Peter Lougheed gazes down on the Alberta Mars Team

These days, the brown envelopes are piling up around my office like broken matchsticks on the floor of the Eddy factory. Only they’re even more explosive!

I’m only telling you this so you can brace yourself. I’d feel bad if someone strained their heart or popped a gasket reading this blog.

This document was delivered to me at a late-night meeting in a downtown parking garage by a senior official of the Alberta Public Affairs Bureau, the world’s largest single-client advertising and public relations agency. The PAB plans to release it to the media one day before Premier Alison Redford calls the next Alberta general election.

Hang onto your hats, people, and fasten your seatbelts! If this doesn’t result in another huge majority for the Progressive Conservatives, I don’t know what the heck will.

For immediate release: March 30, 2012

Alberta to balance budget, cure cancer, put men on Mars by 2013, Premier Redford promises

Alberta confidently expects to cure cancer, put men on Mars and provide high-speed Internet connections in all parts of the province by 2013, Premier Alison Redford announced today.

“And as promised we’ll do it all without breaking into a sweat or running a deficit,” Redford said. “Plus, the Keystone XL Pipeline is in like Flynn!”

“What’s more,” she said, “we anticipate working out a deal that will put at least one Starbucks café in every community in Alberta, no matter how small. We’re going to call this P3 program the Alberta Superbrew and we expect turn a profit for the people of Alberta, plus introduce vanilla lattes to the hinterlands, so they’re just like the city, only with nicer views. And everybody knows how property values go up as soon as a Starbucks goes in!”

“Actually, the only hard part is going to be the Internet bit,” Redford added, exuding confidence. “My predecessor, Ed Stelmach, already hosed away something like half a billion dollars on that sucker and it still not working right! Putting a couple of farm boys and a Calgary lawyer on Mars should be a cinch by comparison.”

The premier noted: “They’re working on the cancer bit over at the U of C and, according to the grant application, they’ve pretty well got that one beat too thanks to a little good old Alberta know-how and a great press release!”

Redford explained how the Keystone XL Pipeline deal will be closed: “If Dave Bronconnier can appear on a bus ad with Jean Chretien and still get elected mayor of Calgary three times, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for him to talk the Americans into taking our tar sands oil, especially since it’s practically free!”

Redford added: “Ron Liepert was also telling me we’ve pretty much got a handle on the global economic crisis. Apparently he was snooping around the Finance Minister’s office just after he moved in and he found an old file called marked ‘C.H. Douglas’ that had all kinds of useful tips in it.

“Ron says that since the real cost of production is the mean rate of consumption over the mean rate of production for an equivalent period of time, we should be able to balance the budget in jig time, no matter how much money we give away to the oil companies,” Redford said. “Do you understand that bit? Because I sure don’t!”

She warned, however, that not everything is going to be this easy. “We’re not rocket scientists, although Ron found a really good one in Australia that he thinks can really shake up the Mars program. The guy tells us that there’s no shortage of trained astronauts, even here in Edmonton, if you just know where to look. But this means the Emergency Room wait time thing is going to have to wait a little longer to be sorted out.

“You see,” Redford said, “we used to have a guy who said he could fix the whole thing up in 24 months, but he just bugged off someplace! It’s like he’s gone to Mars. So we figure it’ll be late 2014 or early 2015 before we get the ERs fixed — possibly through a mix of public and private facilities. Then we’ll be able to cut everybody’s taxes and pave the ambulance entryway to the University of Alberta Hospital with solid gold, just like the surgeons’ lounge at the Mazankowski Heart Institute.”

Speaking of Mars, Redford said, Deputy Premier Doug Horner and Energy Minister Ted Morton are both going to work on ensuring the Mars mission is a historic success. “Ted’s going to find a way to use sour gas to fire the rockets, and, God knows, these days we’ve got enough of that stuff lying around. Doug will be responsible for the mission name, which I think is going to be ‘Alberta Innovates — One Mar, Many Mars.'”

“Seeing as Doug thought up such a good name, I’ve asked Gary Mar to actually lead the mission, which we expect to blast off from Zama City, which we’re going to make the site of the Ralph Klein Intergalactic Spaceport, sometime in late 2012,” Redford said. “So it’ll be like his starting place will be farther from home than his destination — a feeling he should be familiar with!”

“Right after that,” she concluded, “we’ll have the election and I’ll be able to get on with privatizing social services!”

OK, I admit it, I just made this stuff up. But it’s all true anyway, as perceptive readers will understand. I promise to keep you up to date with future Government of Alberta leaks right here.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog, Alberta Diary.

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...