Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Garth Turner has Alberta separatism -- and little else -- on the brain

In a recent post on his blog, Garth Turner continues to milk the controversy surrounding his boneheaded separatism remarks for all he can get.

In the post, he quotes several blogs -- including The Nexus -- and their responses to his recent -- and protracted -- remarks regarding Alberta separatism.

However, Garth truly stretches credulity when he takes aim at this Calgary Herald editorial:

"Once a Tory, now a Liberal MP, Garth Turner used his blog last week to call Albertans "a bunch of self-aggrandizing, hostile, me-first, greedy, macho, selfish and balkanizing separatist losers . . . just like the separatists in Quebec."

We admire his directness. No point crafting innuendoes when a simple insult will do. Now, Albertans know where they stand with Garth. (So do Quebecers.)

That's more than we can say for his boss, Stephane Dion, who said the party was seeking a more respectful debate than Turner was offering. But, of course, the debate is over a so-called green plan that appears to be a way of siphoning money out of the West for social programs in the East. That's hostile, too.

The obvious explanation is that it's the same old thing: The Liberals have so little to lose in the West, they might as well be hostile if it helps them gather votes in the East.

What else is new? It keeps happening, from the NEP, to Jean Chretien's "tough love" speech, in which he asserted his preference for doing business with easterners, to his lectures about values, as though ours were inferior to those conceived in central Canada, and the consistent Liberal strategy toward the West of acting first, and consulting later. The whole Kyoto Protocol fiasco is a case in point.

And so on. No wonder the Reform Party got to first base yelling, "The West wants in."

The truth is, there's a part of central Canada that just doesn't seem to like what the West stands for. It could be envy, it might also be anxiety that

Alberta's star is rising as theirs is falling. It could be tribalism that in Ontario requires a pickup-driving out-group to despise in order to elevate one's own self-esteem. Never mind that Ontario builds the trucks, or that the people buying them produce oil everybody uses.

Whatever it is, loathing Alberta seems to be fun and easy.

Would it make a difference if we apologized for that bumper sticker about letting them freeze in the dark? Probably not.

After all, how does one engage with a blogger who's a bit "self-aggrandizing, hostile, me-first," himself -- or the leader who doesn't shut him up?
Which is very heady stuff.

It's hard for many Westerners to overlook the dismissiveness of Liberal politics toward the region. For many Westerners, it's absolutely impossible.

Of course, coming from the comparatively politically priviledged province of Ontario, it's likely hard for Garth Turner to ever understand this. Even when the long-derided shadow of Western alienation manifested itself in the aforementioned "the West wants in" mentality of the Reform party, many central Canadians have stubbornly refused to ever acknowledge it, and even went so far as to erect some steeply ideological firewalls to ensure that something other than a basic and obvious lack of equity could be blamed for the West's aggitation.

In Turner's case that firewall seems to be the notion of separatism, as he demonstrates in his response to the Herald:

"Because I know the Herald likes to be accurate, please note the quote you attributed to me in your editorial is incorrect. You quoted me as called Albertans “a bunch of self-aggrandizing, hostile, me-first, greedy, macho, selfish and balkanizing separatist losers…just like the separatists in Quebec.”

In fact, I wrote this on my blog (the words are still there) in reference to Stephane Dion: “He stood up once to the self-aggrandizing, hostile, me-first, greedy, macho, selfish and balkanizing separatist losers in Quebec. I guess he can do it again in Alberta.”

The difference? My sentence referred to Quebec separatists following the 1995 referendum. The clear inference was that Dion could do the same to Westerners who like to talk secession. The reference was not to all Albertans. Worse, the Calgary Herald actually made up part of this quote – “just like the separatists in Quebec.”

Yeah, I know it helped make your case that “Albertans know where they stand with Garth.” But it wasn’t true.

Almost all Albertans are proud Canadians who share my faith in a great future together. Some are losers who threaten Easterners. The best way forward is to be honest and open with each other, and a great newspaper can lead the way.
So there you have it.

Not only does Turner imagine that media commentators are expected to read his mind and understand that "OK, he isn't talking about all Albertans here, only those darned separatists" (cue sound of crickets chirping), by golly, all the Albertans who are still mad about the National Energy Program, or who want a Triple-E senate just want to "threaten Easterners".

Or, maybe Westerners are fed up with self-aggrandizing, hostile, me-first, greedy, macho, selfish and balkanizing individuals like Senator Keith Davey, who once described his party's election strategy as "screw the West, we'll take the rest", or former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who once told Westerners they should vote Liberal if they wanted their voices heard.

Or Garth Turner, who invents a separatist menace in Alberta in order to justify his wholly unjustifiable comments.

Which is really where the entire Turner argument begins and ends. Either there is a potent separatist threat in Alberta, worthy of all the attention Turner wants to direct at them, or it isn't.

If Turner could point to just one, single, solitary separatist of any political prominence whatsoever in Alberta, that would be one thing. At least it would lend his flailing a slight bit of credibility.

But he has yet to identify one. And for good reason: there aren't any.

Which may be one of the reasons why Turner's initial comment is the gift that keeps on giving: it keeps revealing Turner's utter ignorance about virtually everything West of the Ontario/Manitoba border.


  1. I would say unbelievable, but since it is you it is sadly al too believeable.

    It was very clear from note one that Turner was referring to separatists, whether they be from Quebec, Alberta or any other province.

    And I completely agree with him.

    I have no respect for anyone who advocates the break up of my country.

    and btw - Patsy. I'm a 14th generation French-Canadian born and raised in Quebec, who has also lived in the 'West' for 30 years. So spare me your faux sanctimony.

  2. Frank, you continue to miss the point, as you constantly do:

    Show me an Alberta separatist with any more political clout than "I have a website".

    Show me one. Identify one. Just one!

    Turner is defending his comments, made regarding something that does not exist -- a credible separatist threat in Alberta -- by continuing to rant about how much he opposes this thing that does not exist.

    Now, I've got you figured out pretty well by now: anyone who says bad things about the Conservatives must be good in your eyes.

    But this is one time in which you're just making yourself look stupider and stupider by insisting on siding with someone who just keeps on making himself look stupider and stupider.

    Wait a minute...

    Did I say one time?

    Heh. My bad.


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