Five Alberta survival tips for Tom Mulcair
Published Saturday, May 26, 2012 1:37PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 5, 2012 10:41AM EDT
Once upon a time, way back in the early 1980s, a Calgary mayor named Ralph Klein told eastern creeps and bums to stay home.
He meant to discourage petty criminals and scam artists from invading his booming city, but something got lost in the translation. Half the country took it personally. A fury erupted east of Manitoba.
Klein could’ve ducked and run for cover. But he dashed off to Toronto and Montreal and won over his offended hosts by explaining himself with candour and folksy charm. A national icon was born.
Take note Thomas Mulcair. That’s a lesson for you.
The new NDP leader will visit Alberta next week to explain what he meant by insisting the high dollar caused by oil patch prosperity hurts the manufacturing heartland. He also has some kissing up to do with western premiers he derided as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s messengers.
Nothing peeves a westerner more than having some rookie, know-it-all, socialist easterner deriding the source of their massive energy-driven equalization contributions.
After all, that gusher of entitlement cash hands Quebecers many special perks including – in case students there need a reminder - the lowest tuition fees in the country.
So here are some pointers for Mr. Mulcair during his damage control tour:
- Before getting on the plane, turn back your watch two hours. Nothing miffs an Albertan more than to see a guest stuck on Toronto time.
- While cowboy culture is really just ten wild Stampede days a year, bring Wranglers, a Stetson and cowboy boots - just in case - and be able to identify an Ian Tyson song when you hear it.
- Show some comprehension that roughly 60 cents of every petrodollar benefits a region outside of Alberta.
- Acknowledge that Albertans are just as green as anyone else. Trouble is, their energy doesn’t come from waterfalls like Quebec’s hydro reserves, so it’ll never be pollution free and it will take time and megadollars to capture all that carbon.
- Finally, invite western premiers to make you their messenger to Ottawa to counter Harper’s top-down policy edicts to the provinces.
If Tom Mulcair performs with good humour, self-deprecation and successfully fakes western appreciation, he just might turn his adversarial stance into a political advantage.
If he remains testy, aloof and preachy, his travelling salvation show will end badly. He will become, in Albertan eyes, the sort of eastern bum who should stay away.