Saturday, April 19, 2008

Alberta Views and the views of this Albertan

The folks over at Alberta Views magazine have been doing some innovative things to try and engage Albertans in a discussion of the issues (both serious and playful) that we deal with on a regular basis.

Part of these efforts include engaging Alberta's political bloggers to provide some feedback on a couple of stories that are appearing in their upcoming May issue. When they spoke to your humble author, they were hoping to get some reaction from a few different viewpoints in response to one or more of the aforementioned articles.

As an aside, this whole idea highlights one of the positive aspects of the blogosphere. Alberta Views is, admittedly, not known as a conservative-friendly publication. But in the interests of a broad public discussion, they are trying to tap a variety of opinions and share them with their own readership. Kudos are well deserved.

By the time these articles are available for public consumption, I will no longer be in a position that would allow me to offer comment. Graciously, Alberta Views offered to send me an advance copy of a pair of articles they were hoping I'd offer my two cents on. As such, I will actually be offering a reaction BEFORE the articles are published. I know, I know... cart before the horse. After reading them, though, I thought they were definetly worth some reaction and hope that I can encourage you to go out and pick up a copy of the May edition (or just subscribe).

As I said, there are two articles in question. The first is a piece by longtime Alberta political reporter Darcy Henton entitled "The Year Alberta Stayed Home".

The title would suggest that this might to be a piece dedicated to outlining the left's many arguments against Alberta's electoral system. Turns out they only get a brief glance, the article is actually a supurb summary of the provincial election campaign. Liberal optimism... Tory stumbles... Union attack ads... it covers the whole damn thing and does it well.

I'm guessing that the magazine hopes the article will generate some discussion on re-engaging Albertans, though. I offered some thoughts at the tail end of a multi-issue post about a month ago which you can read here.

The second piece, "Urban v. Rural" by novelist Fred Stenson, is an extensive look at the urban-rural divide in Alberta from its earliest days right up to its influence on Premier Stelmach and the current government in Edmonton.

As someone who has spent a lot of time in many different parts of the province (not just Edmonton and Calgary), I was particularily interested in what take the author would have on the issue. I find myself agreeing with him almost entirely, particularly in his optimism for the future of rural Alberta.

One of the issues that the article touches on that I follow with great interest is electoral redistribution. I concur with the assertion that, after the next round of electoral boundaries redistribution, the majority of Alberta's seats in the Legislature will come from our urban centres. While I don't agree that we should greatly enlarge our rural constituencies (they're hard enough to represent as it is), I welcome the addition of seats in the urban centres to bring representation closer to the actual ratio. Calgary and Edmonton are due for more seats, especially since Edmonton actually LOST a seat in the 2004 redistribution.

My hometown of Fort McMurray is also long overdue for a second seat in the Legislature. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo will soon become the 3rd largest municipality in the province. All of Alberta's other mid-sized municipalities (Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, St. Albert and Sherwood Park/Strathcona County) have two seats. Alberta's economic engine is long overdue for theirs.

I'm grateful that Alberta Views allowed me a sneak peek at these two articles so I could get my thoughts out while still able. Regardless of your thoughts on the issues presented, these two pieces are well-written and worth the read.

Stay tuned Sunday afternoon for the final post on Albertatory (and the explanation why).

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