July 4, 2017 at 7:07 am  •  Posted in Dave's Blog, Featured by  •  21 Comments

This is an open letter to one wannabe and two current Alberta MLAs who should know better, from a former MLA who does.

I’m ashamed of you.

Here are a couple of definitions of that phrase:

  • to feel disappointed or upset by someone’s behaviour
  • to feel embarrassed because you are related to someone or connected with them

What Justin Trudeau did on Canada Day was to make a mistake. What you three did on Canada Day, by comparison, was beyond the pale.

Very early on in politics, I was given a good piece of advice: when in a situation where you’re required to acknowledge a large number of people or organizations, mention a couple of really key players by name and follow with a phrase like, “and everyone else involved.” Rhyming off a long list of names makes for a very boring speech, and if you try to acknowledge everyone by name, you are bound to forget somebody. It’s human nature, and it leads to hurt feelings on the part of the one whose name you left out. It’s advice that the Prime Minister should have taken, but didn’t, in his Canada Day speech. As a consequence, he forgot to mention Alberta.

I suppose some Albertans’ feelings were hurt by Trudeau’s omission, although I really wonder how many even knew or cared about it. We were out and about on Salt Spring Island, celebrating Canada Day the way most Canadians celebrated — checking out the classic cars at the Show and Shine on the baseball diamond…enjoying the music…watching kids having fun…chowing down with the neighbours on barbecued burgers and potato salad…watching the fireworks. In short, we were too busy behaving like most Canadians do on Canada Day to pay attention to political speeches — honestly, I get that prime ministers are expected to make speeches on Canada Day, but surely they understand that people are having too much fun to be bothered listening. And we were too busy being Canadian to give any thought to any of the provinces.

It’s called Canada Day for a reason, after all.

Now don’t get me wrong. I do think that Justin Trudeau makes a better prime minister than either of the alternatives, and I do like that he is regarded these days internationally as perhaps the only leader in the English-speaking world who walks upright. But I don’t think he’s the messiah, I’m far from dazzled and amazed by his government’s record so far, and if a pollster were to ask my assessment of his performance, I’d be in the “somewhat approve” category.

But here’s the thing: even if a whole bunch of Albertans were offended, upset, hurt, or left to feel like chopped liver by his forgetting to mention the province in his Canada Day speech, you three are expected to be bigger than that.

The offices which you currently hold (or in your case, Jason, held, since right now you’re only a former elected official, just like me) and the office to which each of you aspires demand that you be bigger than that.

Jason Kenny, Brian Jean, Derek Fildebrandt — you all have designs on the Premiership of Alberta. Derek, yours is more, shall we say, theoretical at the moment since you’ve admitted only that you’re considering taking a run at the leadership of a united conservative party. But the fact that you’re even considering it means you have been thinking about it, fantasizing about what you would do with it if you got it. I know what’s going through all of your minds….you may remember that once upon a time I (stupidly) sought the leadership of the Alberta Liberals. (It strikes me, too, that you three may in fact be seeking the leadership of a political party that will prove to be just as intractable, ungovernable and unelectable as the ABLibs — but that would be a topic for another rant.)

The premier’s job is to vigorously defend and advance the interests of your province. The premier is expected to do the job with integrity, with dignity, and with class.

You three couldn’t have failed that test on Canada Day more spectacularly if you had tried.

Your petulant, insecure, tawdry, reactions to Trudeau’s screwup clearly were beneath the office of Premier. To boot, they were fundamentally dishonest, designed to leave the impression that the Prime Minister of Canada does not consider Alberta to be part of this country.

Some will conclude that all you were doing was throwing red meat to your base (which, frankly, is pretty much all that you, Jason and you, Derek ever do and what you, Brian, do much of the time). However, in my view, to respond as you did — on the 150th anniversary of Confederation — demonstrates such profound disrespect for the very idea of Canada (not to mention the nation itself) that it felt to me as though each one of you is fomenting separatism.

I base that on having lived the last fifty years of this nation’s history as a keen observer and student — going back to high school — of Canadian politics and public affairs; on having covered much of it as a journalist; and having helped shape a little of it as an elected Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Your behaviour on Canada Day places you in league with Rene Levesque, Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard. In essence, the three of you told the people of your province that the rest of Canada considers them second-class citizens, reminded them of Alberta’s “historical grievances” (Bouchard’s favourite phrase), and all but exhorted them to go out to their cars, white-out “Wild Rose Country” on the license plate and write in “Je me souviens” in its place.

Why did you do that? On Canada Day?

Oh, I know each of you in your own way has some capacity for strategic political thought — cunning, in other words, of the sort exhibited by wolves or orcas to gain the advantage when they hunt their prey. But I see scant evidence that any of you is capable of much critical analysis beyond the topic of getting what you want for yourselves. I know you’re all hyper partisan. And I know that you can’t stand Justin Trudeau — which I get. I couldn’t stand Stephen Harper.

But can you not differentiate the country from its leader?

Are you so bent that you hate the people of Canada for electing a prime minister you can’t stand?

