This post is aimed at the largely Ontario-based media and their sudden interest in Alberta politics. Since the selection of Danielle Smith as leader of the Wildrose Alliance, political pundits from all the major Ontario-based television and print outlets appear to have jumped aboard the “pay attention to Alberta politics” train, which has led to a new round of half-informed commentary from the normally centre of the Universe-centric pundit gallery. For our friends in central Canada, who have taken a sudden interest in Alberta politics, and more specifically election results, please be aware that Albertans are not a colony of simpleton farmers and oil industry cowboys who all march in-step and mindlessly vote for the Government Party every four years.
Alberta is the most urbanized province in Canada (81% of the population living in urban areas) and the Edmonton-Calgary corridor is one of the most urbanized regions in Canada. We are the third most diverse province in terms of visible minorities. Calgary is the third most diverse Canadian city in terms of visible minorities (after Toronto and British Columbia’s lower mainland) and Edmonton is more diverse than the small cities known as Montreal and Ottawa in the same category. We are people of many faiths and we are also the province with the second highest percentage of self-identified non-religious people. Calgary was the birthplace of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, the precursor of the NDP. Alberta is the first jurisdiction in the British Commonwealth to have elected a female legislator and a female Alderman. Alberta is the home of ColdFX and Bioware. We face some of the same challenges as other provinces and we face some unique of our own.
Our politicians may leave a lot to be desired, but so do yours. Alberta’s political culture is a lot more diverse than the common mythology will tell you. So, before you join your fellow Upper Canada College alumni for high tea at the Canadian Club to tell stories of how the western simpletons have made the intellectual leap and discovered democratic choice, please take a glance at the charts below. The next time you hear someone pose the question “who do Albertans turn to when they are not happy with their government?,” ask yourself if that that question would sound just as ridiculous if you were talking about Ontarians.