The Throne Speech…

You can be forgiven for being cranky.

It’s getting to be 40 below. Character building weather. 

Wrestling in the Alberta legislature provided some welcome distraction — Rock ‘em Notley versus Sock ‘em Smith — pure theatre. 

A speech from the Throne, they called it. And you can imagine it was, if you’re sitting on a toilet. A real shit show, yup. Theatre of the absurd. 

But what a performance by the lead actors! 

Actor 1: Rachel Notley walked into a trap, calling for a vote on the new premier’s so-called Sovereignty Act. This isn’t the first time she’s been sucker-punched. Justin Trudeau did it to her, more than once. If she wants to be boss woman in the province, Notley is going to have to stop playing a naive sop. 

Actor 2: Former premier Jason Kenney decided this was the moment to announce his exit from Alberta politics. Brilliant! It prompted (supporting actor) Minister Tyler Shandro to go nearly purple with rage and bolt from the Legislature. Excellent performances, all round!

Actor 3: Danielle Smith (leading lady of the moment), has proven she can take a page from Trump’s franchise playbook and do American politics lite. She’s succeeded in riling up the great unwashed, turning a so-called sovereignty bill into the rubber chicken the slightly showered press can complain about (a holiday gift since things are getting slow in the newsroom).

If this is a taste of things to come, get out your virtual reality goggles. You’re about to enter into the topsy Metaverse of Alberta Politics, where up is down, and sideways is, well… let’s just wait and see.

One thing is for certain: politics attracts actors. The best of the bunch get to dress up and play all kinds of nifty roles.

Remember when Justin Trudeau juiced up his political career by challenging a First Nations guy to a charity boxing match? He beat the daylights out of Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau. Pure theatrics! It put Trudeau (the younger) on the map as a top Liberal performer in 2012.

Actors perform roles. If you are a good actor, you play the role as written. You are not required to believe or inhabit the personality you are directed to play. You just have to make it look believable.

Whoever is writing Premier Smith’s scripts….er, speeches, take note: it all sounds self-serving, mostly disingenuous, and the sincerity lightbulb is pretty dim.

As for scripting the Leader of the Loyal Opposition: the way the show works is you’re supposed to be irate, furious, and all the rest of the performance after you’ve heard the details — all of the Throne speech — just in case you miss stuff, eh.

It’s cold. Miserable weather.

Albertans deserve some comic relief.

This column is the consensus opinion of the writers Donna Kennedy-Glans & Don Hill. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to BEYOND POLARITY — scroll down on your phone or tablet, or look to the right in the panel beside this post. Enter your email to FOLLOW, a wheel spins, hamsters get fed.

7 thoughts on “The Throne Speech…

  1. Ironically, it’s not 40 below, a massive hyperbole. Canadians (yes, even Albertans) want governments to collaborate on the issues that matter. Danielle Smith will not accept this, just as she’ll question the results of the 2023 election that sends her back to talk radio. (Except it will be on the internet this time, subscription only, as she’ll be too toxic for any of the conservative media.)

  2. Oh, Donna, you just miss it all! Admit it.

    Yes, it is theatre [theater? Which is the correct spelling here in Alberta?] but politics was always theatre and always will be. Theatre of the absurd. Well, mostly theatre of the stupid.

    I do wish that I was wrong and that we had “leaders” who were more concerned with substance rather than theatre but there is an election coming….

    It seems to me that both of the party leaders have been leading [nice play on words, eh?] with their chins and have given each other the possibility of successful jabs. Again, that is politics. Foolish, but normal.

    As for the substance of the Sovereignty Act [sorry, even that abbreviated title is too long, let alone the actual title], it is pretty brief. In fact, as I read it – and yes, I did read it – it completely lived up / down to my expectations as it is simply housekeeping; it says that, as normal, Alberta can object to something the feds do (or don’t, as the case may be) and, as a consequence, Alberta can tell it’s civil service (a very extended definition there) to do or, especially, not do something. But, the bill doesn’t in any way, shape or form say that Alberta can or will violate federal legislation. All it allows Alberta to do is to not co-operate with the feds on a case by case basis. That’s it! Simply noting that Alberta can give instructions to it’s civil servants. As if that is new!

    So, why the uproar? All politics. From the UCP side it is a chance to poke a metaphorical stick in the eyes of the feds and from the side of the NDP/Liberal/whatever side, it is, “Horrors; those awful Conservatives.”

    All I can say is: Bart Simpson. “Don’t have a cow, man!”

    And, oh yes, my take is that I really would like to take a non-metaphorical poke at the eyes of the feds because they have done their best over the last number of years to diminish Alberta’s main industry without a) admitting their intent or bias; or b) providing any sort of rational alternatives for Alberta residents if/when the feds do accomplish their dastardly ends. So, all in all, to Hell with Canada’s war on Alberta. Is my position showing a little bit?

  3. Always great observations and comments. I am watching for sure. The theatre of the absurd is coming. It is the Calgary Chamber that really worries me right now.

  4. I agree Albertans deserve some comic relief, I just wish it was something other than the Legislature and provincial government providing it… However, the biggest thing that depresses me is the knowledge that this is just the prologue and next May will only bring a decision on which particular ‘clown show’ will be running the province and I don’t want either of them.

    I used to be incredibly optimistic about the future of Alberta (and Canada for that matter) but I’ve watched our governments over the past few years meet crisis after crisis with lots of fancy promises/speeches/apologies and lots of (mostly borrowed) money but, apparently, no desire or ability to fix the underlying serious structural problems facing our health care system, our aging infrastructure, our badly underfunded and ill-equipped military in an increasingly dangerous world, our lack of respect in the global community (and these last two are linked) and, yes, the changing global climate (and those five challenges are just the tip of the iceberg). I find it’s just impossible to be optimistic anymore.

    Donna knows I love my Winston Churchill quotes and this one from 1938 seems appropriate: “This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless, by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” But today we can’t point to a Nazi dictator as the primary threat, we’re doing it all ourselves…

    1. Don chiming in here: “I don’t want either of them,” either. The Russians (before they went bonkers) have an apt expression: both choices are _worse_. So, what to do? What might be the probability of a yet-to-be-announced gathering (political party perhaps rebooted) entering into the fray?

      1. Honestly, I judge that possibility to be depressingly small even in the medium-term. It took even Peter Lougheed two elections to go from zero seats to government, and even that would be difficult to replicate (not mention that I don’t see (m)any potential Lougheeds around) because there’s just not enough room in the ‘middle’ for a new/renewed centrist alternative. As long as Notley holds on to her 35-40% share of the popular vote and the Wild Reformers hang on to the ~30% share that seems to be their ‘floor’, you need all the remaining vote share just to compete.

        What I think is more likely is that we’ll end up with political whiplash as we bounce back and forth between left-wing and right-wing governments sort of like BC did in the last decades of the 20th century. And that bodes ill for any long-term strategic planning because each government entering office will want to spend most of their political capital just undoing what their predecessors did in the previous term…

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