The Toronto Star discovers Alberta in a major feature article. But it ain't Ralphs Alberta.
"It's a cliché," says University of Calgary political science professor Doreen Barrie, who says that Alberta's public image is being held hostage by Calgary's world-famous stampede, "when the entire city is transformed into a Wild West theme park."Barrie tries to set the record straight in her controversial new book The Other Alberta: Decoding a Political Enigma.
The stereotype that Alberta, as Barrie puts it, is "a parochial province peopled with right-wing rednecks who wear cowboy boots and hold attitudes to match," is crumbling like a Rocky Mountains avalanche.Barrie is convinced that this explains why most Canadians don't understand Alberta, a province that's come to be known as the new Quebec because of threats by some here to separate. What's more, Barrie argues that the bigger-than-life personality associated with the Calgary Stampede is so pervasive that the hootenanny not only dominates the city throughout the year, it actually unfairly colours the whole province.
Barrie blames Alberta's political elite, particularly leaders like Premier Ralph Klein, for nurturing the cliché, arguing they dampen dissenting voices within the province by making Ottawa the official opposition."Ralph Klein has criticized Ottawa's foreign policy stance on Iraq, threatened to violate the Canada Health Act and opposes the Kyoto accord. These are but a few recent examples of a continuing campaign against the federal government," she says. "Albertans do not share the rather mean-spirited sentiments sometimes expressed on their behalf."
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