By Bruce McAllister
It takes a tight spot to discover what we’re made of. Challenges and struggles are the birthplace of character and a better way of life, if we choose to grow. As Alberta faces the squeeze of economic pressures brought on in part by poor policy making under Liberal and NDP governments, we are discovering if we are made of the resilient stuff we’ve become known for. These days, across Alberta, we are gathering to stand up for democratic fairness, for our common good, for the right to make our own decisions, and to chart our own course. Alberta is having the kind of family meetings that we need to have, testing our resolve to be the kind of province we know we can be.
There is little question that Quebec and Ontario have an unfair influence on what happens in Alberta. Population-heavy and seat-rich central Canada leans in favour of policies that barely acknowledge the West. Alberta had high hopes that hard work, world-class innovation, and our position as a solid contributor to the Federation would keep our interests ever before eastern lawmakers. On Canada Day in 2017 our Prime Minister celebrated every province, except for ours.
What we are learning on the Federal stage is opening our eyes to a silent and troubling reality much closer to home. While we gather to re-imagine a better Alberta free from the heavy hand of those who make decisions for us, and without us, we’ve found that our own internal policies are stifling and limiting the very freedoms we hope to maintain. In Alberta, we have government policies that continue to damage rural Albertans, drafted and implemented with the sole purpose of eliminating competition and giving decision making veto power to the largest populations in the region.
For Albertans who live in Rocky View, Foothills, Wheatland, and even High River or other smaller communities surrounding Calgary, it may be pointless to elect your own councils — and this is troubling.
The NDP mandated a behemoth board, officially named the CMRB (Calgary Metropolitan Regional Board) which gives decisions over land use to Calgary. Not the people of Calgary, who would be appalled at the very idea of stifling the economic opportunity and autonomy of a neighbour, but the bureaucrats of Calgary City Hall and those political brokers who don’t believe rural Albertans should have the ability to decide what’s built on their land or in their communities. They have taken over the map of the region.
Sound familiar? While Albertans gather to wrest back control back from the Laurentian Elite who think they know best for our province, a small group of Calgary officials are posing the same threat to the wellbeing of rural Alberta and their ability to be an economic engine within our province. Their message is the same: Get out of our way, we aren’t asking for anything, just let us thrive and create and prosper like we’ve done for years, and to your benefit. Rural Alberta does not need the virtue signalling of Calgary bureaucrats and their ever-growing big-brother attitude. Calgary’s Chamber of Secrets has no place deciding what’s best for those communities outside of their purview.
If these freedoms are worth fighting for on the big stage, under the bright lights and TV cameras, they must be worth fighting for on the smaller one. The same politicians and keynotes that so willingly pontificate about the injustices we face as a province should step up and show the same passion for rural municipalities and their people. We know what Albertans are made of, and it’s time to get out of their way much closer to home.