December 10th, 2019

Laying it Out: An open letter to Alberta’s NDP

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on November 30, 2019.

Well that didn’t work, hey? Just when you figured Albertans were starting to understand what they are truly dealing with under the United Conservatives, you threw away the momentum on a silly, unnecessary gaffe.

Someone uncovers another juicy tidbit of UCP selfish arrogance in the form of a $35,000 liquor purchase and in perfect 2019 fashion your crew immediately takes to Twitter to call foul on this continued “corruption.”

Of course, you quickly learned the only problem was the entire process of said purchase began in February while you were still in charge. Kudos to the party for taking to Facebook to apologize for the error, but when the UCP has members of its staff making nearly $200,000 to, at the very least, find time for all-day Twitter storms, the damage is clearly done.

I would hope it was a real lesson in going through proper channels before publicly airing UCP dirt, but if I may humbly offer some further advice.

You’re playing as the away team here. You’re standing at the plate looking for a home run to quiet the crowd, but you’re swinging at every pitch.

It doesn’t matter what they throw at you, your whole party is up there hacking away as if any contact at all will register a hit. Except this is a new game altogether, as the home team gets three pitchers at once who all throw off-speed, and the few fans you have in the stands are too afraid to cheer.

You’re trying to play political baseball in a game you can’t win, and in the process you’re missing out on the growing number of Albertans who are tired of this stuff being a sport in the first place.

With all that’s happening in Alberta right now, why on earth are we even talking about these meaningless expenses? At a time when Albertans need a new direction like never before, they don’t need more politicians who choose theatre over substance.

Champagne bars in London. Chartered flights to Saskatoon. This liquor fiasco. All drama and all nonsense.

Are parents and children and seniors and teachers and students et al going to be any less hooped if Premier Jason Kenney stays at a Super 8 and shows up to his top-secret Texas meetings in an Uber?

I used a sports analogy earlier for more than simple turn of phrase. I used it because that’s how politics are viewed in this province, and voters are extremely loyal to their “team.” You are essentially the Red Sox trying to turn Yankees fans in your favour, and you seem to think winning on the scoreboard is enough. It isn’t.

When the Red Sox win in New York, they get booed on the way in, and they get booed on the way out. Sound familiar?

You’re up against the impossible, and it’s time for a new approach.

Had the RCMP mentioned Rachel Notley in a Christmas card, she’d have needed protective custody and lock-her-up rallies would lead every newscast. UCP members have totalled more than $200,000 in fines for election wrongdoings, with the actual police involved, and it’s all but crickets from provincial media. The government is willing to use unprecedented and unethical ways to ram omnibus bills through in three days just to fire the guy handing out those fines, so I think it’s safe to say you’re not winning many votes over bottles of vodka.

Besides, Alberta doesn’t need an opposition looking to win votes. It needs one willing to say what’s needed to be said.

Oil will not ever be for Alberta what it has been in the past, and that’s putting it delicately. Instead of fighting with the UCP over who loves the industry more, we need someone to talk about what can be done when it’s gone.

Climate change is already altering the way Alberta farmers grow food and livestock, and it’s only going to get worse. Instead of trying to please the ones who for whatever reason still think it’s a ruse, we need someone to talk about how we’ll cope under the devastation.

This is all happening in real time and our current government’s approach is to gut the public sector and gift-wrap our revenue to corporations. If someone doesn’t address reality here, when it all hits rock bottom, those of us who had the guts to read the writing on the wall will have nothing to show for it but a hollow and meaningless “I told you so.”

This is a crossroads moment unlike anything Alberta has ever seen, and its people need a new kind of leader. If they can’t have that, they at least need something more than a free-swinging opposition that doesn’t wait for its pitch.

Scott Schmidt is the layout editor at the Medicine Hat News. Contact him at sschmidt@medicinehatnews.com. All opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the News’ editorial board.

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