I know all three of you all want to turn back the clock to a time when men were men, women were chattel, and the State used the Church to keep people in line by threatening them with shaming in this life and damnation in the next if they didn’t toe the line. And, uh, good luck with that.

In the name of free speech, I will tolerate the expression of a lot of opinions that I find disgusting and despicable because I choose to believe in humanity’s better nature — that is, that free people will freely decide to turn their backs on disgusting, despicable opinions and on those who spew them. But I draw the line at anything that advocates the breakup of our country.

Canada — this imperfect nation, this work-in-progress, this idea of nationhood — was bigger than the October Crisis, bigger than the FLQ, bigger than Levesque, Parizeau, Bouchard and the Parti Quebecois, bigger than two referendums on separation, bigger than any challenge it has ever faced and believe me, Jason, Brian and Derek, it’s a helluva lot bigger than you three and your respective minions. If any of you truly believes that Rachel Notley’s NDP government is bad for the Province of Alberta, then cut the crap and for once in your life, start fighting her on the issues, on ideas, on policy. I know it’ll put a lot of your current followers to sleep, but even you might end up contributing to making life better for Albertans. If you truly believe that Justin Trudeau is driving Canada into the ground, then get back into federal politics and fight him on the issues, ideas and policy.

But if you hold Canada in such low regard that you would put it at risk by design or default in your quest to crush anyone and anything that doesn’t support your narrow world view, then I invite you to emigrate. Go ahead. Leave. I’ll help you pack. I’m sure you’ll feel more at home someplace down south among the haters and red-staters. Your collective inability to rein in your baser instincts and act in an even remotely statesmanlike fashion in the face of adversity will likely be more appreciated there. Jason and Brian, your MP pensions should cover your health insurance premiums. (Derek, I’m not sure how far your MLA transition allowance would get you in that respect.)

If you merely thought you were being cute and clever as you played to your base, you’re not mature enough for the job. If this is how low you will stoop in your quest for power, you lack both the judgement and the ethics for the job. If fomenting separatism was your intent, you are too disloyal for the job.

You’ve brought disrepute upon your fellow parliamentarians past and present and upon the people of Alberta whom you seek to rule. You three are unfit for office.

Dave Taylor's Signature


  1. Timothy Boyle / July 4, 2017 at 3:11 pm / Reply

    Dave Taylor pours the smug on Liberal like a 5 year old given free reign would put chocolate surup on icecream. Sorry Dave PM Trudeau did make an egregious error to omit Alberta from his list of accolades and your attempts to viciously condemn those whose duty it is to call call him to task for such errors not only falls on deaf ears here in Alberta but makes it perfectly clear how out of touch you are (and likely always have been) with the sentiments of Albertans. How highly appropriate that you were spending you Canada on Salt Spring Island – Canada’s closest approximation of lotus land.

    • Dave Taylor / July 5, 2017 at 3:19 pm / Reply

      Jeez, Tim, I dunno about that being out of touch part….I DID manage to get my smug Liberal butt elected in Calgary — twice. So there’s that…

  2. Sharon L. Howe / July 4, 2017 at 4:28 pm / Reply

    Dear Dave: Thank you very much for your analysis. I agree with you completely. I too believe, in no way did Prime Minister Trudeau deliberately ignore, I do wish he omitted a different province that is a bit more mature. Alberta s are basically whiners who like any excuse to blame Liberals or left leaning political parties. I do wish they would think about their actions before they start criticizing.

  3. Arthur Collins / July 4, 2017 at 6:18 pm / Reply

    That’s right. Tell it like it is.

  4. Natalie / July 4, 2017 at 11:18 pm / Reply

    Thank you Dave
    Someone rational!
    A lot of people jumped on the ban wagon, made way too much of this, my god let’s keep it in perspective.
    And yes we need real leaders not opportunist ! This is what makes me dislike politics!

  5. Romeo LeBlanc / July 5, 2017 at 3:41 am / Reply

    I agree these three are only stroking the embers to create division they, in my opinion, are showing why they should not be elected as they have no common sense to be there.

  6. Jane Beechie / July 5, 2017 at 4:33 am / Reply

    Bravo! Thank you. Very well said!

  7. Mary Davis / July 5, 2017 at 5:24 am / Reply

    I’m at the point where I expect nothing less from the Harper Gov’t and it still is the Harper Gov’t, let’s not pretend. Petty, unhappy, stuck in a deep rut, these people thrive on discord, making mountains out of molehills. I call them The No Fun Party. Oh..they have their laughs, too, but it’s when they’re putting someone else down, mocking, jeering and clapping like trained seals. So unlikeable. Great article.

  8. Lorraine Belcourt / July 5, 2017 at 6:21 am / Reply

    Well said! These three believed that they could grab some free publicity. They reacted so much in the ugly “Trump-style” fashion of playing to the lowest denominator. They should be ashamed!

