Legislature session, day 2:
I am disappointed by Edmonton’s MLAs. Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats… all of them. Here’s why.
The bulk of Tuesday’s session (the stuff that happens after the media stops watching Question Period) was taken up with a discussion of the new electoral boundaries commission final report, which was ordered to add new seats to the Leg, including one to Edmonton. You may remember the initial boundaries report, after months of study and deliberation, changed the landscape of Edmonton, with new boundaries and new constituencies (Callingwood, La Perle, North West). But the politicians didn’t like it much, so the commission said; “Screw it, we’ll just carve off a corner of Edmonton and give it one new riding.” Which is basically what they did, creating a dog’s leg, dog’s breakfast constituency called Edmonton South West, that seems to be made up mostly of empty space with pockets of population from as far south as the Calgary Trail north to the Whitemud.
The deed has been done, and no one seems to care about this newborn orphan. But what disappoints me is that no Edmonton MLAs tried to give this unloved newcomer a better name.
Most of Tuesday was taken up by amendments, as MLAs asked for, and received, renames for some constituencies. Strathcona became Strathcona-Sherwood Park. Calgary Montrose became Calgary Greenway. And Calgary Nose Hill became … I am not making this up … Calgary Klein. (This resulted in an interesting exchange, when ND MLA Rachel Notley questioned whether Klein was “part of history” and should be honored. An unidentified member asked: “Do you want him to die first? Is that it?”, to which Notley replied: “I wouldn’t go there.”)
Since Edmonton South West has no sitting member, and no one to speak up for it, it will be born with the dreary name Edmonton South West. Couldn’t one Edmonton MLA have stood up and asked for a better name for this baby?
How about Edmonton-McLuhan, after media guru Marshall McLuhan, who was born in Edmonton? Or maybe Edmonton-May, after aviation great ‘Wop’ May, or Edmonton-Dickens, after another aviation great, Punch Dickens. Maybe Edmonton-Page, after J. Percy Page, Edmonton Grads coach and former Lt. Gov. If you insist on a political name, try Edmonton-Murphy, after Emily Murphy, the first female magistrate of the British Empire.Or how about Lois Hole, although I don’t know if anyone would want to be the MLA for Edmonton-Hole. Just to get the legislature talking, maybe Edmonton-Chong, after Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame. Or Edmonton-Fox, after Michael J. Fox. Or Canadian nationalist and publisher Edmonton-(Mel) Hurtig. The Tories would love that one.
The bottom line is that there are dozens of worthy Edmontonians we could have named our new constituency after. But instead, because no one took the reins, we’re stuck with Edmonton South West. Missed opportunity for everyone
Elsewhere Tuesday, Calgary Varsity Liberal MLA Harry Chase must have enjoyed his day of revenge.
Chase spoke at length during first reading of the law on distracted driving, which bans the use of cellphones while driving. As Chase pointed out, he made an almost identical private member’s bill in 2005, which was shot down by the Tories. On Tuesday, Chase threw the words of Tories who disagreed with him back in their faces, gleefully quoting one Tory after another who disagreed with his bill, all of whom will no doubt agree with the government bill. That must have been a good day for Chase.
And finally, it’s time to call out the Edmonton Sun for what it is — a New Democrat supporting paper.
Seriously. In the story on the latest case of duckicide in Fort Mac, ND MLA Rachael Notley was quoted first and extensively, and her quote was used in a drop-quote in the story. Two pages later, in a story on the Auditor-General’s report on health-care accounting, ND leader Brian Mason was the only politician quoted, complete with mugshot. That’s a lot of ink for the no. 4 party in the legislature. Could the Edmonton Sun be harbouring a soft spot for socialists … or are the other parties just doing a crappy job of getting their message out?