So here’s my question: If it were the Alberta Party instead of the Wildrose Party breathing down the necks of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives, would they change the name of the province?

Yesterday, elected provincial officials dressed as cowboys made a huge deal of a plan to replace the province’s venerable red, blue and white automotive licence tags — replete with the slogan “Wild Rose Country” — with a plate that redundantly promotes Alberta’s official website, 

Uh, does anyone — other than the typical Tory minister, I guess — not know what appears at the top of the list when you Google the word “Alberta”? Do they even know that Google’s a verb? Just asking.

Well, it’s said here the Wildrose Party, even if they do spell their version of the provincial flower as just one word, can take yesterday’s announcement as a sort of backhanded compliment.

Ooooh! I almost forgot. You’ll get to vote on which plate you like best, Albertans! That’s only fair, since you’ll be paying five bucks extra for your next plate to cover the cost of excising the words Wild Rose. And just like before, you’ll only get one.

The timing of the announcement in Calgary — by Minister of Licence Plates Doug Griffiths, accompanied by Solicitor General Jonathan Denis, both dressed up as cowpokes, a painful annual tradition in the few days each year in the former Cowtown that it’s actually too hot to wear cowboy boots — was convenient.

Leastways, it ought to keep folks from talking too much about the embarrassing stuff that’s been in the news lately, like dilapidated hospitals springing leaks every time it rains, an underfunded legal aid system reduced to chaos, schools bursting at the seams and the embarrassing “happy ending” to the sorry tale of Fort Mac MLA Mike Allen, sent to Coventry for a year after trying to hire a hooker while on government business in Minnesota.

Well, for sure under those unhappy circumstances they could hardly merely switch out the provincial flower for the provincial bird (the great horned owl), the provincial animal (the big horned sheep) or the provincial fungus (the red cap mushroom), could they? And I’m not making up a word of that!

About all that’s left that’s is the provincial fish — but, I don’t know why, for some reason Welcome to Bull Trout Country seems not to have made the grade.

And those are just the stories that are already in the news.

The licence plate announcement was also conveniently timed to coincide with the release of provincial Auditor General Merwan Saher’s report, which went on at great and inconvenient length about the province’s pathetic climate change program, which has been doing nothing and achieving less since it was set up six years ago, Finance Minister Doug Horner’s slightly iffy and highly unpopular accounting practices, and the lack of oversight by Alberta Health Services of surgeries contracted out to the high-cost private sector.

Could’ve been embarrassing if everyone wasn’t thinking about something more interesting, like which garish licence plate to vote on, huh?

Getting back to the original question, if it were the Alberta Party that was forcing changes, what would the options be for renaming the province?

Texas North? Alabamberta? Tarsylvania?

Readers’ are invited to submit their suggestions.


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...