The grounds of the Alberta Legislature in summer under construction.
Apocalypse Now at the Alberta Legislature? Well, it’s colder now that it was when this picture was taken. Brace yourselves! Credit: David J. Climenhaga Credit: David J. Climenhaga

With the Alberta Legislature resuming sitting today with a Throne Speech, one has to wonder what the United Conservative Party (UCP) government of Premier Danielle Smith will get up to next? 

The headline on the government’s news release Friday about the inaugural session of the 31st Legislature, the first since the May 29 election, says MLAs will reconvene “with legislation geared towards providing financial protection and securing Albertans’ interests.”

Now there’s a heavily coded phrase if ever I heard one that ought to send Halloween chills up and down your spines, my dear fellow Albertans. 

“Alberta’s government is returning to the Legislature with a mandate from voters to grow our economy, protect law-abiding Albertans, improve health care and defend our province from federal interference,” said Government House Leader Joseph Schow, the MLA for Cardston-Siksika who is enjoying his Warholian 15 minutes of fame, in the canned quote assigned to him in the government’s press release. 

Improve health care? I’ll bet! 

Proposed legislation will include “safeguarding pensions,” the release adds, and we all know what that means since the government’s absurdist planned Alberta pension plan grift has dominated provincial political coverage for a month.

“Additional proposed legislation will include further strengthening Alberta’s case against those who helped create the opioid crisis,” the release also says – although you can count on it that whatever the UCP comes up with, it will do nothing to alleviate the opioid crisis or save any lives. The contrary, more likely. 

But what else will they do to appeal to the basest of their base and distract and troll the rest of us? 

Channel Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and use the Canadian Constitution’s Notwithstanding Clause to require parental consent before a child can use a “new gender-related preferred name” at school?

Set a punitive tax on electric vehicles to match the moratorium on renewable energy projects? 

Ban forest fire smoke forecasts and COVID-19 statistics on the grounds they’re fake news? 

Who the hell knows?

I’ve tried to make these proposals ridiculous enough to educate through humour. Really, though, that’s very hard to do when contemplating the UCP government here in Wild Rose Country, or the Saskatchewan Party government in the province next door.

Either could very well introduce such ideas, or worse, if they haven’t already. 

This creates a real problem for those who dare to comment on Prairie populist politics.

We understand, after all, that most educated and thoughtful readers have an inherent distrust of extreme statements. 

So how do you even report accurately on many of the policies of the Smith Government, not to mention the ridiculous and contradictory statements made almost daily by Premier Smith, without sounding like you’ve slipped your mooring?

One can even hear frustration with this state of affairs creeping in to the staid commentary of respectable mainstream media columnists. 

Alas, sounding like an alarmist Chicken Little lunatic has become an occupational hazard of practicing journalism in Alberta. 

This may account for the number of Albertans telling themselves metronomically that the UCP doesn’t really want to set up an Alberta pension plan, they just want to have a fight with Ottawa. 

Nope. Sorry. They want your money. Gifters gonna grift. 

Living as we do in an age of superlatives, the superlatives keep getting more superlative – even when they’re true at every step. 

Alison Redford may well have been the worst premier in Alberta history, and she was going after pensions too – although not necessarily yours.

Jason Kenney was most definitely worse than Ms. Redford, though – and he refloated Stephen Harper’s pre-prime-ministerial scheme to grab Alberta’s share of the Canada Pension Plan, whatever that turns out to be. (Hint: Not 52 per cent.) 

Lo and behold, Premier Smith is worse than either of them – and she’s definitely after your pension!

You see what I mean? 

How can anyone report honestly on UCP plans for Alberta Health Services, or cleaning up the oilsands, using the Sovereignty Act, or whatever else occurs to them, without sounding hysterical?

Fasten your seatbelts! It’s sure to get worse.

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...