It’s the Friday morning after the Thursday afternoon “pause” as I write this, and shortly, I’ll be leaving for work. Today, work is anything but. It’s Pledge Day on NewsTalk 770, so I will be joining Bruce Kenyon, Roger and Rob, Angela Kokott and an amazing supporting cast of guests, greeters, runners, pledge-takers, and entertainers — including just about everybody who works at the radio station and a good chunk of the staff at the Westin Hotel — to raise money for the Calgary Children’s Foundation. It is a day full of positive vibes, because it does so much good.
So that’s where most of my head is at right now. But like a forensic pathologist at a crime scene, a part of my brain is still puzzling over the boiling wreckage of Jim Prentice’s meddling in the Gay-Straight Alliance issue. “Finesse” is not the first word that comes to mind to describe his handling of it.
Let’s be clear.
Prentice deserves a minimal amount of credit for pulling his ill-considered, antediluvian, segregationist (as amended), and unconscionable (whether as amended or not) Bill 10 from debate before it got to Third and Final Reading in the Alberta Legislature. As in, “Well, Mr. Premier, the alternative — not pulling the bill — would’ve been worse, so thanks for that.”
But it took a popular uprising — a raft of talk shows like mine, rallies, petitions with thousands of signatures, critical commentary on radio, television and in print, heartfelt interviews with gay people or their loved ones about the pain and isolation they felt growing up, and a social media s***storm — along with an internal revolt inside the PC Party to get him to do that much. So to the people of Alberta goes the bulk of the credit. (Don’t credit the media. On our best days, we give focus to an issue, a voice to people, and we reflect the mood of the people. But the media don’t set or change the agenda; the people do that.)
To the Premier goes the blame, for taking a hot potato, drenching it in lighter fluid, tossing it on the barbecue, moving the barbecue next to the vinyl siding and damn near burning down the house.
Over the next couple of days I will work my sources and ponder this further, and when I next write, I hope I will be able to shed at least some plausible light on why Jim Prentice put all the people of Alberta — straight, gay, bi, trans, or undecided — through this. Because it was unnecessary, ill-conceived, and hasn’t made any Albertan’s life better or safer — least of all, the life of an LGBTQ kid.