And everyone wonders why this country is so divided? 

   It is like any kinda of tenuous relationship between two sides… one or both parties don’t communicate and people jump to conclusions, this is what happens. 

   Alberta premier Jason Kenney can thank The Globe and Mail columnist Marcus Gee for inciting a near old Alberta-cultural riot with his July 25 column “Pickup trucks are a plague on Canadian streets.” Next thing you know there will be those who take cheap shots or even protest petroleum production and rodeos… oh wait, never mind. 

   The self-proclaimed Canada’s national newspaper ran the opinion piece — not news story — July 25 and since then we have seen many with the predictable middle finger salute to those in Toronto, affectionately known as the “Centre of the Universe.”

   Of course there was the over reaction of Premier Jason Kenney pictured in a Progressive Conservative/Tory/UCP blue-coloured truck shortly after the opinion piece was released. Social media was filled with people who rightly pointed out that trucks are needed for their jobs in the oil patch, agriculture, construction etc. or that they just like trucks better. 

   The debates continued anecdotally about surviving and driving Canadian snow and ice filled winters and what was better: a truck or just a car with good winter tires. It turned into a July 4-pro-USA-level of Alberta flag waving, protectionist, mini protest with all of those extra proud and vigilant drivers in their trucks with their variety plates or window or bumper stickers indicating their extreme non-support of Trudeau, any level of NDP or anyone against oil production. Fanning the flames I think they call it. 

   Really, Kenney should be thanking Gee for the distraction and adding some (Alberta) petroleum to the political anti-East fire. In a huge cloud of exhaust coming from one of those "mastodons" as Gee called them, Kenney can vigorously wave the Alberta flag.

   "They don't like our trucks" talk replaces the debate about Alberta’s unfair treatment with federal equalization payments and the economists and experts of varying levels who refute Kenney’s claims of unfair treatment and point out how Kenney was in the federal government which created the program. 

   There’s also the Canada–Alberta Early Learning and Child Care Agreement just signed by the Alberta government however, Nova Scotia and B.C. has accessed other federal funding which would give those provinces $10/day child care programs. Other than a vanilla “dog-ate-my-homework” response of 'we are still getting information and we don’t know yet' explanation from Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schultz July 23, there was nothing of substance explaining why Alberta hadn't opted in yet. 

  There is also the complaints of those in the Alberta medical profession who are concerned about the Alberta government throwing the intention of rolling back nurses’ pay cheques by 3 per cent now that there is a reprieve from all of the pandemic discussions. Or are the complaints unjustified and it is just the powerful unions trying to save jobs/union dues?

   Yet, with all of that debate of those issues, here we are, talking about trucks. 

   Why? Easy, it’s because we don’t understand each other nor do we want to find out about the rest of Canada, no matter where we live. 

   For example It would be easy to label Gee, The Globe and Mail writer as just a hack his bio says otherwise. 

   A distinguished, experienced and award winning writer including winning an award from Amnesty International with his human rights reporting, we in the west have to remember where he is from a city with traffic congestion which is beyond ridiculous. Every inch of road way counts. Equate it to being in a fast food drive-through and you have five, long pick-up trucks in a row causing there to be a traffic jam on the road. 

   With bigger vehicles means less space so for those driving small cars which Gee whines about, while failing to complain about city transit and semi-trucks bringing food and much needed supplies. 

   The trouble is that those in Alberta are believing this is a deliberate, direct attack on them. While Gee does acknowledge the tired old stereotypes of only those in agriculture, good ol’ boys etc.  as being the ones driving trucks, the real crux of his rant is that he just doesn’t like big vehicles. The column notes that five of the top ten vehicles sold in the USA are trucks.  He says the fuel and material overkill to drive a large vehicle to do simple urban tasks is wasteful. He then paints every pick-up driver with the same brush that they are all overly aggressive. 

   Making over assumptions much the same as Albertans assuming this article was purely an anti-west rant. It isn’t. It is both ways political opportunism feeding off the ignorance all of Canada has about each other within its own borders. 

   Rick Mercer’s old TV special Talking with Americans could get a run for its money with a new program “Talking with Canadians (about Canada).”

   Ironically, those in government who are ultimately in charge of our educational system seem happy we don’t have a clear understanding of all that there is to offer within each province. Tell me if you have heard these before: quick, when you think B.C.? Environmentalists and marijuana. Alberta? Oil and cowboys. Sask.: Wheat and flat land. Manitoba: Swamp. Ontario: snooty people driving electric cars….etc. 

   Those who help create our education system and we in the media need to do a better job explaining about Canada to the rest of Canada or else a lot of history is missed and simpleton attitudes can be eliminated. 

  We can then learn more about more important things that are perhaps missed, such as residential schools. 

Ryan Dahlman, managing editor of Prairie Post East/Prairie Post West

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