provinces. They especially loathe Quebec and the Maritimes. The root of this is something called “equalization”, which is where the Federal government redistributes tax dollars in a way that recognizes need rather than population or might. Albertans feel they are subsidizing the provinces that are not as economically viable (which is code for “aren’t sitting on oil”). They think this is unfair despite the fact that our province has barely felt the last economic downturn and is poised to come into an obsence amount of oil wealth in 2014. The other provinces can pound sand as far Alberta is concerned. We don’t need you and because of that we should be calling the shots.*

With an attitude like that Alberta should really just vote to pull out of Canada and apply to the United States to be the 52nd state.

The minority parties in Alberta see themselves as the only hope for real change, but the NDP has a tar sands view that is not realistic, the Liberals elected an idiot – and a floor-walker to boot – to run their party and the Alberta Party is still too small and unknown. The PC’s are the only real hope of leaning more to the actual moderate center, but their Premier of six months is being held accountable for every mistake her party has made since she was seven years old, and people just hate change.

That’s what it comes down to. They hate change. They will say or do or vote anyway they have to in order to avoid it.

Tomorrow I will truly be living in the Texas of Canada, barring some sort of miracle, I had hoped for better. People who aren’t grounded in the now and think beyond next week are seldom rewarded for their efforts.

*Although they have yet to admit to it, my guess is that threatening to pull out of the Canada Pension Plan and start an Alberta fund is part of the leverage the Wildrose will use to fix the equalization plan in Alberta’s favor. It’s a lose-lose for Harper though and the net result will be slight score for Alberta and a new Prime Minister for Canada in the next federal election and maybe even a power shift.