News & ViewsOpinionPolitics

Opinion: Buzz Speaks Out on Kenney, Alberta and angst in the land of oil and honey

Dear JT Kenney:

My dad always said lead with a joke unless you’re in church or a witness box.

Three slick strangers walk into a farm-implement dealership and announce, “We’re from the oil patch and we’re here to help.” Back in the day that left the boys spewing my free coffee all over my farm-implement dealership showroom. The dealership is sold, and the folks around here stopped laughing at that joke a few years back.

Farmers and big city oil types have an up-and-down relationship in the best of times, but I never expected an Alberta politician to put the boots to rural communities the way you are. Your reputation with Albertans who shovel real manure for a living now depends on how you deal with the confusion, anxiety and anger simmering out here.

You’re quick to condemn politicians who bring in changes they didn’t campaign on, but you forgot to mention your plans to gut our rural community tax base and give the millions we use to grade road and maintain bridges to an industry that ran away from its abandoned oil well obligations faster than bull-riders ran from the legendary Outlaw. The YouCP loves calling the oil industry innovative and agriculture historical. These days in Central Alberta, oil industry innovation means declaring bankruptcy, abandoning money-losing wells and then starting new companies to buy back the producing wells for next to nothing.

One more thought on rural crime, no one here thinks the YouCP is “moving at the speed of business” when it takes a year to go from announcing “a harder line against rural crime” to running online consultations about maybe letting wildlife officers and sheriffs respond to 911 calls. If only you were as fast at real action as you are at defending people who shoot at strangers on their property. Save the effort next time, we’re already making things better using old-fashioned (farmers are a heritage industry) cooperation and technology instead of guns.

I never could finish a letter without helping out a little. You can use your, “We won’t close any Provincial Parks” bait and switch to save health-care dollars. You aren’t closing a rural hospital if it isn’t called a hospital anymore. You are already making headway chasing away those expensive rural docs. Once they all leave a community, claim a hospital isn’t a hospital without a doc and shut down your newly labelled provincial building. As genius as this scheme is, I’ll let you have it without sharing the credit just like you do every time the feds dump dollars into this province. 

A rural canary in your provincial coalmine,

Stanley “Buzz” Angus

Hamish MacAulay is a New Canadian who survived growing up in Red Deer of the 70s and has split his working life between Edmonton and Calgary while driving to almost every corner of Alberta, preferably on secondary roads.