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Wexit's last territorial demand in British Columbia

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Prince Rupert waterfront. Image: A.Davey/Flickr

Just when you thought it couldn't get any nuttier out here in Wexitopia, former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith took to the Twittersphere to promote a territorial corridor from Alberta to the B.C. coast.

I know what you're thinking, but as regular readers of this blog well understand, I never make stuff up about Alberta. There's no need!

With last month's federal election results pointing to another four years of Justin Trudeau as prime minister, probably followed by a return to a Liberal majority after that, the entire right-wing establishment that runs Alberta appears to have gone right over the edge of our flat little Prairie planet.

On a positive note, though, apparently it has sunk through to Smith, who lately in her new role as a right-wing radio talk jock has been sounding like an outright Prairie secessionist, that not having a seacoast might turn out to be a problem for our new Wexitopian petro-state. This would be especially true in an era of rapid global warming when there's a growing worldwide demand for the quickest possible exit to a low-carbon future.

Her solution? Take some of Canada's Pacific Coast away from British Columbia, plus a big hunk of Manitoba, and run huge corridors back to Sweet Home Alabamberta.

I suppose the next thing Smith will say is, "These are Alberta's last territorial demands in North America."

Smith refers to a document penned by one Gerard Lucyshyn, who is said to be a "senior fellow" and VP of research at the not-exactly-respectable Frontier Institute for market fundamentalist lunacy in Winnipeg in addition to being a lecturer at Calgary's Mount Royal University. He was the Wildrose candidate in the Calgary-West riding in 2015.

Last month the Frontier Centre published 10 pages from Lucyshyn, in the words of Smith's tweet, "about redrawing Alberta's and Saskatchewan's borders to correct an historic wrong and give us access to deepwater ports at #PrinceRupert and #Churchill."

Lucyshyn's plan would lop off all of British Columbia north of the 54th parallel and give it to Alberta. It would do much the same thing to the top half of Manitoba with Saskatchewan as the beneficiary -- if gaining the moribund Port of Churchill can be described as a benefit.

Let me repeat. I am not making this up. It would be safe to conclude that Lucyshyn, who appears to have a master's degree from Carleton University (an academic credential, it must be noted, that he shares with the author of this blog), does not have a strong background in the history of Canada's West Coast.

Be that as it may, Smith concluded her tweet with this question. "What say you B.C. and Manitoba?"

As it happens, not only do I have a master's degree of sufficient prestige to become a "senior fellow" at an "institute," I am in a position to answer that question.

Leastways, while I think it is a reasonably safe bet that neither Smith nor Lucyshyn has ever lived in Prince Rupert, I am here to inform readers that I have.

Indeed, I doubt that northern port with the third-deepest natural harbour in the world has ever forgotten me, and there are probably people there still bitter about my controversial opinions about north coast fashions and haircuts -- expressed, unfortunately, in a university newspaper in another part of Canada and cruelly reprinted by the local rag.

Well, never mind that. There was only one death threat, and it was too elaborate to be taken seriously.

Nevertheless, despite a bumpy start, my extensive experience in that part of the country, a hotbed of NDP support, enables me to inform you with great confidence, dear readers, and Smith as well, that this suggestion will not be well received at the mouth of the Skeena, let alone across the Kandaliigwii in Haida Gwaii.

Indeed, I could tell you exactly what they would say. Two concise Anglo-Saxon words, not unfamiliar these days to residents of Alberta, that I am not prepared to print in this blog on the reasonable grounds they might be read by impressionable youngsters.

In Prince Rupert, they are probably breaking out the muskets as I write this.

The Annals of International Travel: Albertans are abroad again!

Students of Alberta politics will remember the brouhaha back in 2012 and 2013 when Alison Redford, then Progressive Conservative premier of this place, was shamed into repaying $45,000 in public money for a trip she'd taken to South Africa on the public's dime to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela.

In the same approximate time frame, Redford was also accused of using the government's Dash 8 aircraft to fly her daughter, her daughter's nanny, and sundry friends and relations hither and yon. And then there was the matter of her "personal travel scout" who ran up some $300,000 in bills over 20 months doing advance planning in exotic locales for international trade meetings and the like.

Fallout from that scandal -- which certainly contributed to the demise of the PC government to the NDP in 2015 -- permanently grounded the government's Dash 8, which was subsequently sold off, to the great inconvenience of the present Conservative government whenever it needs something in which to fly visiting Conservative premiers and their spouses to Saskatoon.

At the time, there was no shortage of critics in the Wildrose Party prepared to assail the premier for living like a wretched elitist, not the solid yeomen of Alberta for whom such real conservatives stood up.

Well, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

Yesterday we learned from Heather Sweet, NDP ethics critic, that the appropriately aristocratic-sounding David Knight Legg -- described by local media as Premier Jason Kenney's principal adviser, and said to have been expensively educated at Oxford -- racked up about $45,000 in expenses flying first class, staying at a hotel in London billed as "a home to aristocrats," and sipping champers with toffs from "the City of London," as the financial district is known, supposedly to persuade them to invest their devalued post-Brexit pounds in Alberta.

The premier's press secretary responded to Sweet's revelation petulantly, complaining that the NDP is apparently not aware "that London is the global financial capital."

"Under the NDP, Alberta saw tens of billions of dollars in job creating investment flee our province -- and with it, jobs," Harrison Fleming told local scribblers, rewriting history just a little.

"Mr. Knight Legg, a highly credentialed and experienced business professional, is tasked with working to bring that investment back to Alberta," he huffed.

Note to Press Secretary Fleming, the global financial capital has given notice to London and commenced the process of moving to Frankfurt. This happened soon after the British people, as someone might have put it, chose hope over fear and embraced a confident, sovereign future, open to the world!

Pip! Pip!

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 at The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on David's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Image: A.Davey/Flickr

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