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Thursday, 18 December 2014 06:32

Wrestling with the truth: All the political world is a stage

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All the world is a stage. Maybe more specifically, all the Alberta legislature is a stage.

In the theatre of professional wrestling, what happened on Tuesday at the Alberta Legislature was what is called a “heel turn”. Heel being the antagonist or bad guy. Of course, professional wrestling is fake. It’s not real as matches are staged with the outcomes all predetermined. To make things interesting, those who script matches will write in something which would catch everyone off guard, such as the hero turning into a villain. 
On Dec. 16, apparently Alberta politics and those who called themselves Wildrose Party MLAs (with the exceptions of Rick Strankman and Drew Barnes, but who knows by press time — it changes by the minute) have shown themselves to be fake. A ruse. It was all fraudulent theatre.
Danielle Smith and Rob Anderson apparently have led the charge back to the Progressive Conservative trough where apparently mindless Albertans pour bags of money. The politicians happily snort and gobble all they can get in perks, pension and power. Cue the “I told ya’ so” saying “once a Conservative, always a Conservative.”
The Wildrose Party called themselves the true fiscal conservatives, plus integrity. Now, it turns out Smith and Anderson are poised to receive the opportunity for high-level positions in cabinet and the remaining MLAs are setting themselves up for guaranteed fat political, taxpayer-paid for pensions for the rest of their lives.
Voting Wildrose and then having this happen is a betrayal of democracy. No matter one’s political stripe, one has to feel sorry for Wildrose staffers, the approximately 21,000 people who have Wildrose memberships and even those people who voted for them. Their honourable beliefs and efforts are crushed, just like a friend who turns his or her back on another.
Once the Wildrose members figured their little cliqué of representatives weren’t going to win the election and be in power, it was a lot easier to follow the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” credence. You have to think those who have crossed the floor must be like those unpopular children who were finally accepted by the cool group’s cliqué.
Can voter apathy be so bad that it laps itself? Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: voter turnout will be lower than ever in the next election, which will not-so-surprisingly be called early.
While voter apathy will run rampant, the number of candidates running for office will probably increase. After all, if one can become the PC candidate in a riding he or she will have it made. There is no one to answer to; just smile, do what one is told and be pampered and cared for handsomely the rest of one’s life.
The pioneering spirit of hard work and doing what’s for the collective good is gone.
Ironically, a cynic would say, it looks like the Alberta Progressive Conservatives will be in power as long as the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1912-1991).
Not to overdramatize, but it is a sad day in Alberta politics for a number of reasons. It gave credence to the average voter that there are no alternatives when it comes to voting. It adds ammunition to arguments from apathetic voters who say politics is corrupt and politicians are in it for themselves so why vote? Who can argue?
From a practical standpoint, there is no one who can keep anyone accountable now. Despite noble efforts by Brian Mason and now Rachel Notley, the NDP will never govern Alberta. The Alberta Liberals are a mess as always, and no one has really paid much attention to the Alberta Party. To top it off, Smith is like Liberal leader Raj Sherman and Alberta Party’s Greg Clark in that they are former members of the Progressive Conservatives with Notley being the only leader without PC ties.
What makes it a tough pill to swallow is the Wildrose did an outstanding job in keeping the Progressive Conservatives in check. Anderson was a heat-seeking missile when it came to PC fiscal waste and budget miscues. Smith was articulate and a well informed leader.
However, after the Wildrose’s obvious poor campaigning in the four by-elections this fall the PCs swept including disgraced ex-Premier Alison Redford’s former riding, the Wildrose Party fell apart. A house of cards; a sandcastle versus the Tory-blue tidal wave.With a provincial budget coming, it will have at best unproven scrutiny and little opposition. Good timing and well played puppetmaster ... errr ... Premier Prentice.
The only happy Albertans are probably optimists who think there could be party mergers in the future. A Liberal/NDP/Alberta Party/spare part Wildrose Party could be created to make some new centre party (ala Saskatchewan Party).
The moves this week means a lot more status quo. Voters have shown they are hesitant to vote anything other than PC no matter the scandal.
Twitterverse had a field day with one Tweet showing a semi-iconic photo of Smith flanked by Anderson where they are at podium prior to the recent by-elections with the sign reading “Send the PCs A Message” and  a fake addition reading in small print “That we’d like to join them”.
Another said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 43 times in a row...” Sadly funny.
Others mocked Wildrose slogans such as “Strengthening Democracy and Ending Entitlement.” Yup, good ol’ democracy at its finest.
One can’t help but be reminded of the old Alberta Hart family wrestling organization Stampede Wrestling. The evil manager character Mr. Foley, always had run-ins with the iconic and legendary Calgary broadcaster Ed Whalen. Foley was a great evil character who typified all of those who were hungry for power. A large, rotund man with a thick British accent, he was the stereotypical fat-cat capitalist and was always trying to “sign the best wrestlers” to join his gang.
He generally ended his interviews with “Money talks Ed!” It made for great, over-the-top drama, and ridiculous theatre — just like Dec. 16 did.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor