December 13th, 2018

Kenney, Notley are barking and meowing in the political realm

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on August 4, 2018.

Our home is honoured with both a dog and a cat as permanent residents. I, being of a whimsical mind, often wonder if either one of them has a sense of self. Does my dog think, “I am a dog. I am called Benni.” Does my cat think, “I am a cat. I don’t know what my name is but I know that fuzzy thing over there is not a cat. It smells funny and makes strange sounds.” I have seen our cat slowly approach the resting dog as if to join him in a snooze, but then, without warning or common sense, take a giant swipe at his nose, and calmly walk away. The dog blinks, shakes his head, and resumes his placid dogness.

I am also puzzled about the language of dogs and cats. What is meant by a bark, a meow, a tail wag, a stomach pummel, a direct stare, a blatant demand, paws in air for a tummy rub? What intentions do dogs and cats impart to their human masters? Do they actually want to ‘tell’ us something sometimes, or is that idea just an instance of foolish anthropomorphic conceit?

In any case, Dogness and Catness have been in my thoughts lately, fueled by the newly declared battlecries of the UCP and Jason Kenney, to take on Rachel Notley and her deficit-hugging, bleeding-hearted, politically correct socialist adhocracy.

He claims he will return Alberta to its natural state of being — regressive and conservative. Back to the flat tax, he snarls. Austerity and cutbacks, he growls. He howls the songs of fiscal responsibility. Translation? Teachers and nurses and social programs shall be sacrificed to provide tax benefits for the wealthy. This is the same song that Mr. Klein sang in the 90s. And it smells almost the same as the Trumpian stench or the Ford disaster that has recently befallen Ontario.

Mr. Kenney, the former Progressive Conservative ‘attack dog’, delighted in unusually nasty and loud barking while serving in numerous portfolios for Mr. Harper. He rejected the refugee status of American draft dodgers, rewrote the ‘Welcome to Canada’ guide for new Canadians, leaving out any mention of Canada’s acceptance of gay marriage, represented the leading edge of the spear aimed at the niqab issue, and generally made life less pleasant for people who wouldn’t cost his party too many votes.

Now he sits in the Alberta Legislature, opposite Rachel Notley. It’s unclear to me which one is the pussy and which one is the puppy. Can one teach a cat to bark?

One thing clear to me is that Ms. Notley, the nominal cat in this pairing, has learned how to bark, has, in fact, stolen Mr. Kenney’s bark, if not his bite. Her record consists of a fine balance of both New Democratic compassion and social policies and innovative but prudent fiscal management.

She inherited the twin disasters of Conservative fiscal mismanagement and rampant self-interest, and the predictable collapse of world oil markets. But, like a courageous and well trained rescue dog, Ms. Notley slowly and carefully guided Alberta back from the economic dislocation and painful unemployment crisis these last three years.

There is no better example of Ms. Notley’s leadership than her brave and unwavering defence of Alberta’s interests in the Trans Mountain Pipeline project. This is not a natural fit for an NDP leader, obviously. Ms. Notley, however, rather than being doggedly partisan, has become the pragmatist.

The oil belongs to the people of Alberta, she reasons. It will not be saleable for much longer. For now, however, there is a demand in fairer and more profitable markets overseas. The economies of the Far East will buy oil wherever they can get it for the next few years. Why not from Alberta? It makes economic sense to ship to alternative markets in the short term, and concurrently, to prepare for alternative energy sources in the long term. Her guidance delivers the best alternative both for the economy and the environment of our province.

Jason Kenney, the hyperactive toothless kitten on the sideline, meows and snarls, darts and dives, and hopes that somehow his hissing will be attractive enough to impress voters in 40 weeks.

Most embarrassing for Mr. Kenney is the image we now have of a worried little Napoleonic impressionist posing as the heroic figure destined to bring conservatism back to Alberta’s throne. Behind the bravado, however, he frets and broods about where, when, and how one of his inexperienced foot soldiers will say something or do something to reveal the slapdash reality of this artificial party, already starting to unravel.

Politicians, I recently read, campaign as if they will bring salvation to the people but once in power, all they do is fight for their own survival. Ms. Notley is clearly the exception to that rule. Mr. Kenney? Not so much.

Peter Mueller is a long-time resident of Medicine Hat who, in spite of all the evidence, continues to believe we can build a better world.

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