You know, if it weren’t for all the gimps, retards and fags, Alberta wouldn’t have to be the socialist whine-ocracy that it is today. See, some people are after a hand-out instead of hand up — but in the land of dinosaurs and cowboys (with the politics of dinosaurs and cowboys), they’re more likely just to get a smack.

Reinforcing yet again the Saudi/Texas Paradigm — that enormous oil wealth breeds obscurantism — the God-fearing people of Alberta are set to hand the thuggish, pickled crypto-fascistic lush, Ralph Klein, yet another uncontested landslide. Good for them! To paraphrase the oily chairman himself, “they don’t look severely handicapped.”

That’s what Klein told an audience at the end of October, referring to two women who had been “yipping about [Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program] payments”; to an audience that, according to, responded with a “titter of laughter,” Klein protested that the two “didn’t look severely handicapped to me, I tell you that for sureâe¦ They both had cigarettes dangling from their mouth and cowboy hats.” You mean somebody’s trained retards to dangle cigarettes from their lips? Sounds like the stem cell research has already started.

The first time I heard the complaint that “She doesn’t look handicapped,” it was directed at my mother, just a few years before she died. Her body wrecked by the cumulative effects of leukemia, radiation, a bone marrow transplant and newly acquired asthma, Mom was generously granted a handicap parking decal, which — every time she used it — ended up more like an audition for the people parked around her. Did she look disabled enough to park closer than them? Most of the time, the answer was “No.”

I can still remember vividly the way my aunt darted after an older couple who had questioned the authenticity of my mother’s affliction in the parking lot of a mall. Mom’s Disability Pension was withheld for a year, until our MP Svend Robinson got the wheels in motion for us (an act for which he was conferred Sainthood in my household, a beatification that shan’t be reversed no matter how many rings go missing). My mom, generally no political activist, talked about writing letters in order to have the official “disabled” symbol (the wheelchair stickman) changed to be more inclusive, in order that she might not be accosted in parking lots so often. She convalesced while Rick Hansen wheeled over the Great Wall of China.

Mom was survived by, among other people, her oldest son, afflicted not only by all the financial security one expects would be the purview of a left-wing internet pundit, but also by sometimes-crippling anxiety disorders, invisible to experts like Ralph Klein. I don’t look retarded either, Ralph — but my obsessive-compulsive disorder is bad enough that, in the past, my ability to participate in economic life has been curtailed. Of course, how can I pick up a hand-out if I can’t take my hands out from under the tap?

Just kidding, Ralphie; I’m not actually a hand washer — I leave that to other people, who wash their hands of any problem they can’t see. Klein has long been identified with the kind of everyman “Common Sense” that his ideological brother Mike Harris used to name his “Revolution.”

Turns out that this populist folk wisdom is nothing more than crass prejudice and ignorance wrapped up in charismatic over-confidence. Of course, what can we expect from a man who had to plagiarize his own paean to Augusto Pinochet?

In preparing this piece, I had to run a few of the personal history facts past my father’s check — the childhood memories, at this point, are diluted by time and trauma. When he found out what I was writing, Dad asked me to be nice, since Klein’s mother had recently died. Without thinking, I’d snapped back that Klein’s situation left me unmoved — that my own mother had died over a decade ago, her last years marred not only by poor health, but also by shabby treatment at the hands of gruff know-nothings espousing the same sickeningly ignorant and hurtful ethos that Klein has built his career on.

Today, men like him — and my own province’s economic necrophiliac, B.C.’s Gordon Campbell — are plundering the hospitals and access to prescriptions we need to keep more people’s mothers from dying. I’d like to say I feel bad for saying all that, and that I told my dad I took it back.

But I’ve seen Ralph Klein — he doesn’t look severely traumatized to me.