Archive for the ‘Alberta Election 2015’ Tag

Of Elections and Bike Lanes in Calgary   4 comments

In case you hadn’t heard, the Alberta election (which I wrote about in my last post) was held and much to everyone’s surprise – delight or dismay, depending on what side of the political spectrum you are on – the left-leaning NDP won a whopping majority, thus ending some 43 years of uninterrupted rule by the province’s right-leaning Progressive Conservative Party.

For the record, my candidate of choice, Terry Rock, who was running for the PCs, didn’t fair so well. My riding of Calgary Buffalo went to a candidate for the NDP whom I never saw during the election, still haven’t seen, wouldn’t know if she walked up to me and hit me over the head with a dead fish, but that’s politics for you. I wish her and our new premier Rachel Notley the best of luck.

Those of you who know me will recognize that the NDP come far closer to my own political views than the other parties, although for all that I had somehow made my peace with the PC regime and had learned to live with the status quo. Clearly, though, by anyone’s standards, it was time for a change, and we got it, big time.

For many, this shift from right to left was seen as a seismic event. I have to say that I was frankly amazed at the passionate responses to the election from friends, as seen on Facebook, from both sides.

When we play sports, or engage in competition of any kind, we are taught – or at least we used to be taught – to be gracious in both victory and defeat. There was little grace that I saw following this election. I saw gloating from the left, sulking from the right, the whole thing made me aware once again of just how entrenched we have all become in our own beliefs, and how intolerant we have become to the beliefs of others.

In fact, what was once upon a time in the fairy tale past a measured dialogue that is surely the cornerstone of democracy, now sounds something like this:

I’m right. You’re wrong. Shut the fuck up.

Do you remember Voltaire? No? Well, I’m not surprised. It was he who said, as seen above, I might disagree with your opinion, but I am willing to give my life for your right to express it.

Well friends, we seem to be a long ways away from such lofty tolerance. That seems to be what we are losing these days, by the bucketful: tolerance. I know this. I’m a smoker. Believe me, I know.

If the great bastion of conservatism in Canada has fallen (remember, Alberta is sometimes referred to a “Texas North,”) an even greater force of evil (in some people’s minds) has insinuated itself into the heart of Calgary: bicycle lanes. Or as they are properly known as, the City of Calgary Cycle Path Network.

These bike lanes that have taken away precious lanes for car traffic, and precious parking spots in front of businesses along various streets (including 12th Avenue, where I live) have added insult to injury in the minds of many of our citizens, and if anything I have probably heard more outrage and frustration directed at them, and cyclists in general, than at the dreaded NDP government.

It’s so bad that as a cyclist, I don’t even love them. Now when I leave my apartment, I am afraid that whenever I’m outside of the official bike lane, which is actually on the other side of the street from me, I will be fair game, fairer than ever, to all the wannabe rodeo kings in their penis-extending souped-up pickup trucks (most of which show no evidence of ever having driven on anything but pavement, but I digress).

I mean, they were bad enough before we pissed them off . . . Who knows where all this will lead?

These two radical leftist events – the election of a socialist government and the sudden appearance of bike lanes – came together perfectly in a letter I saw written to the Calgary Sun recently. (Or was it the Herald? Hard to tell them apart any more.)

In a wonderful blazing fusion of intolerance and ignorance, one reader complained bitterly about the bike lanes – which are obviously a civic undertaking, not provincial, set in motion years before this election was held – ending his diatribe with a little phrase I’m sure we have not heard for the last time in these parts: I blame it on the socialists.

Seems we live in interesting times.

Thanks for reading!

This song by Paul Brandt would seem to beg the question, now that we have an NDP government here, will our rednecks now be properly referred to as orangenecks? Time will tell . . .




It’s Spring in Alberta and You Can Smell an Election in the Air   2 comments

According to my friends on Facebook, terryand at least some of the polls, we in Alberta would seem to be at a crossroads of sorts — one path being the well-worn if not worn-out way of the Progressive Conservatives, the other leading into the uncharted and hitherto unimaginable regions, at least in Alberta, of the NDP. With various Wild, Wild Rose and Liberal possibilities thrown in for good measure.

