(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
While elites in Central Canada fret over abstract issues like climate change and gender-based analyses, the problems facing many working Canadians are far more real.
A 26-year-old waitress in Northern Alberta reminded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the urgent and dire problems faced by so many in her province.
After Trudeau took a cheap shot at hard-working men in the construction industry, saying there are “social impacts (on women in rural areas) because they’re mostly male construction workers,” a Grand Prairie resident wrote a scathing rebuttal on Facebook that has been shared more than 55,000 times.
“Because of these men, I was able to go grocery shopping and get everything on my list. I was able to fill my tank at the gas station, not just $20 to get by… and (I knew) I wouldn’t have to worry about choosing between the water or electric bill. When these men leave, we have to cut staff. We have to tell someone they can’t help support their families, they have to tell their kids they can’t afford… hockey, soccer, etc.”
Instead of assuming that blue-collar men are sexual predators, Trudeau should try putting himself in their shoes.
When was the last time Trudeau had to worry about buying food for his family, heating his home or worrying about how to pay for his kids to play soccer?
That’s a trick question, of course, since Trudeau was born rich and famous.
Ironically, the last Trudeau man to pay his own way — Justin’s grandfather, Charlie Trudeau, who was a conservative — became rich by building an empire of gas stations in Montreal. Now his grandson is engineering the end of oil and gas production in Canada.
Trudeau may be too smug to recognize it, but there is a major crisis in Alberta. It isn’t just an oil crisis; it goes far deeper than joblessness and fleeing investments.
In Alberta, there is an existential crisis about the province’s future.
Veteran radio host Charles Adler, as always, has his finger on the pulse of this issue.
“Alberta has an 8.2% unemployment rate. Massively uncomfortable question: what do you think the rate would be in Alberta was a U.S. state?” he wrote in a series of Tweets.
South of the border, the economy is booming, pipelines are being built, energy prices are soaring and the country is enjoying the lowest unemployment rates in decades — 3.7%. In oil-rich North Dakota, the unemployment rate is 2.6%.
“How I could blame Albertans looking at 8.2% unemployment and billions of dollars of investment they aren’t getting if they ask questions like ‘What are our options? Is our powerful connection to Canada much more about our past than our future?’ As a Canadian patriot, I wish I didn’t have to ask.”
Adler is echoing the concerns I’ve been hearing for months from folks of every walk of life in Alberta.
Under Trudeau’s leadership, many Albertans don’t feel at home in Canada. They don’t feel like they have a voice; they feel that they don’t matter.
Perhaps that’s because Trudeau doesn’t recognize Alberta values as being Canadian.
“I always say, if at a certain point I believe that Canada was really the Canada of Stephen Harper… maybe I would think about wanting to make Quebec a country,” said Trudeau in 2012.
Trudeau doesn’t respect Alberta, in fact, he’d be willing the break up the country if it ever resembled Alberta too much.
Increasingly, it seems that some in Alberta feel the same way.
Candice Malcolm is the Founder of the True North.