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Washed-up Wildroser calls for Alberta separation if necessary, but not necessarily separation

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Rob Anderson on the steps of the Alberta legislature during the period between his floor crossings to and from the Wildrose Party. Image: David J. Climenhaga

It looks as if Rob Anderson has found a new gig -- Alberta separation if necessary, but not necessarily Alberta separation.

For those of you scratching your heads and asking the most obvious question -- Rob who? -- Anderson is one of the few Alberta politicians to have crossed the floor of the legislature … twice.

Elected in 2008 in Airdrie-Chestermere, the indecisive but ambitious young conservative switched teams from the Progressive Conservatives in 2010 to join the fledgling Wildrose Alliance -- the little party that eventually disappeared.

As Wildrose Party House leader in December 2014, Anderson and party leader Danielle Smith led seven other MLAs back across the floor to the PC benches where they briefly joined then-just-selected premier Jim Prentice.

If Prentice had used his head, he would have sent the lot of them packing. He'd probably still be premier today. Instead, he paid the political price on May 5, 2015, when disgusted Alberta voters surprised everyone, including themselves and the New Democrats, by electing an NDP majority. He died in a small plane crash on October 13, 2016, returning from a golf game in British Columbia.

For his part, Anderson wisely chose in 2015 to take a breather from politics rather than face the wrath of voters in Airdrie for his serial refusal to dance with the partner that brought him.

I can't vouch for the accuracy of this story, but it's been said someone who ran a flooring company in Airdrie had a billboard that read: "Even Rob Anderson can't wear out our floors!"

So what's a washed-up politician supposed to do when he's only 42 years old and not likely to be welcome in the governing United Conservative Party led by Jason Kenney?

Find another bandwagon, of course!

So the day before Halloween, Anderson sent all his friends and relations a 2,000-word screed saying that since Alberta didn't get its way in the October 21 federal election, what the hell, maybe it's time to separate from Canada!

But maybe not, too. As we already know about Anderson, he's a guy who likes to keep his options open.

Entitled "Separation … if necessary," Anderson trots out all the hyperbole we heard from the Conservative side during the election campaign about how if the Liberals under Justin Trudeau were re-elected, Alberta might as well separate, and concluded that, seeing as Trudeau was re-elected, ummm, we might as well separate.

As an aside, it's surprising they're sticking with this nonsense now that they've been outvoted in an election. You'd think they'd understand by now that's one of the things that happens to someone every time there's an election in a democracy. A strategy with more potential might be to find an electable leader, and a palatable platform.

"We must demand a new and equitable deal within the Canadian Confederation under an updated Constitution," Anderson proclaimed. "Or failing that, we must separate and form a new country with those of our neighbours who wish to join with us."

It just goes on and on and on like this. I'm not going to bore you with a lot of excerpts from this drivel. If you're feeling masochistic, I've copied the whole letter so you can read it yourself.

Among other things, Anderson calls for Ottawa -- presumably cowed by the idea the rest of us might want to join an authoritarian metro-state with one washed-up industry, no port, no savings and $250 billion in clean-up bills as our only legacy from the years we pissed all those oil booms away -- to declare all legislation, provincial and federal, that attempts to tax or regulate Alberta's resources unconstitutional.

Anderson is a lawyer. I'm not making this up.

Another one of his big ideas: Altering representation in the House of Commons "to be entirely proportional to the population of each province" -- presumably an idea he wouldn't recommend in the new Grand Duchy of Alberta. I suppose it's possible he's confusing the House of Commons with the Senate.

Plus, even if we stick around, he wants Alberta to withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan, transferring the hopes of oldsters like your blogger for a secure retirement to the same bunch of grifters who managed the fate of the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund all these years while Alberta's oil billions went … somewhere.

Anderson even got a "nicely done" attaboy from Smith, who seems to have forwarded his screed around to some of her friends.

One wonders who else is dreaming of becoming the Jefferson Davis of Wexitopia.

Well, maybe sovereignty-association is as good a way as any to resurrect a dead political career. It's one place to look for a political miracle when you just can't win the traditional way -- you know, with votes, on election day.

Stand by for Anderson to be respectfully welcomed to Smith's right-wing Calgary talk radio program any day now, and to the pages of your local Postmedia rag soon after that.

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Image: David J. Climenhaga

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