According to one poll I saw, my own riding of Calgary Buffalo is favouring the NDP, followed by the Liberals, followed by the Conservatives and finally, the party we hope has no hope in hell here in the inner city, the Wild, Wild Rose.

For those of us with any kind of memory at all, this situation is reminiscent of the election three years ago when a similar poll told us (well, it told me anyway) that the Wild, Wild Rosers were in the lead, followed by the Conservatives and then the Liberals.

The Liberals in that election were represented here in Calgary Buffalo (where I’ve never actually seen a buffalo in all these many years, not yet anyway) by the incumbent Kent Hehr who, despite the dire predictions, won the last election quite handily. Which taught us, if nothing else, not to trust the polls which as I say had predicted a Wild, Wild Rose landslide.

So here we are, back again, only this time the threat to the ruling (for ever) Conservatives is from the left, not the right, but one can’t help but wonder if the effect won’t be the same – that voters will decide once again on the lesser of two evils and continue the tired old dance with the devil they know.

On my Facebook at least there is a real thirst for change. Yet, I can only imagine that for every orange marker I see, there are at least 10 PCs biding their time fully intending to keep things just as they are, thank you very much. In other elections I’ve witnessed here, there has been no change, other than the leader of the ruling party – which, I have heard, is the longest continuously ruling democratic government anywhere in the world.

Countries have come and gone, walls have been built and have fallen, the world has changed in so many ways since the days when the PCs were young and brash and vibrant. Finally, at least some of the voters in the province have awoken to the realization that they haven’t actually done a very good job of running the place, not by anyone’s reckoning.

It’s hardly a secret that my own political sensibilities run a little left of centre, and maybe a little left of that some more. My granddaddy on my mom’s side helped start the CCF party, the forerunner to the NDP, so maybe it’s hereditary. I believe that Tommy Douglas was the greatest Canadian Premier (albeit in Saskatchewan) in our brief history, giving us, for example, an Arts Board long before the Canada Council came into being, not to mention universal Medicare.

And so, while I would be delighted to have an NDP government in Alberta (and I can’t even believe that it’s a possibility) as usual I’m going to step out of line and for the first time in my life vote Progressive Conservative.


It’s true. (Sorry, Grandpa.)

I’m not actually voting for the party, I’m voting for the individual, who in this case is Terry Rock. My old friend Kent Hehr has left provincial politics and will run in my federal riding of Calgary Centre in the next election, and you bet I’ll do what I can to help him win and replace what’s-her-name from the Cons who was recently voted the most useless MP on Parliament Hill.

Running for the Liberals in Kent’s place is David Khan, who seems like a great guy. I’m sure he would make a wonderful MLA. I don’t actually know Kathleen Ganley who’s running for the NDP, and I haven’t heard anything from her or her people, but I wish her luck. Sorry, I can’t bring myself to name the Wild, Wild Roser. And I haven’t heard a peep out of Trevor Grover of the Green Party. Those are my choices.

So why would I vote for Terry Rock of the PC party and run the risk of perpetuating this rather tired, stale and ineffective government?

Well, he’s a good man, for starters. More importantly, however, it’s where he comes from. He the founding President and CEO for ten years of Calgary Arts Development. As a result Terry is probably more knowledgeable about the activities and aspirations of artists and arts organizations in Calgary and even throughout the province than anyone.

When this election race first began, I thought how wonderful to have a knowledgeable and sympathetic MLA – one on the government side of things, for a change. It’s really not too big a stretch to see him as the Minister of Culture. Who better?

But that was then, and this is now. How things have changed over the course of this campaign! If nothing else, it feels like we are finally able to have some kind of intelligent political discourse in the province.

Obviously, I don’t know what will happen to Terry or the PCs on Tuesday – that’s why we cast our votes. As for me, I only have one vote, and for the first time in my life, I’m voting for the Progressive Conservative candidate.

Thanks for reading, and if you live in Alberta, please do the right thing on Tuesday and get out and vote.



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