In the wake of Sun News Network's stale "exclusive" about Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's commentary on Alberta politicians two years ago, Alberta Diary has exclusively uncovered shocking exclusive proof that Prime Minister Stephen Harper looks down on all parts of Canada except Alberta. Alberta exclusively, that is!
Actually, this isn't an exclusive at all. Your faithful blogger merely cut and pasted these actual Harper quotes Globe-and-Mail-style from a useful blog dossier posted by the CBC's Laura Payton in April 2011.
Still, despite its plagiaristic provenance, some of this stuff is interesting in light of the ongoing brouhaha about Trudeau's remarks, for which the Liberal leadership candidate has apologized even though they seem harmless enough to this Albertan. Indeed, they would seem harmless and irrelevant to Sun News too if it weren't campaigning openly to resuscitate the flagging Conservative campaign in the Calgary Centre by-election.
The same may be said of the more-recent comments about the trained seals in Harper's Alberta caucus that were made by Ontario Liberal MP David McGuinty, who not only apologized but resigned his post as his party's parliamentary natural resources critic.
So what Alberta Diary wants to know is when is Harper going to apologize for his 2001 dismissal of every part of Canada except Alberta as "a second-tier country run by a third-world leader with fourth-class values"? (He has, presumably, since revised his assessment of the leader.)
In the same statement, Harper suggested that Canada is better off when Alberta politicians are running the show, at any rate, he boasted in those pre-Alison-Redford-Red-Tory days, "we are the only province in Canada keeping pace with the top tier countries in the world."
In 2003, Harper dismissed non-Conservative voters in urban western ridings west of Winnipeg as "recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society." You know, in electoral districts like Calgary Centre.
I don't recall hearing an apology for that one either, but, hey, it was more than two years ago. He also famously said in 2002 that he despised Bill Phipps, the moderator of the United Church of Canada, although it wasn't clear if that applied to other members of the church or was merely because Rev. Phipps was running for the NDP in the PM's Calgary riding. Rev. Phipps still preaches at a church in Calgary Centre.
In other words, to further plagiarize Sun News, this raises the issue of whether Harper's anti-everybody-else-in-Canada attitude is baked into the DNA of the federal Conservative Party, and a whole lot worse too.
Among the Harper quotes compiled by his own party as potential problems, and kindly posted on the Internet last year by Payton, were the following:
On the French language in Quebec: "That special status is needed to protect the French language in Quebec is simply false." (2002)
On what Alberta conservatives think of Quebec politicians: "I don't think anybody, frankly, in this party is very scared about pissing off the Bloc." (1996)
On his future in politics: "It has never been my intention to seek a second term or to become a career politician." (1996)
On Alberta’s role in Confederation: "Canada does not love us ... let's make the province strong enough that the rest of the country is afraid to threaten us." (2000)
Actually, there's a pretty rich vein of this stuff emanating from Harper's lips. Oddly enough, Sun News Network seldom writes about it.
My guess is that we'll be waiting a long time for the prime minister, or any of his minions on the ground in Calgary Centre, to apologize for this stuff.
Speaking as an Albertan here -- certainly as Albertan an Albertan as Harper, coming from away a very long time ago just as he did -- I have to wonder what Canadians make of the paranoid view of Confederation expressed by this prime minister in his many past independentiste musings about the need for Alberta firewalls, Alberta economic exceptionalism and putting the fear of Alberta into Canadians elsewhere.
It seems to me that what Harper wished for -- Albertans running the show, a certain kind of Albertan anyway, in a way that puts the fear of God and E.C. Manning into the rest of Canada -- has come about pretty much as he hoped.
Yet here we are, as prickly and paranoid as ever, still the perpetual outsiders when other Canadians react with understandable concern, and at times with intemperate language, to our behaviour.
We who live here know, of course, that there's much more and much better to this province than the prime minster's narrow and paranoid view of the world and Alberta's place in it would suggest.
We would do well to demonstrate that to our compatriots in other provinces by sending more than just a phalanx of parochial and inward-looking neoconservatives to Ottawa as our representatives.
I must say, as a resident of the Edmonton area, I envy my fellow Albertans in Calgary Centre for having the opportunity to do just that on Monday.
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.