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Happy Alberta Day, fellow 'Albertians'! But don't count on having two days off in September

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney giving his "Alberta Day" address last September (Image: Jason Kenney/Screenshot of Twitter video)

Should we be getting ready for "Alberta Day," my fellow Albertians?

Does Jason Kenney have a plan to erase Labour Day and replace it with something called Alberta Day on or about September 1?

It certainly wouldn't be out of character.

Labour Day celebrates labour, which in practical terms often means organized labour. We all know about how our Dear Leader and his party feel about that.

Consider a policy 3 submitted for consideration at the upcoming United Conservative Party virtual annual general meeting and policy convention on October 16 and 17 in cyberspace: "The United Conservative Party believes the Government of Alberta should make Alberta a right-to-work jurisdiction."

What's more, Labour Day is also a federal holiday and we're starting to get a feeling for how Kenney feels about that too, now that he seems to have been denied the chance to become prime minister of all the little Canadas.

For evidence of this, check the AGM's policy resolutions document to see how the celebrated Mr. K's many sovereignist hobby horses are now on their way to becoming government policy -- Alberta pension plan, Alberta police, Alberta tax collection and so on. As an old song says, in this way Mr. K will challenge the world.

This may sound far-fetched enough to be what's nowadays known as fake news, but as Albertans are starting to learn, this being the age of Trump and all, nothing is necessarily too bonkers for Alberta's premier and the fringe remnants of the old-timey Conservatives who ran this province for 40 odd years that now mainly populate the UCP.

Nor is this blog the first publication to ponder such a development. Last year, the entirely respectable Toronto Star -- then still trying to create a commercial beachhead in Alberta -- entertained much the same thought.

It was May 2019 and Mr. Kenney was bumping beer cans in a UCP social media video with the province's honorary chief game warden, environment and parks minister Jason Nixon, while he mused about the good people of this jurisdiction someday soon celebrating Alberta Day on September 1.

The premier's press secretary told the Star then, however, that Alberta Day was "just an alternative that people choose to use."

That was then, though. This is now.

The Star, which always celebrated Confederation as a great cause, has retreated from our virtual shores, leaving behind only a small bureau or two -- the journalistic equivalents of a couple of consulates.

And Alberta Day, according to Mr. Kenney's pronouncement last month, is now an actual thing. "Our government has officially declared September 1st as Alberta Day to celebrate our great province and all that makes us, as our provincial motto says, strong and free," he said in the statement just before Labour Day.

Kenney failed to mention that Alberta became a province in Confederation by a benevolent act of the Canadian Parliament in 1905, choosing instead to focus on what he called "the protracted fight to wrestle ownership of our own natural resources from the federal government in 1930." The negotiations leading up to the Alberta Natural Resources Act of 1930 and those affecting other western provinces were protracted. A fight? Maybe not so much.

To make this really work, of course, Kenney would have to legislatively adopt the formula of holding Alberta Day on the first Monday of September so that the UCP could pretend we were celebrating a different holiday on the same date everyone else was marking the accomplishments of labour.

It's safe to assume that there's no way Kenney will give Albertans two days off in September. The premier’s friends at Restaurants Canada were probably on the line pretty quickly making sure that wasn't not the plan.

This has worked before, of course, as when the early Christian church decided to mark the birth of Jesus by adopting adopted the pagan practice of celebrating the winter solstice to mark the birth of a Jesus, which is said to have likely taken place around the end of June.

Welcome to a new era, where the people of the land, the common clay of the New West, have something politically correct, Alberta style, to celebrate at the start of September.

The first virus enters the White House

Already I've had a text message from a dear friend suggesting the affliction of U.S. President Donald Trump with the first virus is probably the work of the deep state.

Considering the source, I imagine this is sarcasm. But we don't have to imagine very hard to conclude that we'll soon be hearing the same thing said in all seriousness by Trump's supporters, quite possibly some of them in the UCP caucus.

Nor is it hard to imagine that when the president recovers, assuming he does, this will not infect him with any humility or common sense.

Could some kind of sympathy vote carry him to victory? If you're looking for a conspiracy theory about this startling development, that might be a better one.

Editor's note, October 2, 2020: An earlier version of this article incorrectly suggested Jason Kenney announced the launch of "Alberta Day" in October 2020. In fact, he made the announcement in September. The story has been corrected.

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.

Image: Jason Kenney/Screenshot of Twitter video

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