  9. Bluz / July 5, 2017 at 8:21 am / Reply

    Trudeau’s “mistake” is just one more example of his disrespect for the West and his inability to represent ALL of Canada. This on top of his inability to take “ideals” to action earns him only disdain. He’s driving Canada into record debt with no hope to pay it back. It will take a much more financially conservative government to fix the extreme damage he’s already created…He has nice hair though…

  10. Michael Hartford / July 5, 2017 at 8:27 am / Reply

    Your full of it and a clear liberal apologist! Trudeau is a shame and considered an child trying to sit at the adult table on the international scene. On the world stage he is considered a complete joke. Yes he “accidentally” forgot Alberta and yes it can happen but given his record with Alberta and his father’s legacy of betrayal against us I seriously doubt that it was an accident! He has said repeatedly that he does not consider us to be Canadian, that we have too much influence, that we shouldn’t have a voice and that we are just a footnote to Quebec’s rule of Canada. So I paraphrased but that was the CLEAR message. We have been listening and paying attention and we are tired of his crap! Time for the tax-payers of Canada to start civil suits against him and his government for the billions he is saddling us with so he can try and buy a seat in the UN.

  11. Curtis Litchfield / July 5, 2017 at 10:06 am / Reply

    Dave. I can agree with you all I want, even as a conservative (honestly I’m kind of bad at being a conservative, but there you have it), HOWEVER. When you write garbage like this:

    “I know all three of you all want to turn back the clock to a time when men were men, women were chattel, and the State used the Church to keep people in line by threatening them with shaming in this life and damnation in the next if they didn’t toe the line. And, uh, good luck with that.”

    HOW can you claim to be any less of a problem than these three?

  12. Pamela York / July 5, 2017 at 10:34 am / Reply

    Well said Dave! As a past candidate (MLA) all those years ago,I was surprised, to say the least, in the reactions of these wanna be leaders. Sometimes one has to bite their tongue and simmer inside while appearing calm and collected to their prospective followers. Setting an example? Politcians should know this. Trudeau was quick to apologize when he found out his faux pas. Maybe a lesson in statesmanship?

  13. Mel Kozun / July 5, 2017 at 11:58 am / Reply

    Your whole stance is based on the presumption that Trudeau’s omission was a mistake …

    Many believe the slight was not unintentional.

    • Clint / July 5, 2017 at 3:56 pm / Reply

      But those people are not very bright.

  14. Maureen Wagg / July 5, 2017 at 12:00 pm / Reply

    That was an excellent letter and kudos for the great points you made. I agree with you. This is not a national incident. It was simply an error. Get over it. It’s a none issue that the Conservative would like to blow out of all proportion. Don’t fall into that trap people. It’s a red herring. Focus on things that really matter. This doesn’t fall into the category of important.

  15. Jennifer Bennett / July 5, 2017 at 1:40 pm / Reply

    Well said!

  16. Gerri / July 5, 2017 at 3:56 pm / Reply

    Well said. I fear this is a indication of the type of political brand this united “right” party plans to bring to Alberta. It is so distasteful and Un-Canadian in its tenor. Sadly, they failed to take the high road like the current premier has on so many occasions. Whether you agree with her party’s policies or not, you have to admire how gracefully she addresses (or ignores) the slights that get flung her way.
    As a proud Canadian, I long for leaders who reflect our values of co-existence and cooperation. Even though we may disagree on our political slant, wouldn’t it be better to find solutions that work for all of Canada, than just scoring cheap points with those who think just like you? It is definitely harder work, and you’re right – I’m not sure any of these grandstanders are up to that task.

  17. Alice / July 5, 2017 at 4:36 pm / Reply

    Brilliant. Thank you for writing this.
    JK’s comments about the Omar Khadr situation have stoked the fire of untruths further still.
    We need people like you to try to keep people honest.

  18. Rebecca Jameson / July 5, 2017 at 5:31 pm / Reply

    I took the time to read the article carefully so I didn’t jump right to the angry bandwagon. I was offended as an Albertan about the slip. I do agree that it was probably a slip. Which in my option, could be worse. Told be thought of so little, that you had to be told of your faux pas? It’s terrible. The apology was came across as insincere. To a province that already felt left out to dry by the government….. It is a big deal. Do I agree with the separatist talk? No way. We are Canadian as much as we are Albertans. They were given the freedom of speech by the government and are entitled to their oppinions. The minute we start limiting that. We ruin the acceptance that is so much a part of our culture. This is what it is to be a Canadian, on Canada day. If it had been say, Ontario missed or worse yet, Quebec? Would this be a “small” misstep of words? Or a bunch or whiny, entitled people. I think not.

  19. Daniel Rothchild / July 6, 2017 at 12:37 am / Reply

    Sounds like this is only a ‘big deal’ in Alberta. Frankly, I didn’t know anything about it until I read this article. I live in Toronto, but I watch the news. I guess they didn’t think it was worth mentioning. Come to think about it, I’m glad they didn’t. I’m so sick of turning on CNN and listening to Americans bicker about the most ridiculous nonsense, much of the time very similar to what I’m reading in some of the comments here. People, whether Con or Liberal, are going to make mistakes. It is especially common to make mistakes in things like speeches, particularly long ones, and to judge someone for such, or even worse, accuse them of making the mistake intentionally, just because you happen to disagree with their politics, is terribly unfair and can only stem from extreme partisanism.

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